This Week in Springfield – 101-13

May 3, 2019

IN THIS ISSUE:

BUSINESS DAY 2019
GRADUATED INCOME TAX
PAID SICK LEAVE
“SESAME” LABELING MANDATE
REBATE CARD DORMANCY FEES

This Week in Springfield, IRMA held its annual Business Day. The Senate passed a resolution to change the constitution to implement a Graduated Income Tax and followed that up with proposed rates that were more expansive than the Governor’s proposal. After burdening employers with a $15 minimum wage earlier in session, the Senate has doubled down on employer mandates and passed a paid sick leave mandate that includes a requirement that businesses pay an employee to attend a court date for any illegal act of the employee.

BUSINESS DAY 2019

On Wednesday, May 1st, approximately 400 employers met in Springfield for IRMA’s annual Business Day. This gathering represents the largest annual gathering of employers and is held in conjunction with the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. We appreciate the support of our sponsors and partners who make this day an annual success.

Governor JB Pritzker addressed the opening luncheon laying out his vision for moving Illinois forward. This included returning fiscal stability, repairing and improving infrastructure, and investing in education. Key to these plans is his goal of amending the state’s constitution to allow for a graduated income tax. IRMA appreciated the Governor’s willingness to share his thoughts with attendees who may not agree on every proposal but agree on the need to move Illinois forward.

Adding a refreshing twist to the event, attendees experienced three subject-specific panels. These panels focused on data privacy, recreational cannabis, and the proposed graduated income tax, respectively.

Data privacy panel: The data privacy panel featured Aaron Tantliff, a Partner at the law firm of Foley & Lardner, who has a substantial practice advising employers on how to comply with current privacy laws and how to stay ahead of changes in legislation through adopting best practices.  Aaron provided attendees an understanding of how data privacy has been approached at the macro level by detailing the most relevant portions of the European Union’s General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR) and describing the significant difference between how the EU and the United States have addressed regulation. Mr. Tantliff agreed that legislation could be a powerful tool in privacy protection if truly balances the desire to protect consumers from harm and the desire to allow for the continued expansion of innovation.  Case in point, he cautioned legislators to examine what we have learned from the passage of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).  The Act was put in place years ago to help ensure that appropriate notification and permission was given before a person’s biometric identifiers were collected and used for business purposes.  Unfortunately, the effect of the law has been a boon to the plaintiff’s bar which has used the law to ensnare businesses who were, by all accounts, substantively in compliance, and bring class action lawsuits against them based on technicalities.  These filings have cost the employer community in Illinois plenty in settlements, but hasn’t significantly increased protections by the same factor.  Mr. Tantliff strongly encouraged the General Assembly to fix what is broken with BIPA and to not make the same mistake if it chooses to move forward with other laws in this area.  Attendees received very critical information on best practices and helpful information on how to communicate with lawmakers on preserving the ability to use data to promote the growth, expansion and competitiveness of Illinois’ employer community.

Recreational cannabis panel: The recreational cannabis panel included Representative Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, a primary mover behind the proposal along with Senator Heather Steans, and Scott Cruz from the law firm of ClarkHill. Mr. Cruz specializes in employment and labor law.

While many residents focus on the legalization aspect and policymakers primarily focus on the legalization and revenue aspects of cannabis, employers are focusing on the use or possession of cannabis in the workplace. Under the current Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act an employer may adopt a drug free or zero tolerance drug policy.  Mr. Cruz explained that while cannabis may become illegal on the state level, currently it remains illegal on the federal level.  As such, employers should be cognizant of federal employment and safety standards.  Rep. Cassidy explained that the intent is to maintain the employer’s complete control of the workplace and complete discretion in regards to the drug possession or use policy.  In some states, exception to employment policies are made for those individuals that have received a medical cannabis card as a result of a debilitating disease of malady.  Currently, the intent is to provide no exceptions to the employer’s ability to maintain a drug free workplace regardless of the situation of the employee.

Graduated income tax panel: The final panel of the day focused on the proposed graduated income tax. Coincidentally, as the panel was meeting, the Senate passed a graduated income tax package.  This panel featured Ralph Martire, Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and Jared Walczak, Senior Policy Analyst with the Tax Foundation. Mr. Martire made the case that a graduatd income tax is fairer in that those who earn more, pay more. However, he noted that without enacting other changes, such as sales tax on services, Illinois would continue to struggle with instability.

