Government Affairs Roundup
“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”
Congress is back to work in Washington D.C. so some updates are shared below in today’s Roundup. A reminder about the downtown Joliet parking survey. We’re looking forward to hearing all about what transpired in Springfield as well this past session on Thursday with five of our local legislators. Don’t forget we also have a Business After Hours this Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at Joliet Catholic Academy’s new Innovation Research Center.
*Government Affairs Roundup brought to you by CITGO & Silver Cross Hospital*
Back to Work
Congress returns this week as a pandemic-era immigration policy threatening to complicate efforts to pass further coronavirus relief legislation and possibly another Ukraine aid measure if centrist Democrats side with Republicans in opposing the Biden administration’s repeal of the border rules.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and White House officials have been exchanging niceties in recent weeks, strong signals that they’re willing to re-engage on a smaller social-spending package months after Build Back Better was left for dead. But everyone wants to know when — er, if? — they’re going to actually get down to business.
Manchin’s top concern, as he’s said repeatedly, is inflation — and that continues to be a major economic and political worry. But Democrats increasingly feel it’s now or never to act. As Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) told WaPo’s Tony Romm, some members feel they need to have a deal to pass a reconciliation bill done by Memorial Day, before the election sucks up all the oxygen. “It doesn’t get easier the longer we wait,” she said.
Job switching is a key driver behind broader wage growth, with some 20% of workers aged 25 to 54 expecting to leave their job within a year, according to a ZipRecruiter survey provided exclusively to The Wall Street Journal.
About 64% of job-switchers said their current job provides more pay than their previous job. Among these workers, nearly half received a raise of 11% or more, the survey found. Nearly 9% are now making at least 50% more.
Some of the millions of people who switched jobs are feeling the job-market equivalent of buyer’s remorse. Recruiters who work with white-collar workers say many who jumped to new positions have found that the roles are a poor fit, or the frustrations of their previous jobs exist in the new ones too.
Clean-Energy Project Funding
More than 40 companies are calling on Congress to adopt federal energy legislation to provide additional financial incentives for clean-energy projects like wind turbine farms and solar installations.
In a letter to lawmakers Tuesday, the companies—including consumer-facing brands such as Airbnb, Lyft Inc., Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and IKEA—say that federal spending for such projects would help lower energy costs for U.S. businesses, along with their employees and customers.
They called for federal tax credits for developers and suppliers of major wind, solar, nuclear and energy storage projects, as well as for electric vehicles and charging station tax credits, which could benefit company-run fleets. Free-market advocates countered that federal lawmakers shouldn’t use tax credits to pick winners and losers in the U.S. energy sector.
Pension Payment Debate
Illinois legislators may have missed a golden opportunity to make a sizeable dent in the much talked about state pension debt problem. Was this truly an opportunity missed or a good move to tuck away some funds for a “rainy day?”
Fiscal year revenue in Illinois was up nearly $5 billion compared to the previous year. Some would argue that much more of the unexpected revenue should have gone towards paying down the burdensome pension debt. The opportunity was not fully missed as some $500 million more than planned was put towards the debt. In the end, a total of $1 billion went the way of the rainy day fund.
Looking closer, the additional $500 million committed actually reduced the long-term obligation by upwards of $2 billion. Just think what an additional $1 billion could have meant towards chipping away at that massive debt number. In addition, imagine further what could have been done if the $1.8 billion that was put towards tax cuts that are very short in nature went towards paying down the pension debt.
Although we all like a good tax break and planning for “rainy days,” maybe reducing the storm that keeps hanging over us and doesn’t appear to be moving on for decades would have been wiser.
Some Highlights from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Session Review Report
IDOT Finally Gains “Design-Build” Authority
SB 2981 (DeWitte/Evans) is on its way into law. This legislation will provide IDOT with the much-needed design-build authority. Illinois lags almost every other state in this area and the Chamber is very supportive of this bill. Other state practice has shown design build to be much faster and much cheaper than the traditional design-bid-build. This process won’t be used for every project, of course. It works best on bigger, more complex projects but it’s definitely a tool that the state should be utilizing.
Data Privacy Laws Stopped for Another Year
Early into the legislative session, a flurry of data privacy bills were introduced. Many of them included business killing private rights of action which would allow any individual to sue for damages. This would lead the state down another BIPA style disaster. Even the bills without the private right of action, contained numerous red tape provisions that would have added compliance nightmares to companies. The Chamber was able to prevent the passage of any of these bills, but we have been warned to expect them to be reintroduced with a vengeance next year.
HB 4093 (Harper), the bill would impose numerous new requirements on environmentally permitted facilities both in and out of EJ communities. The Chamber opposed the bill’s numerous significant concerning provisions. This bill narrowly passed the House but was held in Senate Assignments.
HB 5555 (Yednock/Villivalam), A joint initiative of the Chamber and IERG, a bipartisan bill that builds an online permit tracking database within an existing department at DCEO to help coordinate among agencies the environmental permit process for a new or existing business looking to build or expand on projects over $20 million. The bill unanimously passed the House but was held in Senate Assignments.
SB 3120, sponsored by Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake)/Rep. Anna Moeller (D-Elgin) has passed both houses. The bill will expand the Child Bereavement Act to include family members. The proposal also will expand up to 10 workdays of unpaid leave to pregnancy loss; unsuccessful round of intrauterine insemination or of an assisted reproductive technology procedure; a failed adoption match or an adoption that is not finalized because it is contested by another party; a failed surrogacy agreement; a diagnosis that impacts pregnancy or fertility; or a stillbirth. The Chamber is neutral. Enrolled version. This bill passed both houses.
