State Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) is urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to act as quickly as possible to get unemployment benefits to independent contractors, self-employed individuals and others who do not normally qualify for unemployment benefits but are being hurt by this shutdown.
Self-employed "gig" workers, according to ADP Research Institute, make up 18 percent of Illinois’ workforce. Under the recently signed federal stimulus law, these gig workers are now eligible for unemployment benefits, and states must modify their websites in order to review these claims. Unfortunately, no modification has been made to the Illinois Department of Employment Security's (IDES) website. Therefore, no claims can be submitted.
"As this health crisis continues, small business owners and self-employed individuals across the state have been forced to close up shop and are struggling daily to provide for themselves and their families," said Sen. Plummer. "President Trump has authorized expanded access to unemployment benefits for these workers during this pandemic, and I would urge Governor Pritzker to take immediate action to provide critical relief to our working families."
Sen. Plummer notes that weeks ago, Illinois constituents were told the IDES website would be improved, and access would be enhanced. However, based on what lawmakers are hearing from their constituents, delays with the site continue, and frustrations continue to mount.
A number of other states like New York and Iowa have already provided guidance for gig workers on their websites, and Michigan began accepting claims online April 13. Unfortunately, Illinois lawmakers have been told Illinois’ IDES website will not be able to accept claims until May 11.
The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) has announced it has distributed $7 million across the state to step up efforts to provide meal assistance for older Illinoisans impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
These funds, provided through Emergency Assistance Services grants, have been distributed to the state’s 46 care Coordination Units (CCUs) to provide meals for older Illinoisans.
According to IDoA, more than 85,000 seniors were provided meals at congregate meal sites, and an additional 43,000 received meals delivered to their homes last year. However, because of the temporary suspension of meal service in congregate dining sites, seniors who had received meals at these sites will now be included in IDoA’s home delivery programs. Between March 30 and April 3, 4,907 new referrals for home-delivered meals were processed.
If you are a senior, or know one in need of assistance, please visit www.illinois.gov/aging or contact the IDoA Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (hearing impaired call 888-206- 1327).
The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have launched a new web tool for those who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and are seeking Economic Impact payments.
The ‘Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here’ web portal allows individuals who are not required to file a federal tax return to submit basic personal information to the IRS to receive their Economic Impact payments quickly, safely, and efficiently.
To access the web portal, visit IRS.gov and click on the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” button. The tool will request the following basic information:
· Full names and Social Security numbers, including for spouse and dependents
· Mailing address
· Bank account type, account and routing numbers
Individuals who receive Social Security retirement benefits and did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 will receive the Economic Impact Payment automatically and do not need to fill out this form.
For more information on the new web tool or more information about Economic Impact Payments, click here.
The Illinois State Police filed emergency rules this week to address renewals of Firearm Owner Identification and Concealed Carry Licenses during the COVID-19 epidemic.
These rules are designed to provide FOID card holders and CCL relief from the renewal requirements during the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
These rule changes are as follows:
* FOID card holders, who submit their renewal application will remain valid during the duration of the state's disaster proclamation and for a period of 12 months following the termination of the disaster, even if their renewal application is/was not submitted prior to expiration.
* CCL licensees, who submit their renewal application, will remain valid during the duration of the state's disaster proclamation and for a period of 12 months following its termination, even if their CCL renewal application was not submitted prior to expiration.
* CCL licensees will not be required to immediately submit proof of three-hour training with their CCL renewal application.
* CCL licensees will need to submit proof of their three-hour renewal training within 12 months following the termination of the state's disaster proclamation in order to maintain the validity of their CCL license.
ISP will continue to enforce both FOID and CCL prohibitors. FOID card holders who receive revocation notices shall return their FOID and Firearm Disposition Record form to the Illinois State Police. CCL holders who receive revocation notices shall return their CCL license to the Illinois State Police.
These new rules are effective immediately.
Sen. Plummer demands accountability and transparency regarding corruption concerns in Madison County
Accusations alleging misconduct and political corruption have been made against officials in the Madison County administration offices. Madison County is one of eight counties represented by State Senator Jason Plummer (R – Edwardsville).
The Illinois Attorney General’s Office reviewed the case, but elected not to pursue charges. However, since the release of multiple affidavits for search warrants pertaining to the case, significant concerns have been raised within the community.
"The information that was made public this week contains extremely concerning accusations. I urge county board chairman Kurt Prenzler to publicly address the accusations made against members of his administration," said Sen. Plummer. "The public deserves full transparency, and corruption - on any level - cannot and will not be tolerated."
In response to concerns that have been raised, Sen. Plummer sent a letter to the Illinois Attorney General asking for further information regarding their review of the case.
"Regardless of any further legal action pursued on this matter, elected officials and public servants should be held to a higher standard,” said Sen. Plummer. "If Chairman Prenzler is not willing to transparently and publicly address these issues with immediacy, I call on the members of the Madison County board to take swift action to provide accountability and restore the public trust in their local government. Corruption and unethical behavior at any level can not be tolerated, no matter the person or the party."
Senator Plummer has led the charge in Springfield on issues relating to ethics, sponsoring several bills addressing pay to play politics, conflicts of interest among elected officials, transparency at all levels of government and other issues relating to Illinois' well-deserved reputation as one being one of the most corrupt states in the country.
"No elected official should, in good conscious, be willing to stand by while questions of these allegations remain unanswered. Former Madison County board member Lisa Ciampoli and Madison County treasurer Chris Slusser are true public servants, and I commend them for putting the public first in this matter."
