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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121 CRMA Report – June 2018


SUBSTITUTE PROPOSAL FORTHCOMING

Members will recall that a proposal was introduced in Chicago’s City Council in June of 2017 that would accomplish the following: regulate how employers create and issue employee schedules, create a system for paying employees that are either sent home early or have their shifts cancelled, mandate that current employees be offered shifts before a new employee is hired and bar employees from closing the store and then opening the next morning.
That proposal has sat dormant since its introduction in the Council’s Rules Committee.
It is our understanding, after having a number of conversations in the past few weeks, that at tomorrow’s Council meeting, a substitute proposal will be introduced to limit the scope of the original proposal. Right now, the proposal applies to all employees making less than $50,000/year. The substitute would possibly limit the proposal’s application to employers that have more than 50 employees, and of those employers the proposal would apply to employees making less than $50,000/year.
If this is true, then that would mark an interesting change in policy for the city which included no such exemptions for the minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances.
It has become clear that the UFCW, the labor union behind the proposal, has increased contact with Aldermen in the last few weeks and that they indeed plan to make this issue a factor for the upcoming 2019 Mayoral and Aldermanic elections. There are some Aldermen that have had recent success in attracting new restaurants into their wards, and they are concerned that the current proposal will hurt those businesses, so they want to exempt them.
We will take a good read of whatever is introduced tomorrow and send it to you for your thoughts. For our part, IRMA is continuing its discussions with Aldermen on this issue and working with like-minded business groups to defeat the proposal.
We will be in further contact with you shortly.

121 CRMA Report – July 2018

Chicago City Council Ordinance and Resolution Introductions

 

INTRODUCTIONS

RESOLUTION – TASKFORCE TO STUDY A CHICAGO GUARANTEED INCOME PROGRAM AND THE VIABILITY OF A CHICAGO EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT

Sponsor: Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th Ward), Ald. Derrick Curtis (18th Ward), Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward) and 33 additional co-signers)

Committee: Workforce Development and Audit

Entitled the “Chicago Resilient Family Initiative”, this resolution seeks to create a taskforce that would study two issues. First, it would research and develop a Universal Basic Income (UBI) model for 1000 families that could be provided with a minimum of $500/month that could be used for any purpose. UBI, also known as “guaranteed income” is being tested in other countries. Specifically, the Netherlands, Canada and Iran are all running pilot programs for segments of their populations. Finland (which ran a program in 2017) is ending its program among concerns about its actual benefits. In the US, a pilot program is currently running in Oakland, CA. Such programs are being explored partly in response to the automation of the workforce, which is beginning to leave sectors of the workforce unemployed. The thought is if people are guaranteed an income, then it might allow them to be creative in how they will contribute to an economy that is quickly becoming more automated.

The second initiative would be to “smooth” EITC payments currently received by the 1000 test families from an annual lump sum payment , to distributing those payments on a monthly basis instead. There has been some research into this issue which studies the premise that if low-income families were allowed to access the money in smaller sums on a more frequent basis, they would possibly accumulate less debt over time, as their budgets would experience less volatility. In addition, this initiative would consider the viability of Chicago creating its own version of EITC.

The taskforce would deliver a report to the committee by October 1, 2018.

 

RESOLUTION – PUBLIC QUESTION REGARDING BANNING THE USE OF PLASTIC STRAWS

Sponsor: Edward M. Burke (14th Ward)

Committee: Committees, Rules and Ethics

 

In advance of the next election to be held on November 6, 2018, the City Council considers 3 questions to present to the public for consideration on the ballot. The responses will produce non-binding results, but are generally used to check the temperature of Chicagoans on hot-button issues. We have seen these questions turn into ordinances depending on the response. The first two questions consider whether future marijuana sales should be directed to the public school system and mental health services, and whether the city should urge the state to push for an additional homeowner’s tax exemption.

The third question asks if the use of plastic straws should be banned in the city. This is a hot issue around the country as there has been a push in the environmental advocacy community to ban the straws that it says has damaging effects to marine life. 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 residential composting services for a fee.

ORDINANCE – SIGNS IN OVERLAY DISTRICTS

SPONSOR: Ald. Proco Moreno (1st Ward)

COMMITTEE: Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards

 

This proposal would allow signs in overlay districts that exceed the size limit to exist without a permit as long as the ordinance specifically waives the area/height restrictions.

 

ORDINANCE – $15 MINIMUM WAGE

SPONSORS: Ald. Proco Moreno (1st Ward), Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th Ward), Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) and 8 additional co-sponsors

COMMITTEE: Workforce Development and Audit

 

This would amend Chicago’s Minimum Wage ordinance which is scheduled to increase to $13.00/hour on July 1, 2019 and then scheduled to increase with inflation thereafter. The proposal would increase the wage to $15/hour instead of $13/hour and continue to increase annually with inflation.

The proposal came out at the same time as a study was produced regarding the first two increases of Chicago’s minimum wage. The study claims that there was essentially no effect on the local economy as a result of those increases and subsequently advocates for a higher minimum wage in the city, at the state level and for the 80+ municipalities in Cook County that opted out of an increase in the minimum wage to now opt in. The premature study either de-emphasizes or outright fails to account for what the Mayor has done to achieve record tourism levels which have helped to take the sting out of rising costs to employers, attract headquarter moves, and shift more manufacturing and retail opportunities to the south side. In addition, the Mayor has attempted to encourage growth in development in neighborhoods by shifting money from downtown projects to specific areas of the city that have had challenges with attracting commercial growth. The study equates the growth in transportation and warehouse jobs to the minimum wage and not to the obvious reason, a significant change in the way consumers make purchases…through e-commerce. The advocate community would have you believe that minimum wage increases, on their own, have no effect on the economy. But people paying close attention to how the economy actually works know that there have to be other policy decisions made to help ensure that employers are able to continue profitability in the wake of significant government mandates. The Mayor has worked to help create opportunities for growth in the wake of more mandates.

It is difficult to draw conclusions from the first two years of the minimum wage increase, when the increase is going up fairly significantly for three years in a row that are not included in the study. We are monitoring this issue carefully.

 

ORDINANCE – DIVERSITY BID INCENTIVE

SPONSORS: Ald. Sophia King (4th Ward), Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd Ward), Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward) and 29 additional co-sponsors

COMMITTEE: Budget and Government Operations

This proposal would change bid preferences for contracts valued at $100,000 or more for bidders that agree to hire a larger base of city residents, or if the bidder agrees to hire a larger base of city residents of socio-economically disadvantaged areas.

 

ORDINANCE – PERMITTING OF SANDWICH BOARD SIGNS

SPONSORS: Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward), Ald. Proco Moreno (1st Ward), Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) and 25 additional co-sponsors

COMMITTEE: License and Consumer Protection

 

One of the best ways to attract attention to small, neighborhood stores and restaurants is through the use of small, removable signs set out on the sidewalk right by the door of the business. They catch the eye of passers-by, and are an inexpensive way to advertise specials likely to draw in more customers. Such signs have been used in the city for many years, although technically, the signs are unlawful. There have been a number of attempts over the years to change the law to allow these signs to no avail. This current proposal would allow business owners to have such signs as long as they first seek a permit and have proof of insurance. There are size, location and appearance restrictions for the signs.

