State Legislative Session Begins
Session began this week with the organizing of committees.  However yesterday, the Senate Labor Committee held a subject matter hearing on SB1, which would raise the minimum wage in the state to $15 per hour.  There is debate about the implementation time line of four, five or more years.  They Deserve More Coalition submitted comments, working to remind legislators that they needed to make sure to include funding for direct support professionals and other front line staff as well as address possible wage compression with other staff if the minimum wage goes up to $15.  TDM is advocating for front line staff to always receive above the minimum wage so that we do not constantly face this crisis and competition from retain and fast food and other minimum wage jobs.  Working to support people in the community is not a minimum wage job!

Here is what the news is saying:
Illinois lawmakers looking to raise state’s minimum wage eye regional plan
Illinois News Network, 01.30.19
Senate Labor Committee discusses path to $15 minimum wage in Illinois
The Southern Illinoisan, 01.30.19

Capitol Fax reports that Senate President John Cullerton is indicating they could vote as early as next week on a bill.  The legislature is working to get a win for the Governor before his February 20 budget address.  However, there appear to be concerns and negotiation that continues to need to be done regarding the legislation related to implementation time frame, human services funding, youth employment and regionality issues among other things.

We are working with TDM and Illinois Partners to identify a supportive but frank tone about the issues so that  the staffing crisis that creates barriers for people with disabilities to have real choice and flexibility is addressed in this discussion.

The Senate is in session next week but not the following, while the House is in session both weeks.

Chairman Scott, Senator Casey, and Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers Introduce Bipartisan Bill to help Workers with Disabilities Transition to Competitive, Integrated Employment

On Tuesday, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in the Senate and Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and  Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the House introduced the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act. This bill is designed to support states with funding for states and organizations to transform their business and program models, to support individuals with disabilities to transition to competitive integrated employment, to phase out the use of such special certificates, and for other purposes.  The bill includes a six-year phase-out of subminimum wage certificates.

  • Create a competitive state grant program to assist states to transition all 14(c) certificate holders to models that support competitive, integrated employment for individuals with disabilities. States will be able to apply for these transformation grants and must establish an advisory committee that includes employers, organizations specializing in employment for individuals with disabilities, Medicaid agencies, AbilityOne contractors, individuals with disabilities, and vocational rehabilitation agencies.
  • Create a competitive grant program for current 14(c) certificate holders, located in states that do not apply for the state grant, to transition their business models to support individuals with disabilities in competitive, integrated employment.
  • Immediately freeze the issuance of any new 14(c) certificates by the Department of Labor (DOL) and phase out the use of existing 14(c) certificates over 6 years until employees are paid the federal minimum wage.
  • Establish a technical assistance (TA) center to support all entities, even those not receiving the transformation grants, to transition to competitive integrated employment. The TA center, which will be funded by DOL, is tasked with disseminating information about best practices, lessons learned, and models for transition to all entities transitioning to competitive, integrated employment.
  • Require reporting and evaluation on the progress of creating and expanding the service delivery structure to support workers with disabilities in competitive integrated settings and the inclusive wraparound services they receive when not working. States and 14(c) certificate holders will also be required to report on their grant activities, evaluate changes in employment for individuals with disabilities, report average wage information, and evaluate employer actions taken to comply with the phase out of 14(c) and transformation grants.

To read the section-by-section of the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, click here

To read a fact sheet on Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, click here.

Governor announces policy staff and Illinois Department of Public Health Director
Dr. Ngozi Ezike will serve as Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).* Dr. Ezike is a board-certified internist and pediatrician who comes to IDPH from Cook County Health, where she has served for more than 15 years. She currently serves as medical director at the Juvenile Detention Center, the largest juvenile detention facility in the country. Previously, Dr. Ezike served as medical director for the Austin Health Center where she actively engaged with the community through health initiatives involving obesity, diabetes, and breastfeeding.

Ramon Gardenhire will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy in the Office of the Governor. Gardenhire currently serves as the vice president of policy for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, overseeing AFC’s advocacy and policy work at the federal, state and local level.

Pat Collier will serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Federal Affairs in the Office of the Governor. Collier previously served as policy director on Governor Pritzker’s campaign. Prior to the campaign, he was the director of government affairs for the Center for American Progress, a progressive Washington think tank.


Meg Cooch
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)