By: Brittany Flaherty Theis

On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Illinois issued a joint proclamation convening a Special Session of General Assembly to begin this week (the “Joint Proclamation”). The Joint Proclamation was issued pursuant to an Illinois law called the Special Session Act, which allows a special session of the General Assembly to be convened at any time by a joint proclamation issued by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate. The joint proclamation must state the purpose of the session and the date and time for the session. It must be filed with the Secretary of State. Notice must be provided to members of the General Assembly in accordance with provisions of the Special Session Act. Other than impeachments or confirmation of appointments, only business encompassed by the purposes stated in the joint proclamation may be transacted during the special session.

According to the Joint Proclamation, the Special Session will begin May 20, 2020. It has been reported that the Special Session will be held May 20, 21, and 22. The House of Representatives will meet at the Bank of Springfield Center and the Senate will meet at the State Capital Building. The purposes stated in the Joint Proclamation include:

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic or other disasters;
  2. The State budget and its implementation;
  3. Economic recovery, infrastructure projects, and funding thereof;
  4. The explanation, arguments for and against, and the form for constitutional amendments as required under the Illinois Constitutional Amendment Act;
  5. Laws or authority scheduled to be repealed prior to June 1, 2021;
  6. The 2020 General Election and the State Board of Elections; and
  7. The hospital assessment program.

The biggest issue potentially falling within these purposes for school districts is funding. Several organizations representing the interests of school districts have advocated for specific priority lists that highlight numerous issues impacting school districts throughout the State. Although such lists were provided prior to the Joint Proclamation, many of the priorities can be included in the purposes listed above. The priorities include, but are not limited to, Evidence-Based Funding, interfund transfer provisions, the minimum teacher salary law, and PTELL-related concerns. These are all items to watch for. We also know that for our clients with large commercial or industrial properties within their boundaries, or a high concentration of commercial and industrial properties, lobbying efforts on behalf of those taxpayers remain a concern.

The Joint Proclamation indicates that both the Senate and House will take all reasonable precautions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the members, staff, and public during the special session. For example, Speaker Michael Madigan prepared what he has referred to as an “IDPH-approved pledge” to follow specific protocol intended to provide such protection, which includes items such as getting COVID-19 tested prior to attending the Special Session, temperature checks, wearing face coverings, traveling to the Special Session alone, and more. This pledge is consistent with the “COVID-19 Special Session Plan” that outlines the above preparations prior to the Special Session, as well as protocol for entering and participating in the Special Session.

Whitt Law will continue to monitor the General Assembly and its Special Session as it relates to the interests of our clients. Please contact Whitt Law Partner Stuart L. Whitt or Senior Attorney Brittany Flaherty Theis if you have any questions regarding the General Assembly or the Special Session.