 

ORDINANCE – DELIVERIES BY COMMERCIAL VEHICLES IN LOADING ZONES

SPONSOR: Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward)

COMMITTEE: Transportation and Public Way

 

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, an amendment is being proposed that would limit standing time to 30 minutes for pick-ups and deliveries in curb loading zones.

 

ORDINANCE – HOURS OF OPERATION FOR OUTDOOR PATIOS IN THE CBD

SPONSOR: Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward)

COMMITTEE: Licensing and Consumer Protection

 

Ald. Reilly has introduced his annual ordinance to temporarily extend the hours of operation for outdoor patios in the Central Business District. Such establishments will be able to sell/serve alcohol for immediate consumption until midnight until December 1, 2018.

 

ORDINANCE – RESTRICTIVE SCHEDULING

SPONSOR: Ald. John Arena (45th Ward), Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th Ward), Ald. Derrick Curtis (18th Ward) and 27 additional co-sponsors

COMMITTEE: Workforce Development and Audit

 

This is the same proposal that was sent out to the membership earlier by email with a detailed description of how it proposes to mandate how employees are scheduled, sets out a system of penalty pay for changes made by an employer after a schedule has been issued (while allowing employees to change schedules freely after those schedules have been issued), mandates premium pay for employees that close and open, (even if they desire to work that kind of schedule), and takes away an employer’s ability to designate how many part-time employees will be on staff at any given time. It also purports to add an exemption for businesses that employ less than 50 employees (more than likely added as a tacit admission that the mandate is far too complicated and expensive for most businesses to comply with), but that exemption is far from clear as it mentions that the 50 employees must be “in the aggregate” in any location. We do not understand how the term “in the aggregate” can refer to an individual location, but we presume that the advocates will clarify at some point.

 

ORDINANCE – EXTENSION OF SIDEWALK CAFÉ PERMITS AND FEE REDUCTION FOR CERTAIN BUSINESS LICENSES

Sponsor: Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Committee: License and Consumer Protection

 

This proposal would allow sidewalk café permits to be valid for one year, instead of the 9 month permit that currently exists. If people want to sit out in the snow in January…so be it! It would extend the operation dates to all permits issued for the 2018 season.

In addition, the Mayor is proposing to reduce the fee for new, two-year business licenses from the current $250 to $125 for all licenses issued between July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019.

 

PASSED LEGISLATION

RESOLUTION – RECONFIGURATION OF STANDING COMMITTEES OF THE CITY COUNCIL

Sponsor: Alderman Edward M. Burke (14th Ward)

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY

 

With the recent retirement of Ald. Michael Zalewski (23rd Ward), the City Council reconfigured the membership of some of its standing committees to create new Chairmanships and to ensure that the new Alderman of the 23rd Ward, former State Representative Silvana Tabares, was granted membership to committees. Of the committees in which CRMA has frequent interaction, the following changes were made:

 

Committee on Aviation

The new Chair is Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th Ward). Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38TH Ward) moved from Vice Chair to member, and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward) moved to Vice Chair.

 

Committee on the Budget and Government Operations

Ald. Tabares replaces Ald. Zalewski.

 

Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics

Ald. Tabares replaces Ald. Zalewski.

 

Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development

Ald. Tabares replaces Ald. Zalewski.

 

Committee on Finance

Ald. Zalewski is replaced by Ald. Michael Scott, Jr. (24th Ward)

 

Committee on Health and Environmental Protection

Ald. Tabares replaces Ald. Zalewski

 

Committee on Human Relations

Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward) becomes Vice Chair and Ald. Tabares is added to the committee.

 

Committee on Workforce Development and Audit

Ald Tabares replaces Ald. Zalewski.

Tanya TricheCONTACT:

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

This Week in Springfield – 100-34

END OF SESSION REPORT
BUDGET
LABOR
TAXES
PHARMACY
CONSUMER PROTECTION
TOBACCO
LIQUOR
FOOD
LICENSING
CANNABIS
MISCELLANEOUS

IRMA END OF SESSION REPORT

 

Illinois lawmakers are gearing up for the general elections this November. It is midterm elections on the federal level and historically midterms are where the party that is not in control of the White House makes some significant gains. This often leads to a “wave” of enthusiasm of various strength at the state level.  Conventional wisdom believes an anti-Trump, and in Illinois an anti-Rauner, wave will bolster any national Democratic wave. In states like Illinois this means that Republicans could be pushed further into the minority. As such, Illinois Democrats have been introducing populist legislation and “wedge” issues that attempt to put Republican lawmakers on bad votes they can use against them in the November elections.  This election year tactic generally leads to ant-business initiatives and this year was no exception.

There have been over 12,000 bills filed this Assembly. This does not include amendments. In the past, a number of bills were held in the House Rules Committee. This General Assembly, every bill was assigned to a substantive committee in large part to blunt criticism from the Governor that Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago did not allow the House or Senate to consider proposals.

Below are bills of consequence to the retail industry that passed both chambers and will now be sent to the Governor for his consideration.


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BUDGET

 

With rarely seen bi-partisan margins in favor, the Fiscal Year 2019 budget was approved by the Assembly as contained in HB 109 (Rep. Gregory Harris, D-Chicago/Sen. John J. Cullerton, D-Chicago) the appropriation bill, and HB 3342 (Rep. Gregory Harris, D-Chicago/Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago) the Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP). It is a full-year budget for FY ’19 and a supplemental budget for FY ’18 to cover the inadequacies of the current year’s budget. The budget contains no tax increases. Revenues come from anticipated higher tax revenues from a growing economy, $200 million in fund transfers, $800 million in sweeps from various administrative funds, and over $400 million in pension reforms.  Some lawmakers and pundits contend that it is actually $1.5 billion short.

The pension changes are voluntary so they rely upon an estimation of the number of people in the pension system who will exercise the options. The pension changes are: (1) a buy-out for vested, inactive members who are now employed somewhere other than the state but have not retired. They will be offered a buyout at 60% of the value of their pensions (estimated savings = $41 million); (2) A buyout of the 3% annual cost-of-living-adjustment for Tier 1 pensioners (estimated savings = $382 million over time); and, (3) reduced salary spiking cap from 6% to 3% meaning any salary increases over 3% will be covered by local government employers.

The budget negotiations started months ago with the formation of a bi-partisan budget working group including representatives of the Governor’s office. The framework agreed to by these legislators was then moved to the four leaders and the Governor who made some adjustments and finalized the budget.

