Illinois Government Responses to Covid-19 Updated 5/20/2020
Today’s update discusses:
- Governor withdraws an emergency rule
- salons and other non-essential businesses to reopen fully at end of May
- Chicago Teachers Union sues U.S. Secretary of Education
- rent relief bills proposed in Illinois legislature
- After much pushback, Governor Pritzker has withdrawn the emergency rule issued last week making it a crime for businesses to reopen in defiance of the stay-at-home order. The Governor withdrew the rule just before the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules was set to meet and debate the rule. Legislation may be introduced that puts the same penalties into effect, but for now, businesses that choose not to adhere to the stay-at-home order will not be subject to criminal penalties for reopening.
- Governor Pritzker also announced that bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen for outdoor seating on May 29, which is happening on a faster timeline than the Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan had anticipated. Outdoor seating dine-in had been slated to occur in Phase 4, but the restaurant industry has lobbied the Governor for faster reopening. Additionally, salons, barbershops, and non-essential retail may welcome customers inside their businesses on May 29. The state’s regions are meeting the metrics to move into Phase 3 of the Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan. The Illinois Department of Public Health will issue guidelines for these establishments to operate safely.
- Today, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an order that all Illinois’ courts will reopen on June 1, but courts are encouraged to maintain social distancing guidelines by finding a way to limit those allowed in the courtroom. While restrictions on in-person hearings will be relaxed to an extent, the court encourages the continued use of remote hearings when appropriate. In addition, the chief judge should determine whether matters may be safely heard by considering multiple factors laid out in the order and in the Supreme Court Guidelines for Resuming Illinois Judicial Branch Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- The Chicago Teachers’ Union has filed suit in federal court against President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVoss, alleging that their handling of special education during the pandemic has been inadequate and has created an “impossible burden” for students, teachers, and parents alike. The suit seeks an injunction to stop the U.S. Department of Education from enforcing regulations requiring lesson plans for special education students to be revised.
- As the Illinois legislature reconvenes today, a bill regarding statewide rent relief could be passed through both chambers and on its way to Governor Pritzker by the end of the week. The Act, labeled the “COVID-19 Emergency and Economic Recovery Renter and Homeowner Protection Act,” would:
- Cancel rent debt for tenants who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine; have lost income through furloughs, layoffs, or other employment interruption; or are paying more for household expenses, child care, or health care during the moratorium.
- Prevent landlords and condo associations from fining those residents for missed payments or reporting them to a consumer reporting agency, tenant screening agency, or credit bureau.
- Compensate landlords and mortgage lenders for canceled payments through a newly created residential housing relief fund. The money could also help pay for moving costs and assist mortgage holders and tenants with payments after the moratorium expires.
- Suspend mortgage payments for coronavirus-impacted landlords and homeowners and give those homeowners a 180-day forbearance on taxes, insurance, and association fees. Loan terms would be extended for the number of months of missed payments.
- Place a moratorium on foreclosures and prevent new eviction filings in court, in addition to the existing moratorium on carrying out evictions. It also gives tenants more time to pay back late rent after the moratorium expires and tightens restrictions on future eviction proceedings and rent increases for a year after the moratorium expires.
- Be in effect until the state’s unemployment rate recovers to near pre-pandemic levels and the governor’s disaster proclamation has expired.
The funding for this Act would come from federal funding the state received for the pandemic, and certain groups have top priority to receive funding. Republican Representative Tim Butler introduced a separate bill, which would provide rent assistance if the tenant’s landlord agrees to participate in the program.