Illinois This Week in Springfield – 99-11

In This Issue:

BUSINESS DAY
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
WORKING GROUPS
REVENUE ESTIMATES
PHARMACY CUTS
TELECOMMUNICATIONS
DRONES

This Week In Springfield, both chamber began work on bills that have crossed over from the other chamber.

BUSINESS DAY 2015

Over 400 employers are attending Business Day 2015 next Wednesday, May 6th. As a result of the enthusiastic response of employers, Business Day will once again be the largest gathering of employers in Illinois. The opening luncheon will feature comments from Governor Bruce Rauner as well as Senate President John Cullerton. The luncheon is now standing room only. After spending the afternoon meeting with policy makers at the Capitol, attendees will mix with their peers, policymakers, and staff at the Party Under the Tent – a unique social opportunity that has become a not-to-be-missed event. IRMA would like to thank our event sponsors and receptions hosts for helping to make this day possible!

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 UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

On Wednesday morning, Governor Rauner convened an ‘agreed bill’ process regarding Illinois’ unemployment insurance system.

Since the early 1980’s, Illinois’ unemployment insurance system has been governed by an ‘agreed bill’ process. This process periodically brings together representatives of employers and employees typically under the auspices of the Governor and monitored by representatives of the four legislative caucuses (i.e. Senate Democrats, House Democrats, Senate Republicans, House Republicans). The employee representatives are led by the Illinois AFL-CIO and the employer representatives are led by IRMA.

The process usually occurs when the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, the fund from which unemployment benefits are paid, is in crisis. The other time the process occurs is when ‘speed bumps’ must be addressed. ‘Speed bumps’ are intentionally inserted to incentivize both sides to return to the table to review the current agreement, whenever it may have been reached, and negotiate any changes that may be necessary or either side, or the Governor’s Office, desires. In this case, it is speed bumps that brings everyone together.

In 2011, then Governor Patrick Quinn convened an ‘agreed bill’ process to address the deficit in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Agreement was reached, ‘speed bumps’ were included and take effect January 1, 2016 if they are not removed. In this case, the ‘speed bumps’ take the form of a potential $470 million unemployment insurance tax hike on employers and a $300 million benefit cut for unemployed workers. These ‘speed bumps’ provide significant incentive for both sides to return to the table to review the current agreement.

As is always, all participants are abiding by a self-imposed agreement to not discuss the details of the negotiations until agreement is reached.

The agreed bill process for unemployment insurance in Illinois has worked successfully since its inception. It has brought stability and avoided the problems other states have seen in terms of wild swings in either benefit and tax increases or cuts or both.

IRMA appreciates the fact that Governor Rauner as well as Senate President John Cullerton, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin continue to utilize and support the agreed bill process.

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WORKING GROUPS

The Rauner Administration has convened six working groups in addition to the unemployment insurance agreed bill process noted above. The six working groups are comprised of a bi-partisan mix of legislators from both the House and Senate as well as key legislative staff and representatives of the Governor’s office. The six groups are divided into the following subject areas: Economic Growth, Taxpayer Protection, Transforming Government, Pension Reform, Capital Plan, and Budget Implementation. The Economic Growth group will examine issues such as workers’ compensation reform, tort reform, and empowerment zones. Transforming Government will discuss issues such as combining the offices of the State Treasurer and Comptroller and term limits). The issue areas the other groups will discuss are largely self-explanatory.

These groups are an attempt by the Rauner Administration to construct a massive agreement that would secure some of the budget items Democrats in the Assembly may want (e.g. additional revenue, funding of certain programs, etc.) in exchange for reforms the Governor and Republicans in the Assembly may want (e.g. tort reform, workers’ compensation reform, tax reform, etc.).

These groups will meet at least weekly through the month of May.

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REVENUE ESTIMATES

Wednesday evening, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability appeared before the Senate Revenue Committee to provide an update as to important state economic indicators. One important note is that state revenues in the exiting fiscal year are now predicted to be $300-$500 million more than initially predicted. This good news led the Rauner Administration to announce they will rescind the $26 million in cuts announced on Good Friday. These numbers will not impact the $1.5 billion in cuts made to just prior to Good Friday to balance the state’s current FY 15 budget.

Looking ahead to FY 16, COGFA estimates Illinois will have just over $32 billion in revenues. This means that without additional revenues, there will have to be cuts of $3-$4 billion, in addition to the cuts recently enacted to balance the FY 15 budget.