It is an $80 billion budget, which includes federal monies, but the real focus is on the portion paid from General Revenue Funds which totals $38.5 billion. Here are some highlights:

  • Elementary and secondary education received an increase of $402 million as compared to FY ’18. TWIS readers will recall that last year, a comprehensive reform of the funding formula was enacted but it requires $350 million in additional monies each year for the next 10 years. Due to the fact a supplemental budget for FY ’18 was included in the budget deal, that $350 million threshold was met for the first two years.
  • Higher education received an increase of $60 million. In addition, a $25 million scholarship fund (AIM HIGH) was created to provide tuition assistance to in-state students wanting to continue their education at in-state institutions of higher learning. This $25 million must be matched by the various institutions.
  • Human service entities are funded including a 50-cent per hour wage increase for caregivers who work with developmentally disabled individuals, substance abuse providers, mental health providers, etc. Human service spending totals $13.835 billion of the GRF budget but even more goes to human services as a result of federal funds.
  • Public safety spending will cover two mental health treatment facilities and two life skills re-entry facilities as well as a new State Police cadet class.
  • A $2.9 billion pay-as-you-go capital program as well as nearly $9 billion to fund IDOT’s FY 19 road program.
  • Nearly $64 million in back wages owed to state employees. These cost of living increases were originally frozen by the Governor’s Office but a court ordered them to be paid.
  • A temporary reimbursement bridge for pharmacies with 10 or fewer locations in counties with less than 50,000 in population. This is a result of the shockingly low reimbursements being seen as a result of the Medicaid managed care rollout.
  • The sunset for on-line lottery is extended for another year. The new private lottery manager, Camelot, will assume control July 1st so this gives them time to put a program in place and recommend changes they would like to see. .
  • Prohibits cost of living increases for legislative and executive elected officials and appointees.
  • The bill backlog could be reduced by up to $1 billion under the provisions of SB 2858 producing additional interest savings to the state.

The Governor has already signed the budget into law.

IRMA POSITION: NEUTRAL

CANNABIS

SB 336 (Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park/Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago)  creates the Alternative to Opioids Act of 2018 which amends the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act by extending the legal use of medical marijuana to individuals who would conventionally be prescribed opioids. This would grant people who suffer from chronic pain, but not necessarily any of the conditions laid out in the current law, access to marijuana – with a prescription.

In addition to expanding medical marijuana access for patients and doctors seeking alternatives to opioid painkillers, SB 336 would also remove a barrier for Illinoisans who have a criminal record, a restriction put in place as part of Illinois’ original medical marijuana law. In the 2017 fiscal year, the Illinois Department of Public Health denied 635 requests for medical marijuana from qualifying patients. Some of these denials were made solely on the basis of failed background checks. SB 336 does away with such background checks and thus allows more individuals to access appropriate medical treatment. It also provides an avenue for a provisional card while an individual awaits a permanent card. This is in response to the nearly 6 month backlog for qualifying patients.

The bill passed with bipartisan majorities in the House with a vote of 72-38-1 and Senate with a vote of 44-3.

IRMA POSITION: SUPPORT


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CONSUMER PROTECTION

Rebate Cards Dormancy ChargesHB 4922 (Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago/Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin) which is intended to prohibit the issuance of product rebate cards that charge dormancy or other post-issuance fees. The initiative 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. The language only applies to multi-store cards utilized for rebates after the consumer completes the rebate submission process.

HB 4922 passes the House with a 67-44 vote and the Senate by a 35-17 vote.

IRMA POSITION: NEUTRAL

Credit FreezeHB 4095 (Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago/Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago) provides that a consumer reporting agency may not impose a charge on a consumer for placing a freeze, removing a freeze, or temporarily lifting a freeze. This is in the wake of the Equifax breach where reporting agencies were requiring consumers to pay a fee to lift the freeze on their reports.

IRMA POSITION: NEUTRAL

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FOOD

Food Service Sanitation Managers Certification (FSSMC)HB 5011 (Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria/Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria) grandfathers the FSSMC’s that were approved prior to last year’s passage of the legislation that removed the redundant state certification and fee on food retailers.  Last year, IRMA convinced lawmakers to remove the redundant state food certification and accompanying unnecessary fee on food retailers.  IDPH complied but has refused to acknowledge the expiration date of current FSSM certificates. This has required some employees to retake the federal tests before the expiration of the current 5 year certificates.  HB 5011 would grandfather those FSSM certificates approved before the change in the law.

HB 5011 was approved unanimously in the House by a vote of 111-0 and the Senate by a vote of 55-0.

IRMA POSITION: SUPPORT

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LABOR

Pay History—Similar legislation that was vetoed by the Governor and failed to be overridden by the Senate last year passed the House with by a vote of 87-24 and the Senate by a vote of 31-16-1.  Despite an avenue for compromise offered by the business community, the advocates chose to pursue the same path traveled before.

HB 4163 (Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin/Sen. Christine Castro, D-Elgin) prohibits an employer from asking an employee about previous wage, salary and other compensation.  It also erodes the current statutory defenses for Illinois employers while expanding the statutory penalties.  While IRMA has, from the beginning, agreed to prohibit the question as long as there are common sense exemptions (e.g. employee already works for the business or salary is a matter of public record), IRMA remains opposed to arbitrarily restricting Illinois’ employer’s current limited defenses and increasing current statutory penalties.  Especially when the penalties provide more “protection” for prospective employees who would potentially be asked a question in violation of the proposed legislation than current employees who are paid less in violation of the current statute—a perplexing quirk that seems to undermine the proponents own stated purpose for the bill.

Illinois currently only has three defenses to an unequal wage claim (1) seniority system; (2) merit system; and (3) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production. The advocates argue that limiting the current defenses and increasing the penalties will deter employers from violating the Equal Pay Act. In the past 11 years (excluding 2010 and 2011 where there is no available data), under the current limited defenses, there have been only 51 recorded violations of the Equal Pay Act. In that same time period, approximately 707 investigations were conducted by the Illinois Department of Labor. Less than 7.5% of all claims in the last 11 years have resulted in a violation.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration there are over 1.2 million businesses in Illinois. Assuming that a different company was responsible for each violation only .0000425% of Illinois businesses have been responsible for an Equal Pay Act violation in 11 years.  This is a 99.9999575% compliance rate.

Despite this compliance rate, some business associations, led by IRMA, were willing to take a proactive step to support expanding the current Equal Pay Act to prohibit an employer from asking about a prospective employee’s wage and salary. A year ago, these associations suggested using a compromise that was accepted by all parties in Massachusetts that included an affirmative defense for employers. Since that time, Oregon, Delaware, California, and Puerto Rico have passed legislation prohibiting asking about an employee’s previous wage and salary. Oregon and Puerto Rico have adopted the Massachusetts model. So three of the five major jurisdictions support a compromise model.  Additionally, this model has been introduced in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Montana, Georgia, and Texas. Despite over 700 investigations over the past 11 years of available data, 99.99% of all Illinois employers have already proven to be compliant with the current law.

IRMA and a coalition of businesses went further and offered to remove the affirmative defense, passed in other states, from the legislation and just prohibit an employer from asking the question.  The current penalties would remain the same and apply to a violation of the new prohibition. This language is reflected in SB 3100 (Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield). This additional compromise was also rejected by the proponents.

