Senate, House cancel next week’s session once again
The Capitol in Springfield will remain as quiet as it is here in this March 13 photo as the Legislature has canceled its sessions scheduled for next week. It is uncertain when lawmakers will return to the Statehouse. (Capitol News Illinois file photo by Ben Orner)
Pandemic still has Illinois lawmaking on hold
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Lawmaking remains on hold in Illinois amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the state’s Senate and House each canceled next week’s scheduled session Wednesday.
The House was scheduled to be in Tuesday through Friday and the Senate was set to be in Tuesday through Thursday ahead of a scheduled two-week spring break from April 6 until an April 21 return.
“For now, we are taking it day by day and urging everyone heed the advice of health care professionals by practicing social distancing, regularly washing hands and avoiding all unneeded travel,” Senate President Harmon, D-Oak Park, said in a statement.
A letter to House members from Jessica Basham, chief of staff to House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said members “should be prepared to return to Springfield to address urgent matters, including during the weeks of April 5 and April 12 (the legislative spring break).”
The statement from Harmon’s office said he asked members to keep their calendars clear for possible return dates as well.
Harmon’s statement also said senators and staff “continue to examine legislative and procedural priorities so that when the legislative session resumes, the Senate is prepared to act efficiently and effectively.”
“We are going to have to figure out what is critical and what is time-sensitive,” Harmon said.
Two of the most important matters are a state operating budget and a hospital assessment law update which affects approximately $3.5 billion in federal funding.
Basham said House Democrats will have a conference call Monday on budget-making and the hospital assessment program.
“Members should anticipate receiving a status update on these matters during the Monday call,” she said, noting discussions on the legislation are ongoing.
Gov. JB Pritzker, in a Tuesday briefing on COVID-19, acknowledged that the revenue projections behind his $42 billion budget proposal earlier this year are no longer valid as the economy is rocked by the pandemic.
“And of course there are expenditures that we’re needing to make to save people’s lives, to protect people across the state,” Pritzker said. “We’re going to do what we need to do, there’s no question about that. But yes, of course, behind that we’ve got to look at our budget situation and do whatever we need to do to address it, and then we’ve got to also consult with the General Assembly on what we will do for next year’s budget.”