Republicans on JCAR Unanimously Oppose Business-Unfriendly Rule
This afternoon, Illinois’ Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) heard an emergency rule created by the Pritzker administration that provides for criminal charges against any Illinois business that is not in full compliance with the Governor’s mask mandate. An effort to block the rule was brought forward by House Republican Steve Reick (R-Woodstock), but the subsequent vote failed to receive the required 8 votes it needed. The 6-5 vote fell on party lines, with six Republicans voting to remove the rule and five Democrats voting to accept it.
This new rule creates a Class A misdemeanor charge carrying a fine of up to $2,500. Within the emergency rule, failure to be in compliance with mask mandates is not just limited to employees working at a business. A business owner could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if a visitor to their establishment is not wearing a mask. During the meeting, representatives from the Governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) were vague in how business owners and employees are supposed to deal with patrons who are exempt from wearing masks for medical reasons or with non-exempt patrons who display escalated behavior or threaten violence at the door when asked to wear a mask.
As with every other element of the pandemic response, the legislature was not consulted on this issue. The Governor needs to stop ruling the state unilaterally via executive orders and emergency rules. The General Assembly deserves a voice in all of the pandemic response decisions.
As you may recall, the Governor pushed a similar emergency rule in May, when he wanted to provide criminal penalties for businesses that reopened early. Public outcry to that rule was immediate and fierce, and the Governor ultimately withdrew it. Unfortunately, that was not the case with the mask mandate rule.
Grant Co-Sponsors Resolution to Remove Madigan as Speaker of the House
Since it was revealed a few weeks ago that ComEd will pay a $200 million fine for its role in a pay-to-play scheme that involved Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, dozens of House and Senate Republicans and a growing number of House and Senate Democrats have called for the Speaker’s resignation. I recently added to that call by signing on as a co-sponsor of legislation that would officially strip Madigan of his role of House Speaker and calls for a new vote for Speaker of the House.
HR 885 points to the deferred prosecution agreement entered into on July 17 between ComEd and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, and states that trust in the Speaker has been misplaced for many years. The resolution goes on to state that members of the House of Representatives have no confidence that Mike Madigan can continue in the role of Speaker and is removed from the position.
The facts of the case show that between 2011-2019, ComEd arranged for jobs, contracts, payoffs, and a seat on the ComEd Board for Madigan allies, some of whom did little or no work for their compensation. ComEd did these favors in order to please Madigan, who controls the movement, or non-movement, of bills in the Illinois House. In this case, Madigan pushed through two pieces of legislation that enriched ComEd on the backs of consumers.
ComEd has admitted that the facts of the case are true, and has agreed to pay an exorbitant sum to make partial restitution for their role in this corrupt scheme to benefit Speaker Madigan. They admitted they paid out $1.3 million to gain favor with the Speaker so their controversial bills would get passed. Those facts are not in dispute.
Speaker Madigan has said he will not step down. Since he appears unwilling to do the right thing, I have signed on to HR 855 to strip him of the Speakership. The Illinois House should return to session immediately to elect a new Speaker of the House.
Rep. Grant Talks Vote By Mail and the Lack of Ethics Reforms in Podcast
I recently recorded an interview for the popular podcast “Have All Voted Who Wish.” During the interview, I spoke about problems with automatic voter registration, the expansion of vote by mail, and the lack of ethics reform in Springfield. We have a Joint Commission on Lobbying & Ethics Reform, and that bipartisan panel has not met since the first week of March. Even with Zoom and other online meeting platforms available, the co-chairs of that panel have discontinued their work. It’s shameful. Click here to listen to the podcast.
Twenty Weeks of Extended Regular State Benefits Now Available
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has announced a 20-week extension of benefits (EB) for Illinoisans who exhaust the allotted 26 weeks of regular state unemployment, and an additional 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits. Illinois law provides for 20 weeks of EB during times of “high unemployment,” as defined in the law, instead of the 13 weeks of EB that was available in Illinois since May.
