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There was plenty of drama over the weekend in Springfield as lawmakers negotiated a new state budget, but the bill was finally passed early Sunday morning by the state Senate.
The bill was one of several measures passed by lawmakers during the session, which was marked by a change of location for the House, who met at a Springfield arena to maximize social distancing, and by a variety of other safety changes instituted because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Those bills included legislation to legalize carryout and delivery of mixed drinks by bars and restaurants, a change to the casino tax structure in Chicago and a variety of other measures.
Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (May 24):
Illinois Lawmakers Approve Bill to Allow Carryout, Delivery Cocktails in State
In an effort to help bars and restaurants impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Illinois lawmakers overwhelmingly approved legislation that will allow those businesses to package to-go cocktails, which can be carried out or delivered.
According to the bill, the mixed drinks must be packaged in tamper-free packaging, and can only be sold to individuals age 21 or older.
The bill also delayed the due date for liquor license payments and pushed back the due date on various taxes incurred by restaurants, who have had to remain closed to dine-in service since the pandemic began in March.
Restaurants and bars will be allowed to open outdoor seating areas beginning in Phase Three of the state's "Restore Illinois" plan.
Illinois Lawmakers Pass Budget, Relying Heavily on Federal Funding
As the coronavirus continues to hammer away at state revenues, the legislature passed a $40 billion budget during a session in Springfield this weekend.
After Gov. J.B. Pritzker's statewide stay-at-home order left businesses across the state closed, and as 1 million Illinois residents remain out of work, lawmakers say the state will have just under $37 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2021. As a result, lawmakers are looking to the federal government to fill the remaining gaps in the budget's funding.
If signed by Pritzker, the budget will take effect July 1.