Sen. Linda Holmes

SPRINGFIELD – After an unprecedented 14 months for the Illinois Department of Employment Security with thousands of residents out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bipartisan support for major reforms produced House Bill 2643. Sponsored by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Linda Holmes (Aurora), the lead Senate Democrat on the Unemployment Insurance Agreed Bill process, the overhaul package was signed into law by the governor Friday.

“Business and labor groups, IDES, and Democratic and Republican members worked in a bipartisan fashion to craft this omnibus approach,” Holmes said. “It targets the weaknesses revealed in a system that wasn’t designed to address the wave of job losses, thousands of people calling with problems who couldn’t get answers, and fraudulent claims all hitting the state at once.”

House Bill 2643 revises the Unemployment Insurance Act, allowing IDES to communicate with legislators’ offices about specific constituent cases, and requires IDES to give more information to those issued overpayments and their right to appeal (originally in Senate Bill 2466 from Sen. Ram Villivalam).

It extends temporary benefits to non-instructional education staff until federal benefits expire on September 4 (originally SB 2230 from Sen. Holmes). It requires annual reporting by IDES to the Illinois Department of Revenue of any fraudulent claims causing negative income tax concerns for fraud victims (originally House Bill 3520 from Sen. Julie Morrison and Rep. Keith Wheeler).

In another security measure, it prohibits IDES from disclosing someone’s full social security number in any correspondence, and requires them to create a means for identification other than that number (originally HB 3329 from Sen. Suzy Glowiak-Hilton and Rep. Jeff Keicher). A person under regular unemployment insurance may seek a waiver of an overpayment that was not instigated by that person (originally HB 1204 from Rep. Lindsey LaPointe).

With Gov. Pritzker’s signature, HB 2643 takes immediate effect.