News from the ITA

January 8, 2021


 Legislative Update

 The Illinois General Assembly will convene a lame duck session starting Friday, January 8. Due to ongoing public health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, legislators will meet with similar safety protocols and arrangements as they did to conclude the spring legislative session in May and June. House Members will meet at the convention center in downtown Springfield to allow for social distancing. The Illinois Senate will continue to meet in the Senate Chamber, with additional public health and safety protocols in place. Lobbyists and the media will have extremely limited access to legislators and the proceedings.

The legislature is scheduled to meet through the weekend and conclude the work of the 101st General Assembly prior to the inauguration of representatives and senators Wednesday, January 13. The inauguration will begin the two-year 102nd General Assembly.

Much of the lame duck session will be focused on a package of legislation introduced this week by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to address criminal justice reform, police accountability; education and workforce development; economic access, equity and opportunity; and healthcare and human services. 

Although the legislation currently scheduled for hearings and introduced this week does not directly affect broadband and telecommunications, additional measures could arise through the end of session. We will closely monitor legislative activity through the session and report on any legislation that affects our industry.

Illinois Broadband

Broadband Advisory Council Submits Affordability Study to Illinois General Assembly

The Broadband Advisory Council (BAC) submitted a broadband affordability study developed in response to Senate Bill 2135 to the Illinois General Assembly December 31. 

In a cover letter to the affordability study, BAC Chair and Director of the Office of Broadband, Matt Schmit, said the BAC worked with respected researchers to respond to the questions in SB 2135 and that the resulting study bolsters the case for the broadband expansion and digital equity initiatives launched by Governor JB Pritzker while making clear the need for a bigger federal investment in broadband. The study first attempts to determine the overall level of broadband connectivity in the state and then, accounting for access to infrastructure, assesses the affordability of service and equipment as barriers to adoption and estimates the costs to the State that would be associated with removing those barriers.

Office of Broadband to Host Connect Illinois Round 2 Webinar Friday, Jan. 8

The Illinois Office of Broadband on Tuesday announced two new webinars.Today, Jan 8, the Office of Broadband will host a Connect Illinois Infrastructure Grant Round 2 Applicant Forum and on January 14 scheduled an Illinois Connected Communities Round 1 Report Out: 

Community Broadband Grant Sessions

Presented by: Matt Schmit, Deputy Director of the Illinois Office of Broadband

Friday, January 8 at Noon CT - Connect Illinois Infrastructure Grant Round 2 Applicant Forum (See Notice of Funding Opportunity here)

Thursday, January 14 at Noon CT - Illinois Connected Communities Grant Round 1 Report Out - This session will cover updates on this program, reminding all that the Round 2 deadline is January 25.


COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Update

We reported on the Illinois Department of Public Health's (IDPH) briefing on December 11 about the state's COVID-19 vaccination plan. The state began vaccinating healthcare workers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities in Phase 1a of the state's plan. IDPH officials estimated at the time vaccinations for the approximately 850,000 frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities in Phase 1a could be completed in 4-6 weeks.

IDPH said in it's briefing that the state is awaiting further guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on vaccination priorities for Phase 1b and 1c. Phase 1b will begin when the state has substantially completed Phase 1a. 

The state updated its plan this week and announced that anyone age 65 and older would be eligible for vaccination in Phase 1b along with additional front-line essential workers identified by the ACIP which includes public safety workers, teachers and school staff, manufacturing, agriculture and grocery store workers, public transit employees, postal workers, and correctional officers. The Illinois plan differs from the ACIP guidance as ACIP designated those age 75 and over for Phase 1b, while Illinois is making vaccines available for anyone 65 and older. IDPH estimates that there are approximately 3.2 million Illinoisans in Phase 1b.

Other critical infrastructure employees, which include workers in the communications and information technology sector are included in Phase 1c per the most recent guidance from the ACIP. With limited vaccines available it will be important for companies to have a plan for prioritization of employees at greatest risk. IDPH officials said critical infrastructure companies will coordinate vaccination schedules with their local health departments. 

Gov. Pritzker said the Illinois National Guard would be involved in setting up mass vaccination sites across the state to administer vaccines to as many people as quickly as possible. IDPH also has a COVID-19 Vaccination FAQ available on its website. 

2021 ITA Annual Partners

We would like to thank our 2021 Annual Partners for their support. Click here for more information on the benefits of being an Annual Partner or contact Randy or Nina with any questions or to join.

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