This Week in Springfield – 101-03

101-03
February 8, 2019

This Week in Springfield, the Senate passed a $15 wage and the Senate Public Health Committee passed a Tobacco 21 measure.

$15 STARTING WAGE

Despite concerns by suburban and downstate legislators in particular over the impact on the state budget (over $1 billion) and the impact on suburban and downstate employers, the Senate passed a proposal to increase the Illinois starting wage to $15 over 5 years as contained in Senate Amendment #1 to Senate Bill 1 (Sen Kimberly Lightford, D- Westchester). The 39-18 vote was along strictly partisan lines and came only after Governor JB Pritzker spent 30-minutes in the Senate Democratic caucus imploring a united front for his first major policy initiative. This action comes despite two very reasonable alternatives put forward by IRMA under the belief that an increase is inevitable, everyone was genuine in their desire to turn the page on the last four-years and seek genuine compromise, and the two alternatives IRMA put forward were supported in those respective states by the same proponents who are pushing the $15 wage increase in Illinois.

IRMA first suggested following the Oregon model where a different wage would be paid in different parts of the state. For example, $15 would be paid in Chicago, a lower wage in the collar counties, and a yet lower wage downstate. The Oregon model makes the most sense for a state as economically and geographically diverse as Illinois in that no other location in Illinois enjoys the economic benefits of Chicago. Nowhere else has over 55 million tourists per year, nowhere else has millions commuting into the city center every day spending money, nowhere else has the concentration of business headquarters, and nowhere else has the concentration of wealth. However, several legislators and the Governor’s Office expressed reservations over voting for $15 for some parts of the state but not others.

As an alternative, IRMA put forward the New York model. New York increased the starting wage in New York City over 4 years. The starting wage in the two counties on Long Island and Westchester County were increased to $15 over 6 years, and the starting wage in the rest of New York over 10-12 years (increased by CPI until reaches 15). While less sensitive to the economic diversity of New York and Illinois, it is an apt example for Illinois. The city of Chicago began increasing its minimum wage in 2015. If SB 1 is enacted as is, employers in the city of Chicago will have been given 10 years to get to $15 per hour. Employers in the suburbs and downstate will only be given 5 years. It raises the question as to why suburban and downstate employers are not being given the same consideration as employers in the city of Chicago. For those who say ‘well, the city raised the wage on its own, the answer is proponents don’t get it both ways. They can’t oppose preemption and then not count the actions of the city of Chicago. Employers don’t get that luxury.

Claims that alternatives were never presented are simply false. These alternatives were provided to the Governor directly the evening of Tuesday, January 29th, the primary legislative sponsors and the proponents during a morning meeting on Thursday, January 31st, repeated during another meeting the morning of Tuesday, February 5th and shared with other legislators and legislative staff throughout the week. Clearly, given the facts noted above, there does not appear to be a genuine desire for what would otherwise be considered an easily achievable compromise.

The proponents claim that a tax credit inserted into the bill will help small business. In fact, the tax credit as proposed is inadequate to soften the size and pace of the proposed increase and applies to very few employers. The following would NOT receive the credit:

• Any employer with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees. The legislation does not state what constitutes ‘full-time” so it is impossible to accurately calculate. However, given the fact the proposal started with a firm cap at 50, we can expect a definition that keeps close to that number.

• If you are a franchisee and have more than one store OR file as part of a unitary group (e.g. you are a franchisee, run some other type of business and they file taxes together) you would not be eligible for the tax credit.

• If your average wages paid are less than the same quarter the year before, you are not eligible for the credit. For example, if you are forced to cut hours worked, lay off workers, or if workers are absent, your average wages could easily drop.

• Employers with 5 or fewer employees are eligible for a credit for a year longer than everyone else. While the proponents claim this applies to 48% of all employers, they don’t tell you that the vast majority of that 48% is comprised of employers where the only employee is the employer. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), in the City of Chicago, such businesses account for 6.6% of employers. According to the US Small Business Administration, 80% of all employers fall into this category. Therefore, 1.4% – 2.0% of employers in Illinois would qualify.