It stands to reason that a reasonable compromise would be to take a proactive step forward by prohibiting the salary inquiry while recognizing the overwhelming majority of Illinois businesses have proven to promote and support both men and women in the workforce.

After the legislation passed the Senate, the sponsor filed a Motion to Reconsider. Therefore the Senate will hold the legislation and release it closer to the election in order to force the Governor to act. In other words, the Democrats are using HB 4163 as a “wedge” issue in an attempt to put the Governor in politically compromising position.

IRMA POSITION: OPPOSED

Employee ExpensesSB 2999 (Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago/Rep. Melissa Conyears-Irvin, D-Chicago) requires an employer to reimburse an employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee directly related to services performed for the employer. Necessary expenses” include all reasonable expenditures or losses including, but not limited to, uniforms, equipment, vehicle expenses, electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, and computers, and any other expenditures or losses an employer requires an employee to incur in direct consequence of the discharge of employment duties. An employer is not liable under this Section unless the employer knew or had reason to know that the employee incurred the expenditure or loss.

This legislation is consistent with federal law. SB 2999 passed the Senate by a vote of 50-2 and the House by a vote of 114-1.

IRMA POSITION: NEUTRAL

Attorney General Worker Protection Unit SB 193 (Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago)/Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville) allows the Attorney General (AG) to simultaneously litigate or re-litigate an issue that is being investigated or has already been adjudicated by the Illinois Department of Labor (DOL).  This would include claims under the Prevailing Wage Act, the Employee Classification Act, the Minimum Wage Law, the Day and Temporary and the Labor Services Act, and the Wage Payment and Collection Act.  Under current law the (DOL) investigates and adjudicates claims under these Acts.  Once the claim is adjudicated, the DOL may forward the judgement to the AG for enforcement.  SB 193 would allow the AG the power to simultaneously investigate and bring suit against an employer. As such, an employer could be responsible for both a DOL and AG investigation and lawsuit. Additionally, the AG may re-litigate a case the DOL has already ruled upon.  For instance, if the DOL rules in favor of a business and closes the case and the AG is not satisfied with the outcome, the AG may independently open the case and re-litigate the complaint.

SB 193 passed the House with a 69-47 and the Senate with a 35-16 vote.  The Governor has already vetoed the legislation. Neither chamber reached the 3/5 majority required to override the Governor’s veto.

IRMA POSITION: OPPOSED

Nursing Mother’s ActHB 1595 (Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Collinsville/Sen. William R. Haine, D-Alton) requires an employer to provide for reasonable break time during the first year after the child’s birth each time the employee needs to express milk. The break time may run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. An employer may not reduce an employee’s compensation for time used for the purpose of expressing milk or nursing a baby. An employer shall provide reasonable break time as needed by the employee unless to do so would create an undue hardship as defined by the Illinois Human Rights Act.

HB 1595 passed the House by a vote of 104-0 and the Senate by a vote of 49-0.

IRMA POSITION: NEUTRAL

Equal Pay African Americans –HB 4743 (Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago/Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Chicago) provides that no employer may discriminate between employees by paying wages to an African-American employee at a rate less than the rate at which the employer pays wages to another employee who is not African-American for the same or substantially similar work on a job that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions.

IRMA supports ensuring that any individual regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. receives the same consideration as any other individual when it comes to equal pay. The issue, however, is one of textbook discrimination which is already illegal under the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1963, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines regarding compensation discrimination, and the current Illinois Equal Pay Act which covers all minorities while not singling out one race.

HB 4743 passed the House by a vote of 66-11 and the Senate by a vote of 53-0.

IRMA POSITION: OPPOSED as drafted.

 

Human Rights “Expansion”—Currently, the Illinois Human Rights Act only applies to businesses with 15 or more employees. HB 4572 (Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago/Sen. Christine Castro, D-Elgin) would expand the coverage of the Act to apply to any business with one or more employees. The “Act” prohibits discrimination in Illinois with respect to employment, financial credit, public accommodations, housing and sexual harassment, as well as sexual harassment in education.

The legislation passed the House with a 64-37 vote and the Senate by a 33-13 vote.

IRMA POSITION: NEUTRAL


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LICENSING

 

Barber Pre-Graduation TestingSB 2877 (Sen. Chuck Weaver, R-Peoria/ Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Chicago)/ HB 4883 (Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Chicago/ Sen. Chuck Weaver, R-Peoria) allows students to take their state barber or cosmetology licensure examination after completing 80% of their educational studies. If someone fails their licensure examination while still enrolled in school, they can more easily get the extra help they need to pass the exam the second time and be formally licensed. Even if choosing to take the pre-graduation examination, individuals would still be required to complete their educational studies to ensure they obtain all statutorily required hours of study similar to every other licensure applicant. This is an initiative of IRMA having been brought to it by members in this part of the retail industry.

SB 2877 and HB 4883 both passed the General Assembly unanimously.

IRMA POSITION: SUPPORT

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 LIQUOR

 

Liquor Control CommissionSB 3022 (Sen. Tony Munoz, D- Chicago/Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie) seeks to undo a reform made by former Governor Rod Blagojevich who undertook a reorganization of several agencies that included moving the Illinois Lottery, Gaming Commission, and Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) under the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR). Today, only the ILCC remains under IDOR. Retailers and others long-chaffed under an ‘independent’ ILCC believing it was strongly tilted toward the interests of the wholesale tier of the three-tier system. There is a belief that by having ILCC under the auspices of IDOR has restored at least some semblance of balance which is appropriate as the ILCC is supposed to be a neutral arbiter and regulator.

Nevertheless, the legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 52-3 and passed the House by a vote of 92-12-1.

IRMA POSITION: OPPOSED

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MISCELLANEOUS

 

DronesSB 3291 (Sen. James Clayborne, D-East St. Louis/Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago) would preempt home rule municipalities from passing regulations on the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS).  The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) retains the authority to regulate private and commercial drone use. Despite this authority, local municipalities have been introducing ordinances that regulate drones.

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has created rules for both commercial and private drone use and has made it clear that the FAA’s rules preempt local and state jurisdiction regarding the regulation of drones. Additionally, in 2015, Illinois created the Illinois Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Taskforce, to which IRMA was appointed, to provide oversight and input in creating comprehensive laws and rules for the operation and use of drone technology within Illinois. The Taskforce’s final report indicated that the state should provide guidance within the FAA guidelines and however well-intentioned, overly burdensome local regulations that discourage or unnecessarily obstruct the otherwise safe and lawful use of UAS should be avoided.

Per the Taskforce’s recommendations, SB 3291 would give the state, and specifically the Division of Aeronautics within the Department of Transportation, the authority to regulate drones in compliance with FAA guidelines.

The legislation passed the Senate by a 52-0 vote and the House by a 112-4 vote.

