This Week in Springfield – 101-11

April 5, 2019

IN THIS ISSUE

FALSE CLAIMS
PROPERTY TAX
ANTI-THEFT WAGE THEFT AND STATE CONTRACTS
SESAME SEED LABELING COMPROMISE ADVANCES
DOOR-TO-DOOR CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT “COOLING OFF PERIOD” COMPROMISE
LATEX GLOVES BAN COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE
ALLERGEN AWARENESS TRAINING REQUIREMENTS PASSES HOUSE

 

This Week in Springfield both chambers continued the march to  their own 3rd Reading Deadline next Friday, April 12th. As such, floor debate began in earnest.

FALSE CLAIMS

IRMA testified at a subject matter hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of SB 1564 (Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Lake Zurich) which seeks to reform Illinois’s False Claims Act. It would require third-parties to bring sales tax-related suspicions to the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) who is the only authority with the power and knowledge to properly investigate. If the IDOR does not agree the suit should go forward, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office can override. This reform would interject accountability and end abuses by speculative third-parties but preserve the rights of true whistleblowers. One particular law attorney, Steve Diamond, who testified in opposition to the reform, has filed hundreds of lawsuits against retailers alleging violations of the False Claims Act over the application of sales tax on shipping and delivery charges. These were filed despite the fact retailers were following the laws of the State of Illinois and the rules and regulations of the IDOR. It was an insidious game to try and convince small-to-medium retailers to settle by threatening exposure on much larger amounts.

IRMA provided the history of the problem created by the misapplication of the False Claims Act. The Act was borrowed from the federal government which does not allow claims to be brought for suspected violations of the Internal Revenue Code. The federal False Claims Act exists to give whistleblowers a vehicle, and incentive, to root out government program and contracting abuses. When Illinois borrowed the statute, they over-looked the fact the federal government has no sales tax and failed to exempt it. As such, suits can be brought by third-parties under the Act related to sales tax despite the fact the IDOR is supposed to have sole authority over tax regulation.

The bottom line: no one should be sued for following the law. SB 1564 inserts accountability while ensuring true whistleblowers are still empowered and incented to come forward with suspected wrong-doing. SB 1564 did not advance as it was a subject-matter only hearing meaning the abuses can continue. IRMA would like to thank Senators McConchie and Chuck Weaver (R- Peoria) for working to shed light on this much needed reform.

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PROPERTY TAX

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi is seeking passage of highly controversial legislation that would require non-owner occupied commercial and industrial property, including residential units with more than six units, to turn over their financial information to his office on an annual basis. Failure to do so would results in a significant financial penalty. The stated theory is this will increase the accuracy of assessments. While an improved assessment process is desirable, there is no guarantee this proposal will provide it and the burden on, and risks to, taxpayers could be significant. Further, the longer this proposal is scrutinized, the more problematic it becomes and the more opponents it gains. Recently, initial supporters including the Chicago Federation of Labor removed their support.

Some examples of the problems with the current proposal include its lack of clarity on what information must be reported (e.g. rent and building expenses, financial information of tenants, etc.), who must report (e.g. what constitutes owner/occupied), what properties are covered, protection of financial data, etc.  Another of the implied arguments is that passage would lead to more commercial development, particularly on the south side of Chicago/Cook County AND property tax relief for residential property owners. However, if there is relief for residential property owners, the tax load they previously carried has to be shifted to commercial and industrial meaning they will pay even more property tax which will lead to less commercial and industrial development.

SB 1379 (Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights) passed the Senate but only after the sponsor convinced the Senate it needed to move to keep the discussions going, that is a work in progress, and will have to come back to the Senate. IRMA is part of a broad and growing group of opposition.

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ANTI-THEFT WAGE THEFT AND STATE CONTRACTS

HB 1653 (Rep. Celina Villanueva, D-Summit) would prevent any employer who is convicted of wage theft from contracting with the state for five (5) years.  The intent of the legislation is to address the issue of temporary and seasonal employers who underpay their workers.  It is a rare instance for most mainstream retailers to be convicted of wage theft. Additionally, retailers are authorized to provide Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children (WIC) benefits to consumers in Illinois. If a mistake were to occur in a statewide workforce a retailer that has hundreds of locations throughout the state would be prohibited from providing Medicaid, SNAP, or WIC benefits for five (5) years. The legislation as introduced would prevent the ability of the state from reliably distributing state and federal benefits to consumers in Illinois. House Committee Amendment #1 addresses the aforementioned concern by exempting entities that have contracts with the state to provide Medicaid, SNAP, or WIC benefits to Illinois consumers from the requirements of the bill. As amended, the legislation passed the House with a vote of 69-43.  It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

With the adoption of the amendment IRMA is neutral to the legislation.  IRMA would like to thank Rep. Villanueva for bringing IRMA, AFSCME and LiUNA together to reach this agreement.

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SESAME SEED LABELING COMPROMISE ADVANCES

An initiative to address the growing issue of sesame seed allergens passed the House with a unanimous 114-0-0 vote. Food allergen labeling is governed by the federal government under the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). FALCPA requires the labels of domestically manufactured or imported pre-packaged goods to include the eight major food allergens: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and crustacean shellfish. Together these foods cause the majority of allergic reactions in the U.S.  Due to the rise of sesame seed allergen, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering adding sesame seed to the food allergen labeling requirements. The majority of the largest manufactures already include sesame seed labeling on prepackaged food.

HB 2123 (Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook), as introduced, required a state specific Illinois label to be placed on packaged food as well as ready-to-consume food. In the modern restaurant, there is no such thing as ‘standardized’ meal. Every offering can be customized to the customer’s desire and 75% of restaurant customers customize their orders. Using a coffee shop as an example, there are over 80,000 different ways to order a cup of coffee.  Due to the movement of the FDA and manufacturers changing their current labeling practices to include sesame seed Representative Carroll amended his bill to apply to prepackaged foods.

IRMA would like to thank Representative Carroll for working with us to reach an agreement on this important consumer safety issue.

