Some session details; Help for the self-employed

Some more details on next week’s session

On Wednesday, the House will begin a three-day special session to address issues related to the coronavirus outbreak. This is our first time in session since March 5, and I am glad to see us finally come off the sidelines and get back to our Constitutional role in the lawmaking process.

Because this is a special session called by the House Speaker and Senate President, the two houses may only address those issues called for in the special session proclamation. The proclamation laid out seven measures, among them are the outbreak, the budget, economic recovery and infrastructure, and the state’s hospital assessment program. More specific information will be coming next week.

Steps to file for pandemic unemployment assistance for self-employed & independent contractors

Many employees who work as independent contractors (like gig workers) and self-employed individuals, do not pay into the state unemployment systems and may not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits. These employees don’t receive a W-2 form from an employer, instead they may receive a 1099 from their clients.

Starting this week, qualifying Illinois workers may apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) by following these steps.

Grants available for local government infrastructure improvements

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has announced a $25 million Fast-Track Public Infrastructure Grant Program to accelerate public works projects throughout Illinois. These grants will be made available to local governments who are ready to commence public infrastructure projects this summer.

The grant amounts range from $500,000 to $5 million, and applicants can apply for grants for more than one project. These grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and applications will be accepted until Monday June 15, or until funding is exhausted. Click here for more information.

Illinois Retail Cares campaign showcases work of Illinois businesses

We’ve heard the phrase, “we’re all in this together” so often we probably hear it in our sleep, but it is no less true now than it was two months ago. A good example of the meaning of that expression is being showcased by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association through its Illinois Retail Cares campaign.

The effort shows the many different ways Illinois retailers are helping in their communities. While many businesses are struggling during this difficult time, they are still working to support those around them, whether it is donating food for medical staff or masks and sanitizer for first responders. Find out more about the Illinois Retail Cares campaign here.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $6,536,350,965 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $7.2 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $137 billion.

More news from around the state

The latest Department of Public Health update

Local leaders share ‘Heart of Illinois’ sub-region re-opening proposal

Stay-at-home order impact on mental, physical health

All state veterans home residents and employees have received COVID-19 testing

COVID-19 testing sites in Illinois

For additional helpful resources, click here.

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at dph.sick@illinois.gov.

My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).