IRMA POSITION: SUPPORT

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PHARMACY

 

Pharmaceutical DisposalHB 1338 (Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Buffalo Grove/Sen. Julie A. Morrison, D-Deerfield) amends the Safe Pharmaceutical Disposal Act by providing that “unused medication” means any unopened, expired, or excess medication that has been dispensed for patient or resident care and that is in a liquid or solid form (rather than in just a solid form). It excludes medications contained in intraperitoneal solutions from language prohibiting a health care institution, or any employee, staff person, contractor, or other person acting under the direction or supervision of a health care institution, from discharging, disposing of, flushing, pouring, or emptying any unused medication into a public wastewater collection system or septic system.

With the rise of the opioid crisis, lawmakers are looking for new ways to combat the health epidemic.

IRMA POSITION: NEUTRAL

Pharmacy PrescriptionsSB 3170 (Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford/Rep. Litesa E. Wallace, D-Rockford amends the Pharmacy Practice Act and the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to provide that a prescription for medication other than controlled substances shall be valid for up to 15 months from the date issued for the purpose of refills, unless the prescription states otherwise.

The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 46-0 and the House by a vote of 101-0.

IRMA POSITION: NEUTRAL

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TAXES

 

Online Sales Tax – SB 2577 (Sen. Christine Castro, D-Chicago/Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin) provides that if a retailer or serviceman makes a sale to purchaser in Illinois from outside of Illinois, then that retailer or serviceman is considered to be “maintaining a place of business in this State” if (1) the cumulative gross receipts from sales of service to purchasers in Illinois are $150,000 or more; or (2) the retailer or serviceman enters into 200 or more separate transactions for sales of service to purchasers in Illinois.

The legislation was modeled after the South Dakota law that is currently being reviewed by the United States Supreme Court. SB 2577 passed the Senate by the 39-10-1 vote and has been sent to the House for consideration.

SB 2577 did not pass the House but it was included in the budget agreement that has been signed by the Governor.

IRMA POSITION: SUPPORT

 

Progressive Income Tax—On a partisan roll-call, Illinois House lawmakers narrowly passed a nonbinding resolution to replace Illinois’ current flat tax with a graduated or progressive income tax system.  Proponents argue that House Resolution 1052 provides for a fairer and progressive way for the state to generate revenue by reducing taxes on the middle and low class while increasing taxes on those some consider ‘rich’.  While the proponents of the resolution believe a graduated income tax is more equitable, the resolution did not provide for any suggested or specific rates.  Opponents of the resolution pointed out that the states that have progressive income taxes have higher rates for lower and middle class than Illinois’ current flat rate.

The nonbinding resolution passed the House with by a narrow margin of 61-52.

IRMA POSITION: OPPOSE

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TOBACCO

 

Tobacco 21SB 2332 (Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield/Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago) prohibits anyone below the age of 21 from purchasing tobacco from a licensed Illinois retailer while removing any penalties for the underage possession or consumption of tobacco.  The initiative passed the Senate with a vote of 35-20-0 and initially failed to pass the House with a vote of 56-54-1.  But on a second try, the initiative passed the House by a vote of 61-49-1.

SB 2332 makes it legal  for a person under the age of 21 to: (1) possess tobacco, (2) consume tobacco, (3) sell tobacco, (4) buy tobacco from an unlicensed Illinois retailer or individual, or (5) buy tobacco from a licensed out-of-state retailer or online.  Additionally, the bill protects unlicensed, unregulated, and, untaxed individuals selling tobacco to minors while prohibiting licensed retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone below the age of 21.

Raising the age from 18 to 21 may not make as big of a difference as lawmakers hope, given that most smokers — nine out of 10 according to the Surgeon General— have already begun smoking by the age of 18. Additionally, the vast majority obtain their tobacco products from older family and friends. Three out of four minor smokers will become adult smokers.  Ironically, SB 2332 may actually encourage this behavior by removing the current statutory penalties for underage use and consumption of tobacco.

Moreover, advocates argue that the brain is still developing until the age of 21 and a person under that age cannot be expected to fully understand the decision they are making when choosing to use tobacco products. This makes an interesting argument since persons under age 21, among other things, are allowed to become a lawmaker, vote, join the military, enter into legally binding contracts, drive, serve on a jury, sue someone, get a tattoo or piercing, become a blood or organ donor, adopt a child, etc.  What makes this even more ironic is that some of the very same Illinois lawmakers that support this line of thinking also support lowering the age of voting to 16.

Finally, financially the “Tobacco 21” prohibition can easily be compared to what Illinois already knows about heavy handed regulation of tobacco products—it drives business and tax dollars to other states while creating a thriving black market in Illinois. For instance, Illinois has already experienced an outmigration of tobacco sales due to the high tobacco taxes. A Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) report in 2006 found that after raising the tax on cigarettes the number of legal packs purchased in Illinois has fallen approximately 21% and prompted consumers to look elsewhere to purchase their cigarettes, such as bordering states, the Internet, or through illegal vendors.  Again in 2013, after another round of regulation, COGFA reported tobacco sales tax revenue was short of the projected return by $130 million as consumers purchased tobacco from bordering states, online, and illegal sources.  Not surprisingly, the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) estimates $48 million in lost tax revenue to the state as a result of people finding alternative purchasing avenues (e.g. other states or the black market). Raising the age of the purchase of tobacco is just an additional incentive to exacerbate the current trend without any proven tangible benefit.

It is unclear whether the Governor will or will not sign the legislation.

IRMA POSITION: OPPPOSED

 

Tobacco Records and Unstamped CigarettesSB 3141 (Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-West Dundee/Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside) prohibits a taxpayer from introducing into evidence any books or records within 5 days of a hearing.  It also shifts the burden on the retailer by creating a prima facie presumption that a retailer has violated the statute if the retailer cannot produce records upon request. It also shifts the burden on the retailer by creating a prima facie presumption that a retailer is dealing in unstamped cigarettes if unstamped cigarettes from an unlicensed distributor are found on the premises.  Finally, it prohibits the sale of ‘loosies’ by requiring that cigarettes be sold in packages of 20 or 25. IRMA reached agreement with the Sponsor and IDOR to remove IRMA’s opposition.  The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 52-0 and the House by a vote of 78-35-1.

IRMA POSITION: NEUTRAL

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This Week in Springfield – 100-33

IN THIS ISSUE:

BUDGET
PRE-JUDGEMENT LIENS
PAY HISTORY
EMPLOYEE EXPENSES
NURSING MOTHER’S ACT
PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGERS
TOBACCO 21
FOOD SERVICE SANITATION MANAGERS CERTIFICATE
LIQUOR CONTROL COMMISSION”>
DRONES
PROGRESSIVE INCOME TAX

The Second Spring Session of the 100th General Assembly adjourned on schedule with a full-year budget agreed to by both parties and final action on numerous items.