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ALLERGEN AWARENESS TRAINING REQUIREMENTS PASSES HOUSE

HB 2060 (Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield) repeals the stand alone requirement for allergen training and includes it in the current food handling training. Under current requirements, one person per shift has to take additional allergen training outside of the already required 8 hours of food training. HB 2060 includes the allergen training in the mandatory 8 hours of training that every food handler must complete.  The Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) opposes this legislation because it has an agreement with the ServSafe and they get a percentage of the proceeds from the required additional allergen training. If the allergen training were to be included in the 8 hours of training, IRA would not receive additional funds for the additional training.

This common sense legislation passed the House by a vote of 96-1-7.

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Latex Gloves Ban Compromise Passes Committee

Many consumers suffer from latex allergies and there are concerns that latex could be transmitted from an employee’s gloves while handling consumer food. HB 2831 (Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg) would prohibit the use of latex gloves while preparing or serving food for consumption. The legislation still allows the use of latex gloves for other purposes in and around the retailer.

With the adoption of the agreed upon committee amendment, HB 2831 passed the House by a unanimous 112-0-0 vote and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

IRMA would like to thank Representative Mussman for amending the bill and addressing retail concerns and supports the amended bill.

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DOOR-TO-DOOR CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT “COOLING OFF PERIOD”

COMPROMISE PASSES THE HOUSE

Every year thousands of Illinois residents are victim to home repair schemes. Oftentimes, “home repair contractors” will visit a town recently devastated by violent weather and go door-to-door and offer to repair the victims homes. Seniors, especially those who live alone, are prime targets for home repair scams. In some cases, con artists pose as inspectors, city officials or police and use scare tactics to force elders to have unnecessary repairs made to windows, furnaces, chimney, water heater or the electrical wiring, etc.

HB 2643 (Rep. Joyce Mason, D-Gurnee) gives individuals 65 years or older a 15 day cooling off period with a door-to-door home repair contract.  This provides protection for seniors who enter expensive home repair contracts unwittingly. This would not apply to a contract that was executed proactively by an individual who entered into a contract at the contractor’s physical place of business. The initiative passed the House with a 96-9 vote and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

IRMA would like to thank Representative Mason for working with IRMA to address this important constituent issue.

This Week in Springfield – 101-10

March 29, 2019

RETAIL THEFT
PLASTIC STRAW BAN EXPANDS TO A STRAW, UTENSIL AND CONDIMENT BAN
COVENANTS NOT TO COMPETE
RETAIL RESTROOM BABY CHANGING PLATFORM
ANTI-THEFT WAGE THEFT AND STATE CONTRACTS
DATA PRIVACY ADVANCES
SECURITY OF CONNECTED DEVICES
BUSINESS FINANCIAL INFORMATION
INTERNET LOTTERY
CARPET
PBM TRANSPARENCY
SNAP

This Week in Springfield the first House Committee Deadline was reached touching off the usual stampede to advance legislation prior to adjournment for the week.

RETAIL THEFT

A bill (HB 1614 Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago) to increase the retail felony threshold to $2000 passed out of the House Judiciary Criminal Committee on a partisan vote after the Sponsor agreed to bring an amendment back that reflects a compromise with IRMA and the advocates.

As we have in the past, IRMA is willing to consider additional criminal justice reforms to the retail theft statute.  IRMA’s request in return for changes to the retail theft statute is to provide protection for retailers from organized retail crime.

IRMA looks forward to the continuing discussion regarding the issue. Additionally, IRMA would like to thank Chairman Justin Slaughter, Assistant Majority Leaders Art Turner, and Jay Hoffman for discussing the issue with IRMA and providing an avenue to a reasonable compromise.

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PLASTIC STRAW BAN EXPANDS TO A STRAW, UTENSIL AND CONDIMENT BAN

HB 3379 (Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg) as introduced, would prohibit a retailer from providing a single use straw to a consumer unless requested by the consumer. Prior to committee there had been discussions with IRMA and the advocates to reach a compromise that addressed IRMA’s concern with the bill as introduced while meeting the environmental intent of the advocates.

During committee, the advocates testified that they intended on filing an amendment that would expand the ban to “single-use utensils” and “single-use condiments”. “Single-use utensil” means a fork, knife, spoon, cocktail pick, chopsticks, splash sticks, and stirrers. “Single-use condiment” means plastic packaging used to deliver single-serving condiments to customers. Condiment packing included, but is not limited to, single-serving plastic packaging for ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, hot sauce, coffee creamer, salad dressing, jelly and jam, and soy sauce. Obviously, the subsequent amendment is well beyond the stated intent of the bill as introduced and the discussions that occurred between IRMA and the advocates.

Despite this last minute development, the House Energy and Environment Committee agreed to allow HB 3379 to advance to the House floor but only with the sponsor’s assurances that an agreed amendment would return to committee.

IRMA is opposed to the bill as drafted and the potential amendment as suggested. IRMA would like to thank Representative Michelle Mussman for agreeing to hold the bill on Second Reading to bring an agreed amendment back to the committee for consideration.

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COVENANTS NOT TO COMPETE

Legislation that would prohibit legal covenants not to compete in the state of Illinois passed the House Labor and Commerce Committee.  Last year, lawmakers passed an agreed bill that prohibited covenants not to compete between and employer and an employee who is making minimum wage.  The rational was to remove a potential barrier for low wage workers from moving from job-to-job.

HB 2569 (Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Downers Grove) would expand the prohibition to ALL employers and employees in Illinois.  The sponsor testified that a covenant not to compete restricted the ability of a family member to transfer from a job where she was being illegally mistreated by a supervisor.  The legislation was voted out of committee after the sponsor agreed to consider to restrict the legislation to covenants not to compete be voided upon the illegal conduct of a supervisor.

IRMA is opposed to the bill as drafted.

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RETAIL RESTROOM BABY CHANGING PLATFORM

Representative Delia Ramirez introduced HB 3711 in response to complaints prompted by viral videos of a father attempting to change the diaper of a child on the floor of a bathroom.  As drafted, HB 3711 would require a “retailer” or “restaurant” that serves on average more than 50 people to have a baby changing platform in both the women and men’s restroom.