COGFA also noted that there is a $7.6 billion pension payment due next fiscal year. Additionally, the state’s unfunded pension liabilities now stand at $104.6 billion. Overshadowing action on pensions is the fact the Illinois Supreme Court is set to rule on whether or not the pension reform passed in 2013 is constitutional. If rules constitutional, the pressures on the budget for FY 16 change radically. If the reform is held to be unconstitutional, the pressures remain. On top of the pension liabilities, the healthcare costs for state employee health insurance is expected to increase 6.8 percent for a total of approximately $2.8 billion.

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PHARMACY CUTS

As part of the recently enacted budget cuts to close a gap in the state’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget. The solution was an across the board 2.5% annualized reduction effective the last two months of FY ’15 (May and June). The result was an effective cut of approximately 13% over these last two months.  The result for pharmacy was devastating. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services reduced the dispensing fee for brand and generics by $1.00 respectively. These cuts take effect Friday, May 1st.

These additional pharmacy cuts come on the heels of a 9% cut as a result of the SMART Act reforms of 2011 (other providers received a 3% cut) and additional cuts are being considered for the FY 2016 budget.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

IRMA joined a wide-array of entities from law enforcement to community groups in support of a modernization of Illinois’ telecommunications laws. Illinois law currently requires one company, AT&T, to continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in outdated technology – the old copper wires upon which the original telephone infrastructure was built. This obligation is a legacy of the Ma Bell break-up of 1984. These old copper wires have only one capability – to carry voice communication. They have no ability to multi-task by carrying data, streaming video, or any of the other functions of modern telecommunications. The monies being spent to maintain these old wires could be spent replacing them as well as more quickly expanding high-tech communication options. Those who want to keep their land-line phone will be able to do so. If a consumer wants a voice-only option, it will be available to them. The question isn’t about the types of phones consumer utilize, the question is the wires leading to them or, for that matter, the availability and development of additional or more wide-spread wireless options. Ensuring Illinois laws governing telecommunications do not discourage or impede technological development and implementation is essential if Illinois is to compete effectively.

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DRONES

As drones make their way from military application to commercial and personal uses, some foresee the need to plan for their widespread adoption. SB 44 (Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield/Rep. Brandon Phelps, D- Harrisburg) seeks to create the Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Task Force Act. The purpose of the Task Force is to “provide oversight and input into creating comprehensive laws and rules for the operation and use of drone technology within this State subject to federal oversight and regulation”. Assuming SB 44 passes both chambers of the Assembly and is signed into law by the Governor, the Governor has 90-days to complete the appointments to the Task Force. Currently, 17 people will serve on the Task Force including a representative of IRMA. The members of the Task Force must ‘consider commercial and private uses of drones, landowner and privacy rights, as well as general rules and regulations for the safe operation of drone, and prepare comprehensive recommendations for the safe and lawful operation of [drones] in this State”.  The Task Force must issue a report no later than July 1, 2016.

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Illinois This Week in Springfield – 99-10

In this Issue:

BE THERE!
DATA SECURITY RESOLUTION
DATA SECURITY BILL
RETAIL THEFT
FAMILY CARE PROVIDER ACT
WORKERS’SCHEDULES
CRIMINAL BACKGROUNDS IN HIRING
LIQUOR “OF VALUE” PROVISIONS
POWERED FOOD AND BEVERAGE PRODUCTS
RESTAURANT SELF-INSPECTIONS
MANDATORY GAS STATION UPGRADES
TAX PAYMENTS AND REFUNDS
TOBACCO LICENSE TRAILER BILL
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
CAPTIVE INSURNACE

 

This Week In Springfield, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly reached their first Third Reading Deadline. This means any legislation left in its chamber of origin (i.e. Senate Bill in the Senate/House Bill in the House) that does not have its deadline specifically extended, will be considered ‘held’ for the spring.

Be There!

Governor Bruce Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton will address the opening lunching of Business Day 2015 on Wednesday, May 6th. It is not too late to participate in the largest gathering of employers in Illinois. After the luncheon, attendees will meet with policy makers at the Capitol. Register now at www.irma.org . IRMA would like to thank the generous sponsors of Business Day 2015 listed below.

