Welcome to the month of June! We think it is safe to say that the majority would agree that we have all come a long way, but still have a way to go before we are back to a resemblance of “normal.” This marks the first full week of Phase 3 here in Illinois and the fourth day on the path to less restrictions in Phase 4.
With that said, please plan to join us tomorrow at 1:00 PM as we host our next Virtual Conference. The focus will be on the Phase 3 Reopening with Michelle Michals from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity and we’ll also hear from Ryan Gleason of the US Chamber of Commerce talking about PPP Forgiveness, possible PPP changes, and business Liability Protection. This is a great opportunity to get your questions answered! Register here: http://jolietchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/2020-webinar-june-2-what-you-need-to-know-about-reopening-in-phase-3-5908
What’s Happening in Washington D.C.
The Senate returned today as lawmakers are still deeply separated on what a fifth relief bill would look like. The Senate will look at and see if they can pass the House bill that sailed through last week with changes to the Paycheck Protection Program. Those changes would elongate the number of weeks to cover payroll and non-payroll expenses, the duration to hire back employees, the 75/25% split on costs, and the term of loan if not forgiven.
We’re hearing that Senate Democrats may be holding back on language pushed from House Democrats covering another personal stimulus of $1,200 checks for relief. In addition to the expected push back from Senate Republicans, the Senate Democrats are concerned it may be an expenditure that is too big and untargeted.
Here is a new idea that Reps. Darin LaHood of Illinois and Stephanie Murphy of Florida released last week. Their thought is to give companies a 50% tax credit to help with hiring a cleaning company and buying the products, machinery and equipment needed to keep their business clean. The credit would apply to any purchases made through March 2021, to help guard against any second wave of COVID, and the incentive would max out at $25,000 per business location and $250,000 per business entity.
COVID-19 Workplace Complaints
A surge in coronavirus related workplace complaints is fueling criticism that the Labor Department is ill-equipped to ensure workers are safe as more businesses reopen. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the Labor Department, has received more than 5,000 complaints pertaining to COVID-19. Please make sure that you are following IDPH, CDC, and additional suggestions for workplace safety.
The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, announced that it is setting aside $10 billion of Round 2 funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to be lent exclusively by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs work to expand economic opportunity in low-income communities by providing access to financial products and services for residents and businesses. These dedicated funds will further ensure that the PPP reaches all communities in need of relief during the COVID-19.
In addition to the number of items we covered last week, we wanted to look a little further into a few issues. First one being the minimum wage increase on July 1. Our chamber and the majority of chambers across the state had advocated that the General Assembly consider pausing the rate increase scheduled to take place here in a few weeks and wait until January 2021 to make the jump to $10. The idea was to push back the $15 total wage to 2026 rather than 2025. Unfortunately, that did not occur and in addition to the other issues that businesses have faced through this pandemic, the increase in wage will be added on 7/1.
Secondly, if we were under a normal session then we would have expected a deeper discussion to have taken place on Ethics Reform. There was an early task force formed to make recommendations for improved laws, but that basically fell apart and to date no solid recommendations have been delivered.
Lastly, we hope that the special commission created of lawmakers to provide oversight on reopening plans going forward will have enough authority to have a role in decision making and be able to effect proposed orders and rule changes before they are announced.
Speaking of State legislation, we hope you can join us this Thursday, June 4th as we host House Assistant Majority Leader Natalie Manley and State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant for a Virtual Conference on the Special Session Recap. We’ll start at 11:00 AM and you may register here: http://jolietchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/2020-webinar-june-4-il-special-session-recap-5909
Before joining us at 11 am, we also want to remind owners of another useful webinar taking place at 8 am. The Illinois Department of Employment Insurance will be presenting “Processing Unemployment Insurance Protests” For program details and to register, click here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/2960477245977470479
Finally, we want to let all of our members know that in addition to any assistance needed with Coronavirus issues, we invite you to let us know if your business or organization has been impacted by the crowds that caused damage in several areas of the city last night. Please let us know if we can help in any way or if we can put you in touch with fellow members that can.
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry