The McDermed Dispatch for January 28th

The bill filing flurry has begun and the 101st General Assembly spring session begins in earnest tomorrow. Starting then we will be down in Springfield every week (with the exception of two weeks for “Spring Break” in April) until session adjournment on May 31st.

Equal Pay Legislation

I strongly support wage equality and have voted multiple times in the past for equal pay legislation, but none of those bills were implemented because they did not take a bipartisan approach and they failed to properly balance the interests of employees and employers. That’s why I filed legislation that is similar to, but reflective of the reasonable concerns brought up during the debate of, a bill that died last year. HB 881 amends the Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003 to prohibit an employer from requiring a prospective employee from disclosing their current salary. An employee’s pay is often based on salaries at previous jobs, which can perpetuate the gender pay gap and make it impossible for women to catch up. A 2017 field experiment from professors at NYU and Georgetown found that employers that couldn’t observe compensation history of job applicants responded by evaluating more applicants, and those more intensively, while workers hired by those employers were able to strike better wage bargains.

The bill also prohibits an employer from banning employees from discussing wages or salary with HR or other employees.

The legislation gives employers a defense against liability if an employer has done a self-evaluation of their salary practices within three years of the alleged violation and are can prove that they are taking good faith steps towards reasonable progress in correcting the violations. For more information on the bill, click here.

 ‘Revolving Door’ Ban

The past two years have seen a slew of retirements and resignations from House and Senate members, a number of whom have notably gone on to join lobbying firms, including most recently, former House Majority Leader Lou Lang. Illinois is one of only a handful of states that have no mandatory waiting period restrictions on the revolving door between lawmaker and lobbyist. This needs to be rectified so I filed legislation to ban lawmakers who resign from their post from taking a job as a lobbyist for the remainder of the term of office from which they resigned, or one year, whichever is longer.

I will be filing more legislation in the coming weeks and will inform you of some of what I feel are the most important ones. If you would like to see the full list of my legislation, click here (this page on the state General Assembly website will be continually updated as new legislation is filed). 

Governor’s Executive Orders (EO)

Governor Pritzker has not been shy about using the full power of his office. He has issued multiple EOs since taking office. These include:

  • To require the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), within 120 days of the EO issuance, to provide the Governor with a report containing a comprehensive review of the protocols and procedures for the health and safety of residents and employees at Illinois veterans’ homes.
  • To have Illinois join the U.S. Climate Alliance and the Paris Climate Agreement
  • “A commitment to ensuring that Illinois is the most progressive state in the nation for protecting women’s reproductive rights” by strictly enforcing HB40, a bill signed in to law last year. That bill, now law, expanded Medicaid and state employee health insurance to cover elective abortions.
  • To prohibit state agencies from asking prospective employees about their wage history.
  • To require state agencies to review their compliance with state laws and release information that is required to be disclosed to the public.
  • To fully fund immigrant welcoming centers and require state agencies to begin providing handouts informing immigrants of their rights and available state programs.
  • To require a report within 90 days from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity outlining industries that show the potential for future growth so that state worker training can be targeted.

Fair Maps Effort Resumes

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and the entire House Republican caucus have filed HJRCA 10, a constitutional amendment for the independent drawing of legislative maps. These maps are drawn after every census, with the next one in 2020. The proposal would establish an independent commission, comprised of 11 members, charged with proposing a legislative map. For more on the specifics of the plan, click here.

The proposal has been endorsed by the Chicago-Sun-Times editorial board, which stated: “The makeup of the Illinois Legislature — and of every state legislature — should reflect the will of the voters, not party bosses.” The current legislative map making process allows the party in power to determine district boundaries, resulting in gerrymandering. 12 states now have their maps drawn by commissions and not politicians.

Good News on Illinois Infrastructure

It might not seem like it when you’re stuck in traffic on I80, but Illinois is very driver friendly. WalletHub ranked Illinois as the #2 state out of 50 for infrastructure friendliness to drivers.  The survey ranked several points of infrastructure on a per-capita basis and found Illinois above average on many of them, including auto-repair shops per capita (Illinois ranked #4 among the 50 states), highway safety (#5), car dealerships per capita (#7), road quality (#21), and gas prices (#24). Oregon, which does not charge a sales tax on motor fuel or car-related merchandise, scored #1.   

Bitter Cold Expected

As you know, Illinois is expecting bitter cold temperatures this week. Please check in with neighbors, especially elderly ones, to make sure they are doing okay.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can offer help to eligible households with income that does not exceed 150% of the federal nonfarm poverty level.  LIHEAP can help with bills for Ameren Illinois, Com Ed, Nicor Gas, and Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas. The application process is detailed here.