Government Affairs Roundup
“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”
We’re getting closer to the June primaries here in Illinois as June 28 is the official date. You can begin now to cast your vote as in-person voting begins tomorrow down in the Will County Clerk’s office at 302 N. Chicago Street in downtown Joliet. Once June 13 rolls around, about 20 other locations will open their doors to vote early as well. For those that requested mail-in ballots, those start to go out this week too.
The November 8 general election is going to be a big one with all 22 Will County Board seats up for election along with sheriff, treasurer, clerk and regional superintendent of schools, as well as all State Senators and Representatives, Governor, and a few other statewide offices.
On the federal side, the Joliet area will be represented mainly by the candidate who wins the 14th congressional district, a move from the 11th. The rest of the area will also likely be electing a new representative as well.
For more information, you can visit www.willcountyclerk.gov
*Government Affairs Roundup brought to you by CITGO & Silver Cross Hospital*
President Biden Visits Illinois
Instead of a prime-time sit-down about his administration’s accomplishments or the pressing issue of abortion, President Joe Biden did what he does best. He talked to, um, regular Joes — farmers in rural Illinois and blue-collar electrical workers at a convention in Chicago, about inflationary challenges faced by families trying to make ends meet.
President Biden remembered his own childhood when gas or grocery prices went up. “That’s what we talked about at the dinner table. It meant a lot. We felt it. We felt it. I understand.” Biden walked in the dirt in Kankakee, thanking farmers for getting America through the pandemic and feeding the world today. “You’re like the backbone of freedom. … The breadbasket of democracy,” he said.
Why Kankakee? The farm there produces a lot of grain, making it a good backdrop for Biden’s message that the war in Ukraine is hurting the world economy. “Ukraine was the world’s largest producer of wheat.” If that grain can’t get to market, “an awful lot of people in Africa are going to starve to death because they are the sole — sole supplier of a number of African countries.” Full remarks
He kept up his attack of MAGA Republicans: “They’re the most extreme party. And that’s what the Republican Party is now. Not everybody Republican believes that. But the fact of the matter is, they run the show — the MAGA Republicans,” he told attendees at a private fundraiser later in the day.
He then arrived at McCormick Place for the national convention of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Biden stepped out from behind the podium with his mic and walked up and down the stage. It seemed unscripted, with photographers scurrying about trying to keep up.
Biden’s message: Inflation is hurting families and he’s sensitive to it. “I’ve got a plan to lower the costs for everyday things,” he said. “That would fundamentally change the standard of living if we just made things more affordable. We’re going to beat inflation.” It matters to families, he said, “because reducing the deficit is one of the main ways that we can ease inflationary pressures.”
The message resonated with the electrical workers who gave repeated standing ovations. “The hard work shows. Our investment is paying dividends,” R. Todd Thacker, an IBEW business manager from Terre Haute, Ind., told Playbook. He was referring to the early endorsement the union gave to Biden when he ran for office in 2018. It was a turning point that led to his election.
GOP GOV’S RACE POLL:
WGN 9 is out with a poll that shows it’s a two-man race for governor between Richard Irvin and Darren Bailey though a third of voters are still undecided.
The WGN-TV/Hill/Emerson College Polling of likely GOP primary voters shows Irvin leading the field with 24.1 percent support, followed by Bailey with 19.8 percent, according to WGN. Following are suburban businessman Gary Rabine with 7.8 percent, venture capitalist Jessie Sullivan with 7.3 percent. Attorney Max Solomon and former state Sen. Paul Schimpf are trail with 2.3 percent and 1.9 percent respectively.
Irvin leads, but Bailey is trailing in the margin of error, which makes you wonder if Irvin is getting his money’s worth from all those TV ads. Irvin’s ads have been up since January, and Bailey didn’t go up on TV until March. And here’s a dollar point: Irvin has spent $12.2 million on TV ads, while Bailey has spent about $1 million. In Chicago, Irvin has spent more than 40 times as much on TV as Bailey, according to a source familiar with the numbers.
Irvin campaign’s curious response: “JB Pritzker and his allies are funding Darren Bailey’s campaign because they know that Richard Irvin is Pritzker’s greatest threat in November.”
Bailey campaign’s response: “This primary election is a two-person race for the heart and soul of our Republican Party. The choice is clear between a conservative Republican like Darren Bailey and a career Democrat like Irvin.”
Governor Pritzker Signs Legislation Addressing Rise in Organized Retail Thefts
Governor Pritzker joined Attorney General Kwame Raoul, lawmakers, advocates, and law enforcement officials to sign legislation designed to combat a nationwide rise in coordinated retail thefts.
