Amicus Brief Filed with US Supreme Court in Wayfair v. South Dakota

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                          CONTACT:

March 6, 2018                                                                                                                                  Julie Larsen, 847-946-9332

julie@macstrategiesgroup.com

                             

Amicus Brief Filed with US Supreme Court in Wayfair v. South Dakota

Filing Seeks Fairness in the Collection of Sales Tax by All Retailers

 

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) issued the following statement from Rob Karr, president & CEO, regarding the filing of an amicus curiae brief with the United States Supreme Court in the case of Wayfair v. South Dakota by the Council of State Retail Associations, of which IRMA is a member and Mr. Karr is Vice-Chairman. Specifically, the brief requests the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit their decision in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota absolving retailers with no physical presence from collecting state sales tax.

“It has been over 25 years since the Quill decision and much has changed in our economy since 1992. The internet was in its infancy and consumers were still making more of their purchases in stores, not by clicking a link on their smartphone. Regardless of where a sale occurs, a sale is a sale, and sales tax should be applied to every sale made to an Illinois consumer. Main Street retailers – that employ your neighbors, pay property tax, and support the little league team and high school band – should be on a level playing field with out-of-state retailers that use our roads and landfills but do not have to collect the sales tax that is used to pay for this infrastructure. It is estimated that Illinois loses over $200 million in sales tax each year to remote sales where sales tax is owed but not collected. These are revenues that could be used to stabilize Illinois’ fiscal situation.

“IRMA is pleased the United States Supreme Court is revisiting the Quill decision by agreeing to hear the Wayfair case. We urge the United States Supreme Court to overturn Quill and recognize the global economy in which we live. Overturning Quill will reinstate some equity into our economy rather than continuing to reward companies with an unfair advantage as they compete with Illinois businesses while contributing nothing to Illinois’ economy.”

Tim Lehan, Chairman of the IRMA Board of Directors and a pharmacist and owner of Lehan Drugs said, “As a Main Street retailer with locations in DeKalb, Sycamore and Rockford, I can tell you that my commitment is to the communities we serve. I believe that the Supreme Court has an opportunity to level the playing field for me, and other retailers like me, who have been at a disadvantage compared to internet retailers who aren’t required to collect sales tax.” Lehan expressed his hope for the Supreme Court to reconsider its outdated decision.

About the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA)

One of the largest state retail organizations in the United States, IRMA serves as the voice of retailing and the business community in state government. Founded in 1957, IRMA represents more than 20,000 stores of all sizes and merchandise lines. From the nation’s largest retailers to independent businesses in every corner of the State, merchants count on IRMA to fight for the best possible environment in which to do business in Illinois.

 

 

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Retailers File Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to Block Cook County’s Sweetened Beverage Tax

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
June 27, 2017

CONTACT

Ryan McLaughlin, 312-969-0255
ryan@macstrategiesgroup.com

Retailers File Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to Block Cook County’s Sweetened Beverage Tax

Vague regulations and policy’s lack of uniformity violate the state’s constitution

SPRINGFIELD – Today, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, on behalf of Cook County retailers, filed a temporary restraining order and is seeking a preliminary injunction in the Cook County Circuit Court challenging the sweetened beverage tax saying it violates the uniformity clause of the Illinois Constitution and is impermissibly vague. The ordinance is designed to place a penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages and is poised to go into effect in only a matter of days on Saturday, July 1st. The lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Horwood Marcus & Berk who specialize in state and local tax as well as business and finance law.

The sweetened beverage tax creates classifications of taxable sweetened beverages that violate the uniformity clause of the state’s constitution, which requires taxing bodies to draw reasonable classes of taxable categories and imposes a uniform tax within the classes. Specifically, the ordinance taxes ready-to-drink, pre-made sweetened beverages, but generally excludes sweetened beverages made on demand. Not only are these sweetened beverages the same other than how they are served, but when considering the purpose of the ordinance, to promote public health and decrease obesity rates, the classification bears no reasonable relationship to accomplishing those goals. The argument can be made that Cook County has failed to meet the minimum standards in creating classes of taxable sweetened beverages.

Example of a violation of the uniformity clause:
A ready-to-drink sweetened iced tea served out of a chilled beverage urn is taxable, but a sweetened iced tea that is shaken behind the counter before giving it to the customer is not taxable. The beverages are substantially similar, except for the “shake” before giving it to the customer.

Additionally, the ordinance is impermissibly vague and fails to provide precise application under the circumstances it is intended to operate, creating a burden on retailers to accurately calculate the proper amount of tax.