Small businesses looking to keep workers on the payroll have a new option in the Paycheck Protection Program. Starting now, small businesses may apply for loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that will be forgiven loans for businesses that keep all employees on the payroll for eight weeks. Money must be used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
Who Can Apply
- Small businesses with fewer than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed persons)
- 501 (c)(3) Private Non-Profit Organizations
- 501(c)(19) Veterans Organizations
- Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standardsfor those industries.
- Small businesses in the hospitality and food industry with more than one location could also be eligible if their individual locations employ fewer than 500 workers.
Where to Apply
- Businesses can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally-insured depository institution, federally-insured credit union, or Farm Credit System institution that is participating.
- Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the SBA program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
- Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020.
- The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.
Loan Details and Forgiveness
- Loans will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.
- It is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
- Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
- No collateral or personal guarantees are required, and neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.
- Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
- This loan has a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1%.
If you wish to begin preparing your application, you can download a copy of the PPP borrower application form to see the information that will be requested from you when you apply with a lender.
Other Federal Assistance
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small-business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are currently eligible to apply for disaster assistance.
Enhanced Debt Relief is also available in SBA’s other business loan programs to help small businesses overcome the challenges created by this health crisis.
For information on additional lending options, please click here.
SBA provides local assistance via 68 district offices and a nationwide network of resource partners. To find resources near you, please click here.
Other State Assistance
Small-Business Emergency Loan Fund
A new fund has been established to provide loans to Illinois businesses experiencing hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 will be eligible to apply. Applications are now available.
Learn more at this link: https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/Pages/IllinoisSmallBusinessEmergencyLoanFund.aspx
Downstate Small Business Stabilization Fund
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact small businesses in downstate Illinois, action has been taken to make $20 million available to provide working capital available to these businesses. Funds are now available for up to 60 days of verifiable working capital up to a grant ceiling of $25,000 for businesses that employ 50 people or fewer. These funds may be used to assist private for-profit small retail and service businesses, or businesses considered non-essential by the Governor's Executive Order without the ability for employees to work remotely.
State Treasurer Bridge Loans
Illinois small businesses can tap into $250 million in low-interest bridge loans as soon as this week to help push through the COVID-19 pandemic. The state Treasurer’s Office will make $250 million available to Illinois banks and credit unions that wish to participate. The financial institutions will determine who is eligible for the loans.
More information is available at this link: https://illinoistreasurergovprod.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/twocms/media/doc/march2020_smallbizreliefprogram.pdf
Below is a letter I sent to DOC Director Rob Jeffrey's concerning protocols and precautions in place at DOC facilities during the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.
April 2, 2020
Mr. Rob Jeffreys, Acting Director
Illinois Department of Corrections
James R. Thompson Center
100 West Randolph
Chicago, IL 60601
As residents, hospitals and businesses throughout Illinois do their part to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, I wanted to take this time to commend you and your staff for the hard work you do each and every day to keep our communities safe.
Every facet of state government has been impacted by these historic events, and our caucus has worked tirelessly to provide our communities with the information they need to ensure they and their loved ones remain health and safe. This is true of our hard-working men and women who work within our corrections facilities throughout Illinois. I had hoped to have you participate in a conference call with our caucus, which would provide an opportunity to have those questions our constituents have brought to us answered.
In lieu of that call, I do have some questions that we ask you provided answers in writing.
- When did DOC take steps to stop the transfer of prisoners, lock down their facilities, close inmate gyms and prohibit visitation privileges of groups 10 or more? When were these procedures first discussed and when were they eventually implemented?
- Has DOC fully complied with all directives that have been issued by the Governor’s office?
- What precautions are being undertaken within Illinois correctional facilities to maintain the proper social-distancing recommended by health care officials?
- What Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) was available to corrections staff before this crisis, what’s available now and how long will that supply last?
- What precautions and plans were put in place by DOC to care for inmates after contracting COVID-19, and what procedures were developed to determine where they would receive care?
- What planning has DOC undertaken to care for inmates in off-site medical encampments that will ensure they receive the proper care without overwhelming our downstate hospitals?
I know these are unprecedented times, requiring extraordinary measure. However, it is my hope that any policy and health decisions made within the Department of Corrections is made solely by department personnel and health care officials. Furthermore, I trust these decisions are being made with the health of both the inmate and community in mind.
State Senator Jason Plummer
With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases growing daily, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced that he will be extending the state’s disaster proclamation for 30 days. This is the second disaster declaration issued by the Governor in hopes of combating the ongoing COVID-19 health issue.
Under the authority of the disaster declaration, Governor Pritzker has also announced that his original “stay-at-home” order will also be extended through April, and on-site learning for K-12 schools will be extended through the end of April.
As with the original order, essential activities will still be permitted, and essential facilities, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, will remain open. Residents are encouraged to continue practicing social distancing in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, school districts are preparing to transition from Act of God Days to Remote Learning days, with each school district responsible for creating and implementing Remote Learning Day Plans based on their local resources and student needs. Illinois’ K-12 schools were initially closed by the Governor on March 13.
As of March 31, Illinois has nearly 6,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Illinois' current income tax filing deadline is April 15. Recently, the federal government has already pushed back the income tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15.
State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Vandalia) issued the following statement urging Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker to do the same:
"The ongoing COVID-19 health crisis has created so many new and daily challenges for the concerned residents and businesses of Illinois, leaving many hardworking men and women worried about how they will support their families during this crisis. As the citizens of this state continue to navigate this unprecedented pandemic, I urge the governor to extend the state's income-tax filing deadline, like the federal government has done under the leadership of President Trump, to show empathy and help provide a measure of relief to our taxpayers now."