Clearly, the tax credit is nothing more than a talking point.

As passed by the Senate, SB 1 increases the starting wage as follows:

18 years and older                     Under 18 years of age*

YEAR              WAGE                      YEAR            WAGE
1/1/2020       $9.25                    1/1/2020        $8.00
7/1/2020       $10.00                  7/1/2020
1/1/2021       $11.00                                         $8.50
1/1/2022       $12.00                                         $9.25
1/1/2023       $13.00                                        $10.50
1/1/2024       $14.00                                        $12.00
1/1/2025       $15.00                                        $13.00

*If the employee who is under 18 years of age works more than 650 hours for the employer during a calendar year, then the employer must pay the full minimum wage regardless of the employee’s age.

While it looks like a six-year phase-in, it is really a five-year phase in because employers will experience a $2.75 per hour increase (33.3% increase) in the first 366-days. For an employer’s planning purposes, a year-and-one-day, is not two years. This phase-in is an average annual increase to an employer’s largest or second-largest line-item of over 16% per year for a total increase of 81.8% over 5 years.

The House Labor & Commerce Committee is scheduled to consider SB 1 on Wednesday, February 13th at 2:00 p.m. IRMA members should register their opposition by filing a slip at this link. Additionally, IRMA members are encouraged to continue to register their opposition per the action alerts IRMA has distributed.

TOBACCO 21

SB 21 (Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield) prohibits an Illinois licensed retailer from selling tobacco products to anyone below the age of 21, but removes the penalties for the purchase, possession, selling, or consumption of tobacco for the same individuals. It completely removes the specific prohibition of the possession of tobacco products by a minor. And it only prohibits a minor from selling tobacco products, as an employee, at a licensed retailer. In fact, the only thing SB 21penalizes a minor for is using a fraudulent identification.

As a result, since the Illinois statutes would no longer penalize a minor for any of the aforementioned, SB 21 makes it “legal” for a person under the age of 21 to: (1) possess tobacco, (2) consume tobacco, (3) sell tobacco, (4) buy tobacco from an unlicensed Illinois retailer or individual, or (5) buy tobacco from a licensed out-of-state retailer or online. As such, the bill protects unlicensed, unregulated, and, untaxed individuals selling tobacco to minors while prohibiting licensed Illinois retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone below the age of 21.

SB 21 passed the Senate Public Health Committee by a partisan vote of 8-4.

BILL INTRODUCTIONS

The Illinois General Assembly has introduced nearly 4,000 bills to date. With the bill filing deadline of February 15th quickly approach, there will likely be a large number of bills filed next week. Here are a sample of bills that were filed this week:

Check out Bag TaxSB 1240 (Sen. Terry Link, D-Gurnee) creates the Checkout Bag Tax Act and imposes a tax of $0.07 on each checkout bag used by a customer at a retail establishment in the State. The proceeds from the tax shall be distributed as follows: (1) the retailer shall retain $0.02 per bag; (2) $0.02 per bag shall be distributed to the General Revenue Fund; and (3) $0.03 per bag shall be deposited into the Checkout Bag Tax Fund.

The $.03 from in the Checkout Bag Tax Fund is then distributed to municipalities to use for funding the collection of household hazardous waste such as needles, paint, batteries and other common items such as mattresses, plastic bags, auxiliary containers, etc. Municipalities that do not already have a plastic bag ban or tax would be prohibited from instituting a ban or Chicago, Oak Park, and Evanston would be able to keep their current ordinances but could not change them unless to make them consistent with the proposed state law.