After the panels, attendees then spent time at the Capitol meeting with legislators. IRMA’s Board of Directors and some invited guests met with Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady, and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. Those meetings focused on a number of issues including expressing frustration that elected officials continue to consider engaging in theft of services by reducing or eliminating the Retail Discount. Such a move, if enacted, would have retailers paying for the tax credits and dedicated spending benefiting other business sectors. Retailers should not have to pay for even more costs imposed on them by the state so that other business sectors can pay less.

The day concluded with a revised and expanded Party Under the Tent which has become a ‘not-to-be-missed’ event.

IRMA would like to thank all those who made this day possible.

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GRADUATED INCOME TAX

While employers attended Business Day, the legislative process ground on and the focus was on the Senate as they passed a package focused on the graduated income tax.

First up was Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 1 (Sen. Don Harmon, D- Oak Park/Rep. Rob Martwick, D- Chicago). This would put a question on the November 2020 ballot asking voters whether they want to amend the Illinois Constitution to allow for a graduated income tax. SJRCA 1 was approved by the Senate on a party-line vote with all 40 Democrat members supporting and all 19 Republican’s opposing. As the Chicago Sun-Times headline noted, the Senate took less time to pass this proposal than it takes to play the Led Zepplin song “Stairway to Heaven”.

Then came Senate Amendment #1 to SB 687 (Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D- Chicago Heights/Rep. Michael Zalewski, D- Riverside) proposes income tax rates should voters approve the constitutional amendment in November 2020 allowing Illinois to impose a graduated income tax. The new proposed tax rates on personal income, which includes pass-through entities such as trusts and partnerships. In Illinois, pass-through entities also must apply a 1.5% tax on all income known as the Personal Property Replacement Tax. Therefore, the proposed effective rates are as follows:

INCOME TAX RATE EFFECTIVE TAX RATE WITH PPRT (1.5%)
$10,000 or less 4.75% 6.25%
$10,000.01 – $100,000 4.90% 6.40%
$100,000.01 – $250,000 4.95% 6.45%
$250,000.01- $350,000 7.75% 9.25%
$350,000.01 – $750,000 7.85% 9.35%
Over $750,000 7.99% 9.49%

For individuals with incomes over $750,000, the 7.99% rate applies to the entire income – not just the income over $750,000.

What follows are the new proposed rates on corporate income. In Illinois, corporations must also apply a 2.5% tax on all income known as the Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax. Therefore, the proposed and effective rates are as follows:

INCOME TAX RATE EFFECTIVE TAX RATE WITH CPPRT (2.5%)
$10,000 or less 4.75% 7.25%
$10,000.01 – $100,000 4.90% 7.40%
$100,000.01 – $250,000 4.95% 7.45%
$250,000.01 – $500,000 7.75% 10.25%
$500,000.01 – $1,000,000 7.85% 10.35%
Over $1,000,000 7.99% 10.49%

For corporations with incomes over $1,000,000 the 7.99% rate applies to the entire income – not just the income over $1,000,000.

This proposal represents an expansion of the rates as originally discussed. Initially, the discussion was to make the highest rate for individuals top out at 7.95% and $1 million. The top rate is higher and now applies to those making less than $1 million. This appears to be an effort to blunt criticism that the initially discussed rates did not solve the current budget problems. Even if these proposed rates do that, they still do not generate the revenue necessary to return Illinois to fiscal stability by addressing out-year commitments to schools and pensions as well as the proposed new spending.

There is also a $100 per child tax credit for those with children under 17 years of age. For those filing jointly making $100,000 or less. This credit phases out incrementally by $5 for every $2,000 in income beginning at $60,000 for those filing jointly. Those filing as individuals are eligible if they make $80,000 or less. The child credit begins reducing by $5 for every $2000 as income increases over $40,000.

Next came Senate Amendment #1 to 689 (Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago/Michael Zalewski) proposing to repeal the Illinois estate tax. The state would lose $300 million a year. This was an attempt to incentive Republican support and be more attractive, particularly to agricultural interests. The legislation passed the Senate by a 33-24 vote. The House Progressive Caucus immediately released a statement that panned the repeal of the estate tax.

Finally, came Senate Amendment #1 to SB 690 (Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill/Michael Zalewski) proposing property tax freezes in years in which the state fully funds the education funding formula and categoricals. It is rare the state has ever fully funded these items so how effective this will be remains to be seen. If the state were to fully fund, this would further highlight that the proposed graduated income tax rates in SB 687 are inadequate to meet known fiscal needs.

SJRCA 1, and Senate Bills 687, 689, and 690 now proceed to the House for further consideration.

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PAID SICK LEAVE

SB 471 CA#2 (Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights) creates the Healthy Workplace Act and would require and employer to provide a minimum of 5 paid sick days a year to each employee.  Those members who have locations in Chicago, and/or the various municipalities in Cook County that have not opted out of the Cook County sick leave ordinance, should note that if this bill passes and is signed into law the Chicago and Cook County ordinances would remain in effect.  The legislation passed the Senate by a 35-14 vote.

The Specifics of the bill are as follows:

  • Employees can accrue up to 5 paid sick days in a 12 month period (1 hour for every 40 hours worked) calculated from the date of hire or the effective date of the bill, and use can begin after 180 days of employment;
  • Minimum increments for use of sick leave cannot be more than 4 hours;
  • Leave can be used for the employee’s illness, an employee’s family member’s illness, medical care, school closings, to visit family in jail, to attend their own court hearing, or for reasons related to domestic violence;
  • Paid sick days must be paid out at an employee’s regular base wage;
  • If the employee is a tipped employee, then the wage is at least the full IL minimum wage, not the discounted minimum wage for employees that receive gratuities;
  • An employer can only require proof of need for sick days if the employee requests more than 3 consecutive days off;
  • Employees cannot be required to find a replacement if taking a sick day and must give the employer notice if the sick day was foreseeable (scheduled doctor’s appointment; scheduled surgery, etc.);
  • Unused sick days must carry over, but an employee is limited to the use of no more than 40 hours in one 12-month period unless the employer has a more generous use policy;
  • Paid sick days do not have to be paid out upon termination/separation;
  • If the employee separates from employment and is re-employed within a 12-month period with the same employer, then the employee will receive any accrued, but unused, sick leave obtained prior to the separation;
  • For employees that are currently covered under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), this bill will not change that agreement; however, at the next negotiation, the CBA can waive paid sick leave as long as it’s in writing;
  • Paid sick leave does not apply to anyone working in the construction industry covered by a CBA;
  • Employers must keep records for 3 years;
  • Employers with paid time off (PTO) policies will not need to change those policies if employees are allowed to take the time in accordance with what is required in this bill;
  • Employers must keep the written requirements in this bill on file on the premises for employee review or post the requirement on the premises wherever like postings are located;
  • If the employer has employees that are not literate in English, the employer must provide the employee with a written explanation in the language in which the employee is literate;
  • Retaliation is prohibited; and
  • Employees have a private right of action.

IRMA is opposed.

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‘SESAME’ LABELING MANDATE

An initiative to address the growing issue of sesame seed allergens passed the House with an unanimous 114-0-0 vote. 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/Sen. Emil Jones, D-Chicago), 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.

IRMA worked with Representative Carroll to draft an amendment that reflects the changing federal standards while also protecting those that suffer from food allergies.

HB 2123 passed the Senate Agriculture Committee by a vote of 7-0.

IRMA is neutral as amended and appreciates the consideration of Rep. Carroll.

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REBATE CARD DORMANCY FEES

HB 2156 (Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago/Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin) passed the House by a vote of 67-47. The bill is intended to prohibit the issuance of product rebate cards that charge dormancy or other post-issuance fees. The legislation only applies to rebate cards that can be used at multiple merchants. It exempts those closed-looped merchant cards that are distributed and used at one retailer—also known as “store cards”. The language only applies to multi-store cards utilized for rebates after the consumer completes the rebate submission process.

IRMA has worked with the sponsors to address retailers’ concerns. IRMA would like to thank Rep. Mah and Sen. Castro for addressing those concerns.

IRMA is neutral.