After IRMA discussed the practical issue of the requirement as drafted, the sponsor agreed to work with IRMA to make the legislation consistant with other states’ requirements and current Illinois law, conform with the American with Disabilities Act, and the current building codes of each jurisdiction.  The sponsor will bring back an amendment that:

  1. Requires a baby changing station in a bathroom accessible to women, one that is accessible in a bathroom accessible to men, or a publicly accessible baby diaper changing station that is accessible to both men and women;
  2. Restricts the changes to new buildouts or renovations of restaurant and retailers that exceed 50% of the building;
  3. Restricts the changes to a retailer of more than 5,000 square feet and has a bathroom that is open to the public;
  4. Restricts the changes to a restaurant with an occupancy of at least 60 people as determined by the fire marshal that has a bathroom open to the public;
  5. Exempts a retailer that does not allow minors on the premise; and
  6. Allows a building inspector to determine that the installation of a baby diaper changing station is not feasible or would not comply with applicable building standards governing the right of access for persons with disabilities.

With the adoption of the aforementioned changes, IRMA will be neutral with the legislation.  IRMA would like to thank Rep. Ramirez for working with IRMA on this important issue.

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ANTI-THEFT WAGE THEFT AND STATE CONTRACTS

HB 1653 CA#1 (Rep. Celina Villanueva, D-Summit) would prevent any employer who is convicted of wage theft from contracting with the state for five (5) years.  The intent of the legislation is to address the issue of temporary and seasonal employers who underpay their workers.  It is a rare instance for most mainstream retailers to be convicted of wage theft. Additionally, retailers are authorized to provide Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children (WIC) benefits to consumers in Illinois. If a mistake were to occur in a statewide workforce, a retailer that has hundreds of locations throughout the state would be prohibited from providing Medicaid, SNAP, or WIC benefits for five (5) years. The legislation as introduced would prevent the ability of the state from reliably distributing state and federal benefits to consumers in Illinois. HCA#1 addresses the aforementioned concern by exempting entities that have contracts with the state to provide Medicaid, SNAP, or WIC benefits to Illinois consumers from the requirements of the bill.

With the adoption of the amendment, IRMA is neutral on the legislation.  IRMA would like to thank Rep. Villanueva for bringing IRMA, AFSCME and LiUNA together to reach this agreement

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DATA PRIVACY ADVANCES

HB 3358 CA#2 (Rep. Art Turner, D-Chicago) creates the Data Transparency and Privacy Act and provides that an entity that collects, through the Internet, personal information about individual consumers must make disclosures to the individual regarding the collection of the information. It also establishes that a consumer has a right to opt out of the sale of the consumer’s information. Leader Turner testified that he intends on bringing an amendment back to the committee for its consideration.

IRMA met with the sponsor and advocates of the bill and they committed to addressing all of IRMA’s concerns. Upon the filing and adoption of language that addresses IRMA’s concerns, IRMA will remove its opposition.

IRMA would like to thank Leader Art Turner and the advocates for working to address IRMA concerns.

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SECURITY OF CONNECTED DEVICES

HB 3391 (Rep. Diane Pappas, D-Bloomingdale) creates the Security of Connected Devices Act and requires manufacturers of connected devices to equip the device with security features that are designed to protect the device and any information the device contains from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure.

As drafted, IRMA is currently opposed. Manufacturers are already required to secure connected devices pursuant to federal industry standards.  IRMA would be neutral to the legislation if these standards were adopted in the legislation. Otherwise, manufacturers would be required to produce different products specifically for sale in Illinois. The sponsor made no commitment to address the concerns of the opponents

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BUSINESS FINANCIAL INFORMATION

For three years, a debate has been taking place over whether or not to allow third-parties access to the financial information of businesses that local governments receive. Local governments claim access to this information will help them. However, after three years of debate, they are still unable to provide a single example that is not addressed by simply having the geolocation information. Geolocation information is not sensitive and is readily available free-of-charge from the Illinois Department of Revenue. The debate came to a head last year when it was discovered the primary backer of the proposal, a company named Azavar, had worked with a number of municipalities to try and circumvent existing law. IRMA continues to lead a broad coalition in opposition to allowing third-party access.

This year, they are back. HB 2947 (Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside) would allow units of local government to provide company-specific financial information to unregulated and unaccountable third-parties. Rep. Zalewski, who also chairs the House Revenue & Finance Committee, announced that HB 2974 would be held on the House floor and would not advance unless there is an agreed amendment. IRMA is in the midst of discussions with the representatives of local governments. IRMA appreciates the approach Rep. Zalewski is taking to the issue.

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INTERNET LOTTERY

Currently, subscribers can play the three big jackpot lottery games (i.e. MegaMillions, Powerball, and Lotto) via the Internet. There has been a desire for some time to expand the Internet offerings and allow play as-desired as opposed to via subscription. As introduced, HB 3661 (Rep. Chris Welch, D-Westchester) would have allowed the Illinois Lottery to offer not just the draw (i.e. jackpot) games but all games the Lottery offers via the Internet. This would have applied to scratch-off as well. After discussions with Rep. Welch, IRMA, the private lottery manager, and others, HB 3661 will be amended on the House floor to allow only draw games to be offered via the Internet. IRMA appreciates the receptivity of Rep. Welch to the limitation.

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CARPET

Senate Amendment #1 to SB 557 (Rep. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake) seeks to require producers to impose a 4-cent fee on every yard of carpet (nylon, polypropylene, and wool) and a 6-cent fee on every yard of PET, PTT, and blended carpet sold in the state of Illinois to pay for the collection and recycling of carpet. A producer is anyone who has legal ownership of the brand, brand-name, or co-brand of the carpet or the importer if the producer has no physical presence in Illinois. The legislation seeks to create a clearinghouse to operate the program. The clearinghouse who not only administer the entire program, set goals. Additionally, the clearinghouse would discuss and could provide recommendations on a number of fronts including carpet design. Retail participation as a take-back location is voluntary but if the retailer is an importer or has a private-label brand that retailer would be a producer. IRMA met with the sponsor regarding concerns.