Retail DiscountHB 2079 (Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago) and SB 1132 (Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago) reduces the reimbursement that is provided to retailers for collecting sales taxes on behalf of the state. It caps the amount at $1,000 per retailer per year. Unknown to most people, retailers are responsible for interpreting, administering, collecting, and remitting the occupation and use taxes also known as the sales tax. In return for the expenses that they incur during this process, retailers are allowed to retain 1.75 percent of the sales tax they collect. This is known as the retail discount. This allowance serves as a partial reimbursement. If retailers were to be fully reimbursed for their costs, independent studies conclusively demonstrate the allowance would have to be nearly 4 percent. The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) retains 2 percent of the monies they collect on behalf of local governments. Additionally, while retailers subsidize the state retail sales tax collection, retailers are paying between 1.5% and 3%, plus $.10 of the sales tax directly to the banks in credit card fees. If 50% of their sales are on credit cards, that means an amount equal to between ¾% and 1.32% is paid in credit card fees on the retailer’s entire universe of sales tax collections. Therefore, credit card fees alone erase all or most of any retailer’s partial reimbursement. While IRMA is not asking that this allowance be increased, we adamantly oppose any effort to reduce or eliminate the existing allowance.

Food AllergenHB 2123 (Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook) requires sesame to be labeled in any food product containing sesame. It is unclear whether the bill refers to packaged food or to prepared food. Food allergen labeling is governed by the federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). FALCPA keeps food allergen labeling consistent in all 50 states. As drafted, this legislation would require a different Illinois specific label for any food containing sesame sold in Illinois.

This Week in Springfield – 101-02

February 1, 2019

This Week in Springfield the minimum wage debate began in earnest.

$15 STARTING WAGE

An effort to increase Illinois’s starting wage to $15 has gained early traction driven by the desire of Governor J.B. Pritzker to achieve passage sooner rather than later. TWIS readers will recall that the Governor made a $15 starting wage one of the cornerstones of his campaign.

Wednesday, during a subject matter hearing of the Senate Labor Committee, IRMA testified on the subject. It was noted that while IRMA is philosophically opposed to artificially imposed starting wages, we recognize that an increase is going to occur.

Proponents have noted that $15 starting wages in places like Seattle have not apparently led to significant job loss although research does point to lost hours particularly for low or unskilled workers. However, as even pro-wage increase researchers have noted, no one knows what the impact will be outside of urban centers like Seattle, New York City or Chicago and you cannot assume the experiences of a thriving city center will be the same experiences elsewhere as there are major economic differences. IRMA noted that the suburbs and downstate do not enjoy the concentration of economic dynamics that such urban centers enjoy. For example, Chicago benefits from robust tourism, a concentration of business headquarters, the daily influx of millions who spend money, and a concentration of wealth. No other location in Illinois even comes close to enjoying that combination of benefits.

IRMA also pointed to states like Oregon and New York that appeared to recognize such differences and took geographic-based approaches to increasing their starting wages.

In Oregon, the starting wages are higher in the Portland metro area, somewhat lower in their suburbs, and then even lower in the rest of the state. This is an approach that recognizes the substantial cost-of-living differences. It also recognizes the substantial differences that will occur between Illinois and every border state. With retail increasingly able to serve consumers regardless of where they are located, and 2/3rds of Illinois’ population within a 40-minute drive of a border, those disparities will have impact on employers.

New York increased the starting wage to $15 quickly in New York City, a bit more slowly in Long Island and Westchester County, and much more slowly in the rest of the state. In both cases, the increase to $15 started at a much higher rate in New York City. Similarly, Chicago will be at $13 July 1st while Cook County will be at $12. That is a significantly different starting point than the rest of Illinois which is currently at $8.25. A phase-in such as five years for the City of Chicago and Cook County, seven years for the collar counties and 10 years for the rest of the state is more realistic but will still be a large cost item for employers.

Even if the Illinois starting wages were increased from $8.25 to $15 over a 10-year period, the average annual increase would be just over 6% to the largest or single largest expense item of retail employers. That is why the tax credit currently proposed by the advocates to soften the blow on smaller employers is inadequate if policy makers insist on not taking an Oregon-like approach. First, the tax credit as currently proposed, only applies to employers with fewer than 50 employees at all locations. As IRMA noted, a single retail store can have more than 50 employees. Second, it treats franchisees as if they are owned by the franchisor. Franchisees are, in fact, small businesses so this inequality must be repaired. Third, the tax credit itself is not robust enough.

