Spring 2021 Illinois State Legislative Disability Roundup


June 3, 2021 | by Amber Smock

Spring 2021 Illinois State Legislative Disability Roundup

New bills will support multiply marginalized people with disabilities

Access Living friends and allies:

Late last night, the Illinois legislature finally adjourned the spring session. A $42 billion state budget was approved; see this link for a news overview. Because of the pandemic, last year’s spring session was cut short; this year, legislators faced an enormous number of bills to catch up. The good news is that this year, there were a number of disability-related bills. In particular, this year’s bills will help address problems for multiply marginalized people with disabilities.

Check out the below list of highlights.

All of the following are now lined up to head to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk to be signed into law in the coming weeks. Access living is so thankful for the many amazing advocates and allies who worked to get these bills through.

CESSA, HB 2784

HB 2784: Access Living is thrilled that the Community Emergency Services and Supports Act (CESSA) passed. This bill aims to ensure that when 911 is called for a mental health crisis, there is a mental health response, not a law enforcement response. We thank the family of Stephon Watts, the members of our group Advance Your Leadership Power (AYLP), 911 and law enforcement supporters, and all our sponsors and allies for their help. Here is a link to a news story about the passage of CESSA.

Phasing out use of seclusion/restraint, HB 219

HB 219: Following on a major expose of the problem of seclusion and restraint of students with disabilities in Illinois schools, the legislature passed a bill that will phase out the use of these practices statewide. See this link for a statement from the ACLU of Illinois.

Transition age extension, HB 2748

HB 2748: Allows students with disabilities turning age 22 to remain in school through the end of their graduating school year.

Career and technical education (CTE), HB 3950

HB 3950: Will ensure that high school students with disabilities will have access to information about CTE opportunities as part of their transition planning for after high school.

CPS special education complaints, HB 2425

HB 2425: This bill extends the complaint period concerning delays and denials of special education services in the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 school year by Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The new deadline is September 30, 2022. This bill is related to the work of the Special Education Advocates Coalition of Chicago (SPEACC), of which Access Living is a member.

Illinois Way Forward, SB 667

SB 667: This bill was a critical priority for immigrate advocates under the leadership of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, of which Access Living is a member. Our community organizing group Cambiando Vidas pushed hard for this bill. The bill restricts local police cooperation with ICE and ends ICE detention in Illinois by January 2022.‚Äč

Creating more opportunities for affordable housing, HB 2621

HB 2621: Following on the passage and enactment of the Illinois Covid-19 relief bill for housing, State Senator Mattie Hunter led a charge on a new bill to incentivize the creation of more affordable housing. See this brief statement from State Senator Sara Feigenholtz.

Adopting and expanding on telehealth, HB 3308

HB 3308: Telehealth expanded rapidly during Covid-19, and as a result Illinois legislators passed a bill to make telehealth provisions permanent. The bill is intended to be a starting point to build out Illinois’ telehealth infrastructure.

Improving mental health insurance coverage, HB 2595

HB 2595: The Health is Health coalition passed a major new bill to improve insurance coverage for mental health care. Learn more at this link.

Community integration funding, SB 1977

SB 1977: This bill requires that the State of Illinois must apply for all federal funding available to promote community transition and integration services, including funding programs such as Money Follows the Person.

Decriminalizing HIV, HB 1063

HB 1063: This bill, led by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, will correct long-outdated provisions in Illinois law that criminalize people with HIV/AIDS. Illinois will become only the second state in the nation to fully decriminalize the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

Data collection, SB 2133

SB 2133 requires ten state agencies to begin consistent collection of demographic data based on age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, and primary/preferred language. Given the difficulty of collecting disability data, in overlap with other demographic information for multiply marginalized people, this is an important step forward.

Please share this wrap up with fellow interested advocates. To everyone who helped advocate for these bills, thank you!