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PBM TRANSPARENCY

HB 3187 (Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Westmont) empowers any party contracting with a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) to obtain a contract compliance audit of the PBM including full disclosure of rebate amounts secured, actual amounts paid by the PBM to the pharmacy, and any consideration the PBM receives from the manufacturer for dispensed medications. HB 3187 was approved unanimously by the House Prescription Drug Affordability & Accessibility Committee and now moves to the full House for additional consideration.

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SNAP

HB 3343 (Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago) seeks to expand Illinois’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to permit individuals who are elderly, persons with a disability, and homeless individuals to redeem their SNAP benefits at restaurants. The restaurants would have to contract with the Illinois Department of Human Services and the eligible meals would have to be discounted. The discount will vary restaurant to restaurant and will be determined in the restaurant’s application. If signed into law, this program would become effective January 1, 2020. HB 3343 passed the House and now moves to the Senate for additional consideration.

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CRMA – 121 Report – Election Edition

CHICAGO ELECTION RESULTS

For the first time in a very long time, Chicago voters went to the polls to vote for Mayor when there was no clear front-runner candidate and in a wide-open race. Choosing from a field of 14 contenders seemed to overwhelm even the most avid political watchers. The field was diverse ethnically, in age, by gender and in experience. And boy was it a wild race! There was an Alderman wearing a wire which tangled up a couple of candidates, there was a #MeToo accusation on one of the campaigns, cash giveaways in a church for property tax relief and a Kanye West appearance (no word yet on whether he arrived courtesy of the “iPlane 1”).

To be sure, there was significant discussion on the issues of the day, including police reform, support for public schools, crime reduction, holding the line on taxes, increasing taxes and implementing new taxes, building more affordable housing and supporting working families. Unfortunately for the business community, there didn’t seem to be much discussion on training and building a workforce capable of working in a technologically-advanced economy, attracting more employment opportunities, supporting commercial corridors or cutting red tape.

Maybe we’ll hear more about that in the run-off.

That said, in order to win an election outright in the city, a candidate has to secure 50% of the vote plus 1 vote. Tough to do in a field of 14. So the top two vote-getters win the chance to battle it out for the next election on April 2nd. And tonight, the people of Chicago have spoken…all 32% of them…and now our choice is between the current Cook County Board President who is Progressive, labor union-backed, and sweet on taxes against an independent, Progressive, no-nonsense attorney bent on reform. What is sure is that this race will be historic because it will guarantee that Chicago will have its first black, female Mayor.

Here are the vote totals:

MAYOR’S RACE – RUNOFF

Gery Chico:

Bill Daley:

Amara Enyia:

Bob Fioretti:

LaShawn Ford:

Jerry Joyce:

John Kozlar:

Lori Lightfoot:

Garry McCarthy:

Susana Mendoza:

Toni Preckwinkle:

Neal Sales-Griffin:

Paul Vallas:

Willie Wilson:

WARD REPORT

Lest you thought the race was over, all 50 Aldermanic seats are up at the same time. While we had a few Aldermen who announced their retirements, the majority of Aldermen ran for re-election. Most people were looking to see if Chicago was going to join the Progressive wave sweeping the nation, or if Chicago voters chose to move in a different direction, preferring to gravitate toward the center. And the result so far seems to be a bit of a mixed bag. While you have a Progressive candidate beating a long-term incumbent, you also have a more centrist candidate defeating a vocal Progressive Alderman. Mostly, we will have to see how some of the key runoff races shake out in April.

Winners and run-off races are bolded in green.

 

Ward 1

Proco “Joe” Moreno (I):

Daniel La Spata

Ward 2

Brian Hopkins (I) (uncontested)

Ward 3

Pat Dowell (I):

Alexandria Willis:

Ward 4

Sophia King (I):

Ebony Lucas:

Ward 5 – RUNOFF

Leslie Hairston (I):

William Calloway:

Gabriel Piemonte:

Ward 6

Roderick Sawyer (I):

Richard Wooten:

Deborah Foster-Bonner:

Ward 7

Gregory Mitchell (I):

Charles Kyle:

Jedidiah Brown:

Ward 8

Michelle Harris (I):

Jewel Easterling-Smith

Linda Hudson:

Faheem Shabazz:

Ward 9

Anthony Beale (I):

Cleopatra Watson:

Paul Collins:

Essie Hall:

Ward 10

Susan Sadlowski Garza (I):

Robert “Bobby” Loncar:

Ward 11

Patrick Daley Thompson (I):

David Mihalyfy:

Ward 12

George Cardenas (I):

Pete Demay:

Martha Yerania Rangel:

Jose Rico:

Ward 13

Marty Quinn (I):

David Krupa:

Ward 14

Edward M. Burke (I):

Jaime Guzman:

Tanya Patino:

Ward 15 – RUNOFF

Raymond Lopez (I):

Joseph Williams:

Rafael “Rafa” Yanez:

Berto Aguayo:

Otis Davis, Jr.:

Ward 16 – RUNOFF

Toni Foulkes (I):

Stephanie Coleman:

Latasha Sanders:

Kenny Doss II:

Jeffrey Lewis:

Eddie Johnson III:

Ward 17

David Moore (I):

Raynetta Greenleaf:

Ward 18

Derrick Curtis (I):

Chuks Onyezia:

Ward 19

Matthew O’Shea (I):

David Dewar:

Ward 20 – OPEN – RUNOFF

Jeanette Taylor:

Nicole Johnson:

Maya Hodari

Jennifer Maddox:

Andre Smith:

Dernard Newell:

Quandra Speights:

Kevin Bailey:

Anthony Driver, Jr.:

Ward 21 – RUNOFF

Howard Brookins (I):

Marvin McNeil:

Patricia Foster:

Joseph Ziegler, Jr.:

Ward 22 – OPEN

Michael Rodriguez:

Lisette “Liz” Lopez:

Richard Juarez:

