“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”
In addition to the information below about the Unemployment Insurance agreement, SAFE-T act trailer bill, and additional legislation there is a list of interested candidates for mayor and Joliet city council. We’ll track that and more to come about the elections in April.
Additionally, we have a link here for you to use for information regarding Economic Development grants through Will County from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. I interviewed Anna Sitton as part of our Legislative Coffee series presented by CITGO. It is about 20 minutes of useful info on where to apply, how to apply, guidelines & requirements, and more. Deadline is 12/30/2022 so don’t delay as businesses and non-profits are eligible for the pool of $10 million.
Here is the link to the video: https://youtu.be/GRwKxxB_mbg
Here is the web page for more info: https://willcountyillinois.org/arpa-economic-development/
Here is the email address for questions and assistance: email@example.com
Finally, on the workforce side of things, please take note of a program coming up in the Spring of 2023. Pathways to Professions Career Expo will be taking place on March 14 and 15 through the Workforce Services Division of Will County.
The Expo introduces high school students to a wealth of career opportunities available in Will County and helps steer students on their future educational and professional paths. To make the event both purposeful and interactive, students are expected to participate in career exploration activities during the expo. We ask that all businesses present at the expo plan for an interactive experience where the students can explore the career field, ask questions, and learn directly by participating in a hands-on activity.
Business participation is vital in making this event successful for the students that attend. Below you will find a link to an online registration form to be submitted for participation in the year’s event. Each presenter will be given an assigned booth within the event. We ask that you plan for an interactive experience where students can explore their career field and ask questions while participating in a hands-on activity. We will happily assist in offering tips and strategies for a successful presentation experience.
*Government Affairs Roundup brought to you by CITGO & Silver Cross Hospital*
Unemployment Insurance Agreement Update
During the recently concluded veto session, business groups and labor interests were able to come to an agreement that will save Illinois employers nearly a billion dollars in higher unemployment insurance taxes. The General Assembly approved the agreement in SB 1698 which is expected to be signed quickly by Governor Pritzker. The quick action is necessary to allow adequate time for the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) adequate time to prepare and deliver 2023 employer tax calculations. IDES has indicated that they will be mailing the 2023 tax calculations the first week of January.
The objectives of the negotiations were to lessen tax increases on employers, establish better predictability for employers and bring greater stability to the UI Trust Fund. The agreement reduces employer taxes by $913M over the next 5-years. The Trust Fund Year End Balance over the next 5 years is estimated to remain above $1.5 billion.
At the beginning of 2020, the Illinois UI Trust Fund was over $2 billion. With the COVID pandemic taking hold and mandatory business shutdowns the Trust fund plunged to a deficit of over $4.5 billion requiring borrowing from the federal government.
- The State pays the remaining $1.363 billion in Title XII borrowing. Because Illinois failed to pay off our federal debt by the federal deadline, Illinois employers lose a portion of our FUTA tax credit and incur in 2023 a $21 per employee tax for employees earning $7,000. The FUTA tax gross revenue of $114 million will be deposited into the Illinois Trust Fund.
- The target balance for the Adjusted State Experience Factor (ASEF) will increase from $1.0 billion to $1.75 billion. Labor had originally asked that it be increased to $3 billion.
- The Taxable Wage Base (TWB) will increase over a five-year period by 2.4% per year. The TWB was last increased in 2009. Labor had asked that the TWB be increased by an average of 2.4% per year forever. The agreement provides for a fixed 2.4% increase per year for the first five years and then the TWB is frozen at that number. The TWB will increase from $12,960 to $14,592 over five years and will then be frozen at $14,592.
- An additional $450 million of State monies will be loaned, interest free, to the UI Trust Fund. These monies will help protect against the possibility of the predicted recession being deeper than expected. The loan will be paid back, interest free, by Illinois employers over a ten-year period beginning in 2024. If in any year the July 1st Trust Fund balance is less than $1.2 billion, the $45 million repayment will be suspended for that year and the payment schedule will be extended another year.
- “Speed bumps” are created to bring both sides back to the table in two years. IF no legislative agreement is reached a $500M benefit cut for labor and a $500M tax increase for business is triggered. These speed bumps have served their purposes of bringing the parties to the negotiating table and have never been enacted.
The financial portion of the agreement is embodied in SB 2801 which was approved by the Senate. The House will be taking up the measure when it returns for a lame duck session scheduled to start on January 4, 2023.
Other Action from Veto Session
HB 1095 – SAFE-T Trailer bill: passed the Senate by a vote of 38-17-0 and passed the House by a vote of 71-40-0. This is the trailer bill that made various changes to the implementation of the SAFE-T Act originally passed last Spring.
The measure expands the list of crimes for which a judge can order pretrial detention, adds to what a judge can consider when determining if a defendant is a risk of willful flight from prosecution, and standardizes language regarding a defendant’s danger to the public safety among several other changes.
The measure will still end the existing wealth-based system of pretrial detention in favor of one based on an offender’s level of risk to the public or of fleeing prosecution.
“Illinois, on January 1, 2023, will make history – civil rights history, one that all of us can look back at with pride,” Sen. Robert Peters, the bill’s Senate sponsor, said in Senate debate. “I know I would say that this is my version of the Voting Rights Act. This is my version of Obamacare. This is what I did in Springfield and changed the fortunes for thousands of working-class Illinoisans.”
Governor Pritzker signed the bill on Tuesday. “I’m pleased that the General Assembly has passed clarifications that uphold the principle we fought to protect: to bring an end to a system where wealthy violent offenders can buy their way out of jail, while less fortunate nonviolent offenders wait in jail for trial,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Advocates and lawmakers came together and put in hours of work to strengthen and clarify this law, uphold our commitment to equity, and keep people safe.”
HB 2406 – Sunset Date Extensions: passed out of the Senate by a vote of 96-0-4 and passed the House on Concurrence by a vote of 96-04. This bill, as amended, extends various sunset dates. Including an amendment to the Illinois Power Agency Act, which provides that language that states that the authorization to impose any new taxes or fees specifically related to generation of electricity by, the capacity to generate electricity by, or the emissions into the atmosphere by electric generating facilities is an exclusive power and function of the State is repealed on January 1, 2024 (instead of January 1, 2023). This bill also extends the Transportation Network Providers Act repeal date to September 1, 2023. This is the enabling act for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. The extension of this repeal date to September means this issue will be continued in the Spring.
SB 2324 – Tourism District creation: passed out of the Senate Revenue Committee by a vote of 9-1-0. This bill creates the Tourism Marketing and Recovery District Law. Provides that a governmental unit (a municipality, county, township, or any combination thereof) may, by ordinance, initiate proceedings to create a tourism marketing and recovery district that would allow a transaction charge to be imposed upon customer transactions entered into by tourism businesses in the district and such charges may be based on revenue, sales, or any other business-related factor deemed appropriate by the governing body. Provides that the transaction charge collected by the governmental unit shall be remitted to a tourism and convention bureau to be used for marketing, promotions, sales efforts, events, and other activities that are reasonably related to the enhancement of tourism. The sponsor answered numerous questions on concerns with the bill and said she will introduce an amendment with expected action in the lame duck session.
SB 4242/HB 5850 – Lawmakers introduce legislation to close ‘pawnbroker loophole’: “Passage of either Senate Bill 4241 or House Bill 5850 would hold pawnbrokers to the same consumer loan interest rate standard set by the Predatory Loan Prevention Act.”
Bill boosting Electric Vehicle incentives is headed for Governor Pritzker’s desk
The General Assembly has given final approval to a bill to boost the state’s incentives for electric vehicle makers and parts suppliers, an action officials hope will finally put the state in the game in a fast-growing national industry.
Under a measure approved and sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, both the amount and length of payroll tax credits for eligible employers will be increased, lasting as long as 30 years. Other provisions would loosen the definition of an EV worker and appear to be aimed at existing automakers in Illinois, especially Stellantis and Ford. They have huge conventional auto assembly plants in Illinois in downstate Belvidere and on Chicago’s South Side that could be converted to EV production, but likely only after years of preparation.
The new law “will help attract” both large production facilities and small supply-chain firms, said Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President Mark Denzler. While narrower incentives passed a year ago did not produce a plethora of new investments in the state, “I certainly hope this will move the needle.”
Biden signs bill to avert rail shutdown
President Biden on Friday signed a bill that will avert a rail strike, just days before the deadline for an agreement to have been reached and amid fears that such a halt in railroad operations would cripple the U.S. economy.
The bill implements the labor agreement between freight rail carriers and unionized workers, which Biden backed in September. His administration at the time was largely praised for helping broker a deal.
Economy adds 263K jobs in November, unemployment holds steady at 3.7 percent
The U.S. economy gained 263,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate held even at 3.7 percent, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department.
Job growth in November beat the expectations of economists, who projected the U.S. to gain roughly 200,000 jobs last month, according to consensus projections. The jobless rate remained just 0.2 percentage points above its pre-pandemic level as the job market continued to push through high inflation and rising interest rates to grow at a sturdy clip.
Inflation is finally relenting. A little. It’s at least no longer running out of control. And the downward trend is pretty consistent. It’s no longer risky to say that inflation has finally peaked because it pretty clearly did so in June. All the Federal Reserve’s super-sized rate hikes since March appear to be finally working, at least a bit. And consumers are still spending in spite of higher interest rates, keeping any potential Fed-induced recession off stage for now.
Now for the not so good: Inflation is still way too high. Consumers are keeping up their spending by quickly drawing down savings built up during Covid and increasingly turning to credit cards to keep up with expenses.
Latest on Employee Classification Proposal
As mentioned recently, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed a new regulation to determine whether someone should be classified as an “independent contractor” or an “employee” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA). This new regulation would replace the regulation issued by the Trump administration that the U.S. Chamber supported. The proposal can be viewed here and comments are due to the Department of Labor by Tuesday, December 13, 2022.
The new regulation is heavily biased towards concluding that someone should be considered an employee. If an employer determines a worker should be classified as an independent contractor, the employer will not be confident that classification will be correct until the DOL approves it. The only way an employer can be confident in their classification decision is if they classify someone as an employee—the DOL will never question that decision.
Please click here to read sign-on comments that explain the problems with the proposed regulation and call for its withdrawal. They are written broadly without specific industry references. If your organization wishes to be listed on these comments, please click here to sign your organization to the comment letter by the deadline on Friday, December 9, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. ET.
Joliet Election Candidate Petitions
Candidacy petitions for the April 4, 2023, election must be filed with the Joliet City Clerk’s Office between Monday, December 12, 2022, and Monday, December 19, 2022, during normal business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
There will be a lottery to determine ballot order of candidates who simultaneously filed petitions to run for Joliet City Council positions in the 2023 Consolidated Election. That lottery will take place on Wednesday, December 28, 2022, at 8:00 a.m. in the City Clerk’s Office.
The following have taken out petitions:
DISTRICT 1 COUNCIL MEMBER:
Larry E. Hug
DISTRICT 2 COUNCIL MEMBER:
DISTRICT 3 COUNCIL MEMBER:
DISTRICT 4 COUNCIL MEMBER:
Christopher J. Parker
DISTRICT 5 COUNCIL MEMBER:
Michael W. Carruthers
Executive Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry