By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinoisphancock@capitolnewsillinois.com
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate worked through a long list of bills Thursday as lawmakers prepared to enter the final stretch of the 2021 session.
Those bills included new restrictions on third-party delivery services such as DoorDash, limits on the governor’s authority to interfere with collective bargaining agreements and new requirements to collect data on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the LGBTQ community.
Senate Bill 672 would create the “Fair Food Delivery Act,” requiring third-party delivery services such as DoorDash and Uber Eats to have formal agreements with the restaurants and retailers for whom they deliver before they can use the merchant’s name, likeness, menus or other intellectual property.
Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, the chief sponsor of the bill, said it is designed to prevent those restaurants and retailers from being taken advantage of by the delivery services.
The bill would only apply to delivery services that have an online presence such as a website or smart phone app.
Bush said when issues arise about a delivery, such as an incorrect order or added delivery fees, customers often complain to the restaurant, even though the restaurant may not have known that the order was placed by the delivery service.
She also said she negotiated the legislation with delivery service companies and described those talks as “fruitful,” but admitted they were not able to agree on a key element.
“These companies want to be able to list all of the restaurants in their area that you can order food from, even if they don’t have an agreement with those restaurants,” she said. “We believe if they don’t have an agreement, that’s proprietary and they shouldn’t be able to list that restaurant when they can’t deliver for it.”
The bill cleared the Senate by a vote of 55-0 and now heads to the House for consideration.
Public employee unions
The Senate also passed a bill Thursday aimed at rolling back some of former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s actions regarding public employee unions.
Senate Bill 525, by Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, would provide that a state employee’s eligibility to be a member of a collective bargaining unit be based on the duties that employee actually performs rather than the duties listed in a written job description.
“The Labor Relations Board, primarily under the Rauner administration, issued decisions overturning decades of case law allowing employees to be designated confidential, supervisory or managerial based on written job descriptions and not the duties an employee actually performs,” Aquino said on the Senate floor. “Employees who had been part of the bargaining unit for decades saw their collective bargaining rights taken away despite never having performed the duties in the written job description that caused them to be excluded.”
Aquino said the bill came about through an agreement with the Department of Central Management Services and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, the state’s largest public employee union.
Republican Sen. Jason Barickman, of Bloomington, argued against the bill, saying that currently about 93 percent of the state’s workforce is part of a collective bargaining unit, making it difficult for supervisors to manage their employees because so few individuals qualify as supervisors. He said passage of the bill would exacerbate that problem.
Aquino, however, said the bill would only return the state’s labor relations to the conditions that existed before the Rauner administration, “and every step that we can do to go back to those days before that administration is a better day for our state.”
The bill passed, 44-11.
Hospitals and state agencies in Illinois would be required to gather more demographic data about COVID-19 patients to determine how the pandemic has affected the LGBTQ community under a bill that cleared the Senate Thursday on a 40-1 vote.
Sen. Mike Simmons, D-Chicago, the first openly gay member of the Senate and lead sponsor of Senate Bill 2133, said that information is needed to ensure visibility and justice for historically marginalized communities.
The bill, which is supported by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the gay rights advocacy group Equality Illinois, calls on hospitals and state agencies to gather specific data about the age, sex, disability status, sexual orientation and gender identity of COVID-19 patients.
“Any pandemic relief and recovery must be rooted in an understanding of what disparities got us here,” Simmons said in a statement. “This vote (Thursday) is a declaration to LGBTQIA+ communities that we see them and are working for a recovery that includes them.”
He referenced studies that he said show members of those communities are more likely to have chronic conditions and other risk factors that can increase vulnerability to COVID-19.
Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, was the only senator to vote against the bill. Eighteen other senators did not cast a vote.
Nursing home visitation
Another bill that passed the Senate Thursday would require nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to adopt procedures to prevent social isolation among their residents, including making technology available for online visits with loved ones when in-person visits are not possible.
Senate Bill 2137, cosponsored by Democratic Sen. Jacqueline Collins, of Chicago, and Republican Sen. Donald DeWitte, of St. Charles, passed unanimously, 53-0.
“This last year was incredibly difficult for seniors who were unable to touch or hug their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic, and SB 2137 will ensure that moving forward we place more of a balance between physical and social-emotional health,” DeWitte said in a statement.
The bill provides that online visitation and other forms of social isolation prevention measures would be in addition to, not a substitute for, in-person visitation and that each patient’s individualized visitation plan should give priority to the resident’s own preference over the resident’s representative.
It also provides that long-term care facilities could apply for grants from the state’s civil monetary penalty fund, as well as other state and federal funds, to pay for assistive and supportive technology.
Starting Jan. 1, 2023, facilities that fail to comply with the new rules could be subject to administrative penalties.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.