Senate Week in Review: Feb. 17 – 21, 2020

Springfield, IL. — In an address before the General Assembly on Feb. 19, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker unveiled a proposal that seeks $1.6 billion in new spending and makes some funding for priorities like education, health care and public safety, contingent on the approval of his tax increase.    

Meanwhile, as the spring legislative session gets underway in earnest, a number of new pieces of legislation were filed including a bill that would change a process that too often leaves citizens waiting for medical treatment due to insurance coverage requirements. Other legislation recently filed includes a proposal to exempt overtime wages from the income tax and a bill that would recognize recipients of the Air Force Combat Action Medal. 

Locally, my Senate District office is getting a lot of calls these days from concerned parents about legislation dealing with HPF vaccinations. 

Governor proposes $1.6 billion in new spending in budget address
Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled his budget proposal in an address before the General Assembly on Feb. 19, seeking $1.6 billion in new spending which relies on getting the Governor’s income tax increase approved. 

It seems the Governor is doing everything possible, even arguable breaking ethics rules, to get a tax increase. 

Lawmakers expressed concerns that that in order to fund $1.4 billion for priorities like schools, health care and public safety the Governor’s tax increase must be approved.

Under the state’s revamped school funding formula from 2017, the state is statutorily required to increase school funding by $350 million a year. Under Pritzker’s proposal, only $200 million is guaranteed, leaving $150 million in school funding in jeopardy. 

Senate Republican lawmakers contend what Illinoisans need is more fiscal leadership and responsibility. They point to last year’s budget process as a road map that proves working collaboratively can produce a budget that meets the needs of Illinois citizens, and funds priorities without a tax increase. 

New reforms would reduce medical care delays
New legislation has been filed changing a healthcare process currently leaving many Illinois residents waiting for medical treatment because of insurance coverage requirements. 

Illinois patients often have medical care delayed or denied because of their health plans’ use of a process called “prior authorization.” Senate Bill 3822, known as the Prior Authorization Reform Act, is a bipartisan solution supporters say will bring much-needed transparency and streamlining to prior authorization requirements. 

Health insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers use prior authorization to cut costs, requiring health professionals to do extra paperwork before their recommended patient care is approved. Even when authorization is granted, too often insurance companies later deny payment for medical care they approved. 

Prior authorization requirements are often not based on clinically valid criteria, and are administered by individuals who lack relevant qualifications. The Prior Authorization Reform Act would rectify that situation, making sure prior authorization requirements are based on medical evidence and administered by qualified individuals. 

Senate Bill 3822 awaits assignment to a legislative committee where it will receive a public hearing. 

Overtime wages not taxable under new bill
Illinois residents who work overtime would find some tax relief under recently filed legislation that would exempt overtime wages from the state income tax. 

Senate Bill 3695 would create a deduction on any overtime wages earned in Illinois. Wages earned in excess of a taxpayer’s regular monthly or weekly salary would be exempt from the state income tax. 

The state income tax on overtime wages would still be withheld from an individual’s paycheck; however, when that person goes to file their taxes for that year, they would receive a deduction equal to the amount of taxes paid on overtime wages. 

Air Force Combat veterans would be honored under new bill
Recipients of the Air Force Combat Action Medal could be recognized on Illinois license plates under newly filed legislation. 

Senate Bill 2518 creates the Air Force Combat Action Medal license plate and allows the Illinois Secretary of State to issue them to eligible drivers. The new plate would join numerous others created to recognize military service and awards, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Navy Service Cross. The existing Combat Action Badge plate is offered for Army recipients of that medal, which is very similar to the Air Force’s Combat Action Medal. 

HPV vaccination
I am receiving a number of calls and emails regarding new state legislation to mandate the HPV vaccine for children as early as sixth grade.

I oppose the measure that would set up the state as somehow knowing, better than parents, what’s in the best interest of their children. 

The proposal mandating the vaccination is House Bill 4870. You can track the bill’s progress using this link:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=4870&GAID=15&DocTypeID=HB&LegId=124934&SessionID=108&GA=101 

I also want to let you know about another piece of legislation related to HB4870. 

Senate Bill 3668 would end the religious exemption from current law requiring medical examinations and immunizations. I also oppose this legislation because it is a violation of the First Amendment right to Freedom of Religion. You can track SB3668 using this link:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=3668&GAID=15&DocTypeID=SB&LegId=125621&SessionID=108&GA=101 

Keep In Touch/Stay Informed
There are several ways to keep in touch with me. You can call my district or Capitol offices: 815/455-6330 or 217/782-8000 and you can email me from my legislative website at
www.senatorwilcox.com. Click on the Contact tab at the top of the homepage. 

While you’re visiting the legislative website, you can find news from the Capitol, sign up for my free newsletter, read our Founding Documents, connect to state government agencies and resources and find college scholarship information. There’s also an extensive list of sites veterans can use to connect to employment, education, service records and more.

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