Example of vagueness in the ordinance:
A retailer is responsible for collecting the Sweetened Beverage Tax for fountain sodas based on the amount it will sell in a certain-sized cup. In practice, however, by adding ice, the retailer is actually serving less sweetened beverage than the tax which was collected from the customer. A similar problem is possible in the refill context when the tax could be under-collected based on additional ounces consumed, with either scenario leaving the retailer legally exposed in an untenable situation.

Causing further complication, there has been an unavailability of guidance on the issue with the County changing the rules just days before the tax goes into effect making it impossible for retailers to properly implement in such quick order.

Ever-changing rules for SNAP may result in retailers being pushed out of program
SNAP does not allow a state or local unit of government to collect local sales taxes on purchases made under this program. Many retailers may not be able to correctly charge the Sweetened Beverage Tax, especially since the rules have been changed approximately two weeks prior to the date retailers must begin collecting the tax. If retailers do not comply they might be in jeopardy violating the terms of their SNAP contracts. In some cases, SNAP represents a significant portion of their business.

“As it stands, this ordinance is incomplete and it’s a perfect example of the disaster that awaits when policies are hurried through without serious thought to how they might impact the businesses that have to try to comply with these policies. To implement this tax correctly by the July 1 deadline is inconceivable with rules and regulations that are so poorly defined and continually changing. If enacted, Cook County retailers would be unfairly exposed to lawsuits for failure to comply and that’s a situation we’re not willing to accept for the retailers in Cook County,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of IRMA.

Retailers are urging the court to block implementation of the ordinance due to the lack of clarity in how to properly apply and administer the tax and its unequal application.

 

About the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA)
One of the largest state retail organizations in the United States, IRMA serves as the voice of retailing and the business community in state government. Founded in 1957, IRMA represents more than 20,000 stores of all sizes and merchandise lines. From the nation’s largest retailers to independent businesses in every corner of the State, merchants count on IRMA to fight for the best possible environment in which to do business in Illinois.
About Horwood, Marcus & Berk
Horwood Marcus & Berk is a Chicago law firm that represents a wide range of clients from Fortune 500 corporations, to mid-sized and closely-held companies. While serving a number of different industries, the firm is specializing in state and local tax as well as business and finance law. In recent years, the firm has fought on the side of retailers in Qui tam lawsuits, which whistleblowers have used to unfairly target companies under the False Claims Act.

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BUSINESS GROUPS LABEL 2017 SESSION “ONE OF THE WORST FOR EMPLOYERS”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 31, 2017

CONTACT:

Ryan McLaughlin, 312-969-0255 | ryan@macstrategiesgroup.com

Rachel Peabody, 217-753-1761 | rachel@macstrategiesgroup.com

BUSINESS GROUPS LABEL 2017 SESSION “ONE OF THE WORST FOR EMPLOYERS”

Litany of anti-employer, job-killing measures rock employers

 

SPRINGFIELD – The state’s premier business groups have labeled the spring legislative session as “one of the worst for employers”, citing lawmaker’s apparent “race to the bottom” and litany of anti-employer, anti-job growth measures considered this year.

At a press conference on the final day of session, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Chamber of Commerce and NFIB joined together lamenting the continuous effort to tax, over-regulate, mandate and constrict employers at every turn by lawmakers in both chambers which has created one of the most crushing business climates in the nation. While this is not a new phenomenon in Springfield, the massive uptick in these anti-employer measures coupled with the accompanying rhetoric has exasperated an already hostile business climate.

Ironically, many of these measures – in theory – are aimed at increasing pay, hiring more employees or giving workers more certainty, yet they achieve quite the opposite. While the intention of our business community is to provide jobs with competitive pay and generate revenue to fix the state’s problems, the anti-employer narrative is having a chilling effect.

“My Democrat friends like to say we are in a race to the bottom. Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you we are winning but that means Illinois businesses and families are losing. The high cost of workers’ compensation is one of the biggest issues facing manufacturers but lawmakers fail to act because they continually side with wealthy trial lawyers. Their failure to act and create an attractive economic climate means that Illinois will continue to bleed jobs and remain a laughingstock of the nation,” said Greg Baise, president and CEO, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

“Every day seems to bring another report of another round of retail store closings. Instead of talking restraint and recovery for the retail community, the narrative out of Springfield, like the actual actions in Chicago and Cook County, is higher taxes, labor and regulatory burdens, and, in the case of Cook County, incentivizing theft. This ‘campaign against Main Street retailers’ will only hasten the continued job loss and store closings that have become all too familiar. Retailers have limited responses; reduce employee hours, lay people off, increase automation, or close. Passing legislation to mandate artificially higher wages when the jobs don’t exist doesn’t help anyone,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