Neftalie Gonzalez:

Ward 23

Silvana Tabares (I):

Paulino Villarreal, Jr.:

Ward 24

Michael Scott, Jr. (I):

Creative Scott:

Toriano Sanzone:

Traci Johnson:

Ward 25 – OPEN – RUNOFF

Hilario Dominguez:

Alexander Acevedo:

Troy Antonio Hernandez:

Byron Sigcho-Lopez:

Aida Flores:

Ward 26

Roberto Maldonado (I):

Theresa Siaw:

David Herrera:

Ward 27

Walter Burnett, Jr (I):

Cynthia Bednarz:

Ward 28

Jason Ervin (I):

Miguel Bautista:

Jasmine Jackson:

Beverly Miles:

Ward 29

Christopher Taliaferro (I):

Dwayne Truss:

Zerlina Smith:

Ward 30 – RUNOFF

Ariel Reboyras (I):

Jessica Gutierrez:

Edgar “Edek” Esparza:

Ward 31 – RUNOFF

Milagros Santiago (I):

Colin Bird-Martinez:

Felix Cardona, Jr.:

Ward 32

Scott Waguespack (I) (uncontested)

Ward 33 – RUNOFF

Deborah Mell (I):

Katie Sieracki:

R. Rodriguez Sanchez:

Ward 34

Carrie Austin (I):

Preston Brown, Jr.:

Ward 35

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa(I):

Amanda Yu Dieterich:

Ward 36

Gilbert Villegas (I) (uncontested)

Ward 37

Emma Mitts (I):

Tara Stamps:

Deondre Rutues:

Ward 38

Nicholas Sposato (I) (uncontested)

Ward 39 – OPEN – RUNOFF

Robert Murphy:

Samantha “Sam” Nugent:

Casey Smagala:

Joe Duplechin:

Ward 40 – RUNOFF

Patrick O’Connor (I):

Ugo Okere:

Dianne Daleiden:

Andre Vasquez:

Maggie O’Keefe:

Ward 41

Anthony Napolitano (I):

Tim Heneghan:

Ward 42

Brendan Reilly (I) (uncontested)

Ward 43 – RUNOFF

Michele Smith (I):

Derek Lindblom:

Leslie Fox:

Jacob Ringer:

Steven McClellan:

Rebecca Janowitz:

Ward 44

Tom Tunney (I):

Austin Baidas:

Elizabeth Shydlowski:

Ward 45

John Arena (I):

Marilyn Morales:

James “Jim” Gardiner:

Robert Bank:

Ward 46 – RUNOFF

James Cappleman (I):

Marianne Lalonde:

Erika Wozniak Francis:

Justin Kreindler:

Angela Clay:

Jon-Robert McDowell:

Ward 47 – OPEN – RUNOFF

Eileen Dordek:

Angela “Angie” Maloney:

Heather Way Kitzes:

Michael Negron:

Matt Martin:

Gus Katsafaros:

Thomas Schwartzers:

Kimball Ladien:

Jeff Jenkins:

Ward 48

Harry Osterman (I):

David Earl Williams III:

Ward 49

Joe Moore (I):

Maria Hadden:

Ward 50

Debra Silverstein (I):

Andrew Rowlas:

Zehra Quadri:

City Clerk – RUNOFF

Melissa Conyears-Ervin:

Ameya Pawar:

Peter Gariepy:

City Treasurer

Anna Valencia (I) (uncontested)

 

These results were printed before the final official tally from the Board of Elections, so there may be some adjustments.

Tanya TricheCONTACT:

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

This Week in Springfield – 101-09

 March 22, 2019

 IN THIS ISSUE:

BROAD INTERNET DEVICES ACT PASSES SENATE COMMITTEE
BPA BUSINESS RECORDS
SESAME SEED LABELING COMPROMISE ADVANCES
DOOR-TO-DOOR CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT “COOLING OFF PERIOD” COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE
LATEX GLOVES BAN COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE
RESTAURANT FOOD ALLERGEN NOTICE COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE
CORPORATE BOARD MANDATE PASSES COMMITTEE
WORKPLACE TRANSPARENCY ADVANCES
RETAIL THEFT DIVERSION PROGRAM PASSES COMMITTEE WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
REBATE CARDS DORMANCY CHARGES PROHIBITION PASSES THE HOUSE

This Week in Springfield the first Senate committee deadline was reached and House committee action heated up in advance of its first committee deadline next week. Any legislation that does not have its deadline specifically extended is considered ‘held’. That does not mean the same idea cannot re-emerge as an amendment to another bill.

BROAD INTERNET DEVICES ACT PASSES SENATE COMMITTEE

Currently, laws at the federal and state level have long prohibited the unauthorized use of a device to record a person’s communications. Drafter’s of the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois’ existing wiretapping law focused on the activity prohibited, rather than the technologies that are used to engage in the activity. The drafters understood that technological advancements would continue to provide convenience for individuals, but individuals’ actions regarding the use of the technology needed to be regulated.  Any product can become dangerous, illegal, or intrusive if used improperly. SB 1719 (Sen. Christina Castro, D-Elgin) flips that rational upside down and assumes a product is illegal if the person bought it but did not consent to the intended use of the product for which it was bought .  It makes the incorrect assumption that the product can distinguish between the owner and an authorized user and has the capability to derive consent, and be able to produce a schedule and calendar of use, categories it has recorded, and how it will collect and disseminate the information.

SB 1719 assumes everyday home appliances can do spectacular things that they obviously cannot. As a consequence IRMA remains opposed to the legislation.

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BPA BUSINESS REPORTS

Environmentalist contend that bisphenol-A (BPA) found in receipts cause adverse reactions to those individuals who handle the receipts.  HB 2076 (Rep. Karina Villa, D-Batavia) would prohibit the use of business documents, including receipts that contain BPA.

The majority of Illinois retailers stopped using receipts that contained BPA many years ago. This decision was not based on any scientific studies but public opinion and capitalism. Retail sales of “BPA free” products increased so therefore retailers offered and used more “BPA” free products including paper products.  Testimony from a union representative that employees of specific retailers are currently handling receipts that contain BPA is factually incorrect as those listed retailers do not currently use receipts that contain BPA.

