SPRINGFIELD – The 101st General Assembly of Illinois took historic action by passing laws to end bail before electing a Black House speaker for the first time at the 102nd General Assembly.
However, lawmakers ran out of time for several follow-up actions – including bills that would have expanded voting via email, allowing lawmakers to do business remotely during the pandemic, and removing newly expanded income tax deductions for entrepreneurs. Another bill introducing the state’s legalization of adult marijuana was also not passed, as was a measure that was part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ health agenda.
The House Democrats lagged 10 votes behind the passage of a bill approved by Governor JB Pritzker that would have eliminated certain tax deductions for Illinois entrepreneurs created under the Federal CARES Act. Pritzker has argued that this change is needed by lawmakers to prevent revenue from shrinking more than $ 500 million in the current fiscal year, increasing the state’s budget deficit by $ 3.9 billion.
Specifically, the bill would end the amendments to the CARES Act that would allow extended business owner income deductions to be claimed as net operating losses, loss carryforwards, or excessive business losses.
In a January 8 press release, Pritzker encouraged the General Assembly to “decouple” the Illinois tax law from federal tax changes under the CARES Act, a move that would have brought state tax laws in line with previous years.
Pritzker claimed these changes had received $ 500 million in state tax revenue from non-corporate taxpayers and owners of transit businesses such as limited companies and partnerships.
During the debates on the house in the early hours of January 13, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle described the bill as receiving up to $ 1 billion in government revenue.
Democratic MP Michael Zalewski, the sponsor of the law, said the proposed changes would affect about 440,000 taxpayers nationwide.
Riverside’s Zalewski tried to appeal to his caucus, but 10 House Democrats voted in attendance while another eight did not vote on the bill, including former House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago and newly elected spokesman Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Chicago Hang .
At least a dozen Republicans condemned the proposal as a last-minute tax hike for small business owners already crushed by the pandemic.
During the House floor debate, Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said the bill represents the tax hike that Republican lawmakers anticipated during the Lame Ducks session.
“This is the textbook definition of a late night, nobody is watching, lame duck, tax hike through the back door. That’s what people hate, ”he said.
Zalewski described the proposal as an attempt to prevent loss of revenue rather than an attempt to generate new income.
House Republicans were also critical that the Pritzker administration and the Illinois Treasury Department had failed to inform taxpayers or lawmakers sooner of the state’s plans to decouple from the federal changes made in March.
During a press conference on Friday, Pritzker said he expected lawmakers to bring the proposal back at the 102nd General Assembly.
“Although it did not happen in the short session with lame ducks, I have a promise from the leaders that it will be raised in the regular session,” Pritzker replied on Friday to a question about the failed decoupling law. “I assume that it will soon be discussed in the new session of the General Assembly.”
Remote voting, more
The remote voting bill, passed unanimously by the Senate, would have allowed the House and Senate to act during a public health emergency where “personal participation is a significant risk to the health and safety” of lawmakers to meet remotely and cast votes staff or the public.
It would have asked both chambers to establish rules for remote participation in meetings and committees, and it would have reached out to the bodies of the Joint Administrative Rules Committee, the Government Forecasting and Accountability Commission and the Legislative Review Commission.
The Senate changed its rules during the brief May session to allow for remote hearing, but the House failed to pass similar changes. Two lawmakers voted remotely on lame ducks in the session.
Both chambers released tentative calendars last week stating that they should meet in person several days a month through May.
Since the March 2020 Illinois pandemic, Members of the House met briefly at the Bank of Springfield Center the following May and earlier this month, while the Senate continued at the Capitol for those brief sessions.
Several people who attended the session on lame ducks last week – including the Chief of Staff of the House Speaking Office – tested positive for COVID-19. The governor said last week he would not prioritize lawmakers in the next stage of vaccination.
The postal ballot bill, which the Senate passed by 40 to 18 votes, would have made some permanent changes that were implemented in response to the pandemic for the 2020 general election. This would have included the use of drop box sites to collect postage-free ballot papers and roadside voting during early voting or on election day.
It would also have requested that the State Board of Elections provide guidelines rather than rules for securing collection points. Neither of the two bills was put to a vote by the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
House Bill 122, which would have added another round of 75 marijuana dispensing licenses, among other things, was passed by the Senate but also received no House vote.
Senate Act 558, which was a sweeping law comprised of several Black Caucus-sponsored health reforms, was passed by parliament but received no Senate vote.