“The ping pong of anti-employer policies coming from both Chicago and Springfield is unsustainable. At every corner, Chicagoland businesses are being asked to pay higher property taxes, soda taxes, and sales taxes while also being forced to implement countless mandates that do not grow the economy. Chicago has so much to offer but this economic death by 1,000 paper cuts does not create the jobs, quality of life and revenue Springfield should be seeking,” said Michael Reever, Vice President of Government Affairs, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

“Time and again lawmakers have suggested policies that shift greater financial burdens to employers statewide. Whether it is during the budget impasse or after it is resolved, standing up against job-crushing legislation is crucial for our economy. Increasing minimum wage, passing “fake” workers’ compensation reform and proposing a significant arbitrary tax increase is far from the progress Illinois deserves. We need pro-growth economic policies to prevent the steady decline of Illinois’ economic competitiveness. And we need them now, that is, if we want to continue to attract the best and the brightest individuals to Illinois,” said Todd Maisch, President and CEO, Illinois Chamber of Commerce

“Our members aren’t surprised by the legislature’s anti-business antics this session, but they are disappointed and fed up. Illinois is broke and we haven’t had a budget in two years. We need leaders who are less focused on scoring easy political points and more on enacting good policies that benefit all Illinoisans. We need legislators who will act like adults, set aside their political differences, and make the difficult decisions that would make things better for working families and allow businesses to grow and create jobs,” said Mark Grant, Illinois State Director, NFIB

Springfield’s Dirty Dozen

  1. SB 81: Legislation that raises the minimum wage to $15
  2. HB 2771: A costly government mandate forcing employers regardless of size to provide paid leave to every employee regardless of hours worked.
  3. HB 160: A $5,000 fee on every employer for the “privilege” of doing business in Illinois
  4. HB 156: Massive property tax shift onto commercial and industrial taxpayers
  5. SB 1502: Trial lawyer supported legislation that burdens every e-commerce business, and every company with a credit card, loyalty program app or website, without providing any consumer protections
  6. HB 3449: Trial lawyer supported legislation that unfairly targets companies that share or store location data and requires ecommerce businesses to ask for permission before collecting location data from your device
  7. HB 3538: Penalizes business that move even one job out of state while discouraging future investment
  8. HB 2802: Government mandate forcing businesses to pay the transportation costs of their workers
  9. HB 2525: This bill codifies “a cause” workers’ compensation standard that mandates insurance rate review without providing any meaningful reform
  10. HB 2622: Legislation that would disrupt the private workers’ compensation insurance market without having a strong reason to exist
  11. HB 3337: A bill that allows someone to steal $2,000 of merchandise from a retailer
  12. SB 9: Imposes $5.4 billion in new taxes on Illinois businesses and families – *revenue without reforms

Ignored Reforms of the 2017 Legislative Session

  • Pension reform
  • Workers’ compensation reform
  • Tax reform
  • Restraint of local government
  • Property tax relief
  • Education and workforce development

 

About the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois.  The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities.

About The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA)

One of the largest state retail organizations in the United States, IRMA serves as the voice of retailing and the business community in state government. Founded in 1957, IRMA represents more than 23,000 stores of all sizes and merchandise lines. From the nation’s largest retailers to independent businesses in every corner of the State, merchants count on IRMA to fight for the best possible environment in which to do business in Illinois.

About the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce represents over 1,000 member companies, their 400,000 employees, and over $24 billion in revenue. We combine the power of our membership with our legacy of leadership and business advocacy to drive a dynamic economy. We focus on delivering value for our members, making Chicagoland a world-class place to live and work. Visit ChicagolandChamber.org

About the Illinois Chamber of Commerce

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce has been the unifying voice for Illinois business since 1919. The Chamber advocates prosperity and a pro-business climate in Illinois. www.ILChamber.org

About the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Illinois

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Illinois is a chapter of America’s leading small business association, promoting and protecting the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. NFIB represents 325,000 small businesses in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to leveling the playing field with Big Business, Big Government, and Big Labor in every key area – taxes, healthcare, regulations, and more.