Even though retailers do not use BPA receipts the legislation has issues as drafted. The legislation prohibits the use of any document that contains any level of BPA.  Therefore, without a de minimis standard, this would preclude the ability to use recycled paper because it contains traces of BPA due to the mixing of paper during the recycling process. Additionally, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) only employs one toxicologist and does not currently have the equipment to test for BPA.  Even though retailers moved away from the use of BPA, the ability of the IEPA to adequately monitor or enforce the prohibition would be impractical.  Finally, the legislation does not contain an adequate “use through provision” to allow businesses to deplete current stock and phase in for the orderly transition to BPA free paper.

The bill passed the House Energy and Environment Committee by a vote of 16-12. Representative Villa committed to working on the bill with stakeholders and to bring an amendment back to committee for consideration.

IRMA would like to thank Representative Karina Villa for convening a stakeholder meeting and IRMA looks forward to working with stakeholders to address the current issues and reach a compromise.

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SESAME SEED LABELING COMPROMISE ADVANCES

An initiative to address the growing issue of sesame seed allergens passed the Heath Care Licenses Committee. Food allergen labeling is governed by the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). FALCPA requires the labels of domestically manufactured or imported pre-packaged goods to include the eight major food allergens: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and crustacean shellfish. Together these foods cause the majority of allergic reactions in the U.S.  Due to the rise of sesame seed allergen the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering adding sesame seed to the food allergen labeling requirements. The majority of the largest manufactures already include sesame seed labeling on prepackaged food.

HB 2123 (Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook), as introduced, requires a state specific Illinois label to be placed on packaged food as well as ready to consume food. In the modern restaurant, there is no such thing as ‘standardized’ meal. Every offering can be customized to the customer’s desire and 75% of restaurant customers customize their orders. Using a coffee shop as an example, there are over 80,000 different ways to order a cup of coffee.  Due to the movement of the FDA and manufacturers changing their current labeling practices to include sesame seed and HB 3018 which passed during the same committee hearing requiring the on premise certified food protection manager to answer consumer requests regarding allergens, Representative Carroll agreed to amend his bill to apply to prepackaged foods.

IRMA will be neutral upon the adoption of the amendment.  IRMA would like to thank Representative Carroll for working with us to reach an agreement on this important consumer safety issue.

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DOOR-TO-DOOR CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT “COOLING OFF PERIOD” COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE

 

Every year thousands of Illinois residents are victim to home repair schemes. Oftentimes, “home repair contractors” will visit a town recently devastated by violent weather and go door-to-door and offer to repair the victims homes. Seniors, especially those who live alone, are prime targets for home repair scams. In some cases, con artists pose as inspectors, city officials or police and use scare tactics to force elders to have unnecessary repairs made to windows, furnaces, chimney, water heater or the electrical wiring, etc.

HB 2643 CA#1 (Rep. Joyce Mason, D-Gurnee) would give individuals 65 years or older a 15 day cooling off period with a door-to-door home repair contract.  This provides protection for seniors who enter expensive home repair contracts unwittingly. This would not apply to a contract that was executed proactively by an individual who entered into a contract at the contractor’s physical place of business.

IRMA would like to thank Representative Mason for working with IRMA to address this important constituent issue. IRMA supports the adoption of CA#1.

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LATEX GLOVES BAN COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE

Many consumers suffer from latex allergies and there are concerns that latex could be transmitted from an employee’s gloves while handling consumer food. HB 2831 CA#1 (Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg) would prohibit the use of latex gloves while preparing or serving food for consumption. The legislation still allows the use of latex gloves for other purposes in and around the retailer.

With the adoption of the agreed upon committee amendment, HB 2831 passed the House Healthcare Licenses Committee by a unanimous vote.

IRMA would like to thank Representative Mussman for amending the bill and addressing retail concerns and supports the amended bill.

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RESTAURANT FOOD ALLERGEN NOTICE COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE

Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18. Eight major food allergens – milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish – are responsible for most of the serious food allergy reactions in the United States. Illinois is one of the few states that require a restaurant to have a person who has had additional allergen training to be on duty at all times. Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia also require notices to consumers to make sure they notify the restaurant that they may have an allergy to a certain food.  HB 3018 CA#1 (Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Aurora) would provide the same notice to consumers.

The legislation allows those restaurants that already have a notice as required by another state, internal policy, or national standard to continue to use that notice. Additionally, the legislation requires the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to create a sign for those restaurants that do not currently use a notice. The notice will be provided as a downloadable document and free of charge to restaurants. Finally, the legislation creates a flexible notice while requiring the employee who receives an allergen warning from a consumer to communicate that warning to the person in charge or the certified food protection manager on duty.

With the adoption of the agreed upon amendment the legislation passed the House Healthcare Licenses Committee by a unanimous vote. This legislation provides flexibility for the retailer without creating regulatory hurdles while also providing an extra layer of protection for the consumer who suffers from food allergies.

IRMA would like to thank Representative Kifowit for working with IRMA to create the current compromise and is neutral on the amended legislation

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CORPORATE BOARD MANDATE PASSES COMMITTEE

HB 3394 (Rep. Chris Welch, D-Chicago) requires publicly traded companies with principle executive offices in Illinois to maintain a minimum number females and African American directors on its board of directors.  At least two legal arguments are presented by the legislation: (1) it violates equal protection by facially discriminating based on sex and race, and (2) because it applies to companies organized outside Illinois, it violates the dormant commerce clause and the “internal affairs doctrine,” which requires that internal company affairs be under the regulatory purview of only one jurisdiction. California passed a similar bill and the California Governor admitted that “There have been numerous objections to this bill and serious legal concerns have been raised. I don’t minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation.”  As drafted, IRMA is opposed to the legislation.