Additionally, the Illinois probationary/training wage allows employers to pay a trainee $0.50 less per hour than the current minimum wage. That was not very adequate at $8.25 but it is wholly inadequate at $15.00. The probationary/training wage needs to be in the neighborhood of $2.00 per hour less for the 90-day probationary/training period if employers are going to have any incentive to take the risk of hiring no-or-low-skilled employees.

While there are other issues, these are the primary issues under discussion. Additional considerations exist about impact on taxpayers. At $15, the State budget will be negatively impacted a few hundred million annually not to mention at least that kind of impact on local governments, higher education institutions, K-12 schools, park districts, etc.

IRMA will keep you posted as developments warrant.

 

CRMA – 121 Report – November 2018

Chicago City Council Ordinance and Resolution Introductions

INTRODUCTIONS

ORDINANCE – BAN ON PLASTIC STRAWS AND STIRRERS

Sponsors: Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th Ward) and Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward) 

Joint Committee: Aviation and Finance

 

There were a number of ballot questions in this past election for Chicago residents to consider. Among them was a question asking if plastic straws should be banned. Of those voting on the question, 55% voted “Yes” and 45% voted “No.” With those results, the sponsors decided to move forward with a proposal to ban businesses from selling or otherwise providing plastic straws or stirrers to customers. Alternatives can be sold/offered as long as they are reusable and/or biodegradable.

There has been a push in the environmental advocacy community to ban plastic straws that it says has damaging effects to marine life. And while alternatives do exist, there have been significant challenges in being able to access the amount of alternatives needed to supply large, national/international companies. Seattle recently banned food service businesses from using and giving away plastic straws, utensils and cocktail picks in favor of compostable products. Seattle also mandates and provides composting services for a fee. In addition, the city allows businesses to keep plastic straws on hand to give to customers upon request. A number of large businesses have announced plans to change from plastic straws/stirrers to an alternative, but doing so takes time. Starbucks will have alternatives by 2020, Marriott will do the same by July 2019 and American Airlines switched this month. All of the companies went through rigorous testing and studied pricing and availability for over a year before making the transition. This proposal will require businesses to make the change in six months’ time.

IRMA has concerns that this proposal does not allow businesses to keep plastic straws upon request, especially for our customers that have developmental and/or medical challenges that make it difficult for them to use some of the more popular alternatives. We are also concerned that large companies are having a difficult time finding adequate supplies of alternatives which has made the price of those alternatives increase and made it more difficult for smaller businesses to access the alternatives. Lastly, we have concerns that this proposal is yet another increased cost of doing business in Chicago.

ORDINANCE – BAN ON THE SALE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS, ACCESSORIES AND LIQUID VAPING PRODUCTS THAT CONTAIN MENTHOL FLAVORING

Sponsor: Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward)

Committee: Finance

This proposal follows action taken by the city of San Francisco this year to ban the sale of tobacco products containing menthol. It is estimated that San Francisco will lose about $50 million in tobacco tax revenue in response to the measure. Chicago’s proposal was introduced a day before the FDA announced that it would begin procedures to look into banning cigarettes that contain menthol. The FDA is choosing not to move towards banning menthol in e-cigarettes and vaping products because it is concerned that such a move will act as a dis-incentive for adults to switch from smoking to vaping. The Chicago proposal would ban menthol in all products.

IRMA opposes this measure. If such an action does not occur on the federal level, Chicago will be ceding sales of the product to nearby jurisdictions as well as to the underground, illegal market. This will exacerbate the issue certain communities already have with the illegal, uncontrolled sale of unstamped cigarettes and would blow a hole in the already shrinking tobacco tax revenue the city is receiving.

