News from the ITA

May 26, 2020


Illinois General Assembly Concludes Spring Agenda with Limited Session

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Don Harmon called legislators back to Springfield for a special session last week. The General Assembly, having not met since March 5 due to the novel Coronavirus, gathered for session under special precautions designed to keep legislators and Staff safe.

The special session agenda was limited to the state budget, specific items related to the novel Coronavirus, or other issues designated as necessary or emergencies. The General Assembly was scheduled to be in Special Session Wednesday though Friday, but announced Friday afternoon they would have to continue through Saturday. They ended their work when the Senate adjourned early Sunday morning.

Due to health concerns, all members were asked to be tested for COVID-19 before coming to Springfield and to take extra precautions while in session including wearing face coverings and also agree to self-isolate for seven days after concluding their work. The House met on the floor of the Bank of Springfield Convention Center where they had the ability to set up desks further apart than in the House Chambers and Senators were called to the Senate Chamber in small groups for votes. The public and lobbyists were limited to a couple areas to view legislative action remotely by video.

The General Assembly passed a $42.8 billion state budget that includes short-term borrowing of up to $5 billion with the intention of using anticipated future aid from the federal government to repay the loan. Two bills passed that included provisions directly related to telecom and broadband:

House Bill 2174 provided 12-month extensions for regulatory sunsets including the Telecommunications Act, Video Competition Law and Emergency Telephone System Act. Those acts are now set to expire December 31, 2021 and the sunsets will need to be extended again next year.

Senate Bill 2135 includes a provision requiring the Broadband Advisory Council to study the goal of providing no-cost universal broadband access to all residents of the state through the expansion of the state broadband competitive matching grant program to the extent determined to be feasible. It also directed the BAC to study the alternative goal of providing affordable broadband access to all residents of the state. The BAC is required to issue a report to the General Assembly by January 1, 2021.

The House and Senate are scheduled to return for veto session November 17.

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