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 Data Security Resolution

SR 142 (Sen. Mattie Hunter, Chicago) recognizes that all industries including but not limited to financial, public, government, retail, manufacturing, medical, utilities, etc., suffer from data breaches. The resolution urges the federal government to focus on increased security measures for credit card data kept by all affected industries. As originally introduced, SR 142 left the impression that data breaches were largely a retail problem which would have left a false impression.

IRMA would like to thank Sen. Hunter for recognizing that all industries suffer from data breaches and that a comprehensive approach to security measures for credit card data is required to deter and reduce future breaches.

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Data Security Bill

SB 1833 Amendment #2, (Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie) proposing to expand the IL Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), was passed out of the Senate and will now be debated in the House.  In its current form, the bill will expand what is considered personal information which must be protected by persons that own and/or store data.  Historically, only information that would lead to a particular risk of harm and that an individual could take actions to change and protect themselves, has been regulated. For example, the current Act, protects credit card and account numbers, social security numbers, and driver’s license/state id numbers.  Credit card or financial account information in the wrong hands can lead to financial harm but it can also be changed if the holder is aware that it has been compromised.  Social Security numbers in the wrong hands can lead to identity theft but can also be changed or flagged.  The same is true of driver’s license/state identification numbers.  This bill would now protect such information as geolocation data, consumer marketing and biometric information.

The breach of some of this information would not make it more likely that a person could have their identity stolen or their credit ruined.  In fact, this information is readily available through, positive impact on the Cook County jail and on a person’s right to a speedy trial while simple on-line searches.  In addition, with the amount of information that individuals post online on their own (e.g. social media), much of the information previously considered private is now willingly placed into the public domain. This bill would protect such public information as the combination of a person’s name, home address and telephone number.  This information can be found for free and with little effort in the White Pages, MyLife.com, etc. Finally, would we rather have entities focusing on protecting truly vital information or spread too thin making protection efforts less effective?

After several discussions with the Attorney General’s office, this amendment reflects several changes. Changes include determining the standard for who needs to be notified of a breach and when, decreasing the likelihood that individuals may receive duplicate notifications of breaches and increasing the number of days that a company has to notify individuals and the Attorney General that a breach has occurred.  Such notices will have a better chance of being accurate without needing to be further amended which can eventually cause confusion to the consumer. While these changes are a step in the right direction, there are many issues left to discuss.

IRMA would like to thank Sen. Biss for his leadership on this issue and appreciates that the Attorney General’s office has agreed to continue the discussion regarding making other reasonable changes as the bill moves over to the House.

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Retail Theft

A number of bills have been introduced this legislative session that propose to do everything from changing the current remedies for retail theft to reducing jail overcrowding by focusing on adjudicating retail theft cases quickly.  IRMA supports HB 2919 (Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside) and SB 202, Senate Amendment #1 (Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago) which represent common sense approaches to addressing retail theft cases.  HB 2919 allows individuals in the Cook County jail awaiting a final adjudication of their misdemeanor or low level felony retail theft case to bond out on their own recognizance if the case is not finalized within 30 days.  This measure would only be afforded to persons with a non-violent criminal record.  SB 202 would institute a “Rocket Docket” process in which persons accused of retail theft or criminal trespass would have their cases finalized within 30 days of the arrest.  Neither measure diminishes any civil or criminal remedies that are available to the retailer.  Instead, the bills focus on a person’s right to a fair and speedy trial and re-focus taxpayer dollars that are currently being used to essentially house poor people awaiting trial and refocus those efforts on areas of the jail that need those dollars most.

IRMA would like to thank Rep. Zalewski, Sen. Cunningham and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart for including IRMA in these discussions and for promoting policies that will have a significant not undermining the severity of retail theft.

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Family Care Provider Act

SB 1238 (Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Chicago) expands the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by removing federal Department of Labor (DOL) criteria that establishes a requisite relationship between family members to determine leave eligibility.  Consequently, this would require Illinois employers to provide up to twelve unpaid weeks of leave to employees who wish to care for people with whom they do not have an existing federally-recognized relationship for leave purposes.