 

PROPOSALS FOR PUBLIC QUESTIONS ON THE FEBRUARY 2019 BALLOT

The following questions were introduced for consideration on the next municipal ballot, but due to timing, none of them will be considered. All of them focus on increasing the real estate transfer tax as a way to generate more revenue to tackle very specific public policy issues. Mayor Emanuel publicly expressed reservations that Aldermen should refrain from treating home and business owners as continual sources for more revenue, even if the goal is to fund worthy projects. IRMA members should note what was being proposed and keep them in mind as Chicago works through its election season. Depending on the changes in the Mayor’s office and the Council, it is possible that we may see these themes again under a new administration:

1. Shall the City of Chicago impose a real estate transfer tax increase of 27% for all transfer price that is above $1 million to establish a new transfer tax rate of $3.75 per $500 of all of the transfer price that is at or below $1 million, and $4.75 per $500 of all of the transfer price that is above $1 million to be paid by the buyer of the real estate transferred? The increase in revenue would benefit the pension funds for fire fighters and police officers.

2. Shall the City of Chicago impose a real estate transfer tax increase of 160% to establish a new tax rate of $9.75 for every $500 of transfer price or fraction thereof for transfers over $1 million in transfer price to be paid by the buyer of the real estate transferred? The increase will be used to provide resources for housing and services to combat homelessness in the City of Chicago.

3. Shall the City of Chicago impose a real estate transfer tax increase of 133% to establish a new transfer tax rate of $9.75 for every $500 of transfer price, or fraction thereof, for transfers over $750,000 in transfer price to be paid by the buyer of the real estate transferred? The increased revenue would be used for the sole purpose of retrofitting and remediating the city’s water delivery pipes and infrastructure to eliminate lead and other harmful materials from the water delivered to the city’s residents, schools, parks, businesses and visitors.

 

PASSED LEGISLATION

2019 MANAGEMENT ORDINANCE (Effective Date: January 1, 2019)

The City’s annual Management Ordinance generally is amended during the budget season to clean up language that may conflict with state and/or federal law. It has also been used to add strengthen regulations and add new roles/responsibilities. For example, this year, the Council has added a new Department of Housing, recognizing the increasing costs of living in the city and the difficult process of trying to address gentrification.

Retail and restaurants will be most interested in the following changes:

Food Code: Minor, non-substantive changes have been made to ensure that definitions refer to the FDA’s Food Code (pages 48-52)

Benches on the Public Way: The department noticed that a number of businesses were affixing non-advertising benches to the public way for the comfort of their customers and other passers-by. While the benches are often a nice touch, they are illegal without a permit. This part of the ordinance ensures that business owners that wish to add benches must first seek a permit that must be approved by the City Council (pages 52-56)

Protesting a Tax Determination/Assessment: Allows a person to either pay the tax with interest under protest while they appeal, or they can pay $10,000, whichever is less. Also sets forth timing on appeals (pages 56-58)

Deceptive Practices (Food): Clarifies that retailers are allowed to sell out of date shelf-stable products as long as the products are clearly labeled and separated from merchandise that is not out of date; ultimately this kind of violation will be eligible for pre-payment so that business owners found in violation can avoid the administrative hearings process if they so choose (page 61)

 

2019 REVENUE ORDINANCE (Effective Date: January 1, 2019)

The annual Revenue Ordinance encapsulates all changes to revenue that were considered during the budget process. While the City Council can make changes to revenue throughout the year these changes reflect what the elected officials believe is necessary to have a balanced budget for the upcoming year.

Retail and restaurants will be most interested in the following changes:

Deceptive Practices: Changes the general fine from not less than $2000 and no more than $10,000 per offense, to not less than $500 and no more than $10,000 per offense (page 1)

Retail Tobacco Dealer License Fees: Doubles per location fees and cash register fees to $500 and $330 respectively (page 2)

City Council is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, December 12, 2018.

CONTACT:

Tanya TricheTanya Triche Dawood
Vice President, General Counsel
Illinois Retail Merchants Association
312-726-4600
ttrichedawood@irma.org

CRMA 121 Report – October 2018

OCTOBER 1, 2018

More about CRMA

Chicago City Council Ordinance and Resolution Introductions

INTRODUCTIONS

ORDINANCE – AMENDING THE BOUNDARIES FOR THE SALE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS

Sponsors: Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward)

Committee: License and Consumer Protection

Currently, the law states that retailers are prohibited from selling tobacco products within 100ft of the property line of a school, day care or any other facility used primarily for the education/recreation of children under 18 years old. This proposal would change the measurement from property line to property line, to door to door. Therefore, if a tobacco retailer were located in a strip mall or an enclosed building, they wouldn’t be precluded from selling tobacco products simply because the outer line of the entire building is within 100ft of a prohibited location. IRMA supports this proposal.