Employee Sick Leave Act- Amendment will Establish Act as Minimum for CBAs
SB 645 sponsored by Sen. Mike Hastings (D-Frankfort) and Rep. Jay Hoffman (DSwansea) amends the Employee Sick Leave Act. As approved by both chambers, the measure will establish the Act as the minimum standard in a negotiated collective bargaining agreement. This bill passed both houses.
One Day Rest in Seven Act Changes
SB 3146, sponsored by Sen. Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago)/Rep. Lakesia Collins (DChicago) increases civil penalties for violation of the law. An employer with fewer than 25 employees, the civil penalty shall not exceed $250 per offense, payable to the Department of Labor, and damages of up to $250 per offense, payable to the employee or employees affected. For an employer with 25 or more employees, the civil penalty shall not exceed $500 per offense, payable to the Department, and damages of up to $500 per offense, payable to the employee or employees affected. Provides that an offense under the Act shall be determined on an individual basis for each employee whose rights are violated. The bill also changes “calendar week” to “consecutive seven-day period”. An employee who works more than 7 1/2 continuous hours will be entitled to an additional 20-minute meal period for every additional 4 1/2 continuous hours worked. Employers covered by the Act must post and keep posted, in one or more conspicuous places on the premises of the employer where notices to employees are customarily posted, a notice, to be provided by the Director of Labor, summarizing the requirements of the Act and information pertaining to the filing of a complaint. The legislation will be going to the Governor.
SB 3416, sponsored by Sen. Emil Jones, Jr. (D-Chicago) and Rep. Marcus Evans, Jr. (DChicago), as passed by both chambers provides that specified provisions of the One Day Rest in Seven Act do not apply to employees for whom work hours, days of work, and rest periods are established through the collective bargaining process.
Shifting Unpaid Wage Liability
HB 5412, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Evans (D-Chicago) and Sen. Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) will be heading to the Governor after a partisan vote of 38 democrats supporting and 18 republicans opposing. HB 5412, under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, shifts liability for unpaid wages by a lower tiered construction contractor to the primary/general contractor.
This bill passed the Senate but still awaits House action. The Illinois Chamber joined other opponents in offering a number of comprises to HB 5412. Ultimately, Sen. Castro, who also is the sponsor of HB 4600, advanced an amendment to HB 4600 that contained modest changes to HB 5412. Those modest changes included:
• a threshold of application of the law to projects with a total cost of more than $20,000.
• a task force to study innovative ways to reduce bonding and insurance costs for construction contractors.
• exempts primary contractors party to a collective bargaining agreement.
• exempts primary contractors making alteration or repair of an existing single-family dwelling or a single residential unit in an existing multi-unit structure; and
• limits claims to those filed with the Illinois Department of Labor or with the circuit court within 3 years after the wages were due. Senate amendment 2. This bill passed both houses.
Constitutional Question to Prevent Right to Work Laws
The General Assembly advanced SJR 55, sponsored by Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) and Rep. Marcus Evans, Jr. (D- Chicago). SJR 55 sets forth an explanation of the amendment to Article I of the Illinois Constitution that is proposed by Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 11 (Workers’ Rights). It describes brief arguments in favor of and against the proposed amendment. Describes the form in which the amendment will appear on the ballot at the general election to be held on November 8, 2022. The Illinois Chamber contributed to the brief arguments in opposition to the proposed Constitutional question. Adopted in both houses.
CDL Hiring Tax Incentives
SB 3719 (DeWitte)- Creates an income tax credit for a taxpayer that hires a new employee for a position as a driver for which a commercial driver’s license is required and an individual taxpayer who is employed as a driver in a position in which a commercial driver’s license is required. This bill did not move out of the Senate Executive Committee and was re-referred to Senate Assignments.
HB 4692 (Wheeler) This bill is a collaboration between the Illinois Chamber, IMA, IRMA and the Chicagoland Chamber. It is a comprehensive BIPA reform bill which addresses both liability reforms and additional security protections. Here’s the bill summary: HB 4692 (Wheeler) – Changes the definitions of “biometric identifier” and “written release”. Defines “biometric lock”, “biometric time clock”, “electronic signature”, “in writing”, and “security purpose”. Provides that if the biometric identifier or biometric information is collected or captured for the same repeated process, the private entity is only required to inform the subject or receive consent during the initial collection. Waives certain requirements for collecting, capturing, or otherwise obtaining a person’s or a customer’s biometric identifier or biometric information under certain circumstances relating to security purposes. Provides that nothing in the Act shall be construed to apply to information captured by a biometric time clock or biometric lock that converts a person’s biometric identifier or biometric information to a mathematical representation. Requires the Department of Labor to provide information for employers regarding the requirements of the Act on its website. Amends the Workers’ Compensation Act. Provides that nothing in the Act limits, prevents, or preempts a recovery by an employee under the Biometric Information Privacy Act. This bill was rereferred to House Rules.
Downtown Joliet Parking Study Survey
The City of Joliet is in the process of conducting a Downtown Parking Study to help improve the management and operation of parking and mobility Downtown. WGI was hired by the City of Joliet to conduct an assessment of the downtown parking area. As part of this assessment WGI has prepared a parking survey for downtown parking users. The more feedback we get, the more information we can provide in order to improve our downtown parking. Please consider all the following topics:
- Parking conditions
- Parking policies
- Parking rates
- Commuter parking operation
- Parking enforcement
- Parking and wayfinding signage
- Employee parking options
- Parking technology
- Pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure
This 5-minute survey will provide valuable feedback to help in this effort. All responses are anonymous. We appreciate you taking the time to help with this effort. After you complete the survey, you can be entered into a raffle to win Slammers baseball tickets. You will just need to provide your email address, which is optional.
You may access the survey by clicking here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CNCGT8V
Executive Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry