Capitol Report | Spring 2021
Living Through History: Keys to Illinois’ Better Future
As the pandemic’s end comes into view, political changes are also on Illinois’ horizon.
Marty Green, Esq.
Senior VP and Legislative Counsel, Illinois CPA Society
The first quarter of 2021 has been eventful. Over a year after our country essentially shut down in response to COVID-19, it’s beginning to feel like we’re finally nearing the end of this devastating global pandemic. As a society, we learned to embrace technology as means for conducting business, spending time with friends and family, educating our children, and expanding health care—just to name a few applications. Our industries rose to the occasion by ramping up the production of personal protective equipment, rolling out improved digital tools, and rapidly developing a COVID-19 vaccine. And as more vaccines reach more people, it seems that things are getting better, hope is being restored, and social and economic conditions will continue to improve.
I tell my kids that we’re living through history. Just as today we read books about the 1918 influenza pandemic, my children’s children and their families will read about the COVID-19 pandemic. My point here is that we must not forget the lessons we learned during our dark days. Instead, we must remember the past and improve upon it as we move forward to better times—and the same has to happen in our government.
As we’re trying to move forward from COVID-19, we’re also trying to move forward from political shifts. At the federal level, President Joe Biden was inaugurated as our 46th president. Here in Illinois, longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan was replaced by Rep. Chris Welch, and the 102nd General Assembly welcomed 40 first-time members to the statehouse.
In many ways, new faces bring fresh perspectives to the legislative chambers. There have been more than 7,000 bills introduced in the Illinois House and Senate. Many of these bills focus on broad employment issues such as employer mandates, limits on arbitration, and treatment of criminal convictions in employment and professional licensure. There’s also attention to individual tax credits and scrutiny of business tax incentives.
Under Speaker Welch’s leadership, new House rules were adopted with input from both Democratic and Republican leaders—a bipartisan change in precedent from the previous regime. The House rules include term limits for the speaker and the Republican leader, as well as authorization for the House to conduct business virtually. (It should be noted that the Senate rules already included these provisions.) Both chambers have been busy conducting subject matter hearings on the large volume of bills and examining Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s fiscal year 2022 state operating budget proposal.
The Illinois CPA Society even has a legislative initiative underway to amend the Public Accounting Act with Senate Bill 1723. We’re seeking to reduce the 150 semester hours required to sit for the CPA exam to 120 semester hours, with 150 hours still being required for licensure. Our hope is that this change will help strengthen the CPA pipeline and make the CPA credential more attainable to those who wish to join the profession.
On the regulatory front, the theme of renewal is literal, as 2021 is a CPA license renewal year for registered CPAs, licensed CPAs, and CPA firms. We have shared license renewal information on the Society’s website and will continue to keep you informed. As I stated in my winter column, now is the time to prepare for your license renewal.
Here’s to living through history and to better times ahead. Be well and be safe.