IRMA and a coalition of business groups met with the Women’s Legislative Leadership Project to discuss their initiative and review the leave benefits established under the FMLA and extended by subsequent DOL administrative rulings. IRMA pointed out that grandparents already have the right to take time off under the FMLA for the birth, adoption, and care of a grandchild.Moreover, Congress intended the definition of “son or daughter” to reflect the reality that many children in the United States today do not live in traditional ‘nuclear’ families with their biological father and mother. Congress ensured these individuals can take leave to care for a family member under a standard of “in loco parentis”, meaning a family member that assumes the parental rights of another family member. Likewise, grandchildren already have the right to take time off under the FMLA to care for ailing grandparents. If an employee can show his/her grandparent stood in loco parentis to them when they were a minor, then they are entitled to FMLA leave to care for that grandparent.

The advocates also believe that employees are not aware of current FMLA leave benefits. The business coalition offered to form a partnership with the advocates to educate both employers and employees of the benefits already allowed under current federal law. The advocates rejected this idea and continue to pursue an unmitigated expansion of current FMLA rights by removing a federally implemented balancing approach between businesses and employees.

IRMA would like to thank Sen. Harris for convening the stakeholders to discuss the issue.

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Workers’ Schedules

Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago introduced HB 3554 HCA#1 which requires an employer to enter into negotiations with an employee if the employee requests a schedule change. Employers consider a broad range of factors when scheduling, including employee preferences and availability.Employees are generally asked when they want to work based on their preferences and employers schedule around the employee’s stated preferences.  As factors change for the employer and the employee, schedules are adjusted. This allows for an employee and the employer to account for unforeseen circumstances such as family emergencies, weather conditions, school closings, etc. Employee scheduling requires continued employee/employer dialogue.

Despite employer’s best efforts to predict scheduling needs in each location, those needs are subject to external factors that may change for reasons outside the control of the employer. Circumstances such as last minute employee requests for time-off or shift changes, weather, disrupted deliveries, sales and special events all impact an employer’s ability to develop schedules. A “one-size-fits-all” mandate fails to recognize the negative impact that the regulations will impose on employees. Losing the flexibility to make adjustments to the schedule to account for unexpected changes harms the employer and employee.  Once a regulation is in place, businesses are less likely able or capable of responding to employee preferences, availability and emergencies.  Consequently, schedule mandates restrict the ability of employers to allow employees to trade or cover shifts with/for other employees to meet changing circumstances.

Rep. Guzzardi informed IRMA that he does not intend on pursuing a legislative initiative this spring but would like to pursue additional negotiations during the summer. IRMA would like to thank Rep. Guzzardi for his willingness to discuss this issue and we look forward to continuing the discussions.

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Criminal Backgrounds in Hiring

SB 567 Amendment #1 and Amendment #2 (Sen. James Clayborne, Jr., D-East St. Louis) attempts to codify into Illinois law long-standing case law which states that if an employer makes an adverse hiring decision based on an applicant’s criminal background, that the background must be job-related and consistent with business necessity.  In addition, the bill prohibits “forum shopping” by prohibiting complainants from bringing a case in more than one forum.

After the EEOC issued guidance in 2012 on the lawful consideration of criminal backgrounds in making employment decisions, there has been some discussion in the General Assembly of codifying parts of that guidance into law.  IRMA has been opposed to such an effort as the EEOC’s guidance was meant to be helpful to employers and applicants, but not written to have the force of law. The consideration of an individual’s criminal background in making employment decisions has many moving parts and having a consistent law is key to ensuring that applicants are treated appropriately during this process.  To that end, IRMA would prefer for the federal government to be the ultimate arbiter in this area of employment law.

We note that this bill is yet another measure aimed at accomplishing the goal of helping put people with criminal backgrounds in a better position to find employment.  Over the last several years, a number of changes have been made to Illinois law to do just that.  Such measures have included allowing certain criminal histories to become eligible for expungement and sealing sooner after an individual has completed their sentence and passing the recently enacted ban the box legislation.  IRMA has worked with the sponsor of each of these efforts such that IRMA did not oppose their proposals.

We appreciate Sen. Clayborne’s willingness to make changes so that Illinois law is not inconsistent with what the federal government requires.  We would also like to thank Rep. Esther Golar (D-Chicago) who has worked with us in earnest on this issue for the past few years.   

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Liquor “of value” Provisions

HB 4018 (Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Peru) passed out of the House unanimously this week.  The bill seeks to clarify that alcoholic liquor can be packaged in combination with non-alcoholic products without violating the three-tier system.  In addition, it makes clear that manufacturers and distributors can furnish non-alcoholic merchandise to retailers for free when they are related to non-alcoholic products.  The Illinois Liquor Control Commission had previously taken the position that furnishing such items as coolers to promote non-alcoholic products (e.g. bottled water o sports drinks) violated the Act.  Therefore the distributors and retailers sought clarification in the law that such a practice was lawful and could not be considered as giving something of value to retailers.

