Today is Thursday, so that means employment (or unemployment) report day. Those number are below, but first we will take a look at what is happening down in Springfield as well as some news out of Washington D.C.
Illinois Chamber Reopening Plan Announced as Legislation
To read more on the Chamber’s Responsible Reopening and Rehiring plan introduced by Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady click here. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce is introducing a measure, Senate Bill3993, to expedite the reopening of business in Illinois in the safest, most equitable way possible. The legislation, sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady directs the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to establish the Safe Place of Business (SPB) protocols on or before May 30, 2020, to give guidance to all businesses and allowing them to reopen once protocols are met. Check out the attached documents as well covering this issue.
Ballots by Mail
A bill designed to expand voting by mail in the Nov. 3 general election easily passed its first test today in Springfield, clearing a House committee and fast-tracking to the floor despite concerns among some Republicans that it is vulnerable to abuse. Under SB1863 House amendment 5 the following details have emerged:
- If you voted or applied to vote in 2018 general election, 2019 municipal election, or the 2020 primary then you will automatically get a mail in ballot application no later than 8/1
- If you do not respond, you will receive a reminder by 9/15 from the Secretary of State
- If you still don’t respond, then a final reminder will come by 10/15
- The actual ballot must be sent out and received no later than 30-40 days before the election and then must be postmarked by November 3 to count
- The bill will sunset after the November election
If this works out “smoothly” then our guess is that a lot of these ideas will show up in the next general assembly as permanent legislation.
Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act
As we had mentioned yesterday, negotiations were taking place to amend this act, so we wanted to share the latest that we have learned. The final agreement makes it easier than the original discussion points for employers to rebut an employee claim. Now, an employer will need to come up with some evidence that the employee could have contracted the virus outside of the workplace. Also, they can show that they’ve engaged in and followed best practices in the workplace. Here’s more info:
- All essential workers can receive the rebuttable presumption. The original proposal would have allowed all workers (not just essential workers) to get benefits.
- Employers can use the lowest standard (ordinary presumption) to rebut the rebuttable presumption. An employer simply must show that they were following CDC or IDPH guidance and practices. The original proposal sought to impose a “clear and convincing” standard that was included in the Governor’s rules.
- A home or residence is not the workplace.
- The presumption ends of December 31, 2020 rather than the original no end date.
- The employee must have been exposed and contracted the virus. Simple exposure does not qualify. The original proposal, and the Governor’s rules, did not even require an employee to show that they had contracted the virus.
- Before June 15, an employee must have a positive diagnosis or medical test; on or after June 16, a positive test is required.
State Training Incentive
Businesses may be able to train and hire individuals that are not able to return to their prior business or employer if a new piece of legislation goes through. Senator Ram Villivalam has filed SB 3992 which would help incentivize Illinois businesses to hire and train workers, displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic, in the technology, medical and manufacturing fields. This can be accomplished through a tax credit that would be proportional to the size of the participating business. Businesses with less than 100 employees will receive a $5,000 tax credit when they hire and train individuals unemployed because of the pandemic. Businesses with between 100-500 employees will receive a $2,500 tax credit and all other businesses will be eligible for a $1,500 tax credit. This would provide a nice incentive for businesses to train unemployed individuals that want to get back to work, but were unfortunately not able to due to the pandemic.
Today’s PPP News
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Congress will have to act to make changes to the Paycheck Protection Program. He suggests extending the amount of time that small businesses have to use funds intended to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic. If he were allowed to make that extension himself, then he said it would have already been done. Right now, the program directs businesses to pay out the funds over eight weeks.
Mnuchin said that there was bipartisan support for expanding the timeline to 10-12 weeks which is shorter than the 24 weeks proposed as part of the HEROES Act. Unfortunately, he pushed back on a change that would allow more than the allowed 25% to go toward non-payroll saying it is call the paycheck protection program for a reason, not the overhead protection program. We’re still hopeful and pushing that this change be made as it would make sense for those with high costs on that side.
We have shared the PPP forgiveness application and now look to share the U.S. Chamber Paycheck Protection Program Guide to Forgiveness. This document provides businesses with an easy to understand explanation of what they need to do to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans. Click here to download the guide. The Chamber commits to updating the guide as new guidance is issued by the Treasury Department.
New Jobless Claims
2.4 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment insurance last week as the U.S. suffers through the highest level of joblessness since the Great Depression, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department. The new wave of applications brings the total number of initial unemployment claims since the week ending March 22 to 38.6 million.
Here in the state, the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced it has processed more than 1.2 million claims in last eleven weeks.
Infrastructure Back on Table
Senator Lindsey Graham said he is pushing President Trump to get behind a plan to pump more money into infrastructure projects. He claimed that we’re looking at a once in a lifetime opportunity to get this done and really help out the country. There remains a number of other Senators that would be behind the idea to build a package to fund road, bridge, and other transportation projects.
Restaurant Opening Webinars
We have been asked to share two webinars that are being held by Illinois Extension’s Community and Economic Development team that will focus on opening restaurants as we move into the next phase of the Governor’s plan. They are coming up soon and are open to anyone at no cost.
Finally, we will leave you with another reminder to sign up and join us tomorrow for a remarkably interesting Virtual Conference by chamber member Rightsize Facility on “Reshaping Your Workplace.” You can learn all about the following:
- What workplace/industry experts are seeing and saying
- Immediate Planning for Facilities
- Changes for both short-term and long-term
- Client Experience Journey and what returning to work will look like.
- Our solutions and recommendations to create safe and functioning workplaces
- Redesign, Retrofit, Reconfigure
- The Future of Furniture
- Impact and Tools for Effective Change
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry