January Government Affairs Update
From Mike Paone – Chamber VP


The Joliet City Council voted to begin development on a new city water source. The plan will be to bring Lake Michigan water to Joliet by building a pipeline to Indiana. The decision comes after many months of meetings and public forums discussing various options. A backup plan will consist of Lake Michigan water coming from the City of Chicago. The Indiana pipeline is estimated to have a final cost of $900 million to $1.1 billion. Water bills are expected to increase by $55 to $68 a month.
This action comes after the City Budget was finalized days before the end of the year. Notable items include the gas tax increasing by three cents and the hotel tax increasing by 3%.


On the state level we had covered last month the new changes to take place at the first of the year including: Minimum wage increase to $9.25, Recreational Cannabis now legalized, and Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training for all employees.
What wasn’t finalized was a report that was supposed to have been completed and published by the end of the year regarding findings of a committee on property tax relief. Reports speak of infighting about what the final recommendations should be.
As always, we’ll keep listening and talking about the need for Pension reform. In addition, we’ll be focusing on three main issues to begin the year. The first being the Graduated Income Tax proposal that is set to hit the November 2020 ballot. Concerns remain about how this ultimately can come back to hit the business community if passed.
The second area of focus will be to follow Ethics Reform. During the veto session at the end of 2019 several ideas and bills have been floated or filed regarding this issue.
Finally, we’ll continue discussion on the Fair Maps Act. With the 2020 Census count coming up, this is the final chance to possibly update the way legislative districts are drawn for the next ten years. This bipartisan legislation forms a more transparent process that takes politics out of the process. The passing of this Act would lead to a ballot question in November as well.


On the Federal level, a government shutdown was averted as a $1.4 trillion spending package was passed to fund the government through the next fiscal year. One item of note that we have been talking with elected officials about was eliminated as part of the package. The “Cadillac Tax” and an annual fee on health insurance providers and medical device tax are all now gone.
Before the end of 2019 we also received news of the approval of the USMCA (United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement) trade deal in the House. This is basically an overhaul of NAFTA and an item that our group spent a lot of time talking with our elected officials about during our September Washington DC fly-in. The USMCA should tremendously aid workers, manufacturers, and farmers upon approval in the Senate
Illinois farmers export 40% of their corn, 34% of their pork, and 13% of their beef to Mexico and Canada. Mexico and Canada also accounted for 40% of all purchased manufactured goods from the state last year. We now look for a finalized deal with China on trade.

Our Government Affairs committee looks forward to hearing about any issues you may have for 2020 facing your business or organization. They will be planning their annual trip to Springfield in May, but in the meantime plan to hold additional forums and luncheons to cover legislative topics. A very successful coffee session was held in December with Senator Bertino-Tarrant and Representative Manley. We look forward to hosting more of these events in the upcoming year.

Please feel free to contact Mike Paone at 815.727.5373 or mpaone@jolietchamber.com with any questions or to share information.