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IRMA Responds to House Passage of the Minimum Wage Bill

May 30, 2017

  CONTACT

Rachel Peabody, 217-753-1761 | rachel@macstrategiesgroup.com

Ryan McLaughlin, 312-969-0255 | ryan@macstrategiesgroup.com

IRMA Responds to House Passage of the Minimum Wage Bill  

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) issued the following statement regarding the passing of the minimum wage bill out of the Illinois House that seeks to increase the minimum wage in Illinois to $15.00 per hour by 2022.
“The political campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour has already resulted in reduced hours and eliminated positions in major cities where this has been enacted, including the City of Chicago. In fact, we have seen automation and self-service alternatives replace jobs due to continued efforts to artificially increase wages through government actions instead of working with employers. Quite simply, the state cannot bear another proposal that eliminates what little opportunity exists in Illinois. We urge lawmakers to show more restraint when making decisions that significantly impacts a businesses’ bottom line.”

Facts about the minimum wage:

  • Illinois’ minimum wage is already the highest in the Midwest. Illinois is poised to add another anti-competitive burden to retailers’ ability to compete with retailers in border states.
  • Raising the minimum wage will continue to keep people, especially teens, out of jobs. According to a January 2016 report from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute, only 12.4 percent of African Americans, 15 percent of Hispanic or Latinos and 24.4 percent of Whites (non-Hispanic or Latinos), ages 16 to 19 years old, are employed in Chicago. This destroys what little opportunity exists.
  • Minimum wage salaries are a floor, not a ceiling. Workers are not locked into minimum wage jobs, they have the ability to garner the necessary skills to advance and earn higher wages. Retail ranks are filled with those who started in minimum wage jobs.
  • Penalizes brick-and-mortar retailers over internet retailers. The minimum wage hike will not impact internet retailers, but penalize those retailers that invest in a physical property, workforce, pay property and sales taxes, etc.

 

About The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA)
One of the largest state retail organizations in the United States, IRMA serves as the voice of retailing and the business community in state government. Founded in 1957, IRMA represents more than 23,000 stores of all sizes and merchandise lines. From the nation’s largest retailers to independent businesses in every corner of the State, merchants count on IRMA to fight for the best possible environment in which to do business in Illinois.

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4 Independent Illinois Retailers to Check Out for Thoughtful Gift Ideas

With 19 days until Christmas, many shoppers are feeling the pressure to find the perfect present for everyone on their list. Finding special gifts for each loved one seems to be a more complicated task year-after-year. You purchased the “must have” tech item; got them a sweater; wrapped countless socks and the ties; and suddenly this year, you have run out of ideas. The good news is, you’re not alone! The stress to find “unique” gifts is a shared sentiment among many holiday shoppers. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is here to suggest four outstanding independent retailers located throughout Illinois who will help find gifts catered to the interests of every person on your list as well as some last minute holiday décor for yourself. Happy shopping!

Good’s Furniture

200 N Main St, Kewanee, IL 61443

Good’s Furniture offers an unforgettable voyage through 12 historic, multi-level buildings spanning three city blocks. A journey that is filled with infinite home improvement ideas stemming from hundreds of inspiring displays that showcase over 50 lines of America’s finest furniture makers. Beyond all the furniture and home decor, Good’s has it’s very own Bavarian Wine Cellar Restaurant where homemade dishes are paired with fine wines and craft beer; a European Style Bed & Breakfast awaits the weary eyed for much needed R&R; an expansive Market Square features clothing, jewelry, handbags, candles and locally made goods. No matter where your gift recipients are in life, Good’s carries an inordinate amount of furniture and home décor to match their style and needs. Not only is Good’s Furniture a retailer who will fit the needs of so many on your shopping list, but the perfect getaway for YOU!

 

Roselle Ace Hardware

821 E Nerge Rd, Roselle, IL 60172

Roselle Ace Hardware is more than your neighborhood handy store. With a wide variety of products, there is something for everyone on your list. Say goodbye to generic giftcards and socks, Roselle Ace Hardware can help you find gifts that target the passions of your loved ones. The shop’s friendly staff can help you find the perfect gift for the handyman, DIYer, foodies, holiday-lover and even those tough to buy for Grinches. For those that hate the snow, give a gift that is actually practical and adored!  Help them prepare for the weather with a creative “winter prep gift basket” that includes ice melter, a car snow scrapper, windshield wiper fluid, and a brand new shovel. For the foodie, consider a deluxe pizza oven or electric smoker. Roselle Ace has even added some surprise lines like the new Toy Department and women’s winter fashion accessories. If you’re still competing to have the best light display on the block, Roselle Ace Hardware has you covered. Focused on offering season-long, low pricing on the holiday mainstays like trees, wreaths, lights and décor, the shop carries unique product lines like the Griswald Christmas Vacation line of ultra-bright LEDs and Illuminet’s line of wirelessly syncing lights and outdoor décor.