“This new law represents another important step to fight crime and advance public safety in Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This is how we protect store workers and customers, prevent militarized storefronts and empty commercial corridors, and across the board, make communities safer for all who call them home. And I look forward to furthering our work to shape a public safety system that works for all of us, including ensuring the victim rights advanced today are carried throughout our justice system.”
House Bill 1091, otherwise known as the INFORM Act, enforces the new crime of Organized Retail Theft. Those who violate the crime by knowingly engaging with others in a theft valued at $300 or more would be guilty of a Class 3 felony. Those who engage in retail theft from one or more establishments would be guilty of a Class 2 felony.
This legislation is specifically aimed at a multi-billion-dollar industry carrying out sophisticated theft operations to turn a profit on the resale market. Last December alone, Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force retrieved $1 million worth of stolen goods from storage units.
“Serious criminal activities, including gunrunning and drug trafficking, have been funded using proceeds from the sales of merchandise stolen through organized retail crimes. This is not just a criminal problem – this hurts consumers as well. That is why we need online marketplaces to do their part. Online marketplaces must use their intellectual resources to make sure criminals are not selling stolen products on their sites, which will help us protect consumers,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. “This law strengthens the authority of my office and other law enforcement agencies to disrupt criminal enterprises that are directly responsible for the rise in organized retail crime. I appreciate Gov. Pritzker’s signing of this important law, as well as the leadership of Sen. Glowiak Hilton and Rep. Kam Buckner in guiding this bipartisan proposal through the Illinois General Assembly.”
“Organized retail crime is not a victimless crime. It threatens the safety of employees and customers, robs businesses of tax dollars and puts communities at risk of further crime including illegal firearm purchases, human trafficking and even terrorism. We thank Governor Pritzker for signing this important measure into law, creating additional avenues to combat these complex crimes and provide for safer communities,” said Rob Karr, president & CEO, IRMA. “I want to thank Attorney General Raoul for his partnership in combatting the rising issue of organized retail crime, as well as every lawmaker who supported and voted in favor of this measure that will help protect retailers, employees and customers across the state.”
This legislation is effective January 1, 2023.
Pritzker Administration Awards $4 Million in Grant Funding for Projects Along Route 66
Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today announced $4 million in grant awards for various projects across the state designed to spur tourism, bolster educational opportunities, and support an increase of Electric Vehicle (EV) travel – which will create and modernize attractions along the Mother Road leading up to the 100th Anniversary of Route 66. This grant – which was open to Illinois’ Certified Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVBs) – was awarded to Great Rivers and Routes CVB, Heritage Corridor CVB, Visit Oak Park CVB, and Springfield CVB for innovative projects that span Route 66 throughout the state.
“These projects honor the history of Route 66 while also building for the future with new attractions and upgrades that benefit communities across Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I can’t think of a better way to prepare for Route 66’s centennial celebration than revitalizing and creating attractions along the Mother Road.”
Projects include: the installation of EV charging stations along Route 66 in Berwyn, Pontiac, and Wilmington; an interactive Virtual Reality exhibit designed to highlight the experience of Black Americans living or traveling along Route 66 in Springfield; transforming a service station into a Route 66 Visitors Center in Edwardsville; and a statewide Route 66 marketing campaign.
“From forward-looking projects like new electric vehicle charging stations, to projects that recognize Illinois’ rich history, these Route 66 projects truly bridge the past and present of one of America’s greatest road trips,” said DCEO Director, Sylvia I. Garcia. “Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, Illinois has prioritized investments in the unique locations and attractions that make Illinois a great place to live, work and visit.”
With more than 300 miles of Route 66 in Illinois from its starting point in Chicago to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, Route 66’s economic and historical impact is woven into the fabric of communities across the state. Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in America, and it serves as an important historical and cultural symbol. Route 66 was designated in 1926 as part of the new numbered highway network and grew to be one of the most well-known and travelled highways. The construction of Route 66 helped make the Western part of the United States accessible to anyone with a car, while generating economic benefits for many communities along the Route.
Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau Awarded $1.5 million grant for Route 66 Revitalization
The Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), in coordination with over a dozen municipalities, has been awarded a $1.5 million grant under the Route 66 Grant Program administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Illinois Office of Tourism. The grant program was open to Illinois’ Certified Conventions and Visitors Bureaus and funding will develop or enhance sites along Route 66, while prioritizing projects focused on future transportation and tourism trends such as electric vehicles.
