COVID-19

  • Illinois Senate sends Fiscal Year 21 budget to the governor

    Sen. President Don Harmon

    Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and focusing on preserving vital services, the Illinois Senate passed a budget that prioritizes public health and safety and vital services.

    In order to protect people’s health, the budget provides additional funding to both the state’s health department and local health departments. It also expands programs that help seniors and people with disabilities remain in their homes, keeping them out of long-term care facilities that have been hit disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

  • Stadelman votes in favor of property tax relief legislation

    Sen. Steve StadelmanSPRINGFIELD – With Illinois property taxpayers suffering, State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) voted for legislation that will defer tax sales and gives counties the ability to extend homestead exemptions and waive late fees.

    “Property taxes can be a significant financial burden for residents of communities like Rockford,” Stadelman said. “This legislation will provide much needed relief to ease the financial burden on our communities.”

    The relief package gives county assessment officers the ability to approve homestead exemptions without 2020 applications for residents with disabilities, veterans with disabilities and senior citizens who qualify for assessment freezes.

  • Glowiak Hilton: Childcare centers reopening soon

    Sen. Suzy Glowiak HiltonSPRINGFIELD – With businesses planning to reopen as soon as May 29, State Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs) announced that childcare facilities will be able to help when parents return to work.

    “Many parents have reached out expressing how overwhelmed they are as they try to balance work from home, e-learning and other new roles that they have taken on,” Glowiak Hilton said. “Childcare centers will soon reopen and help lift a weight off their shoulders.”

  • Bertino-Tarrant announces child care facilities will soon reopen

    Sen. Jennifer Bertino-TarrantPLAINFIELD — State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) announced a plan for a gradual reopening of child care centers has been put in place, as parents prepare to return to work.

    “I know there are concerns from parents who are worried they will not be able to return to work because they do not have reliable child care,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “I’m pleased childcare facilities will safely reopen soon, so families can start to get back to some normalcy.”

  • Castro pleased with passage of COVID-19 protections for first responders

    castro floor2 052120SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Castro and her colleagues in the Illinois Senate passed a bill Thursday that contained protections for first responders who are affected by COVID-19 as a result of their duties.

    “Now more than ever, the first responders and front-line workers who are risking their lives to keep us safe during a pandemic deserve our undying thanks and gratitude,” Castro said. “The very least we can do as a legislature is provide these brave men and women with protections since they are risking their lives every single day.”

    The legislation provides expanded worker’s compensation protection for COVID-19 first-responders and front-line workers, including people employed as a police officer, firefighter, EMT or paramedic, health care provider (including nursing home, rehabilitation and homecare workers), corrections officer, or anyone employed as an essential worker.

    “No one deserves to have their lives ruined as a result of contracting COVID-19, and especially not people who have no choice but to be exposed to it,” Castro said.

    The first-responder protections were part of House Bill 2455, a labor protection package that also addressed issues with unemployment insurance. The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, and will be sent back to the House of Representatives for a final vote.

  • COVID-19 response package for education heads to governor’s desk

    manar floor 052120SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois General Assembly today approved legislation to help rank-and-file teachers and school districts address the unique challenges to Illinois’ education system created by COVID-19.

     

    Senate Bill 1569 makes a number of changes that help schools adjust to remote learning, including the following:

     

     

    • Allows for the creation of remote learning days and remote learning plans
    • Allows for a combination of remote learning and in-person instruction
    • Suspends clock hour requirements when a disaster is declared
    • Affirms graduation modifications granted to Spring 2020 graduates
    • Allows mandated exams to be completed remotely

    “This package provides school districts more flexibility and creativity to work around the limitations posed by COVID-19,” said State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “This will help them deliver the best possible learning experience for their students as the circumstances evolve over the next year.”

    Because teacher evaluations for the 20-21 school year have been paused due to COVID-19, SB 1569 extends teacher license renewals by one year.

    The legislation also extends a law allowing retired teachers to return to the classroom as substitutes for up to 120 paid days or 600 paid hours without impairing their retirement status. Originally passed by Senator Manar in 2017, the program has helped address the severe teacher shortage facing downstate school districts.

    “Over the past few months, aspiring, current, and retired teachers have stepped up to serve their communities in ways many of them have never imagined they would,” Manar. “They’ve gone above and beyond to be there for their students, despite a host of administrative and financial challenges. I’m pleased that we were able to remove some of those hurdles and sources of uncertainty.”

    Finally, the legislation also makes it easier for college students who receive financial assistance through the Aspirational Institutional Match Illinois Grow Higher Education Grant Pilot Program, also known as AIM HIGH, to retain their aid for the duration of their four years of undergraduate studies.

    AIM HIGH provides financial assistance to eligible low-income students who attend one of the state’s 12 public universities. Under the measure, the income of a student when entering the program will be the income of the student for the life of the program.

  • Illinois expanding vote by mail

    vote by mail 1200bSPRINGFIELD – Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) voted Thursday to pass a plan to guarantee that every Illinoisan who has voted within the last two years will be sent a vote by mail application for the 2020 election.

    “Voting is crucial to a functioning democracy,” Van Pelt said, speaking from Springfield while attending a special legislative session convened with social distancing measures. “We have the technology to accurately and safely ensure our voices are heard. We refuse to allow a pandemic to disrupt our self-governance.”

  • Villivalam: Voter safety a top priority during pandemic

    Sen. Ram VillivalamCHICAGO – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) has chief co-sponsored legislation to ensure that Illinoisans will be able to safely cast their ballots in the November election. The new elections safety package – a part of Senate Bill 1863 – will have expanded access to the state’s vote-by-mail program, early voting, and election day voting. 