Budget

With rarely seen bi-partisan margins in favor, the Fiscal Year 2019 budget was approved by the Assembly as contained in HB 109 (Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago)/ Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago), the appropriation bill, and HB 3342 (Rep. Greg Harris/Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), the Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP). It is a full-year budget for FY ’19 and a supplemental budget for FY ’18 to cover the inadequacies of the current year’s budget. The budget contains no tax increases. Revenues come from anticipated higher tax revenues from a growing economy, $200 million in fund transfers, $800 million in sweeps from various administrative funds, and over $400 million in pension reforms.

The pension changes are voluntary so they rely upon an estimation of the number of people in the pension system who will exercise the options. The pension changes are: (1) a buy-out for vested, inactive members who are now employed somewhere other than the state but have not retired. They will be offered a buyout at 60% of the value of their pensions (estimated savings = $41 million); (2) A buyout of the 3% annual cost-of-living-adjustment for Tier 1 pensioners (estimated savings = $382 million over time); and, (3) reduces salary spiking cap from 6% to 3% meaning any salary increases over 3% will be covered by local government employers.

The budget started months ago with the formation of a bi-partisan budget working group including representatives of the Governor’s office. The framework agreed to by these legislators was then moved to the four leaders and the Governor who made some adjustments and finalized the budget.

It is an $80 billion budget but the real focus is on the portion paid from General Revenue Funds which totals $38.5 billion. Here are some highlights:

  • Elementary and secondary education received an increase of $402 million as compared to FY ’18. TWIS readers will recall that last year, a comprehensive reform of the funding formula was enacted but it requires $350 in additional monies in each year for the next 10 years. Due to the fact a supplemental budget for FY ’18 was included in the budget deal, that $350 million threshold was met for the first two years.
  • Higher education received an increase of $60 million. In addition, a $25 million scholarship fund (AIM HIGH) was created to provide tuition assistance to in-state students wanting to continue their education at in-state institutions of higher learning. This $25 million must be matched by the various institutions.
  • Human service entities are funded including a 50-cent per hour wage increase for caregivers who work with developmentally disabled individuals, substance abuse providers, mental health providers, etc. Human service spending totals $13.835 billion of the GRF budget but even more goes to human services as a result of federal funds.
  • Public safety spending will cover two mental health treatment facilities and two life skills re-entry facilities as well as a new State Police cadet class.
  • A $2.9 billion pay-as-you-go capital program as well as nearly $9 billion to fund IDOT’s FY 19 road program.
  • Nearly $64 million in back wages owed to state employees. These cost of living increases were originally frozen by the Governor’s Office but a court ordered them to be paid.
  • A temporary reimbursement bridge for pharmacies with 10 or fewer locations in counties with less than 50,000 in population. This is a result of the shockingly low reimbursements being seen as a result of the Medicaid managed care rollout.
  • The sunset for on-line lottery is extended for another year. The new private lottery manager, Camelot, will assume control July 1st so this gives them time to put a program in place and recommend changes they would like to see. .
  • Prohibits cost of living increases for legislative and executive elected officials and appointees.
  • The bill backlog could be reduced by up to $1 billion under the provisions of SB 2858 producing additional interest savings to the state.

The budget has been sent to the Governor for his consideration.

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Pre-Judgement Liens

HB 4324 (Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, D-Westchester/Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Chicago) originated from a union-funded group known as the Raise the Floor Alliance. As introduced, HB 4324 would allow any employee to file a lien against an employer’s real and personal property simply on the basis that the employee believes he or she has a valid wage claim against the employer.  The lien would have taken precedence over almost any other lien or judgment, including mortgages, and could have been filed for single employee wage claims that amount to several hundred dollars in damages and/or class action lawsuits and representative wage claims that allege millions of dollars in damages. Filing a lien of such significance without first proving the merit of their allegations would have subjected employers to constant extortion in order to avoid dealing with a lien on their property.

A business and banking coalition led by IRMA worked with Rep. Chris Welch and Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville) to reach an agreement ultimately adopted in House Floor Amendment #2 that addresses the issues presented by the advocates.  Currently, the Department of Labor (DOL) is taking 18 months to adjudicate a claim. The agreed upon language requires the DOL to adjudicate wage claims within 30 days of receiving the claim. This would address the issue of unscrupulous companies dissolving, reorganizing, or disappearing before a claim is adjudicated. If the company is found guilty, exhausts its appeals, and still does not pay, a lien will be placed on it assets according to current lien practices.  Finally, if a claim is verified, an employer will be required to submit an escrow of 10% of the claim for the duration of the 30 day adjudication. If, after the 30 days the employer is found innocent, the funds will be returned to the employer.  This agreement passed the House by a vote of 88-3.

The proponents of the legislation filed Senate Committee Amendment #1 in an attempt to renegotiate the terms of the bill by removing the time limit on the escrow account in contravention of the original agreement. While the bill with the amendment passed the Senate by a vote of 31-18-1, Rep. Welch filed a motion to non-concur as a result of the non-agreed amendment.

IRMA would like to thank Rep. Welch and Rep. Hoffman for their leadership on this issue.

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Pay History

Similar legislation that was vetoed by the Governor and failed to be overridden by the Senate last year passed the House with by a vote of 87-24 and the Senate by a vote of 31-16-1.  Despite an avenue for compromise offered by the business community, the advocates chose to pursue the same path traveled before.

HB 4163 (Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin/Sen. Christine Castro, D-Elgin) prohibits an employer from asking an employee about previous wage, salary and other compensation.  It also erodes the current statutory defenses for Illinois employers while expanding the statutory penalties.  While IRMA has, from the beginning, agreed to prohibit the question as long as there are common sense exemptions (e.g. employee already works for the business or salary is a matter of public record), IRMA remains opposed to arbitrarily restricting Illinois’ employer’s current limited defenses and increasing current statutory penalties.  Especially when the penalties provide more “protection” for prospective employees who would potentially be asked a question in violation of the proposed legislation than current employees who are paid less in violation of the current statute—a perplexing quirk that seems to undermine the proponents own stated purpose for bill.

Illinois currently only has three defenses to an unequal wage claim (1) seniority system; (2) merit system; and (3) a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production. The advocates argue that limiting the current defenses and increasing the penalties will deter employers from violating the Equal Pay Act. In the past 11 years (excluding 2010 and 2011 where there is no available data), under the current limited defenses, there have been only 51 recorded violations of the Equal Pay Act. In that same time period, approximately 707 investigations were conducted by the Illinois Department of Labor. Less than 7.5% of all claims in the last 11 years have resulted in a violation.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration there are over 1.2 million businesses in Illinois. Assuming that a different company was responsible for each violation only .0000425% of Illinois businesses have been responsible for an Equal Pay Act violation in 11 years.  This is a 99.9999575% compliance rate.

Despite this compliance rate, some business associations, led by IRMA, were willing to take a proactive step to support expanding the current Equal Pay Act to prohibit an employer from asking about a prospective employee’s wage and salary. A year ago, these associations suggested using a compromise that was accepted by all parties in Massachusetts that included an affirmative defense for employers. Since that time, Oregon, Delaware, California, and Puerto Rico have passed legislation prohibiting asking about an employee’s previous wage and salary. Oregon and Puerto Rico have adopted the Massachusetts model. So three of the five major jurisdictions support a compromise model.  Additionally, this model has been introduced in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Montana, Georgia, and Texas. Despite over 700 investigations over the past 11 years of available data 99.99% of all Illinois employers have already proven to be compliant with the current law.

