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Illinois news in brief for Thursday, May 20, 2021


17,200 people in Illinois file for unemployment benefits

Around 1,000 fewer Illinoisans filed for unemployment last week than the week before, but there were still more than 17,200 initial claims filed.

The slight decline was partially offset by an increase of around 700 independent contractors filing for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he won’t end enhanced unemployment benefits as other states have.

Senators seek constitutional amendment to enshrine collective bargaining

Senators are on their way to approving a proposed constitutional amendment that would enshrine collective bargaining.

Senate Joint Constitutional Amendment 11 passed committee Wednesday without debate and was read on the Senate floor, where it will need two more readings before final passage to the House.

If passed there, voters would get the ultimate say in the 2022 statewide election.

Pritzker repeals emergency rule

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has repealed his emergency rule requiring businesses to enforce mask mandates.

Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association President Rob Karr said businesses may use public announcements that people not vaccinated for COVID-19 will still have to wear masks, but there won’t be any enforcement.

Karr also said businesses aren’t being tasked with checking vaccine status.

Audit finds pension problems

There were several problems found by an audit of some of the state’s pension funds.

The Illinois Auditor General reported the State Employees’ Retirement System has had a vacancy on its board of trustees for more than five years and had inadequate controls over user access to information technology systems.

A separate audit found the General Assembly Retirement System did not comply with ethics training laws.

State announces $20.7 billion capital plan

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has announced a new six-year capital construction plan with a taxpayer cost of $20.7 billion.

The plan paid for by the doubling of the state’s gas tax and other fee increases from several years ago will cover nearly 2,800 miles of roads and nearly 8 million square feet of bridges. Projects were chosen based on pavement conditions, traffic volumes and crash history, the governor’s office said.

Amtrak is back

Full Amtrak service is coming back with tickets being made available as early as this week.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that with increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates across the state, full service for the statewide lines will begin July 19.

Ticketing information is available at

This article was originally posted on Illinois news in brief for Thursday, May 20, 2021

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