“I’m absolutely thrilled about being awarded a Route 66 Grant from DCEO,” said Bob Navarro, President/CEO of the Heritage Corridor. “As we prepare for the centennial anniversary of Route 66 in 2026, I’m excited this grant program will allow for domestic and international marketing, new exhibits and roadside attractions along The First Hundred Miles, creation of a new Route 66 Welcome Center in Joliet, and EV stations in two both Wilmington and Pontiac.”
To mark the Route’s 100th anniversary, the Heritage Corridor worked with the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, Visit Springfield, and Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau to develop an integrated state-wide marketing campaign, exciting new projects, and enhancements to existing attractions that set the stage for an incredible journey along all 300 miles of the road within Illinois. These initiatives will elevate the Illinois Route 66 experience for tourists from all over the world, enabling them to take epic road trips within the state for years to come.
Projects in the CVB’s application included a new Route 66 Welcome Center celebrating The First Hundred Miles of Illinois Route 66, two EV parking lots along the Mother Road, a series of fourteen interactive signs in communities along the Route, new exhibits and signage at three museums, and state-wide marketing efforts in conjunction with partners across the state.
“As Pontiac prepares to celebrate the past 100 years of travel on Route 66, we are excited to jump into the future by offering free level 2 charging in our downtown, thanks to funding from the state grant for projects along historic Route 66,” said Liz Vincent, Director of Tourism in the City of Pontiac. Pontiac will be installing an electric vehicle charging station along Route 66.
State-Wide Integrated Marketing Campaign
- The marketing campaign includes trade shows, FAM (familiarization) tours, sales missions, travel campaigns, use of print, website and digital advertisements, email, and social media platforms, targeted at both domestic and international travelers and tour operators.
Community Route 66 Shield Sculptures
- 3D “Route 66” Shield sculptures will be placed in communities along The First Hundred Miles – perfect photo ops to commemorate the journey on the Mother Road in Illinois.
- There is currently one sculpture in Joliet and an additional twelve (12) sculptures are planned throughout Will, Grundy, and DuPage counties.
New museum exhibits
- “Fuel the Future” – A new mobile exhibit created by the Oak Lawn Children’s Museum will look back on the history of Route 66 and highlight what lies ahead for the road as a beacon for tourists of tomorrow driving electric vehicles.
- “Joliet: Prison City” and “Joliet Champions Gallery” – Two compelling new exhibits, focusing on the Old Joliet Prison and hometown accomplishments, will be open for new visitors marking the Route 66 Centennial and beyond.
Transportation, Arts, and History Legacy Mural
- A 42’ x 8’ mural on the facade of the legendary Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet will commemorate the twin centennials of the magnificent theater and Illinois Route 66, as well as their intertwined history.
Landmark Signage for the New Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66
- This museum celebrating Illinois’ musical history and heritage will open its doors Summer 2022. The project includes a massive guitar-shaped sign above the entrance that will draw visitors for one-of-a-kind photos and boost museum attendance and business at surrounding shops, restaurants, attractions, and hotels.
The First Hundred Miles of Route 66 Welcome Center
- A state-of-the-art, Route 66 themed Welcome Center in Joliet will feature an Illinois Made Gift Shoppe showcasing artisans and businesses from throughout the state.
New EV Stations in Wilmington and Pontiac
- Both cities are popular stops along Illinois Route 66. EV stations are not currently located in the downtown areas of these communities and these features would allow visitors to linger longer to shop, dine, and explore while charging their EV on their road trip experience.
The CVB thanks local legislators and community partners for their commitment to the projects that will revitalize and preserve Route 66.
“Route 66 has been a vital job creator for the Joliet area and the entire state for nearly a century, and that is worth celebrating,” said Rep. Larry Walsh, Jr. “As a member of the Route 66 Centennial Commission, I know that our partners at the Convention and Visitor Bureaus will be ready and able to brighten attractions, improve navigation and get the Mother Road in top shape for its 100th birthday.”
“Funding from the Route 66 Grant program supports Joliet’s many contributions to the lore of Route 66, including the iconic Joliet Prison Historic Site and the Museum’s beloved Route 66 Welcome Center,” said Greg Peerbolte, CEO of the Joliet Area Historical Museum & Old Joliet Prison Historic Site. “Grant support further powers the economic development engine of the tourism industry in our region and State, and converts hours spent in Illinois into days.”
Key Updates to One Day Rest in Seven Act
A bill strengthening the One Day Rest in Seven Act has been signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker. Senate Bill 3146 is the result of negotiations among the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL), the business community, community groups and unions.