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This Week in Springfield – 101-12

April 17, 2019

IN THIS ISSUE:

BUSINESS DAY 2019: BE HEARD
GRADUATED INCOME TAX
DATA PRIVACY
INTERNET CONNECTED DEVICES
PHARMACY BENEFITS MANAGERS
LIQUOR DELIVERY
RESTAURANT FOOD ALLERGEN NOTICE
RETAIL RESTROOM BABY CHANGING PLATFORM PASSES HOUSE
INTERNET LOTTERY
BPA BUSINESS RECORDS
COVERNANTS NOT TO COMPETE
CARPET TAX

Last week in Springfield the 3rd Reading deadline for the House and Senate expired. The members of both chambers are now back in their respective districts for a two-week in-district work break. They will return Tuesday, April 30th – the day before Business Day 2019.

BUSINESS DAY 2019: BE HEARD!

Graduated income tax, retail discount, felony retail theft threshold, paid leave mandates, and many more issues will be decided between now and the end of May. Wednesday, May 1st is a day of action for employers like you. A day to make your collective voices heard and to inquire of policy leaders and experts on issues of interest.

If you have not yet done so, register today and make your voice heard!

The day starts with an address from Governor Pritzker at the opening luncheon, subject panels on privacy, recreational marijuana, and the graduated income tax follow the luncheon with plenty of time after to interact with your elected officials at the Capitol and the Party Under the Tent.

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GRADUATED INCOME TAX

Last Wednesday, the Senate Executive Committee voted along party-lines to advance Governor Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax constitutional amendment to the floor. Both the Senate and House must approve the proposal amendment by 3/5ths votes. If that happens, the amendment will go to the voters in the November 2020 election. If 60% of the voters voting on the question approve, it will be adopted. In brief, the plan allows for a graduated income tax. The highest tax on corporations cannot exceed the highest tax on personal income tax by more than an 8 to 5 ratio. As an example, if the highest personal rate is 10%, the highest corporate rate cannot exceed 16%. This would not include the additional 2.5% Personal Property Replacement Tax which would move the effective rate to 18.5%.

The Senate is expected to undertake consideration upon its return the first week of May.

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DATA PRIVACY

A proposed Illinois law would allow consumers to see or prohibit the use of their data by “big tech” companies. Behind the drive for a law is rising concern over the compromise of private data held by Facebook, Google and other tech giants that aggregate consumer information for commercial purposes. The industry traditionally has been lightly regulated and has resisted closer oversight.

These companies use analytic products to determine a user’s browsing path around the internet. By linking that information to an IP address and an associated account, a complete profile of a person can be assembled without the knowledge of the consumer. These companies then monetize the information and sell it to third parties outside the scope of the business transaction or business purpose that it was originally collected. As drafted, HB 3358 (Rep. Art Turner, D-Chicago/Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park) creates the Data Transparency and Privacy Act and provides that an entity that collects personal information about individual consumers through the Internet 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.

The legislation takes into account that retailers are required by state and federal law to collect, share, or process consumer information from sales at retail to submit sales taxes to the state, process a consumer transaction using a debit or credit card, provide Medicaid, WIC, or SNAP benefits, protect pharmacy patient information, develop a manifest to transport, ship or deliver goods, etc.

The bill passed the House by a 72-37-1 vote.

IRMA is neutral to the legislation as it passed the House and would like to thank Deputy Majority Leader Art Turner and the advocates for working to address IRMA’s concerns.

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INTERNET CONNECTED DEVICES

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/Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago) 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 passed the Senate by a 39-14 vote and now goes to the House for additional consideration.

IRMA is opposed to the legislation as currently drafted.

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PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGERS

Among its many provisions, HB 465 (Rep. Greg Harris, D- Chicago/Sen. John Cullerton, D- Chicago) seeks to provide accountability and transparency into the operations of pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s). HB 465 licenses PBMs, provides for suspension or revocation of those licenses, requires contracts between health insurers and PBM’s to update MAC pricing information at least every 7 days, provides access to the PBM’s MAC list to each pharmacy or PSAO, provides a process for appeals, etc. Additionally, a drug on the MAC list must be a generically equivalent drug, available for purchase by each pharmacy in the state from national or regional wholesalers, not obsolete; etc.

HB 465 was approved by the House unanimously and now moves to the Senate for additional consideration.

IRMA would like to thank House Majority Leader Harris and Sen. Manar for their leadership.

