Government Affairs Roundup
“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”
We are eager to hear from Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk as he delivers his State of the City address tomorrow during our monthly luncheon. For those of you that are not able to join us, the presentation will be filmed by JCTV and we’ll work with them to get a copy posted on our YouTube channel.
Don’t forget about your opportunity to be heard – Our chamber is a member of Chambers All In for Economic Recovery. This Coalition is 40 plus chambers strong from every corner of the state advocating for policy, legislation, and regulation to help Illinois businesses recover from the pandemic. Addressing the UI Trust Fund deficit is a top priority for Chambers All In for Economic Recovery Coalition.
As part of the Coalition’s platform for action, we want to make your voice, concerns and story
heard. Suppose your business was affected by COVID related induced layoffs/terminations, or you have problems resulting from inaction on the unemployment trust fund. In that case, we
ask you to share your story. The Chambers All In Coalition is putting this call forward to
businesses from across the state as there is great power in numbers and businesses’ voices are particularly powerful.
Your business’ name and other identifying information are entirely optional. We must help elected officials understand how your business and workforce have been or will be impacted by a growing deficit in the trust fund.
*Government Affairs Roundup brought to you by CITGO & Silver Cross Hospital*
$1.5 trillion omnibus spending package that needs to pass both chambers by Friday — when current funding runs dry — in order to avert a government shutdown
Congress is facing a weekend deadline to keep the government fully funded, with billions in aid for Ukraine and the Covid-19 response at stake. Some aides and lawmakers of both parties said that the chances of passing an omnibus spending measure this week had increased, in part because a fiscal 2022 measure would include financing for Ukraine and Eastern European allies and give the military flexibility for any related needs. With the interim law funding the government expiring at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, and House Democrats set to be in Philadelphia starting Wednesday for a long-planned retreat, negotiators need to make progress quickly.
The White House last week also asked for another $22 billion in pandemic relief funds.
Republicans, however, have been skeptical of the ask, demanding more details on how the $5 trillion+ the Hill has already appropriated to combat Covid-19 has been spent. They also point to more than $100 billion in unused funds sitting in an account as of late January.
If that doesn’t convince Republicans to go along, Democrats could face a real math problem. Remember: They need at least 10 Senate Republicans to clear the upper chamber. And in the House, Pelosi can lose only a couple of votes or she’ll have to rely on GOP lawmakers.
House to vote Tuesday on Russian fuel ban, other trade sanctions
House lawmakers will vote Tuesday on a package of sanctions targeting Russia, including a ban on fuel and a new review of Russia’s status as part of the World Trade Organization.
The legislation will also expand an existing human rights law, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which empowers presidents to apply sanctions to those regimes that commit human rights violations — a charge facing Russian President Vladimir Putin for allegedly targeting civilians in Ukraine.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the package in a letter to Democrats, describing the legislation as a vital step in the global effort to rein in Putin amid Russia’s bloody assault on Ukraine, where hundreds of civilians have been killed and more than a million forced to flee the country. “Because this legislation is an urgent imperative — both morally and for our security interests — the House will consider this legislation on the Floor today,” she wrote.
Pelosi characterized the proposals as a compliment to the executive actions of President Biden, who announced his own ban on the import of Russian fuel Tuesday morning.
The quick rush to get the bill to the floor highlights the urgency lawmakers face on Capitol Hill to challenge Putin for his unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which has sparked the largest ground war in Europe since World War II.
Monday marked the first day for established party candidates to file their nomination papers for the June 28 primary, a tradition that typically entails staffers camping outside election offices for a chance to get their candidates listed first on the ballot. This year will be a crucial test of strength for members of the General Assembly, who are all up for election this year, thanks to decennial redistricting.
This week, we’ll begin to learn which candidates have the goods to make it on the ballot. The petition submission window for most races lasts through next Monday, but several hopefuls could get knocked off the ticket in the weeks to come after petition challenges.
Illinois voters will cast ballots this year for governor and lieutenant governor as well as statewide constitutional officers, all 118 seats in the Illinois House and 59 seats in the state Senate, circuit, appellate court and state Supreme Court judges, congressional seats, and a U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Tammy Duckworth. Voters in parts of Illinois will also cast ballots for county board members and various other local government offices.
This year’s primary was pushed back from its normal time in early March due to delays in the redistricting process brought about by delays in the release of 2020 U.S. census data due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Legislative Session Update
The House and Senate are both in session this week. In fact, the House is scheduled to be in session 24 of the next 33 days between now and April 8, including some weekend session days. The Senate is scheduled to be in 19 of the next 33 days
Days can always be canceled, however, and session can always extend past the self-imposed April 8 adjournment date, so stay tuned for more as we enter the final stretch.
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry State Legislative Agenda 2022
Small businesses are vital to Illinois as they strengthen the economy, strengthen our communities by connecting neighbors, and by providing jobs. Small businesses with less than fifty employees have been responsible for nearly three fourths of job growth over the last decade before the pandemic. Since the beginning of 2020 those same small businesses have taken an enormous hit by losing nearly 70,000 employees. Small businesses have historically been the main driver of Illinois’ job creation and will be vital to ensuring a full recovery. With that said, we will continue to focus on the below items during this session and welcome the opportunity to discuss these further.
Last week, members of the Government Affairs committee participated in the Illinois Chamber Lobby Day and afterwards met with local House of Representative members to talk about the issues below.
We support the following:
Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund
We are calling on the Governor and General Assembly to utilize American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help replenish the unemployment trust fund and alleviate the impending financial drain from the state’s businesses.
