State Rep. David Friess Weekly Update – 5/6/2022

Pritzker Fails to Respond to LaSalle Veterans Home

In total, 36 residents of the LaSalle Veterans’ Home died due to COVID-19. The deaths occurred between November 7, 2020, and January 1, 2021. By November 15, 2020, 17 residents had lost their lives from COVID-19 at the LaSalle Home.

On May 5, 2022, the Office of the Auditor General released the report of its Performance Audit of the State’s response to the COVID-19 Outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home. Some findings include:

  • Although the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) officials were informed of the increasing positive cases almost on a daily basis by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Chief of Staff, IDPH did not identify and respond to the seriousness of the outbreak.
  • A delay in getting testing results primarily due to the collection method used by the LaSalle Home allowed the virus to spread rapidly. Additionally, the testing method, collecting tests over three days, was not in compliance with the facility’s policy, which allowed for testing over two days.
  • The State expended approximately $3.4 million between FY20 and FY21 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic at the LaSalle Veterans Home. According to the documentation provided by IDPH and IDVA, expenditures included PPE, infrastructure improvements, and COVID-19 testing for both the COVID-19 pandemic as a whole and the outbreak at the LaSalle Home that began in late October 2020.

Electricity Costs Set to Soar

At a Springfield hearing this week, members of the House Public Utilities Committee discussed proposed modifications to the state’s new clean energy law amid warnings of electric rate increases and possible rolling brownouts throughout central and southern Illinois.

Electricity costs will soar beginning in June in central and southern Illinois, due to inadequate power supplies following coal-fired plant closures. Ameren Illinois is within the MISO grid covering much of downstate Illinois and according to the Illinois Manufacturers Association, central and southern Illinois families could soon be paying nearly $600 more in annual electricity costs

Critics of policies phasing out coal and natural gas in favor of renewable power are seeing their doomsday forecasts start to come true far faster than even they thought. The price shock downstate also hands Republicans who didn’t support Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s sprawling, costly Climate & Equitable Jobs Act, or CEJA, last year an issue in the upcoming election.

The statute requires the closure of all fossil fuel power plants in Illinois no later than 2045. Effectively, it’s made the usual method of addressing power-supply shortages—construction of new natural gas-fired plants—uneconomic and significantly reduced the tools available to address the shortage that’s emerged.

Batinick Buyout Extension

On Thursday, legislation to extend the successful “Batinick Buyout” program for state pensions was signed into law by Governor Pritzker. House Bill 4292 passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support and Rep. Mark Batinick was a chief co-sponsor.

HB 4292 amends the General Obligation Bond Act and authorizes an additional $1 billion to State Pension Obligation Acceleration Bonds. These bonds make accelerated pension benefit payments and participants can receive these payments instead of pension benefits or for reductions in the increases to their annual retirement annuity and survivors’ annuity. This extension is now June 30th, 2026.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

Sunday, May 8th is Mother’s Day. We wish all of the moms across Illinois a very Happy Mother’s Day!