Platt Hill Nursery

222 W Lake St, Bloomingdale, IL 60108 | 2400 Randall Rd, Carpentersville, IL 60110

A well-established nursery, popular in the spring and summer, Platt Hill Nursery continues to flourish during the holiday season. The Nursery turns their plant expertise towards Christmas trees, wreaths, poinsettias and a variety of other fresh cut holiday greenery. Platt Hill Nursery works with its vendors to get the latest harvested trees to ensure freshness through the Christmas season. Customers come from around the Chicagoland area to get custom made wreaths and live evergreen pots. Their talented artisans have been making unique evergreen displays for over 30 years and will customize the design for any individual requests making them the perfect unique gift for family, friends, coworkers, teachers, and more!  Additionally, the inside of Platt Hill Nursery transforms into a Christmas wonderland with a variety of unique holiday gifts including holiday decorations, ornaments and Christmas tree lights, and other home décor. This retailer is a must see during the holiday season!

American Sale

Click here for locations

Originally founded as a toy store in 1959, American Sale has evolved to display a great selection of patio furniture, hot tubs, above ground pools, grills, billiard tables, backyard playsets and of course, Chicagoland’s largest selection of artificial Christmas trees and holiday décor. While summer shoppers visiting an American Sale may be less familiar with this holiday shopping destination, many long-time holiday customers consider American Sale to be a Christmas destination first and foremost.

Looking to “Spruce” up your home in the days ticking till Christmas? Their showroom floor carries over 180 trees on display and thousands of holiday décor items. Plus, their knowledgeable Tree Experts are always on hand to help you bring your holiday vision to life! And with 9 locations around Chicagoland, American Sale surely is the Christmas store just for you! American Sale is also the perfect spot for unforgettable group gifts. Whether you’re splitting a gift for parents, families, or others, American Sale has their interest covered. From game room must-haves, outdoor essentials like fire pits and patio upgrades to big backyard toys, like pools, trampolines and swing sets, all the most unforgettable – and enjoyable– gifts can be found at American Sale.  

CRMA – 121 Report – November 2018

Chicago City Council Ordinance and Resolution Introductions

INTRODUCTIONS

ORDINANCE – BAN ON PLASTIC STRAWS AND STIRRERS

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

Joint Committee: Aviation and Finance

 

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

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

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

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

Sponsor: Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward)

Committee: Finance

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

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

 

PROPOSALS FOR PUBLIC QUESTIONS ON THE FEBRUARY 2019 BALLOT

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

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

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

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

 

PASSED LEGISLATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONTACT:

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

CRMA 121 Report – October 2018

OCTOBER 1, 2018

More about CRMA

Chicago City Council Ordinance and Resolution Introductions

INTRODUCTIONS

ORDINANCE – AMENDING THE BOUNDARIES FOR THE SALE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS

Sponsors: Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward)

Committee: License and Consumer Protection

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

 

ORDINANCE – CLEAN DRINKING WATER TRANSFER TAX

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

Committee: Finance

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

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

 

ORDINANCE – COUNCIL APPROVAL FOR SIGNS

SPONSOR: Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward)

COMMITTEE: Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards

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

 

PASSED LEGISLATION

 

ORDINANCE – VAPE TAX INCREASE

SPONSOR: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 30, 2018

 

ORDINANCE – POP-UP RESTAURANTS AND RETAIL

SPONSOR: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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

EFFECTIVE DATE: DECEMBER 1, 2018

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

CONTACT:

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

CRMA 121 Report – September 2018

Chicago City Council Ordinance and Resolution Introductions

INTRODUCTIONS

 

ORDINANCE – AMENDING THE BOUNDARIES FOR THE SALE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS

Sponsors: Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward)

Committee: License and Consumer Protection

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

 

ORDINANCE – CLEAN DRINKING WATER TRANSFER TAX

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

Committee: Finance

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

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

 

ORDINANCE – COUNCIL APPROVAL FOR SIGNS

SPONSOR: Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward)

COMMITTEE: Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards

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

 

PASSED LEGISLATION

ORDINANCE – VAPE TAX INCREASE

SPONSOR: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 30, 2018

 

ORDINANCE – POP-UP RESTAURANTS AND RETAIL

SPONSOR: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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

