NOV 29, 2022
Lawmakers set for final session days of 2022 with potential action on the SAFE-T Act, unemployment debt
Illinois State Capitol
State lawmakers are returning to Springfield Tuesday for the final three days of session in 2022, though their agenda is expected to be light with few major pieces of legislation expected to be taken up this week.
Potential changes to the SAFE-T Act have grabbed the most attention after it became a hot button issue during the election. But with Democrats winning easy victories earlier this month, any changes to the SAFE-T Act are expected to be minimal and technical in nature. Outside the SAFE-T Act, business and labor groups have hoped to reach a deal on outstanding unemployment insurance trust fund debt before the end of the year. Major bills on abortion and guns will likely not be taken up this week.
SAFE-T Act changes
While Republicans and other opponents to the SAFE-T Act and its component that ends cash bail, the Pretrial Fairness Act, have been vocal about their desire for changes to the law, those behind the law aren’t rushing to make any changes to satisfy political opponents.
Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) said during the first week of veto session that his door is open to Republicans wanting changes but acknowledged the “dynamic is different” after their party was rejected in the election, but Democrats are willing to make technical changes.
Peters and other key stakeholders have not elaborated on what those changes might be. On the House side, Rep. Jehan Gordon Booth (D-Peoria) has been leading a working group exploring changes.
Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), a former prosecutor, released a bill (SB4228) earlier this fall proposing a series of changes to the Pretrial Fairness Act. A key change throughout Bennett’s bill adds threat to the community as a reason judges can detain a person pretrial. It also makes several other changes and clarifications he described in a September news release as “an effort to improve consistency” throughout the law.
“I disagree with Sen. Scott Bennett’s proposal on many parts… but I do know it’s part of these negotiations and we’re going to continue to talk about it,” Peters said.
Unemployment insurance trust fund
Illinois lawmakers face a Jan. 1 deadline to resolve a $1.35 billion deficit in the unemployment insurance trust fund before “speed bumps” in state law are triggered. Illinois businesses already lost their federal tax credit that they receive for each employee on Nov. 10, but the Jan. 1 “speed bumps” that are designed to bring labor and business groups to the negotiating table results in more tax increases for businesses as well as benefit reductions for employees.
In September interviews with The Daily Line, representatives from business and labor groups outlined how a deal could come together. Jay Shattuck, a consultant with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said business leaders want labor leaders to settle for some benefit reductions as businesses are the ones paying into the system and have also proposed increasing the target funding balances of the fund beyond $1 billion, which is the current target.
On the labor said, Illinois AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Pat Devaney said labor leaders want the fund’s target funding level to increase beyond $1 billion and added he feels businesses already have received benefits in the negotiations because federal American Rescue Plan funds were used to pay down some debt already, saving businesses money.
- Unemployment insurance trust fund negotiations stalled, labor and business groups say
- No deal yet, but Pritzker announces payment to reduce unemployment insurance trust fund balance
In a news release last week, Gov. JB Pritzker announced he wanted lawmakers to use a portion of the projected Fiscal Year 2023 surplus to pay off the debt. He previously announced a $450 million payment in September to reduce the deficit.
In March, state lawmakers passed legislation partially reducing the deficit though many had called for lawmakers to fully end the deficit with American Rescue Plan funds.
Pritzker is scheduled to speak at a news conference in Springfield Tuesday afternoon about the trust fund deficit.
Meetings & Agendas