 

ORDINANCE – CLEAN DRINKING WATER TRANSFER TAX

Sponsors: Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward)

Committee: Finance

A recent sampling from homes in Chicago found that 30% of those homes had lead in the tap water at an amount higher than what the FDA allows in bottled water. Some blame the higher concentrations on the city’s continued use of lead service lines even though the lines are actually serviced by individual homeowners. The city now distributes lead testing kits for free to homeowners upon request, but has not agreed to overhaul the remaining lead service lines. While the city is not running afoul of federal law with the amount of lead found in its tap water, health advocates argue that any consumption of lead from water is too much.

This proposal would add a $50 flat fee to be collected whenever real estate is transferred and the transfer tax is owed. The proposal does not though, direct the revenue to any specific fund for replacing the city’s lead service lines or other cause that would help eradicate this source of lead in the city’s tap water. IRMA is reviewing the proposal.

 

ORDINANCE – COUNCIL APPROVAL FOR SIGNS

SPONSOR: Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward)

COMMITTEE: Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards

This proposal would require city council approval for any sign that exceeds 60 square feet unless it is a part of the city’s digital sign program. Currently, the Code requires such approval for signs that exceed 100 square feet. We are researching the impetus of this proposal and will have more information soon.

 

PASSED LEGISLATION

 

ORDINANCE – VAPE TAX INCREASE

SPONSOR: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

This ordinance was introduced direct to the recessed Finance committee which met the morning of the City Council meeting. The measure was passed and reported out to the full Council just a few hours later where it passed overwhelmingly. The ordinance was introduced in response to the recent announcement by the FDA calling teen vaping an “epidemic.” The FDA visited retailers all around the country to see if they were violating the sale of tobacco products to minors. After the investigation, the FDA announced that it has asked the manufacturer community to produce a response for how it will keep vape products out of the hands of teens. It gave manufacturers 60 days to respond. We are still within that window and expect that the tobacco community will respond with a detailed plan to address teen vaping. In the interim, the advocate community encouraged an increase in Chicago’s vape tax in an effort to make the products too expensive for teens. In both cases the tax has nearly doubled. The vape tax on the unit increased from 80 cents to $1.50 and the tax on the juice has increased from 55 cents/mL to $1.20/mL

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 30, 2018

 

ORDINANCE – POP-UP RESTAURANTS AND RETAIL

SPONSOR: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

This ordinance seeks to encourage retail and restaurant entrepreneurs to try out their new concepts by “popping up” in a vacant storefront and operating for a limited amount of time. While Chicago has had its share of pop up locations for years, the regulations have not always been clear. This ordinance now clarifies what both the entrepreneurs and land owners must do in order to have a pop-up shop lawfully operating in the city. Licenses can go for as short as 5 days and as long as 180 days depending on the use. If the space will have food, it will need to be prepared in a shared kitchen or licensed and regulated kitchen which can be on premises or at a separate location. In certain instances, the host property will need a license as will the user. We encourage members to talk with your landlord if you are interested in operating a pop-up shop to ensure that everyone has procured the necessary permits. The city is excited about being able to allow these innovative concepts with minimal interference from City Hall and the business community is glad to have clarity and a clear path to try new and exciting concepts.

EFFECTIVE DATE: DECEMBER 1, 2018

The next City Council meeting is scheduled on October 31, 2018, but the Council will meet prior to that date to hear Mayor Emanuel’s last budget address.

