Highlights: Our Current Work on Illinois State Bills


March 8, 2021 | by Amber Smock

Highlights: Our Current Work on Illinois State Bills

Friday, March 5, 2021

Access Living friends and allies,

Here in Illinois, it is a very busy time for state policy advocacy. Our state legislature is now working hard in spring session, which runs through May 31. In addition to the normal business of budget bills and new bills, many bills are being considered that got put on hold due to the start of the pandemic last year.

Access Living is working hard to champion and monitor state bills related especially to Covid-19 and racial equity affecting people with disabilities. Today, we’d like to highlight some of our priority state-level bills.

Creating Alternatives to Statewide Police Emergency Response:

Illinois is overdue to ensure that 911 dispatchers can send non-police frontline responders to nonviolent emergencies involving a person with a disability in mental or behavioral health crisis. CESSA calls for increased statewide coordination to ensure that 911 can help lower the risk of deadly encounters between people with disabilities and people.

  • Community Emergency Services and Supports Act (CESSA), SB 2117/HB 2784. Developed and led by Black and brown grassroots advocates in our community organizing group AYLP.

Improving Accessibility at the Illinois State Legislature:

People with disabilities have the right to equal access to public proceedings and locations where the Illinois State Legislature does its business, including floor sessions, hearings, video/audio broadcasts, online access, and access in the State Capitol and related buildings. However, full access is not yet in place.

  • Legislative Accessibility Act, SB 180/HB 855. Creates a pathway to upgrading accessibility for the Illinois State Legislature.

Improving Opportunities for Community Living:

The massive death toll of people with disabilities and seniors in congregate settings has only highlighted the fact that Illinois’ standard for nursing home placement is more relaxed than most other states. Access Living, along with allies in the Illinois Long-Term Care Rebalancing Coalition, is calling for a re-evaluation of that standard, along with an expansion of community based supports and nursing home diversion programs.

  • Raising the Determination of Need (DON) score for nursing home entry, SB 282/HB 2420.

Improving Access to Healthcare:

As a partner in Protect Our Care Illinois, Access Living supports healthcare bills that address core problems in access and equity for people with disabilities, including ensuring access to pharmacy services for minority communities living in pharmacy deserts, and reducing red tape due to prior authorizations.

Addressing Education Inequities for Students with Disabilities:

The pandemic has caused a great crisis for many students with disabilities in accessing both school and school-based supports. This year, we are focusing on ensuring that students with disabilities don’t miss out on education during and after the pandemic. We also continue to advocate against the use of seclusion and restraint in schools.

  • Additional year of special education services for students who graduated or will graduate during the pandemic, SB 1821
  • Compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for third party education service sites for K-12 students, HB 26
  • Prohibits prone restraint and requires three years of monitoring seclusion and restraint, HB 219

Expansion of Affordable, Accessible, Integrated Housing:

We support bills that address key systemic barriers in access to housing for people with disabilities. This year’s bills focus on access to affordable housing and reducing red tape.

  • Banning source of income discrimination statewide, HB 2775
  • Lifting the ban on rent control statewide, HB 116
  • Creating automatic renewals of disability status for homeowner tax exemptions, HB 1829

Access Living engages in ongoing monitoring and review of other bills. Please contact Amber Smock, Director of Advocacy, at asmock@accessliving.org to request support for bills not listed above.