  • Bennett votes in favor of education package

    Sen. Scott BennettSPRINGFIELD Students and educators have faced tremendous barriers with COVID-19, which has impacted every classroom in Illinois. State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) recognized the challenges they face and favorably voted for an education package to make a high quality education available for students at all levels, whether it be in-person or remotely.

    “It is imperative we continue to invest in our education system, especially in these unfortunate times,” said Bennett, a member of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “I have always prioritized education during my time in the General Assembly, and I believe people will need higher education and job training more than ever after this pandemic.”

  • Gillespie votes to expand vote by mail

    vote by mail“No one should have to risk their health to vote.”

    SPRINGFIELD – After co-sponsoring an election package that would send a vote by mail application to registered voters who participated in elections within the last two years, State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) released the following statement:

    “Participation in our democracy is the right of every citizen and must be preserved. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, voters deserve to be able to cast their ballots from the safety of their homes. No one should have to risk their health to exercise our most basic political rights.

  • Harris supports extended benefits for unemployed workers

    UnemploymentSPRINGFIELD – In an effort to continue to protect employees, State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) supported an initiative that encourages employers to provide the best protective measures possible in the workplace during the health emergency.

    “Throughout the duration of this pandemic, it has become clear that essential workers do not have the rights and protections they need and deserve,” Harris said. “These workers are making it possible for many businesses to continue to function during the crisis, and the employers should be grateful and prioritize their worker’s safety.”

  • Link fights to expand vote-by-mail for 2020 election

    vote by mailSPRINGFIELD – A measure championed by State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) to help voters participate safely in the November 2020 General Election passed the Illinois Senate Friday.

    “There’s no guarantee that voters won’t still be at risk for contracting COVID-19 when they come to the polls in November,” Link said. “We have a responsibility to put measures in place to keep them safe.”

  • Peters celebrates expansion of vote-by-mail program

    vote by mailSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) supported a plan expanding the state’s vote-by-mail program that moved through the Illinois Senate on Friday.

    “In this time of crisis, it’s important that we not only look to preserve people’s health, but also their right to participate in the democratic process,” Peters said. “People deserve to cast votes without having to worry about getting sick, and expanding vote-by-mail provisions accomplishes that.”

  • Hastings champions vote by mail program, makes Election Day 2020 a holiday

    vote by mailSPRINGFIELD – Prioritizing safe participation in the upcoming election, State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) voted to expand voting options for Illinoisans. 

    “Our system has been shaken to its very foundation, and people are afraid about the possibility of going to the polls this November,” Hastings said. “In the interest of public health and safety, we must give our people the chance to cast their vote in a safe, secure manner.”

  • Aquino: Voting by mail protects Illinoisans’ right to choose their leaders

    Sen. Omar AquinoSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) championed legislation expanding voting access in the November 3 general election that passed out of the Illinois Senate. The measure includes provisions that make it easier for all Illinois voters to cast their ballots by mail.

    “Amid the challenges we face with the COVID-19 pandemic, I am proud to contribute to creating a pathway for Illinoisans to cast their votes in the November 3 election securely and safely,” Aquino said. “We need to make sure all Illinoisans eligible to vote can exercise their right in a way that better suits their needs, especially during this crisis.”

  • Koehler votes for safe elections

    vote by mailSPRINGFIELD – To ensure safe participation in the upcoming election, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) voted to expand voting options for Illinoisans.

    “Because we are unsure of what further consequences we could be facing this fall as we continue managing the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, we ought to offer folks more options as they consider how to cast their ballot,” Koehler said. “The promotion of safe, secure elections should not be a partisan issue.”

  • Bennett announces all state parks reopen to visitors May 29

    Kickapoo State ParkCHAMPAIGN – As the state is on track to move to Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan May 29, all state parks will be able to reopen, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Thursday.

    At a May 20 press briefing, the governor reported all state parks that have not already reopened will be allowed to do so when the state moves to the next phase, and all concession stands at those parks will be permitted to reopen, with safety measures in place.

  • Murphy leads local government COVID-19 recovery plan

    Senator MurphySPRINGFIELD – To help guide local governments through the COVID-19 recovery process, State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) has sponsored a package of legislation to give municipalities the means to address pandemic-related challenges.

    “Especially now, local governments are keeping our communities afloat by managing our regional health departments and providing financial, housing and meal assistance to struggling Illinoisans,” said Murphy. “I hope this legislation can help them continue to provide much-needed services as we look to recover from this pandemic.”

  • Senator Fine: Using SNAP to shop online means less risk to health

    GroceriesSPRINGFIELD – To help families shop more safely during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, SNAP recipients in Illinois will be able to use their benefits to purchase groceries online beginning June 2, State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) announced Thursday.

    “Being able to order groceries online is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this new function will allow SNAP recipients to shop safely and conveniently for years to come,” said Fine. “I’m glad to see our benefits programs responding not only to current events, but to the changing times.”

  • Bennett: Dental offices begin reopening for routine care

    DentistsCHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraged to learn the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has updated its guidance on allowing dental providers to resume routine oral and dental care beginning this week.

    “IDPH’s decision to allow dentists to resume routine oral and dental care gives me great optimism and shows the progress we’ve made,” Bennett said. “Dental offices are good at infection control and always have been. I’m confident they will be able to comply with IDPH’s guidelines to ensure patients and staff are safe.”