The Trump administration has established a new division within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) called the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division. The stated purpose of this office is to “restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.”
One day after the creation of this division, HHS proposed a new rule, providing further protections to healthcare workers who object to providing certain types of care to patients—including elective sterilization, gender reassignment surgery, or emergency contraception—based on their personal religious beliefs. Additionally, the Trump administration issued a new directive, reversing an Obama administration directive which prohibited states from refusing to send federal funds to qualified providers. This new division, new rule, and new directive serve to ensure the already-existing rights of physicians, nurses, and healthcare staff at the expense of their patients.
On November 21, 2017, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his intent to roll back utility-style regulations on internet service providers promulgated in 2015. This issue will be called for a vote on December 14 at the FCC’s open meeting. President Obama pressured the FCC to promulgate rules to regulate the internet as a public utility and preserve “net neutrality.” The FCC’s proposed repeal of these rules would restore internet service provider regulations to the framework established by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This recent proposal has been divisive along party lines, and the FCC has reported receiving more than 22 million comments.
Illinois Public Act 100-0538, commonly referred to as House Bill 40, was signed into law on September 28, 2017. The Act repeals provisions in existing Illinois laws that aim to make abortion illegal should there be any change to the federal standard. Additionally, the Act lifts a ban on insurance coverage for abortions for low-income individuals enrolled in Medicaid. While enacting House Bill 40 was a win for advocates of reproductive rights in Illinois, the state will still need to comply with federal anti-abortion laws, such as the Hyde Amendment.
In a rare ruling on September 12, 2017, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) unanimously approved revisions to the Illinois Commerce Commission’s (ICC) proposed Part 412 Order. The ICC and members of the Alternative Retail Electric Suppliers (ARES) community negotiated the adopted compromise language. Part 412 of the Illinois Administrative Code, Title 83, Chapter 1, outlines the obligations of retail electric suppliers. Lobbyists for Retail Energy Supply Association (RESA) estimate that this compromise has been up to five years in the making.