IRMA and a coalition of businesses went further and offered to remove the affirmative defense, passed in other states, from the legislation and just prohibit an employer from asking the question.  The current penalties would remain the same and apply to a violation of the new prohibition. This language is reflected in SB 3100 (Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield). This additional compromise was also rejected by the proponents. SB 3100 passed the Senate Executive Committee by a 13-1-2 vote and sits on 3rd Reading in the Senate.

It stands to reason that a reasonable compromise would be to take a proactive step forward by prohibiting the salary inquiry while recognizing the overwhelming majority of Illinois businesses have proven to promote and support both men and women in the workforce.

IRMA would like to thank Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant and all Senators who were willing to find common-sense, fact-driven compromise. HB 4163 now goes to the Governor for his consideration.

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Employee Expenses

SB 2999 (Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago/Rep. Melissa Conyears-Irvin, D-Chicago) requires an employer to reimburse an employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee directly related to services performed for the employer. Necessary expenses” include all reasonable expenditures or losses including, but not limited to, uniforms, equipment, vehicle expenses, electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, and computers, and any other expenditures or losses an employer requires an employee to incur in direct consequence of the discharge of employment duties. An employer is not liable under this Section unless the employer knew or had reason to know that the employee incurred the expenditure or loss.

This legislation is consistent with federal law. SB 2999 passed the Senate by a vote of 50-2 and the House by a vote of 114-1.  The legislation will be forwarded to the Governor for his consideration.  IRMA is neutral with the legislation and would like to thank Sen. Van Pelt and Rep. Conyears-Irvin for their work with the business community on this issue.

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Nursing Mother’s Act

HB 1595 (Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Collinsville/Sen. William R. Haine, D-Alton) requires an employer to provide for reasonable break time during the first year after the child’s birth each time the employee needs to express milk. The break time may run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. An employer may not reduce an employee’s compensation for time used for the purpose of expressing milk or nursing a baby. An employer shall provide reasonable break time as needed by the employee unless to do so would create an undue hardship as defined by the Illinois Human Rights Act.

HB 1595 passed the House by a vote of 104-0 and the Senate by a vote of 49-0.  The legislation will be sent to the Governor for his signature.  IRMA is neutral.

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Pharmacy Benefit Managers

HB 3479 (Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D- Chicago/Sen. Andy Manar, D- Bunker Hill) initially sought to provide significant new reimbursements to pharmacy. The cost of doing so was over $200 million and legally questionable as it would have meant unilaterally changing the contracts negotiated and signed by the managed care organizations.  With these questionable requirements, the House passed the legislation by a vote of 87-16-1 while recognizing changes would be needed as the legislation worked its way through the process.  As a result, Senate Amendment #5 was filed and took a different approach by, seeking to regulate PBM’s, require the reporting of certain reimbursement information to the State, regulate PBM audits of pharmacies, and prohibit gag clauses and the ability of PBM’s to use the Medicaid contract and the contract serving state employees to force pharmacies to participate in other unrelated contracts.

HB 3479 remains on second reading so that the parties can continue to discuss the issues over the summer.

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Tobacco 21

SB 2332 (Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield/Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago) prohibits anyone below the age of 21 from purchasing tobacco from a licensed Illinois retailer while removing any penalties for the underage possession or consumption of tobacco.  The initiative passed the Senate with a vote of 35-20-0 and initially failed to pass the House with a vote of 56-54-1.  After some political trading took place the initiative passed the House by a vote of 61-49-1.

As currently drafted SB 2332 makes it legal  for a person under the age of 21 to: (1) possess tobacco, (2) consume tobacco, (3) sell tobacco, (4) buy tobacco from an unlicensed Illinois retailer or individual, or (5) buy tobacco from a licensed out-of-state retailer or online.  Additionally, the bill protects unlicensed, unregulated, and, untaxed individuals selling tobacco to minors while prohibiting licensed retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone below the age of 21.

Raising the age from 18 to 21 may not make as big of a difference as lawmakers hope, given that most smokers — nine out of 10 according to the Surgeon General— have already begun smoking by the age of 18. Additionally, the vast majority obtain their tobacco products from older family and friends. Three out of four minor smokers will become adult smokers.  Ironically, SB 2332 may actually encourage this behavior by removing the current statutory penalties for underage use and consumption of tobacco.

IRMA is opposed to the bill which will drive sales away from licensed retailers to illegal sellers and to out-of-state retailers which will reportedly, according to the Department of Revenue, cost the state $48 million a year.

SB 2332 will now be sent to the Governor for his consideration. It is unclear whether the Governor will or will not sign the legislation.

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Food Service Sanitation Managers Certification (FSSMC)

HB 5011 (Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria/Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria) grandfathers the FSSMC’s that were approved prior to last year’s passage of the legislation that removed the redundant state certification and fee on food retailers.  Last year, IRMA convinced lawmakers to remove the redundant state food certification and accompanying unnecessary fee on food retailers.  IDPH complied but has refused to acknowledge the expiration date of current FSSM certificates. This has required some employees to retake the federal tests before the expiration of the current 5 year certificates.  HB 5011 would grandfather those FSSM certificates approved before the change in the law.

HB 5011 was approved unanimously in the House by a vote of 111-0 and the Senate by a vote of 55-0.  It has been sent to the Governor for his consideration where he is expected to sign the legislation. IRMA supports the legislation.

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Liquor Control Commission

SB 3022 (Sen. Tony Munoz, D- Chicago/Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie) seeks to undo a reform made by former Governor Rod Blagojevich who undertook a reorganization of several agencies that included moving the Illinois Lottery, Gaming Commission, and Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) under the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR). Today, only the ILCC remains under IDOR. Retailer and others long-chaffed under an ‘independent’ ILCC believing it was strongly tilted toward the interests of the wholesale tier of the three-tier system. There is a belief that by having ILCC under the auspices of IDOR has restored at least some semblance of balance which is appropriate as the ILCC is supposed to be a neutral arbiter and regulator.

Nevertheless, the legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 52-3 and passed the House by a vote of 92-12-1.  SB 3022 now goes to the Governor for his consideration.  IRMA is opposed to the legislation.

 Drones

SB 3291 (Sen. James Clayborne, D-East St. Louis/Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago) would preempt home rule municipalities from passing regulations on the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS).  The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) retains the authority to regulate private and commercial drone use. Despite this authority local municipalities have been introducing ordinances that regulate drones.