EFFECTIVE DATE: DECEMBER 1, 2018

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

CONTACT

Tanya Triche

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

CRMA 121 Report – July Part II

Chicago City Council Ordinance and Resolution Introductions

INTRODUCTIONS

 

ORDINANCE – CHANGING TIP CREDIT FROM A FLAT RATE TO A PERCENTAGE OF THE CHICAGO MINIMUM WAGE

Sponsors: Alderman Edward M. Burke (14th Ward) and Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th Ward)

Committee: Workforce Development and Audit

 

When Chicago’s starting wage was implemented in 2015, the choice was made to maintain the IL standard of establishing a different system of pay for tipped employees than what is mandated for non-tipped employees. Tipped employees are paid a flat rate per hour that is lower than non-tipped employees because they make up the difference through collecting tips from customers for their service. To the extent that the employee does not earn enough in tips to clear $12/hour (the current minimum wage in Chicago), the employer is required to pay the employee the difference.

This proposal seeks to change the way that tipped employees are paid from the current flat rate to a percentage of Chicago’s Minimum Wage. Framing this as an empowerment issue for women, the proposal emphasizes that 70% of restaurant servers are women and suggests that if these employees were less reliant on tips, they might experience less harassment and abuse from customers, co-workers and management. The change would essentially make the employer responsible for paying a higher base wage, therein making the tipped employee less reliant on tips. If this proposal were to pass, the employer would pay 70% of the Minimum Hourly Wage which works out to $8.40/hour (up from the current $6.25) and would increase annually in proportion to the increased minimum wage for non-tipped employees.

 

ORDINANCE – BAN ON COMMERCIAL USE OF FACIAL GEO-MAPPING FOR NON-SECURITY PURPOSES 

SPONSOR: Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th Ward) 

COMMITTEE: Finance

This proposal would permit commercial businesses to use facial recognition technology only upon agreement with the Chicago Police Department and only if signage is posted alerting customers that such technology is being used. The information can be used for security purposes only and cannot be shared or sold to other commercial entities. Since 2008, the state of IL has had the Biometric Identification Privacy Act (BIPA) which allows biometric data to be collected only after a person has signed an agreement and several disclosures have been provided by the business. It has been the subject of many lawsuits and a virtual boon to the trial bar.

While BIPA makes it extremely difficult to use facial recognition technology in IL for commercial purposes, this proposal would ban all activity unless it is related to security pursuant to an agreement between the business and CPD and subject to approval by the city’s Corporation Counsel. But it is our understanding that signing an agreement with CPD could give them some authority over the technology and its use, or at the very least the opportunity to access the technology.

 

ORDINANCE – LIMITATIONS ON THE USE OF CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT IN THE CBD

SPONSOR: Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward)

COMMITTEE: Health and Environmental Protection

This proposal would prohibit the operation of certain gas or electric-powered construction machinery in the Central Business District between the hours of 8pm-8am as well as prohibit such activity within 1100 ft. of any residential building or hospital during the same hours. Fines have been increased.

 

ORDINANCE – BAN ON THE USE OF PLASTIC STRAWS AND STIRRERS AT CITY-OPERATED LOCATIONS

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

Joint Committees: Finance and Aviation

Pointing to the growing awareness of waste products in our oceans and waterways, this proposal was introduced to prohibit establishments on city owned and/or operated properties from selling or giving away plastic straws and stirrers. Such items if sold or used would need to be biodegradable. Members will note that Chairman Burke introduced a proposal to have a question on the November ballot asking the public if the city should ban plastic straws altogether.

 

ORDINANCE – LICENSING POP-UP RESTAURANTS AND RETAIL LOCATIONS

SPONSOR: Mayor Rahm Emanuel 

COMMITTEE: License and Consumer Protection 

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

 

PASSED LEGISLATION

ORDINANCE – DELIVERIES BY COMMERCIAL VEHICLES IN LOADING ZONES

SPONSOR: Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward)

As deliveries increase, especially in already congested areas of the city, it has become a priority to ensure that commercial loading zones are used purely for servicing local businesses and that commercial vehicles don’t remain parked in a loading zone indefinitely while attempting to service an entire neighborhood. Therefore, to keep traffic moving and to continue to provide space for all of the necessary deliveries, this ordinance will limit standing time to 30 minutes for pick-ups and deliveries in curb loading zones unless the signage has a different time allotted. Hazard lights must be flashing while parked in the loading zone.

EFFECTIVE DATE: September 19, 2018

 

The Chicago City Council does not meet in the month of August.
The next meeting of the full Council will be on Thursday, September 20, 2018.

CONTACT

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