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AARP Illinois Issues Statement on 2021 Legislative Session

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 1, 2021

CONTACT:

Monika Wnuk, Associate State Director of Communications
312-458-3611 or cell: 312-402-5257
mwnuk@aarp.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

AARP Illinois Issues Statement on 2021 Legislative Session

The following statement was issued by AARP Illinois State Director Bob Gallo following the completion of the Spring 2021 session:

On behalf of our 1.7 million members and all older adults across the state, AARP Illinois commends legislators for passing a sweeping array of bills and reforms that will improve the lives of those 50+.

After a trying year during the COVID-19 pandemic that highlighted health risks, affordable housing needs, racial disparities and financial insecurity experienced by older adults, we are grateful for the leadership of  elected officials, who made sure that those 50+ were not forgotten.

Learning from the heartbreak of the last year – in which nursing home residents made up 43 percent of the state’s 25,200 COVID-19 deaths – lawmakers approved a new law that makes virtual visitation in nursing homes permanent to combat social isolation. The new measure will ensure that no one in such a facility will ever again be forced to face sickness and death without connection to the ones they love. State lawmakers also passed legislation that makes telehealth a permanent option for Illinoisans. AARP Illinois commends elected officials for these measures and also one that will expand Illinois’ network provider directory to include telehealth services in a searchable directory.

AARP Illinois also congratulates Illinois lawmakers for taking into account the financial strain older adults across the state have felt and approving legislation to address these difficulties. We were pleased to see a property tax deferral bill approved which will increase the income eligibility to $65,000 and increases the maximum deferral amount to $7,500. And AARP strongly supports the passage of omnibus housing legislation which will create a COVID-19 Affordable Housing Grant Program, extending Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit through 2026 and offering other help to Illinois residents so that they may stay in their homes.

And while in the homes they love, older adults may now also enjoy bicycle and pedestrian ways, thanks to new legislation eliminating 20% local match for walking and biking infrastructure for state funded roads. 

In an effort to address gaps in access to wealth and Internet connectivity felt disproportionately by older adults of color across Illinois, AARP Illinois is thrilled that Illinois legislators agreed to expand the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program to one million more workers; meaning these workers will now have the ability to save for retirement through an employment-based retirement savings benefit. Another new law approved by legislators implements a 36 percent interest rate cap on consumer loans, including payday and car title loans so that those down on their luck will not be stuck in a vicious cycle of debt due to greedy business practices. Finally, the expansion of the Broadband Advisory Council will add four new slots for ethnically diverse members to bring important viewpoints to the table and provide better clarity to closing the digital divide in Illinois.

Finally, with important legislation yet to be finalized AARP Illinois urges state leaders to keep in mind the struggles of all Illinois utility customers – and especially older adults on fixed incomes – in developing energy legislation that finally puts them first through affordability, reliability and transparency.

And we encourage lawmakers to continue looking out for the needs of the state’s older adult population by approving a budget that fully funds the Community Care program and other home and community-based services provided by the Illinois Department on Aging and our statewide aging network providers.

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