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has created rules for both commercial and private drone use and has made it clear that the FAA’s rules preempt local and state jurisdiction regarding the regulation of drones. Additionally, in 2015, Illinois created the Illinois Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Taskforce, to which IRMA was appointed, to provide oversight and input in creating comprehensive laws and rules for the operation and use of drone technology within Illinois. The taskforce’s final report indicated that the state should provide guidance within the FAA guidelines and however well-intentioned, overly burdensome local regulations that discourage or unnecessarily obstruct the otherwise safe and lawful use of UAS should be avoided.

Per the taskforce’s recommendations, SB 3291 would give the state, and specifically the Division of Aeronautics within the Department of Transportation, the authority to regulate drones in compliance with FAA guidelines.

The legislation passed the Senate by a 52-0 vote and the House by a 112-4 vote. SB 3291 now goes to the Governor for his consideration.  IRMA supports the legislation.

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Progressive Income Tax

 

On a partisan roll-call, Illinois House lawmakers narrowly passed a nonbinding resolution to replace Illinois’ current flat tax with a graduated or progressive income tax system.  Proponents argue that House Resolution 1052 provides for a fairer and progressive way for the state to generate revenue by reducing taxes on the middle and low class while increasing taxes on those some consider ‘rich’.  While the proponents of the resolution believe a graduated income tax is more equitable the resolution did not provide for any suggested or specific rates.  Opponents of the resolution pointed out that the states that have progressive income taxes have higher rates for lower and middle class than Illinois’ current flat rate.

 The nonbinding resolution passed the House with by a margin of 61-52.

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This Week in Springfield – 100-31

In This Issue:

RETAIL DISCOUNT & BUDGET
TOBACCO 21
DRONE
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
HUMAN RIGHTS EXPANSION
BUSINESS DAY THANK YOU

This Week in Springfield both chambers met to discuss legislation from the opposite chamber while lawmakers continued to discuss the budget in working groups.

RETAIL DISCOUNT & BUDGET

There are 13 scheduled days of regular legislative session remaining on the calendar. If the Assembly has not adjourned by midnight on May 31st, a super-majority in each chamber is required to pass anything. At the very least, that would give Republicans in the House serious leverage.

A bi-partisan, and relatively large, Budget Working Group has been meeting for several weeks. They have shared ideas on how to close the gap between revenue and spending and discussed estimating how much revenue there is to spend for Fiscal Year 2019.

Last year, a $5 billion income tax increase was utilized to help pay down approximately half of the bill backlog which had grown as high as $16 billion, as well as to get monies flowing again to agencies and the myriad programs they operate. While another tax increase is unlikely in an election year, policymakers are casting about for other pots of money. That means the Retail Discount is once again being discussed.

A few years ago, IRMA prepared this overview of the Discount. We have updated it and are once again sharing it with members of the Budget Working Group, legislative leaders, staff, and the Governor’s Office. One of the options that was discussed was a Kentucky-style approach to reducing the discount. In short, retailers would receive 1.75% of the first $1,000 in sales taxes collected and 1.5% of any amount over $1,000 but the total received would be capped at $50 per reporting period (i.e. per month). IRMA has prepared and shared an overview of the annual sales a business would reach before being capped under a Kentucky-style methodology.

This issue was raised in meetings directly with three of the four legislative leaders and the Governor last week during Business Day 2018. IRMA will continue to advocate to protect the partial reimbursement that is the Retail Discount in Illinois.

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TOBACCO 21

SB 2332 (Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield/Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago) prohibits anyone below the age of 21 from purchasing tobacco from a licensed Illinois retailer while removing any penalties for the underage possession or consumption of tobacco.  The initiative passed the Senate with a vote of 35-20-0 and passed the House Health & Healthcare Disparities Committee by a 3-1 vote.

As currently drafted SB 2332 makes it legal for a person under the age of 21 to: (1) possess tobacco, (2) consume tobacco, (3) sell tobacco, (4) buy tobacco from an unlicensed Illinois retailer or individual, or (5) buy tobacco from a licensed out-of-state retailer or online.  Additionally, the bill protects unlicensed, unregulated, and, untaxed individuals selling tobacco to minors while prohibiting licensed retailers from selling tobacco products to anyone below the age of 21.

Advocates argue that the brain is still developing until the age of 21 and a person under that age cannot be expected to fully understand the decision they are making when choosing to use tobacco products. This makes an interesting argument since persons under age 21, among other things, are allowed to vote, join the military, enter into legally binding contracts, drive, serve on a jury, sue someone, get a tattoo or piercing, become a blood or organ donor, adopt a child, etc.

Raising the age from 18 to 21 may not make as big of a difference as lawmakers hope, given that most smokers — nine out of 10 according to the Surgeon General— have already begun smoking by the age of 18. Additionally, the vast majority obtain their tobacco products from older family and friends. Three out of four minor smokers will become adult smokers.  Ironically, SB 2332 may actually encourage this behavior by removing the current statutory penalties for underage use and consumption of tobacco.  And if it is a good idea to remove underage penalties for tobacco products should the state also remove underage use and consumption penalties for other age restricted products such as alcohol?

IRMA is opposed to the bill which will drive sales away from licensed retailers to illegal sellers and to out-of-state retailers.

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DRONES

 SB 3291 (Sen. James Clayborne, D-East St. Louis/ Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago) would preempt home rule municipalities from passing regulations on the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS).  The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) retains the authority to regulate private and commercial drone use. Despite this authority local municipalities have been introducing ordinances that regulate drones.

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has created rules for both commercial and private drone use and has made it clear that the FAA’s rules preempt local and state jurisdiction regarding the regulation of drones. Additionally, in 2015, Illinois created the Illinois Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Taskforce, which IRMA was appointed, to provide oversight and input in creating comprehensive laws and rules for the operation and use of drone technology within Illinois. The taskforce’s final report indicated that the state should be provide guidance within the FAA guidelines and however well-intentioned, overly burdensome local regulations that discourage or unnecessarily obstruct the otherwise safe and lawful use of UAS should be avoided.

SB 3291 passed the Senate by a 52-0 vote and the Transportation: Regulation, Roads & Bridges Committee by a 11-0 vote. IRMA supports SB 3291.

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WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

The State Medical Society is introducing legislation that will increase workers’ compensation rates for Illinois employers. SB 904 House Amendment #1 (Sen. Michael E. Hastings, D-Frankfurt/Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville) will result in increased interest rates of 24 percent per year on medical claims for businesses and insurance companies.  Additionally, employers and insurers will also face penalties of up to $1,000 per claim for failure to comply with the electronic billing requirements under the proposal.  The amendment will be heard next week in the House Labor Committee.  IRMA is opposed.

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HUMAN RIGHTS EXPANSION

Currently, the Illinois Human Rights Act only applies to businesses with 15 or more employees. HB 4572 (Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago/ Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin) expands the coverage of the Act to apply to any business with one or more employees. The legislation passed the House with a 64-37 vote and the Senate with a 33-13 vote. It now goes to the Governor for his consideration.

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THANK YOU

IRMA would like to publicly thank those who helped make Business Day 2018 a tremendous success again this year. On behalf of all the members of IRMA, thank you for your generous support!