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WORKPLACE TRANSPARENCY ADVANCES

SB 30 (Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake) creates the Workplace Transparency Act and prohibits employers from requiring an employee or prospective employee to sign a nondisclosure agreement that contains any provision that has the purpose or effect of: (1) limiting the disclosure of sexual misconduct, retaliation, or unlawful discrimination; (2) suppressing information relevant to an investigation into a claim of sexual misconduct, retaliation, or unlawful discrimination; (3) impairing the ability of any person to report a claim of sexual misconduct, retaliation, or unlawful discrimination; or (4) waiving a substantive or procedural right or remedy of any person relating to a claim of sexual misconduct, retaliation, or unlawful discrimination.

The Act does not prohibit a settlement agreement, entered into between an employer and employee or former employee claiming sexual harassment, retaliation, or unlawful discrimination, from containing confidentiality provisions as agreed to between the parties. These types of nondisclosure agreements are not widely used, if used at all, in the retail industry.  This bill strikes a reasonable balance to protect a victim of harassment while also given the parties to enter into a confidentiality agreement upon settlement of the accusations. The legislation passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. IRMA is neutral.

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RETAIL THEFT DIVERSION PROGRAM PASSES COMMITTEE

WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

Over the past few years, IRMA has worked with criminal justice reform advocates to ensure that non-violent offenders, particularly first-time offenders, are not languishing in prison while waiting for arraignment. IRMA worked with Cook County Sherriff Tom Dart’s office to pass the ‘Rocket Docket’ legislation which requires an immediate hearing for retail theft offenders and requires them to be released on an I-bond or electronic monitoring. Additionally, over a decade ago, IRMA begin supporting, and still supports, the expungement and sealing of non-violent offenses so that previous mistakes do not restrict a person’s future endeavors.

Specifically, SB 1878 CA#2 (Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Vandalia) provides that any person that has a previous felony or misdemeanor conviction is eligible for a 12 month diversion program for a misdemeanor retail theft violation. The only individuals not eligible for the diversion program would be those that have a previous conviction in Illinois or another state for criminal financial crimes enterprise—organized retail crime.  This draws the distinction between a crime of need or addiction and a premeditated crime for profit.  With the agreement of the State’s Attorney and the defendant, the defendant will receive a 12 month probationary status where the individual must not commit another crime, possess a firearm, and must make restitution to the retailer.  Additionally, the court may require the defendant to attend a retail theft awareness class. After successful completion of the diversion program the retail theft charge will be dismissed.  A person would be eligible for the retail theft diversion program once every three years.

This compromise continues IRMA’s efforts to provide relief to those who make a mistake or need help while protecting retailers and consumers from those individuals who steal as part of an organized retail crime enterprise.

IRMA would like to thank Sen. Plummer for his work on this issue. IRMA supports the legislation as amended.

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REBATE CARDS DORMANCY CHARGES PROHIBITION PASSES THE HOUSE

HB 2156 (Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago) is an initiative of the Illinois Treasurer’s Office and is intended to prohibit the issuance of product rebate cards that charge dormancy or other post-issuance fees. The language only applies to multi-store cards utilized for rebates after the consumer completes the rebate submission process. It exempts closed-looped merchant cards that are distributed and used at one retailer—also known as “store cards”.

HB 2156 passed the House by a 67-47 vote. IRMA is neutral to the legislation.

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This Week in Springfield – 101-08

March 15, 2019

IN THIS ISSUE:

CONSUMER LIQUOR HOME DELIVERY PASSES COMMITTEE
TOBACCO 21 TO GOVERNOR
PERSONAL BULK FOOD CONTAINERS AT RETAIL
PAY HISTORY PASSES THE HOUSE, AGAIN
SNAP BENEFITS AT RESTAURANTS PASSES COMMITTEE
REBATE CARDS DORMANCY CHARGES PROHIBITION PASSES COMMITTEE
EMPLOYEE HUMAN RIGHTS “EXPANSION” ADVANCES

This Week in Springfield both Chambers were in session, Tobacco 21 was sent to the Governor, salary history made its way to the Senate for a third year in a row, and committee action started to heat up before the impending deadlines.

CONSUMER LIQUOR HOME DELIVERY PASSES COMMITTEE

SB 54 (Sen. Don Harmon, D-Chicago) expressly allows retailers to deliver liquor to consumers. The retail industry is ever evolving and growing as technology offers more conveniences for consumers.  One innovative step has included the use of mobile phone apps, telephone and internet orders, and curbside pickup to facilitate the purchase of groceries and alcohol.  Illinois currently allows this innovation to thrive and retailers have used various procedures to facilitate liquor delivery either through an independent contractor, employee, third party contractor delivery, or curbside pickup. Safeguards to verify the age and identity of the consumer are required at the point of sale and at the point of delivery.

Inconsistency has arisen as some local municipalities have been prohibiting it while others have been expressly allowing it through ordinance. In order to encourage continued innovation and establish a consistent policy, Sen. Don Harmon brought stakeholders together that include the IRMA, Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI), Wine and Spirits Delivery Distributors of Illinois (WSDI) and the Illinois Beverage Association (ILBA) to work on an industry compromise. The legislation allows retailers to continue using the aforementioned delivery methods and ordering platforms while also inserting consumer safeguards.  The legislation also requires the liquor to be delivered during applicable hours of sales from an Illinois retailer to an Illinois consumer within a 30 mile radius.

The legislation passed the Senate Executive Committee by a unanimous vote with the agreement that Sen. Harmon will bring an amendment back to the Committee for consideration.

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TOBACCO 21 TO GOVERNOR

Tobacco 21, HB 345 (Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago/ Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield), passed the House with a vote of 82-31 and the Senate by a vote 39-16. Tobacco 21 passed the Senate and narrowly passed the House last spring with 61 votes before being vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner. In the meantime more than 34 Illinois municipalities passed a Tobacco 21 measure.

HB 345 prohibits a licensed Illinois 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 21 penalizes 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.

The legislation has been sent to Governor Pritzker for his signature.  Part of the Governor’s budget relied on vaping and tobacco taxes. As of this writing, there has been no word on how this will impact those revenue estimates. If signed the changes will go into effect July 1, 2019.