Currently, there are 30 states providing 13 weeks of EB, and 19 states, including Illinois, providing 20 weeks of EB. South Dakota is the only state not currently providing any number of EB weeks. Those with questions or in need of assistance with unemployment benefits at this time are encouraged to visit IDES.Illinois.gov.
Rep. Grant to Host Free Child I.D. Event in August
It’s time to reserve your spot for an important event I am hosting in collaboration with the Wheaton Police Department later this month. On August 27, we will be hosting a free Child I.D. event at my Wheaton office, located at 416 E. Roosevelt Road, #111. This event is limited to 90 children and is scheduled by appointment only. Parents/guardians will leave with an I.D. that includes a photo, fingerprints and personal information about each child. Information collected is for parent/guardian use only; police do not keep a copy. Only one family will be permitted in the office at a time, and families can reserve spots between 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM by calling my office at (331) 218-4182, or by accessing an on-line scheduling form available at Grant@ilhousegop.org.
Looking ahead, I will be hosting a Mobile DMV event at my Wheaton office on Thursday, September 10 from 10 AM until 2:00 PM. Representatives from the Secretary of State’s Office will be available for scheduled appointments for basic DMV transactions, including:
- Traditional driver’s license renewals (REAL IDs cannot be processed at this event)
- Vehicle sticker renewals
- Change of address updates
Look for additional information about this event in the coming weeks.
IDES Problems Persist
My office continues to receive calls from constituents who cannot obtain unemployment benefits that are due to them. I was outraged to learn on Thursday that of the 78.5 million calls that were made to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) between March 1 and July 1 of this year, only 393,576 were answered. That’s less than one percent. This underscores the need for hearings and an audit into IDES. By any metric, a less than one percent call answer rate is an absolute disgrace.
Rental, Mortgage Assistance Available to Illinois Residents Impacted by COVID-19
The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IDHA) is offering rental and mortgage assistance to eligible residents impacted by COVID-19.
The Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program will provide renters impacted by COVID-19 $5,000 for back rent and prepay through 2020, or until funds are exhausted. If approved, payment will be wired directly to the landlord within 10 business days; or 15-20 days if by paper check. IHDA will accept applications for rental assistance August 10 through August 21.
The Emergency Mortgage Assistance (EMA) program will provide homeowners impacted by COVID-19 up to $15,000 to reinstate their mortgage and prepay through 2020 or until funds are exhausted. If approved, payment will be sent directly to the mortgage servicer approximately 7-10 days after the homeowner signs the Promissory Note. A second payment will occur up to one month after the first payment. IHDA will accept applications for mortgage assistance August 24 through September 4.
If interested in applying for rental or mortgage assistance, please visit https://era.ihda.org/ for additional information on eligibility criteria.
Nominate a Senior for Illinois’ Senior Hall of Fame
The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) is accepting nominations for the 2020 Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame Awards. These awards recognize adults 65 years of age and older, and highlight the meaningful contributions they have made in Illinois. Award nominations are being accepted for the following categories:
- Community Service: awarded to Illinois senior citizens that have shown support for the general public and community-based programs in their area or at large.
- Education: awarded to Illinois senior citizens that have shown a dedication to instruction and the world of academia.
- Labor Force: awarded to Illinois senior citizens that have a record of accomplishment in their employment or professional career.
- Performance / Graphic Arts: awarded to Illinois senior citizens that have a commitment to health and the promotion of well-being or a record of accomplishment in artistic expression.
The Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame was created by the Illinois General Assembly in 1994 to honor Illinois residents ages 65 and older for their personal achievements in four separate categories. Since then, 121 people have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The deadline for nominations is Monday, August 31. Eligibility is based on the nominee’s past and present accomplishments. The candidate must be a current Illinois citizen, or a former Illinois citizen for most of their life. Posthumous nominees will also be considered. Nomination forms can be filled out online or by calling the Senior HelpLine at (800) 252-8966.