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LIQUOR DELIVERY

SB 54 (Sen. Don Harmon, D-Chicago/Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside) 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 online orders, and curbside pickup to facilitate the purchase of groceries, including alcohol. Illinois currently

Inconsistency has risen as some local municipalities have been prohibiting it while others have been expressly allowing it through ordinance. The Senate passed the legislation to the House to continue the discussions with the industry. In order to encourage continued innovation and establish a consistent policy, the House will consider an amendment that will:

  1. Allow grocery stores, liquor stores, and convenience stores to continue using any of the aforementioned delivery methods and ordering platforms to deliver alcohol within 30 miles of the retailer;
  2. Clarify that curbside pick-up of alcohol is allowed;
  3. Require consumer safeguards; and
  4. Prohibit municipalities from restricting consumers for accepting the delivery of alcohol.

A plethora of business interests support the potential amendment, which include IRMA, Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI), Illinois Licensed Beverage Association (ILBA), Illinois Food Retailers Association (IFRA), the Wine Institute, MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch, etc.

IRMA would like to thank Sen. Harmon for his continued work on this issue.

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RESTAURANT FOOD ALLERGEN NOTICE

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(Rep. Joyce Mason, D-Gurnee/Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria) provides 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. 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.

The legislation passed the House by a vote of 110-0-1.

IRMA would like to thank Representatives Stephanie Kifowit and Joyce Mason for working with IRMA to create the current compromise.

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RETAIL RESTROOM BABY CHANGING PLATFORM PASSES HOUSE

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 a 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 consistent with other states’ requirements and current Illinois law, conform with the American with Disabilities Act, and the current building codes of each jurisdiction. Subsequently, Rep. Ramirez adopted an amendment that includes the following:

  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 restroom 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 restroom 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 amendment, HB 3877 passed the House by a vote of 110-0-0 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

IRMA is neutral on the legislation and would like to thank Rep. Ramirez for working with IRMA on this important 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-Chicago/Sen. Kimberly Lightford, 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 applies to scratch-off as well. After discussions with Representative Welch, IRMA, the private lottery manager, and others, HB 3661 was amended on the House floor to allow only draw games to be offered via the Internet.

After the adoption of the amendment, the legislation passed the House by a 101-13-0 vote. HB 3661 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

IRMA would like to thank Rep. Welch for addressing our concerns.

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BPA BUSINESS RECORDS

Environmentalist contend that bisphenol-A (BPA) found in receipts causes adverse reactions to those individuals who handle the receipts. HB 2076 (Rep. Karina Villa, D-Batavia/Sen. Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights) 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 study, only public opinion and capitalism. Retail sales of “BPA free” products increased, 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 sponsor agreed to address the opponents’ concerns in an amendment in the Senate and bring an agreed amendment back to the House Environment Committee for consideration.

In order for IRMA to agree to the amendment it has to include the following language:

  1. It has to contain a standard or level of measurement to determine if the level of BPA in the paper exceeds current US EPA safe handling guidelines;
  2. It has to include a “use through” provision;
  3. It has to include an “archived records” exemption; and
  4. It has to include an exemption for recycled paper that contains BPA.

With the pledge to bring an agreed upon amendment back to the House committee, HB 3018 passed the House by a 76-37-1 vote.

IRMA would like to thank Rep. Karina Villa for working with IRMA to address our concerns.

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COVENANTS NOT TO COMPETE

Legislation that would prohibit legal covenants not to compete in the state of Illinois failed to pass the House. Last year, lawmakers passed an agreed bill that prohibited covenants not to compete between an 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 2565 (Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Downers Grove) would expand the prohibition to ALL employers and employees in Illinois. The sponsor testified in committee that a covenant not to compete restricted the ability of a family member to transfer from a job where they were 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.

Subsequently, the sponsor did not limit the scope of the bill. As a result, HB 2565 failed to pass the House by a 37-62-3 vote.

IRMA was opposed to the legislation.

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CARPET TAX

SB 557 (Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake/Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside) 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 not only administers the entire program but also sets 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 private-label brand, that retailer would be a producer and subject to the requirements of the act.

With promises from the sponsor to continue discussion in the House, SB 557 passed the Senate by a unanimous vote of 56-0-0.

IRMA is opposed to the legislation as currently drafted.

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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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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