Thursday marked the last day of VETO session in Springfield. A handful of bills were debated and passed including changes to the unemployment insurance (UI) fund and adjustments to the SAFE-T Act.
The Unemployment Insurance legislation went through an “Agreed Bill” process where both employers and labor worked together on the changes in statute. The bill will require rate hikes on employers and the state to pay back to the federal government the remaining $1.363 billion loan of the $4.5 billion Illinois borrowed to cover unemployment expenses related to the COVID lockdowns. Models predict employers will save an estimated $913 million with the agreement instead of not doing anything. Benefits will remain at the same level.
The SAFE-T Act changes were minor, including the allowance of detention in some instances of trespassing and giving prosecutors more flexibility in bringing certain cases to trial. Important substantive changes related to cashless bail, anonymous complaints on police officers, compelling victims to testify in detention hearings, and lessening penalties for repeat offenders which were in the original bill were not considered.
State Representative Brad Halbrook responded, “Once again, the answer to a problem the state created was to tax businesses more. I voted against the ‘Agreed’ bill that will raise rates on employers to fix a problem created by the Pritzker administration. As regards the minor changes to the SAFE-T Act, criminals will remain having more consideration in the judicial system than the public, victims seeking justice will be exposed to additional harm as they can be forced to testify in detention hearings, and Illinoisans’ safety will recede as dangerous criminals are released pending trial. To further insult law-abiding citizens, Democrats introduced legislation to give felons in jail the right to vote.”