CONTACT:

Tanya TricheTanya Triche Dawood
Vice President, General Counsel
Illinois Retail Merchants Association
312-726-4600
ttrichedawood@irma.org

CRMA 121 Report – September 2018

Chicago City Council Ordinance and Resolution Introductions

INTRODUCTIONS

 

ORDINANCE – AMENDING THE BOUNDARIES FOR THE SALE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS

Sponsors: Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward)

Committee: License and Consumer Protection

Currently, the law states that retailers are prohibited from selling tobacco products within 100ft of the property line of a school, day care or any other facility used primarily for the education/recreation of children under 18 years old. This proposal would change the measurement from property line to property line, to door to door. Therefore, if a tobacco retailer were located in a strip mall or an enclosed building, they wouldn’t be precluded from selling tobacco products simply because the outer line of the entire building is within 100ft of a prohibited location. IRMA supports this proposal.

 

ORDINANCE – CLEAN DRINKING WATER TRANSFER TAX

Sponsors: Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward)

Committee: Finance

A recent sampling from homes in Chicago found that 30% of those homes had lead in the tap water at an amount higher than what the FDA allows in bottled water. Some blame the higher concentrations on the city’s continued use of lead service lines even though the lines are actually serviced by individual homeowners. The city now distributes lead testing kits for free to homeowners upon request, but has not agreed to overhaul the remaining lead service lines. While the city is not running afoul of federal law with the amount of lead found in its tap water, health advocates argue that any consumption of lead from water is too much.

This proposal would add a $50 flat fee to be collected whenever real estate is transferred and the transfer tax is owed. The proposal does not though, direct the revenue to any specific fund for replacing the city’s lead service lines or other cause that would help eradicate this source of lead in the city’s tap water. IRMA is reviewing the proposal.

 

ORDINANCE – COUNCIL APPROVAL FOR SIGNS

SPONSOR: Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward)

COMMITTEE: Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards

This proposal would require city council approval for any sign that exceeds 60 square feet unless it is a part of the city’s digital sign program. Currently, the Code requires such approval for signs that exceed 100 square feet. We are researching the impetus of this proposal and will have more information soon.

 

PASSED LEGISLATION

ORDINANCE – VAPE TAX INCREASE

SPONSOR: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

This ordinance was introduced direct to the recessed Finance committee which met the morning of the City Council meeting. The measure was passed and reported out to the full Council just a few hours later where it passed overwhelmingly. The ordinance was introduced in response to the recent announcement by the FDA calling teen vaping an “epidemic.” The FDA visited retailers all around the country to see if they were violating the sale of tobacco products to minors. After the investigation, the FDA announced that it has asked the manufacturer community to produce a response for how it will keep vape products out of the hands of teens. It gave manufacturers 60 days to respond. We are still within that window and expect that the tobacco community will respond with a detailed plan to address teen vaping. In the interim, the advocate community encouraged an increase in Chicago’s vape tax in an effort to make the products too expensive for teens. In both cases the tax has nearly doubled. The vape tax on the unit increased from 80 cents to $1.50 and the tax on the juice has increased from 55 cents/mL to $1.20/mL

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 30, 2018

 

ORDINANCE – POP-UP RESTAURANTS AND RETAIL

SPONSOR: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

This ordinance seeks to encourage retail and restaurant entrepreneurs to try out their new concepts by “popping up” in a vacant storefront and operating for a limited amount of time. While Chicago has had its share of pop up locations for years, the regulations have not always been clear. This ordinance now clarifies what both the entrepreneurs and land owners must do in order to have a pop-up shop lawfully operating in the city. Licenses can go for as short as 5 days and as long as 180 days depending on the use. If the space will have food, it will need to be prepared in a shared kitchen or licensed and regulated kitchen which can be on premises or at a separate location. In certain instances, the host property will need a license as will the user. We encourage members to talk with your landlord if you are interested in operating a pop-up shop to ensure that everyone has procured the necessary permits. The city is excited about being able to allow these innovative concepts with minimal interference from City Hall and the business community is glad to have clarity and a clear path to try new and exciting concepts.

EFFECTIVE DATE: DECEMBER 1, 2018

The next City Council meeting is scheduled on October 31, 2018, but the Council will meet prior to that date to hear Mayor Emanuel’s last budget address.

CONTACT

Tanya Triche

Tanya Triche Dawood
Vice President, General Counsel
Illinois Retail Merchants Association
312-726-4600
ttrichedawood@irma.org