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.

 

 

# # #

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.

# # #

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.

 # # #

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.

# # #

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

‘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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

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.

Return to Top

CRMA – 121 Report – Election Edition

CHICAGO ELECTION RESULTS

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

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

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

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

Here are the vote totals:

MAYOR’S RACE – RUNOFF

Gery Chico:

Bill Daley:

Amara Enyia:

Bob Fioretti:

LaShawn Ford:

Jerry Joyce:

John Kozlar:

Lori Lightfoot:

Garry McCarthy:

Susana Mendoza:

Toni Preckwinkle:

Neal Sales-Griffin:

Paul Vallas:

Willie Wilson:

WARD REPORT

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

Winners and run-off races are bolded in green.

 

Ward 1

Proco “Joe” Moreno (I):

Daniel La Spata

Ward 2

Brian Hopkins (I) (uncontested)

Ward 3

Pat Dowell (I):

Alexandria Willis:

Ward 4

Sophia King (I):

Ebony Lucas:

Ward 5 – RUNOFF

Leslie Hairston (I):

William Calloway:

Gabriel Piemonte:

Ward 6

Roderick Sawyer (I):

Richard Wooten:

Deborah Foster-Bonner:

Ward 7

Gregory Mitchell (I):

Charles Kyle:

Jedidiah Brown:

Ward 8

Michelle Harris (I):

Jewel Easterling-Smith

Linda Hudson:

Faheem Shabazz:

Ward 9

Anthony Beale (I):

Cleopatra Watson:

Paul Collins:

Essie Hall:

Ward 10

Susan Sadlowski Garza (I):

Robert “Bobby” Loncar:

Ward 11

Patrick Daley Thompson (I):

David Mihalyfy:

Ward 12

George Cardenas (I):

Pete Demay:

Martha Yerania Rangel:

Jose Rico:

Ward 13

Marty Quinn (I):

David Krupa:

Ward 14

Edward M. Burke (I):

Jaime Guzman:

Tanya Patino:

Ward 15 – RUNOFF

Raymond Lopez (I):

Joseph Williams:

Rafael “Rafa” Yanez:

Berto Aguayo:

Otis Davis, Jr.:

Ward 16 – RUNOFF

Toni Foulkes (I):

Stephanie Coleman:

Latasha Sanders:

Kenny Doss II:

Jeffrey Lewis:

Eddie Johnson III:

Ward 17

David Moore (I):

Raynetta Greenleaf:

Ward 18

Derrick Curtis (I):

Chuks Onyezia:

Ward 19

Matthew O’Shea (I):

David Dewar:

Ward 20 – OPEN – RUNOFF

Jeanette Taylor:

Nicole Johnson:

Maya Hodari

Jennifer Maddox:

Andre Smith:

Dernard Newell:

Quandra Speights:

Kevin Bailey:

Anthony Driver, Jr.:

Ward 21 – RUNOFF

Howard Brookins (I):

Marvin McNeil:

Patricia Foster:

Joseph Ziegler, Jr.:

Ward 22 – OPEN

Michael Rodriguez:

Lisette “Liz” Lopez:

Richard Juarez:

Neftalie Gonzalez:

Ward 23

Silvana Tabares (I):

Paulino Villarreal, Jr.:

Ward 24

Michael Scott, Jr. (I):

Creative Scott:

Toriano Sanzone:

Traci Johnson:

Ward 25 – OPEN – RUNOFF

Hilario Dominguez:

Alexander Acevedo:

Troy Antonio Hernandez:

Byron Sigcho-Lopez:

Aida Flores:

Ward 26

Roberto Maldonado (I):

Theresa Siaw:

David Herrera:

Ward 27

Walter Burnett, Jr (I):

Cynthia Bednarz:

Ward 28

Jason Ervin (I):

Miguel Bautista:

Jasmine Jackson:

Beverly Miles:

Ward 29

Christopher Taliaferro (I):

Dwayne Truss:

Zerlina Smith:

Ward 30 – RUNOFF

Ariel Reboyras (I):

Jessica Gutierrez:

Edgar “Edek” Esparza:

Ward 31 – RUNOFF

Milagros Santiago (I):

Colin Bird-Martinez:

Felix Cardona, Jr.:

Ward 32

Scott Waguespack (I) (uncontested)

Ward 33 – RUNOFF

Deborah Mell (I):

Katie Sieracki:

R. Rodriguez Sanchez:

Ward 34

Carrie Austin (I):

Preston Brown, Jr.:

Ward 35

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa(I):

Amanda Yu Dieterich:

Ward 36

Gilbert Villegas (I) (uncontested)

Ward 37

Emma Mitts (I):

Tara Stamps:

Deondre Rutues:

Ward 38

Nicholas Sposato (I) (uncontested)

Ward 39 – OPEN – RUNOFF

Robert Murphy:

Samantha “Sam” Nugent:

Casey Smagala:

Joe Duplechin:

Ward 40 – RUNOFF

Patrick O’Connor (I):

Ugo Okere:

Dianne Daleiden:

Andre Vasquez:

Maggie O’Keefe:

Ward 41

Anthony Napolitano (I):

Tim Heneghan:

Ward 42

Brendan Reilly (I) (uncontested)

Ward 43 – RUNOFF

Michele Smith (I):

Derek Lindblom:

Leslie Fox:

Jacob Ringer:

Steven McClellan:

Rebecca Janowitz:

Ward 44

Tom Tunney (I):

Austin Baidas:

Elizabeth Shydlowski:

Ward 45

John Arena (I):

Marilyn Morales:

James “Jim” Gardiner:

Robert Bank:

Ward 46 – RUNOFF

James Cappleman (I):

Marianne Lalonde:

Erika Wozniak Francis:

Justin Kreindler:

Angela Clay:

Jon-Robert McDowell:

Ward 47 – OPEN – RUNOFF

Eileen Dordek:

Angela “Angie” Maloney:

Heather Way Kitzes:

Michael Negron:

Matt Martin:

Gus Katsafaros:

Thomas Schwartzers:

Kimball Ladien:

Jeff Jenkins:

Ward 48

Harry Osterman (I):

David Earl Williams III:

Ward 49

Joe Moore (I):

Maria Hadden:

Ward 50

Debra Silverstein (I):

Andrew Rowlas:

Zehra Quadri:

City Clerk – RUNOFF

Melissa Conyears-Ervin:

Ameya Pawar:

Peter Gariepy:

City Treasurer

Anna Valencia (I) (uncontested)

 

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

Tanya TricheCONTACT:

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