“The changes will strengthen the One Day Rest in Seven Act and reflect the ongoing mission of the Illinois Department of Labor to protect the rights, wages and working conditions for people in Illinois,” said Illinois Department of Labor Acting Director Jane Flanagan.
The One Day Rest in Seven Act gives workers the right to a day of rest every workweek and meal or rest breaks during daily work shifts. The changes enacted as part of SB 3146 are intended to clarify the day of rest requirements for workers whose schedules don’t align with a Sunday to Saturday calendar week and apply to any consecutive seven-day work period. The amendments also require an additional 20-minute break for workers during a 12-hour shift and clarify penalties for bad actors.
Employers with fewer than 25 employees that violate the act can face a penalty of $250 per offense and damages up to $250 per offense. Employers with 25 or more employees that violate the act can face a penalty of $500 per offense and damages up to $500 per offense. Every employer covered by the Act must post a notice at the workplace to notify employees of their rights under this Act. IDOL will provide this notice on its website for employers to download and post.
The changes will take effect January 1, 2023, giving employers time to update meal and rest break policies and remain in compliance with the law.
Infrastructure Bill Preparation Program
The Illinois PTAC and Illinois SBA District Office have joined forces to develop a groundbreaking program to prepare companies for Infrastructure Bill contracts. The Infrastructure Bill was signed into law by the Biden Administration and will provide unprecedented financing for our nation’s infrastructure. Illinois will receive a substantial portion of this bill’s contracting dollars.
- HUBZone Certification – (5/18/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
- 8(a) Certification – (5/25/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
- EDWOSB & WOSB Certification – (6/1/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
- SDVOSB Certification – (6/8/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
- Building Capability Statements for the Government Market – (6/15/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
- Government Proposal Writing – (6/22/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
- Government Marketing Plan – (6/29/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
Amid warnings of electricity price hikes and possible brownouts, Illinois legislators look for fixes
Illinois legislators are looking at how to modify the state’s clean energy laws amid warnings of electricity price hikes and possible rolling brownouts coming this summer to central and southern Illinois, but it may be too late. Last month, Ameren Illinois said energy experts say solar and wind energy has not kept pace with generation capacity lost as fossil fuel plants retire.
“The high clearing price from the [Midcontinent Independent System Operator] capacity auction could add as much as $13 per month to the supply portion of a typical customer’s electric bill,” a statement from Ameren said. “The reality for zones that do not have sufficient generation to cover their load plus their required reserves is that they will have increased risk of temporary, controlled outages to maintain system reliability,” Clair Moeller, MISO’s president and chief operating officer, said in statement days before. “From a consumer perspective, those zones may also face higher costs to procure power when it is scarce.”
During an Illinois House committee hearing, Melville Nickerson with NRG Energy said those prospects are alarming. “The higher energy costs that are unfolding in our state, as well as the potential for rolling blackouts in central and southern Illinois,” Nickerson said. He’s advocating for changes found in House Amendment 8 in Senate Bill 3866 to the state’s energy law to encourage more flexibility.
J.C. Kibbey with the Natural Resources Defense Council told the committee the problems impacting coal power have been years in the making and the state’s clean energy law is clear with timelines to close coal fired plants by 2045. “Is there a role for very efficient fossil fuel energy between now and then, yes, and we’ve acknowledged that in the law,” Kibbey said. “But continuing to burn fossil fuels after the timeline we’ve set out is not in the spirit of the law.”
Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s Mark Denzler told lawmakers the situation is repelling investment in Illinois. “And I can’t tell you enough the number of companies I hear from across the state that say, ‘we are losing our energy advantage, we are losing that battle,’ and it’s one of the few things we have at our advantage, and we are giving it away,” Denzler said.
More hearings on the issue are expected over the summer in what committee chair state Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, said is an attempt to find a balance and not go off a cliff. State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said the die is cast on what he called a decade-long “war on coal,” driving up costs and reducing energy reliability leading to possible brownouts. “And if businesses are making decisions because the energy is not reliable, and the energy costs are through the roof, well that’s a problem for downstate because we’re gonna lose jobs and we’re going to continue to see population declines in Illinois,” Butler said.
Butler speculates that if voters are told they can’t turn their air conditioning on during the hottest parts of the summer, or can’t turn their lights on, there will be political ramifications come November, when the general midterm election is scheduled.
Outside of committees, lawmakers aren’t expected back for fall session to take legislative action until after the November election.
Executive Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry