Government Affairs Roundup
“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”

Chamber members:

Happy New Year to all of you! I hope that you have started off 2023 well and wish all of you the best. We’re jumping right into the new year with plenty of information to share.

Illinois state legislators return to Springfield for lame-duck session this week. The lame-duck session, the final five days of the 102nd Illinois General Assembly, begins today at the state Capitol. Lawmakers are scheduled to be in the Capitol today through Saturday. The final day of the session will follow on Tuesday, after the inauguration of executive officers on Monday. Governor JB Pritzker will be inaugurated for a second term as well on Monday at the Bank of Springfield Center.

The lame-duck session is the final chance for legislative action on the thousands of bills introduced over the past two years. More on those bills below.

Meanwhile, out in Washington D.C., a bloc of Republican opponents Tuesday kept Kevin McCarthy from becoming House speaker on three ballots, and the House adjourned to come back on Wednesday and try again to pick a leader.
*Update – 5 failed ballots now as of this writing.

McCarthy, R-Calif., had told his colleagues as the day began he would not back down, and his supporters said there would be repeated votes. After three votes, the last of which saw McCarthy lose one of his earlier supporters, a motion from McCarthy ally Tom Cole of Oklahoma to adjourn until noon Wednesday was adopted by voice vote.

*Government Affairs Roundup brought to you by CITGO & Silver Cross Hospital*

State Legislature starts 2023 with a pair of big business bills
The spotlight will be on Springfield this week as the Legislature returns for its pre-inaugural lame-duck session with a pair of key business-related measures now reportedly on a fast track.

The first is the proposed package of electric vehicle incentives, including a huge “deal-closing fund,” that Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants. Team Pritzker hopes that will be enough to convince Stellantis and partners to invest in converting the soon-to-be-shuttered Belvidere assembly plant to EV production.

As of Monday, multiple capitol sources said the measure appears to be in good shape, with lawmakers fine-tuning what type of oversight they’d have on the fund, which could hit $1 billion. Sources say the governor and aides have been regularly meeting with Stellantis and that Pritzker recently sat down with the local United Auto Workers union.

Also percolating: a measure that would give workers statewide seven paid days off a year for sick leave, family emergencies, etc. Business groups supported the measure because, as originally drafted, it would have preempted even stronger requirements elsewhere, like in Chicago, which could raise its current five-day mandate. But the latest word is the preemption clause is out at the request of organized labor but over the opposition of business.

Look for more clarity on this later this week as well as support for the proposed assault weapons ban and related gun-control steps that Pritzker wants. And, of course, more on the legal fight over the SAFE-T Act’s cash bail provision.

New Laws Taking Effect in 2023 Impact Employers, Employees
As a reminder, as the New Year begins, employers and employees across the State should be aware of new laws taking effect that impact workplace rights.

  • In 2019, Governor Pritzker led the effort to increase the minimum wage for workers in Illinois. The law passed increases the wage by $1 every year through 2025. This year the minimum wage increases to $13 an hour, and $7.80 an hour for tipped workers. Workers in the Chicago and Cook County area should be aware that the minimum wage may be higher there due to local ordinances.
  • Unpaid leave rights are being expanded for employees. The Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA) amends what was the Child Bereavement Leave Act (CBLA) to expand job-protected leave to cover pregnancy loss, failed adoptions, unsuccessful reproductive procedures, and other diagnoses or events negatively impacting pregnancy or fertility. The FBLA also now requires employers to provide leave time after the loss of family members such as parents or siblings. Employees may take up to two weeks, or 10 working days, of unpaid leave time for any of the events covered by the FBLA.
  • The amended One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA) gives workers the right to a day of rest every workweek and breaks for meals or rest during daily work shifts. Employers covered by ODRISA must post a notice at the workplace informing workers of their rights under the Act. The notice is available on the IDOL website.
  • An amendment to the Employee Sick Leave Act mandates that employers who provide sick leave benefits must allow employees to take leave in the event of a family member illness on the same conditions which the employee can take leave for their own illness.

President Biden signs $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill
President Joe Biden signed a $1.7 trillion omnibus package after the House voted to pass the bill. The Senate passed the mammoth piece of legislation first, 12 appropriations bills wrapped into one, which funds the government through September and avoids a government shutdown.

Several Republicans mounted a resistance to the bill, but it was not enough. Lawmakers on the right argued for a temporary funding measure to keep the government running until the new Congress took over, where Republicans will control the House.

Key points of contention included $45 billion in Ukraine funding and a string of controversial spending measures. “And, of course, $1,438,000,000 for membership in global multilateral organizations, including the UN. The word ‘salmon’ appears 48 times in the bill. $65 million for salmon? Seems fishy,” Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., wrote in a string of Tweets that went viral. “On a more sinister note, here’s at least $575 million for ‘family planning’ in areas where population growth ‘threatens biodiversity.’ Malthusianism is a disturbing, anti-human ideology that should have ZERO place in any federal program.”

Title 42 was also front and center in the debate. The Trump-era immigration provision allowed border officials to expel illegal immigrants in the name of preventing the spread of COVID into the U.S. That policy was set to expire before the Supreme Court gave it a temporary extension while they review a legal challenge to that expiration which came from a coalition of states.

Kankakee County judge invalidates cash bail reform in some counties; Supreme Court appeal pending
A Kankakee County judge ruled last Wednesday that lawmakers overreached their constitutional authority in passing a measure to abolish cash bail in Illinois, while other provisions in the wide-ranging SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform were not affected by the ruling.

The ruling by Judge Thomas W. Cunnington leaves the impending cash bail reform in limbo in at least 64 of Illinois’ 102 counties that had joined the consolidated lawsuit ahead of the reform’s scheduled Jan. 1 implementation.

The reform remains scheduled to take effect in the more than 30 counties that did not sue, which contain roughly two-thirds of the state’s population. Of the state’s 10 most populous counties, six were not part of the lawsuit (Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, St. Clair and Champaign). The counties of Will, McHenry, Winnebago and Madison were all part of the lawsuit.

The ruling did not invalidate other provisions of the SAFE-T Act which had already taken effect, such as reforms to police officer training and certification standards and police body camera requirements.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a news release the state will appeal the decision directly to the state Supreme Court, but a timeline for a ruling from the high court is unclear.

Illinois Supreme Court issues stay on ending cash bail
On Saturday, a portion of Illinois’ counties were ready to enact the Pretrial Fairness Act — establishing a standard of cashless bail. That all changed in the hours leading up to New Year’s Day as the Illinois Supreme Court issued a stay on the act, thus keeping cash bail alive in Illinois until further notice.

In a certified order released Saturday evening, the state’s top court said it issued the stay to “maintain consistent pretrial procedures throughout Illinois.” Recently passed amendments to the PFA, receiving just enough support in the Democrat-dominated General Assembly, also will be suspended by the court’s order.

The halting of the act’s implementation comes days after a Kankakee County judge ruled in favor of a group of 60-plus state’s attorneys suing the state on the act’s constitutional grounds. At that point, it appeared counties that were not represented in the lawsuit would be able to move forward with ending cash bail. Some counties such as Peoria County, however, decided prior to the court’s order to keep cash bail in place.

To clarify who the ruling applied to, state’s attorneys in DuPage and Kane counties had requested the state’s highest court to order consistent pretrial rules regardless of whether counties were party to the suit. Raoul announced Friday that his office has already appealed the ruling from Kankakee County Circuit Judge Thomas W. Cunnington to the state Supreme Court. Cunnington is the chief judge of the state’s 21st Judicial Circuit.

“It is important to note that the order issued today by the court is not a decision on the merits of the constitutionality of the SAFE-T Act, and I appreciate the court’s interest in expediting the appeal,” said Raoul in a statement regarding the state Supreme Court’s ruling. “We look forward to mounting a robust defense of the constitutionality of the law and ensuring that it goes into effect across the state.”

The PFA is part of the 764-page SAFE-T Act, signed into law by Pritzker in February 2021, which requires all police departments in the state to have body cameras by 2025 and installs new training protocols for law enforcement. Specifically, it permits judges to hold a defendant in pretrial detention if they meet either the public dangerousness or willful flight standards. It has long been contested by Republicans, especially leading up to the midterm elections, as they claimed it would allow violent criminals to roam the streets. Supporters say it creates a more equitable criminal justice system.

Raoul said it was important to note that the order issued by the court is not a decision on the merits of the constitutionality of the SAFE-T Act. “I appreciate the court’s interest in expediting the appeal,” he said. “We look forward to mounting a robust defense of the constitutionality of the law and ensuring that it goes into effect across the state.”

The state’s suspended gas tax increase ended Sunday: What you need to know
A six-month pause on a scheduled gas tax increase in Illinois ended New Year’s Day, but multiple pieces of legislation introduced in the General Assembly could counter the hike. The pause stopped a 2.2-cent per gallon increase originally slated for last July 1 when the tax was set to rise to 41.4 cents per gallon. Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature on the state budget, however, paused that tax increase until the new year and also included a yearlong suspension of the 1% grocery tax.

The increase in the gas tax is scheduled each year for July and is tied to annual inflation calculated by the Department of Labor. The Consumer Price Index for 2022 was 8.2%, making for an increase of approximately 3.1 cents per gallon and 42.4 cents per gallon overall. There are two increases this year.

For more than 20 years, the gas tax stood steady at 19 cents per gallon but that changed in 2019 with the passage of the Rebuild Illinois infrastructure plan. An increase to 38 cents followed to help afford the $45 billion construction program, which is also funded by vehicle registration fees, title fees and sales tax on motor fuel.

Bills addressing the gas tax
The 102nd Illinois General Assembly will reconvene this week for its lame duck session, where it is possible that legislators will consider bills regarding the gas tax.

House Bill 5829 has secured several Republican co-sponsors. The bill would extend the pause until July 1, 2023. The bill sponsored by state Rep. Chris Bos, R-Lake Zurich, also would end the current state requirement for motor fuel retailers to post a sign notifying customers of the pause. Those that did not could be found guilty of a petty offense carrying with it a $500 fee per day the retailer was in violation.

Another more recently introduced piece of legislation would pertain to the sales tax levied on motor fuel and gasohol. State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, introduced House Bill 5860 in late December and would drop the sales tax on these types of fuel from 6.25% to 1.25%. This decrease is the same rate as seen during the state’s previous sales tax holiday in August 2022 for back-to-school shopping.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, revenues from the sales tax on motor fuels were expected to bring in $600 million for the Rebuild Illinois plan at full implementation. Spain’s bill accounts for the decreased sales tax revenues by having the state Department of Revenue feed into the State and Local Sales Tax Reform Fund all of the net revenue from the 1.25% tax instead of the 20% of revenue under the current 6.25%.

The likelihood of action on any of these bills remains unknown, but would require bipartisan support from the Democratic supermajorities in both chambers.

Illinois Celebrates 2022 Economic Development Milestones
Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic (DCEO) released the 2022 Illinois Economic Development Report. This report highlights a record year for economic development in key sectors, including investments in communities, support for small businesses, and assistance for Illinoisians in need.

“Since coming into office, my administration has prioritized economic opportunity and fiscal health at every turn and 2022 was a record-breaking year for progress,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We surpassed a $1 trillion GDP, marked eighteen consecutive months of job growth, dispersed a record number of loans for small businesses, and earned multiple credit rating upgrades—all while seeing historic business creation and job growth.”

“At the core of this incredible economic development is an amazing investment in people,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “From projects that create jobs to funding that supports services to grants that keep local businesses open, Illinois is enhancing the quality of life for residents in every community. Our administration will continue to prioritize policies, projects, and pathways of economic development that put families first.”

“2022 was a record-breaking year for economic development in Illinois, from record state support for small businesses, to private companies committing to invest more than $1 billion in Illinois communities through our signature incentive program,” said DCEO Director Sylvia I. Garcia. “Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, Illinois has received notable company investments while providing record support for Illinois communities. Illinois is the best state to live, work and do business and looking ahead to 2023, DCEO is excited to build upon this progress by continuing to strengthen our communities while bolstering our business climate.”

From 2019-2022, Private Investments Incentivized through EDGE Agreements Nearly Tripled to $1 Billion with New Jobs Increasing Nearly 60 Percent
In 2022, companies’ capital investments through EDGE agreements nearly tripled from 2019 pre-pandemic levels, from $348 million in 2019 to $1 billion in 2022. During that same period, the number of new jobs created by EDGE jumped nearly 60 percent, from 1,667 to 2,639. The Illinois Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program is Illinois’ premier business attraction initiative designed to support job creators locating or expanding in Illinois. Major agreements from 2022 include Ferrero, which is building the first-ever Kinder Bueno production facility in the U.S. and the first outside of Europe; Tyson Foods which is expanding its Caseyville facility and creating more than 200 new jobs; and pending federal regulatory approval, two joint ventures between ADM and LG Chem that will manufacture ingredients for plant-based products.

In addition to EDGE agreements, in 2022, large companies across industries announced major investments in Illinois, including Kellogg’s announcement that it will move its most profitable snack division headquarters to Chicago from Michigan; Google’s decision to expand its already robust Chicago footprint with the $105 million purchase of the Thompson Center; Prime Data Centers’ new $1 Billion Elk Grove Village facility; and the Double Black Diamond Solar Project in Sangamon and Morgan counties, which will be one of the largest solar projects in the state; and much more.

Illinois Surpassed $1 Trillion GDP
In 2022, Illinois reached a critical milestone by surpassing $1 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first time in the state’s history. Illinois is one of only five states in the nation to reach this achievement.

November 2022 Marked 18 Consecutive Months of Job Growth in Illinois
Announced in December 2022, Illinois reached a key milestone: a year and a half of consecutive job growth, adding 791,000 jobs during that time period. In November 2022, Illinois private-sector employment (5,317,100) surpassed its pre-pandemic peak from February 2020 (5,315,500), signaling a full employment recovery, and an all-time high number for private-sector employment in Illinois. Additionally, through week ending November 26, Illinois has experienced 30 consecutive weeks below the previously recorded 70,000 claims threshold of record low unemployment insurance claims.

Illinois Earned Six Credit Rating Upgrades in the Last 18 Months
After nearly two decades of steady downgrades, Illinois earned six credit rating upgrades in the last 18 months. These positive developments come after the state suffered eight credit rating downgrades in the years 2015 to 2017, with the credit rating hovering just above junk status.

Record Number of New Businesses Created
Based on data released in early 2022, Illinois set a new record, creating nearly 200,000 new businesses in 2021. In fact, Illinois added 69 percent more business startups in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Record Number of Loans for Small Businesses Through the Advantage Illinois Program
Through the Advantage Illinois (AI) program, Illinois issued a record 95 low-interest loans totaling $20.7 million to small businesses – nearly double the number of loans issued in 2021 and the most loans issued in a year since the program’s inception in 2012. Additionally, a record 71 percent of all AI loans were provided to businesses owned by people of color, veterans, people with disabilities and women. In 2023, DCEO will greatly expand small business support thanks to $350 million in funding as part of the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Largest-Ever Rebuild Illinois (RBI) Investment for Community Revitalization
This summer, Illinois awarded the largest-ever Rebuild Illinois investment focused on community revitalization through the Rebuild Illinois Downtowns and Main Streets Capital Program. Through the program, $106 million was awarded to revitalize 50 commercial corridors and main streets throughout Illinois.

In 2022, DCEO made additional capital investments including $50 million for essential infrastructure programs through the Rebuild Illinois Public Infrastructure (RIPI) Capital Program; $23.5 million in infrastructure and housing rehabilitation grants through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program; and $30 million in capital funding to Lake County for storm water and flooding management.

Stay well,

Mike Paone
Executive Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
815.727.5371 main
815.727.5373 direct