IRMA would like to thank Rep. Mautino for sponsoring this common sense legislation.

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Powdered Food and Beverage Products

This week, the Illinois Senate determined that certain products in powdered form have the ability to pose a risk to the health and safety of Illinois residents such that they should be banned from sale in the state.  SB 9 (Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield) and SB 67 (Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago) both passed unanimously out of the Senate this week.  The bills would ban the sale of powdered caffeine and powdered alcohol respectively.  Both controversial substances have made headlines around the country as there have been reports that the use or abuse of powdered caffeine has been linked to the deaths of some consumers.  There is also concern about the lure that powdered alcohol could have on children and the concern about facilitating binge drinking by young adults as each package is the equivalent of a shot of alcohol.  IRMA is neutral on both bills.

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Restaurant Self-Inspections

SB 1800 Amendment #1 and Amendment #2 (Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago) passed out of the Senate overwhelmingly this week.  This would allow the City of Chicago to implement a self-inspection program for low-risk food establishments.  Qualifying food establishments would perform their own health inspections every two years which would then be randomly audited by the department.  This bill would have the effect of allowing department personnel to spend more time in high-risk food establishments where food is being prepared and where there is greater risk of the transmission of food borne illness.  The department will develop the inspection form and fines for noncompliance will be assessed.

IRMA would like to thank Sen. Steans for spearheading this business-friendly reform.  It refocuses the city’s limited resources on inspecting high-risk establishments while ensuring the protection of the health and safety of the city’s consumers.

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Mandatory Gas Station Upgrades

SB 268 FA#1 (Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago) mandates that each gas station must be capable of operating its fuel terminals using an alternate generated power source for a minimum of 72 hours.  It also requires any newly constructed retail outlet, any renovated retail outlet or specific retail outlets that are located within one-half mile of an interstate highway or State or federally designated evacuation route must be pre-wired with an appropriate transfer switch and be capable of operating all fuel pumps, dispensing equipment, life safety systems, and payment-acceptance equipment using an alternate generated power source.

This is an initiative of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.  Similar legislation was passed in Florida in response to the aftermath of hurricane season.  Although Illinois is not in a hurricane zone, the legislation would require private businesses to spend millions on upgrades so that they can stay open after a natural disaster occurs to serve the public. Generally, in times of natural disaster, employees of these businesses are affected as well, and they would be expected to put themselves in harm’s way to operate the station.  Such an expensive and potentially harmful piece of legislation should be discussed in detail before it moves further.

Senator Jones and President Preckwinkle have agreed to hold the legislation this spring for further discussion over the summer.  IRMA would like to thank Senator Jones and President Preckwinkle for their willingness to discuss the issues presented in the legislation before moving forward.

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Tax Payments and Refunds

SB 1732 and SB 1804, both sponsored by Senator Pam Althoff (R- McHenry) and supported by IRMA, passed out of the Senate unanimously this week. These bills target the responsible treatment of certain tax refunds and overpayments.  SB 1732 provides for a portion of the revenue from sales and use taxes to be placed into a sales tax refund fund for more timely payment of refunds. Currently, refunds can take many months to receive.  SB 1804 allows for tax overpayments under certain Acts including the cigarette, OTP and liquor control Acts to be used as a credit against any future liabilities under those Acts.

IRMA commends Sen. Althoff for pursuing these efforts that have a positive impact on taxpayers in the state.

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Tobacco License Trailer Bill

SB 1919 (Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield) and HB 2513 (Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago) are trailer bills that set out to clarify the provisions passed last spring in P.A. 98-1055. That Act requires retailers to obtain a license to sell cigarettes beginning January 1, 2016. The legislation was introduced to reduce the sales of cigarettes to minors, illegal sales of contraband tobacco, and the illegal smuggling of cigarettes in Illinois. The license includes an annual fee that is intended to help fund the interdiction of smuggling and retail inspections. P.A. 98-1055 also included an employee training program, a merchant citation mitigation provision, and record keeping provisions.

