Association Forum Lobbyist, Brian Bernardoni, Provides Legislative Update

The House passed the infrastructure package 228-206, sending the bill to the President’s desk for signature. This is a big deal for Chicago, Illinois, and Trade Associations.

By Brian A. Bernardoni

Leadership Update - Advocacy

November 8, 2021—Infrastructure Package is a net positive for Illinois; Chicago tourism and non-profits; but work lies ahead. 

The House passed the infrastructure package 228-206, sending the bill to the President’s desk for signature. This is a big deal for Chicago, Illinois, and Trade Associations.

13 Republicans supported the bill, and 6 Democrats voted no, more detail here. The IL delegation voted along party lines except for Kinzinger, who voted yea.

The reconciliation package will now move separately and has a much longer path ahead. The House is hoping to take it up the week of November 15, and then it has to go back through the Senate where it faces challenges.

As a refresher, here’s an overview of what’s in the $1.2 Trillion infrastructure package.

  • This is a historic amount of money going towards infrastructure, much of it in addition to a more traditional surface transportation bill ($550B in new investment, on top of a nearly $650B highway trust fund baseline of surface transportation programs). A lot of programs of importance to the City are included—big boosts and first-time funding (e.g. water infrastructure/lead service lines; broadband; separate funding for bridges, safe streets; bigger money for interstate passenger rail).
  • The bill spans 5 years and includes a mix of formula and competitive funding.

In addition to traditional funding for a surface transportation bill (generally formula funding for roads, highways, transit); here is a little more on the NEW funding, on top of the surface transportation baseline…

  • $110B in additional funding for highways, including $40B for bridges; $17.5B for complex major projects
  • $39B for transit, including $1.75B for a competitive program to support transit accessibility
  • $66B for passenger rail (this is very big, relative to past funding levels). Within these totals, $22 million would be provided as grants to Amtrak, $24 billion as federal-state partnership grants for Northeast Corridor modernization, $12 billion for partnership grants for intercity rail service, including high-speed rail, $5 billion for rail improvement and safety grants, and $3 billion for grade crossing safety improvements
  • $7.5B to build out EV infrastructure
  • $7.5B for electric buses and ferries
  • $1B for reconnecting communities—to fund planning, design, demolition, and reconstruction of street grids, parks
  • $25B for airports
  • Over $50B for resiliency to mitigate impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks
  • $55B for clean water and lead service line replacement
  • $65B for broadband infrastructure with an emphasis on rural communities
  • $21B for environmental remediation
  • $73B for the electric grid

For trade groups; this is a significant opportunity to get involved. At Association Forum, we support any and all measures that improve accessibility to Chicago and our venues.

In addition, of interest to trade associations is the specific work being done by ASAE that needs our help:

Pandemic Risk Insurance gains critical support from ASAE; FORUM members asked to lend support

From ASAE and Mary Kate Cunningham:

Last week Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA) to establish a federal backstop for financial losses due to a future pandemic or public health emergency.

Passing a PRIA-style program has been a top ASAE priority since March 2020 and ASAE supports Rep. Maloney’s new bill. Important for our community, PRIA includes event cancellation coverage, along with business interruption and other lines of coverage, to help navigate pandemics and public health emergencies.

What’s in the Bill

Several provisions in PRIA 2021 differ from last year’s bill. While the government would still absorb 95 percent of claims in the future, business interruption coverage would change to a model known as “parametric.”This new model is similar to coverage offered by the Paycheck Protection Program. But, instead of receiving a loan or grant, policyholders would pay a premium for access to expedited funds that cover up to six months of eligible fixed costs, such as salaries and mortgage.

Other notable changes in PRIA 2021 include:

  • Insurers would be required to provide coverage;
  • The $750 billion total-loss cap from the first bill was removed; and
  • Insurers would be required to offer pandemic coverage for event cancellation, among other lines of coverage, if they provide beneficiaries event cancellation coverage for other perils.

There is plenty more to unpack in this important legislation, so please don’t hesitate to email us with questions. Read the full PRIA legislative text.


How can I get involved through ISAE and Association Forum?

For ISAE and FORUM members this is a great opportunity to get involved. We urge you to reach out to members of the Illinois delegation and to ask for their support.  We urge you to reach out to your legislators as a Trade Association and as a constituent. This allows us to maximize outreach.

If you have any questions about connecting to your legislators please reach out to He will gladly assist.

Veto Session in Springfield gives the Forum an opportunity to think ahead to a busy 2022. 

While Veto Session in Springfield was relatively quiet; unless you were worried about legislative maps, FORUM’s GA Committee worked on plans to build alliances for what promises to be a very busy 2022 for tourism; travel and lodging interests.  We intend to stand with these vital groups in coalition to advocate with them to support all measures that provide needed relief to these industries and further the needs of the non-profit community.  If you have legislation you would like the Forum to consider please contact Brian Bernardoni at

About the Author

Brian Bernardonis is Managing Director at Aurelius Public Affairs

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