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PERSONAL BULK FOOD CONTAINERS AT RETAIL

HB 3440 (Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago) permits retailers to allow consumers to fill personal containers with dry bulk foods and prohibits counties and municipalities from disallowing the practice.  This practice is already allowed in Illinois but is currently prohibited in Chicago.   IRMA is neutral on the legislation because it is permissive and maintains the current status quo of allowing retailers either to implement or prohibit the practice on their premise.

Most retailers do not currently allow the practice for many different reasons. Currently, Illinois law does not define what may be used for a personal container or who is liable if the consumer gets sick from an unsanitary personal container brought from home. Additionally, most retailers provide a uniform variety of single use containers in the store and the tare weights are pre-programmed into the point of sale and scale system. It would be impractical to allow a consumer to bring a random personal container for which the retailer does not have the weight pre-programmed into the point of sale.  Moreover, if the retailer cannot accurately ascertain the weight of the personal container prior to the consumer adding bulk food, then the retailer cannot accurately charge the correct price or proper tax for the item. This opens retailers up to frivolous lawsuits for imposing an improper tax.  Similar to the plethora of the lawsuits filed during the short run of the ill-fated sugar sweetened beverage tax in Cook County. Hence, the importance of allowing retailers to decide whether or not to allow the practice.

HB 3440 passed the House Energy & Environment Committee by a vote of 25-0-0. IRMA will remain neutral because HB 3440 is permissive and does not change the status quo. That being said, most retailers will continue to avoid the practice due to the aforementioned issues.

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PAY HISTORY PASSES THE HOUSE, AGAIN

HB 834 (Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin) or the “Pay History” legislation passed the House by a vote of 86-28 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Two years ago, IRMA stated it would support a proposal prohibiting an employer from asking an employee about previous wage, salary, and other compensation. We proposed the model that was adopted in Massachusetts and supported by the advocates in partnership with the Massachusetts business community. Last year, IRMA stated it would support the legislation if it would just prohibit the question. The offer for compromise is once again before the General Assembly. Unfortunately, HB 834 does not contain either avenue for compromise.

While HB 834 prohibits an employer from asking an employee about previous wage, salary and other compensation, it also unjustifiably erodes the current statutory defenses for Illinois employers while expanding the statutory penalties.  The facts do not justify this approach.

According to Illinois Department of Labor statistics (“DOL”), in the past 13 years (excluding 2010 and 2011 where there are no available data), under the current limited defenses and exorbitant penalties, there have been only 51 recorded violations of the Equal Pay Act. In that same time period, approximately 707 investigations were conducted by DOL. Less than 7.5% of all claims in the last 13 years have resulted in a violation.  Moreover, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration there are over 1.2 million businesses in Illinois. Assuming that a different company was responsible for each violation only .0000425% of Illinois businesses have been responsible for an Equal Pay Act violation in 13 years.  This is a 99.9999575% compliance rate.

The reason is found in the fact that unlike other states, Illinois employers only have four defenses to an unequal wage claim. Those four defenses are: (1) seniority system; (2) merit system; (3) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; and (4) a differential based on a business necessity that does not include sex or race.  If an Illinois employer is found in violation of an equal pay claim, the employer is liable for damages under no less than seven state and federal statutes. Unlike most states, Illinois does not prohibit a claimant from ‘double-dipping’ in state and federal court.  These statutes include the: (1) Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003, (2) Illinois Humans Rights Act, (3) Illinois Wages of Women and Minors Act, (4) Illinois Equal Wage Act, (5) U.S. Equal Pay Act of 1963, (6) Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, and most recently (7) the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

Given the facts noted above, it is safe to conclude that the current state and federal statutory penalty scheme has served as a more than sufficient deterrent to pay discrimination – at least in Illinois. Hence the need to simply eliminate the question.

Since the facts do not support the need for the extreme measures proposed in HB 834, IRMA remains opposed to arbitrarily restricting Illinois’ employer’s current limited defenses and increasing current statutory penalties.  IRMA does, however, continue to stand behind its pledge to support legislation to prohibit an employer from asking about previous wage, salary, or other compensation.

For these reasons, IRMA stands opposed to HB 834 but stands ready to support HB 834 if genuine, fact-driven compromise is desired.

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SNAP BENEFITS AT RESTAURANTS PASSES COMMITTEE

HB 3343 (Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago) requires the Department of Human Services to establish a Restaurant Meals Program to permit individuals who are elderly, persons with a disability, and homeless individuals to redeem their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits at private establishments that contract with the Department to offer meals for eligible SNAP recipients at concessional prices.  HB 3343 passed the House Human Services Committee by a vote of 18-0-0.

IRMA supports the intent of the legislation but was awaiting a conversation with the advocates as to some common-sense changes that would reduce the bureaucratic impact on businesses. IRMA will continue to keep members posted.

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REBATE CARDS DORMANCY CHARGES PROHIBITION PASSES COMMITTEE

HB 2156 (Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago) passed the House Economic Opportunity Committee by a 9-4 vote and SB 222 (Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin) passed the Senate Commerce and Economic Committee by an 8-2 vote. Both bills are intended to prohibit the issuance of product rebate cards that charge dormancy or other post-issuance fees. The language only applies to multi-store cards utilized for rebates after the consumer completes the rebate submission process. It exempts closed-looped merchant cards that are distributed and used at one retailer—also known as “store cards”.

An identical bill (HB 4922) passed the House with a 67-44 vote and the Senate by a 35-17 vote last year. It was subsequently vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner.  Due to the aforementioned focus of the legislation IRMA is neutral as currently drafted.

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EMPLOYEE HUMAN RIGHTS “EXPANSION” ADVANCES

Currently, the Illinois Human Rights Act only applies to businesses with 15 or more employees. HB 252 (Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago) expands the coverage of the Act to apply to any business with one or more employees.  HB 252 passed the house by a 74-40 vote. Last year, an identical bill (HB 4572) passed the House by a 64-37 and the Senate by a 33-13 vote before being vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner.

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