The failure to replenish the approximately $4.5 billion deficit could lead to nearly $100 million in interest if not addressed in a timely manner. Great risks are posed to Illinois businesses and taxpayers in the form of additional taxes, tax increases, or employer contribution rates rising exorbitantly if not addressed properly. In addition, individuals would run the risk of reduced benefit time and percentage of pay.
HB 5320 Minimum Wage Credit
This bill would restructure the Minimum Wage Credit’s incremental phase-out to allow small businesses to capture the original intent of the credit. Our proposal would restore the credit to its original 25 percent for the next three calendar years. Eligible businesses are those with 50 or less full-time equivalent employees AND the average employee making less than $55,000 annually.
Ultimately, this would help reduce some of the burden caused by the minimum wage increase in conjunction with highly competitive labor market.
Enact legal protections for employers who follow the CDC established safety guidelines from claims that COVID-19 was contracted at the place of business. COVID-19-related lawsuits could deter entities from reopening fully and could ultimately cripple businesses across every industry due to large costs involved. Without liability protections, there is a risk that those on the frontlines of the pandemic could be punished for their efforts in the form of lawsuits resulting from operating their business or conducting job duties to the best of their abilities.
HB 5255 Edge Extension
The EDGE program is currently set to sunset in June. This bill would call for a ten-year extension to provide certainty and predictability. While imperfect, it is vital that Illinois has an economic development tool in place such as EDGE to remain competitive with other states.
SB 3719 CDL Credit
Creates income tax credit for someone hiring a new employee as a commercial CDL driver. Income tax credit for both employees and employers due to shortage of drivers.
HB 5555 Permitting Proposal
Permitting improvement bill modeled after federal infrastructure permitting improvements. Expedite the permitting process in Illinois for businesses putting Illinois at a competitive advantage for federal infrastructure funds to increase econ development. Should greatly speed up the permitting process. Removes a lot of other bureaucratic red tape.
HB 4184 Nonprofit Hospital Sales Tax Exemption
SB 3795 and HB 4772 County Design Build
SB 2981 Illinois Design Build
HB 4169 and SB 3010 Increase LGDF to 8%
SB 3917 Creates the Manufacturing Illinois Chips for Real Opportunity (MICRO) Act
We also continue to support BIPA liability reform bills that work to reduce frivolous lawsuits for those with proper policies in place for collecting and storing data.
We are interested in language to clean up the recent crime bill that creates uncertainty about the ability of law enforcement to forcibly remove individuals causing a disturbance in retail settings.
We support retirement flexibility for younger government workers: The General Assembly should make a simple technical fix to implement the Tier III pension system they already passed in 2017. It could deliver immediate savings while expanding retirement options available to government workers. The Tier III plan is an optional, hybrid retirement plan with both a guaranteed lifelong “defined benefit” pension, in which a retiree receives a set check every month, and a “defined contribution” plan, which is similar to most private-sector 401(k)s. State workers would be given the option of retirement savings they could take with them from job to job for the first time, instead of being completely tethered to the state and its systems. Lawmakers failed to include a date by which the system must be implemented. Adding a required implementation date for the state systems would enable immediate annual savings.
We have issues with the following:
HB 3898 Paid Leave – Healthy Workplace Act
This bill would mandate that employers provide all employees, regardless of full or part-time five paid sick days a year they earn through hours worked. The bill disregards the fact that numerous businesses already provide generic PTO.
HB 4850 Employer Liability – Gender Violence
This legislation would create a new cause of action against an employer when an employee commits an offense of domestic violence. The employer would be liable for the actions of the employee regardless of whether or not it occurs at the workplace or in the course of employment. It also would make the employer liable for the actions of employees of subcontractors or independent contractors. Expands the statute of limitations from two to seven years.
HB 4116 Drug Testing – Right to Privacy
This bill would prohibit an employer form refusing to hire, discipline, or terminate an employee for having a positive drug test for THC. It would mandate the employer have a policy and the employee exhibit impairment for termination. Definition of “safety sensitive position” does not go far enough to include certain professions outside of heavy equipment operators.
HB 3530 Illinois Employee Security Act
Eliminates an employer’s ability to terminate an employee other than vague “egregious misconduct” or delineated “just cause” reasons and mandated progressive discipline. The legislation would effectively end “employment at-will” in Illinois, making us only the second state to not have.
SB 3120 and HB 4215 Child Bereavement Leave
This legislation originally allowed 26 weeks of unpaid leave for employers with 250 or more employees with the loss of a child due to suicide. It has now been reduced to 12 weeks. The number of weeks has also been reduced to 6 weeks for those employing less than 250.
SB 3146 and HB 4600 One Day Rest in Seven Act
Increases penalty on employers who violate the one day rest in seven act. This bill provides that any employer who violates any of the provisions of the Act, shall be guilty of a civil offense (rather than a petty offense), and shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $500 per offense, payable to the Department of Labor, and damages of up to $500 per offense, payable to the employee or employees affected (rather than be fined for each offense in a sum of not less than $25 nor more than $100)
HB 5543 (HFA 0001) “Good Corporate Citizen” Amendment
This amendment provides that the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity may require a business organization to agree to certain terms that ensure the business is a good corporate citizen as a condition for receiving development assistance. Provides that a business that cannot consent to any required terms shall be ineligible for the development assistance.
HB 4093 Environmental Justice Communities
HB 5037 Limit 5G Expansion
HB 4282 Mandate Telecom Carries to offer economically unfeasible speeds to consumers
We are concerned with the proposal to suspend the gas tax increase tied to inflation – voters overwhelmingly voted to tie 3 years ago in lockbox amendment. Changes now could impact future transportation projects.
Executive Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry