Illinois Lame Duck Legislative Session 2023 Roundup
Recently, Illinois concluded its lame duck legislative session and several crucial health equity bills supported by Howard Brown Health passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly!
Assault weapons ban: Protect Illinois Communities Act (HB 5471)
With the increasing number of mass shooting in the U.S., the Protect Illinois Communities Act will go a long way towards protecting Illinoisans by enacting desperately needed bans on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. This bill will require the registration of all assault weapons so law enforcement can better track assault weapons moving in and out of Illinois. It will also increase the Firearm Owners Identification eligibility age to 21. The identification allows someone to legally possess firearms and ammunition in the state of Illinois.
This bill is especially important for marginalized communities who are disproportionately the victims of gun violence, including LGBTQ+ communities. LGBTQ+ people are more than twice as likely to be a victim of gun violence than their cisgender and straight peers, with trans individuals experiencing even higher rates of violence. Reported murders of trans individuals increased 93% between the years of 2017 to 2021, and 73% of those individuals were killed using a firearm. Targeted attacks on LGBTQ+ people are also on the rise due to a recent increase in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. In 2022 alone, over 230 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in states across the country. These attacks against LGBTQ+ individuals range from prohibiting gender-affirming care for youth to “Don’t Say Gay” bills banning discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. These legislative attacks are fueled by fearmongering and discriminatory rhetoric, which in turn has led to increasing attacks on the community. Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric has spurred hostile demonstrations at drag shows and Pride events all across the country, including in Illinois. This hateful rhetoric has escalated to multiples tragedies, including the recent Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs. The bill will go a long way in helping to protect people most vulnerable to gun violence, including LGBTQ+ individuals. We commend Governor Pritzker for quickly signing this bill into law.
Reproductive and gender affirming healthcare protections: Patient and Provider Protection Act (HB 4664)
Over the past few years, more and more states have been restricting or eliminating access to gender affirming care. In 2022, at least fifteen states—including neighboring states such as Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio—have enacted or introduced legislation to deny access to gender affirming care for trans youth. These bills often criminalize supportive parents and providers who offer gender affirming care, making it very difficult for trans youth to feel safe accessing necessary care in their home state. These gender affirming care bans mirror anti-abortion legislation, which is also increasing. With the Dobbs decision in June 2022 resulting in very restrictive or total bans on abortion and certain reproductive rights in many states, the need for millions of people to find safe and comprehensive gender affirming and reproductive care is vital.
The Patients and Provider Protection Act will protect any patients who must travel to Illinois to seek reproductive or gender affirming care not legally allowed in their home states and will protect providers in Illinois from any legal action for providing that care. For example, providers won’t have to worry about losing their license or being extradited due to court order or subpoena from another state for providing gender affirming or reproductive healthcare. This bill will protect patients by making it illegal for health care workers to disclose to law enforcement care being provided such as being prescribed hormone therapy or seeking an abortion. Illinois will not use any part of its court system or law enforcement agencies to help other states attempt to prosecute, fine, or sue any provider or patient from providing or receiving this care.
Along with providing protection for performing and receiving necessary care, this bill also includes several provisions to expand access and reduce cost barriers to gender affirming and reproductive healthcare. For example, patients will not be charged out-of-network insurance rates if they must go out of their network to receive care, which is increasingly important as more and more providers claim religious or moral objection to providing gender affirming or reproductive services. The bill also requires insurers covered under the Illinois Code of Insurance to cover abortion medications, PrEP/PEP, and hormone therapy medications with no-cost sharing to patients. This is critical as we know that lack of insurance coverage and cost are common barriers to accessing hormone replacement therapy. We commend Governor Pritzker for signing this bill into law.
Name Change Registration (HB 2542)
Illinois has one of the strictest name change laws in the country for anyone seeking legal name change with a felony background. HB 2542 will allow for anyone in Illinois who has a previous felony charge to be able to change their name due to marriage, human trafficking, or gender identity with approval from a judge. This bill will remove the 10-year waiting period to be eligible to change your name, and it removes a lifetime ban for those with identify theft convictions. These restrictions were very harsh and potentially dangerous for trans and non-binary people, or anyone who may be fleeing a domestic violence or human trafficking situation. The inability to change your name for a trans or non-binary person could result in discrimination or being unintentionally outed due to their legal paperwork not aligning with gender identity. HB 2542 will increase efficiency and transparency for the name change processing including waivers to bypass any public publication of their name change for an individual’s safety. You can help! Please reach out to Governor Pritzker and let them know the importance of signing HB 2542 to help improve access to legal name change and decrease the potential discrimination faced by trans and non-binary individuals.
To learn more about how Howard Brown Health contributes to vital advocacy work and has an impact on local, state, and federal policymaking, please visit our Advocacy webpage. To stay up to date with advocacy and policy news like this, sign up for the Center for Education, Research, and Advocacy (ERA)’s newsletter.