Rep. Bunting’s Springfield news update for June 28

In this issue:

  • Seeking to extend energy assistance for low-income families
  • Some new laws take effect on Monday
  • Good news for Meals on Wheels program
  • Thank you to Heritage Woods

Seeking to extend energy assistance for low-income families

There is no doubt that summer has arrived, with day after day of hot weather. But as hard as it is to believe, winter is not that far away. When the cold weather arrives, Illinoisans will once again turn up the thermostat to warm their homes. But for some of our neighbors, because of soaring energy prices, that is easier said than done. Legislators are working to extend a program that provides energy assistance programs for low-income Illinoisans.

House Bill 4471 extends the Supplemental Low-Income Energy Assistance fund by removing a January 1, 2025, sunset date. The fund provides payments to utility companies on behalf of those enrolled in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, better known as LIHEAP. It also pays for home weatherization services to make houses more energy efficient.

Households with a total income of 200% of the federal poverty line or below are eligible for LIHEAP benefits. You can find more information about the program, including how to apply locally, by clicking here.

The program was expanded during the COVID pandemic. Between September 2022 and May 2023 more than 300,000 Illinois households received some assistance. Applications for continued aid are open until August for existing recipients.

The bill passed unanimously and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

For heat safety tips, click here.

Some new laws take effect on Monday

With the arrival of July, some new Illinois state laws will be taking effect.

One such new law will increase pay for tipped workers in Chicago who make less than the minimum wage. That law applies only to Chicago, as it would have had severe consequences for small businesses in rural parts of the state, such as layoffs and higher prices.

Illinois will also begin offering drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants on July 1. This new law replaces the existing Temporary Visitor Drivers Licenses, over 300,000 of which have already been issued. Applicants must possess valid insurance, provide ID documents, prove one year of Illinois residency and pass a driving test.

Some other new laws include changes to how school assessment tests are administered and protections for independent contractors against threats and discrimination.

Good news for Meals on Wheels program

The House and Senate passed a sales tax exemption for home-delivered meals when payment is made by an intermediary as part of a Medicare or Medicaid program. It will help providers such as Meals on Wheels provide food to seniors and others in need at lower costs.

Meals on Wheels were already supposed to be tax-exempt. However, due to federal contracting with third-party intermediaries to administer portions of the Medicaid and Medicare programs, some providers of home-delivered meals were incurring sales tax liabilities. Meals on Wheels delivers hundreds of thousands of meals in Illinois every year.

To find a local provider, learn more about eligibility or find out how to volunteer, please click here.

Thank you to Heritage Woods

Thank you to Heritage Woods of Dwight for inviting me out to have a town hall with the residents at your facility earlier this week.

We had many great questions and conversations! It was a wonderful visit!

Our current bill backlog

When a vendor provides the state with goods and services, they submit the bill to the Illinois Comptroller for payment. The Comptroller processes the paperwork and pays the bill when funds are available in the state’s checking account. Currently the total amount of unpaid bills is $582,181,751. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $1.3 billion in bills awaiting payment. This only includes bills submitted to the Comptroller for payment, not unfunded debts like the state’s pension liability, which is well over $100 billion.

Illinois headlines

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Ironman will bring a 70.3-mile triathlon to Rockford in 2025, 2026 and 2027