SB 1919 and HB 2513 is agreed upon language that ensures the books and records retention requirement reflects current retention practices; ensures consistent employee training programs across varying federal and state jurisdictions; clarifies merchant citation mitigation procedures that were included in the Act; and clarifies and streamlines invoice requirements for closed loop distributors.

IRMA would like to thank both Rep. Evans and Sen. Morrison as well as the Illinois Department of Revenue for their work on this important initiative on the behalf of Illinois tobacco retailers.

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Economic Development

A reorganization of Illinois’ economic development apparatus, a priority of Governor Rauner, took an important step forward this week as HB 574, co-sponsored by Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan (D- Chicago) and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R- Burr Ridge), was unanimously approved by the House Executive Committee and now awaits consideration by the full House. HB 574 would create a not-for-profit corporation focused solely on economic development while the existing economic development agency, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) would focus on other priorities. The idea is the new corporation will be agile and able to respond quickly to economic development opportunities.

HB 574 also contains provisions eliminating the current Historic Preservation Agency and transferring its functions to DCEO. Additionally, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum will be become its own agency.

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Captive Insurance

Last year, the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) under the Quinn Administration, advanced legislation (Public Act 98-978) containing an obliquely written phrase DOI later interpreted to mean that Illinois-domiciled companies that self-insure their risk via a captive insurance company would be taxed. A captive insurance company is a wholly-owned entity that only insures the risk of its parent. Senator Bill Haine (D- Alton), chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, acted quickly in an attempt to repeal the new law. This effort was supported by IRMA as well as the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Taxpayers Federation of Illinois, and the Illinois Hospital Association. Unfortunately that effort fell short.

Senator Haine is trying again this year in the form of S.B. 1573. SB 1573 passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House for additional consideration. IRMA would like to thank Senator Haine as well as Senate President Cullerton, Senate Republican Leader Radogno, every member of the Senate who supported SB 1573 as well as House Republican Leader Jim Durkin who is the House sponsor.

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Illinois This Week in Springfield – 99-09

In This Issue:

BUSINESS DAY MAY 6TH
NON-EMPLOYEE WITHHOLDING
RETAIL THEFT – BOND
USING CRIMINAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION

This Week In Springfield, committee action was light as both chambers focused on floor consideration of bills that had previously been considered in committee. Some amendments are being sent to committee for further discussion before floor consideration, while others are made directly on the floor and considered there.  We expect that with next week’s floor action deadline looming, the House and Senate will have long session days as the bulk of bills are debated on each the floor of their respective chambers.

BUSINESS DAY MAY 6th

Register today to attend Business Day 2015 on Wednesday, May 6th in Springfield. Business Day is the largest gathering of employers in Illinois. This is an opportunity to network with your peers throughout the state and jointly share your concerns directly with lawmakers. Governor Bruce Rauner will keynote the opening luncheon and likely share his Turnaround Agenda. The day concludes with the not-to-be-missed Party Under the Tent – a unique opportunity to continue the conversations of the day in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Act now to ensure you have a spot!

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NON-EMPLOYEE WITHHOLDING

On a unanimous vote, HB 3898 (Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago) passed the House and has now been sent to the Senate for consideration.  The bill clarifies that employers must withhold child support from non-employees such as vendors and independent contractors.  The Department of Human Services claims that federal law requires such withholding, although to date, IRMA has not been able to get clarification that this is actually a federal mandate and not merely an attempt to set forth procedure for withholding if an employer decides to withhold from a non-employee.  It is also unclear what happens when/if an employer receives notification from the state to withhold from a non-employee who is no longer under contract with the employer.  IRMA is working with the Department to get clarification on what the federal government actually requires so that employers are both informed and able to comply.

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RETAIL THEFT – BOND

IRMA has had several conversations this legislative session with legislators interested in making changes to how retail theft cases are pursued and adjudicated, and the remedies that are available.  In addition, IRMA was contacted by the Cook County Sheriff’s office regarding their legislative proposal to adjudicate retail theft cases within a 30 day period.  HB 2919 (Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside) passed unanimously out of the Judiciary Criminal committee with the support of IRMA.  The bill would allow individuals accused of misdemeanor and low-level felony retail theft to bond out of jail on their own recognizance after 30 days if a judgment has not been rendered in the case. The Cook County Sheriff is attempting to control costs as they currently are housing people in jail for long periods of time who are awaiting trial for non-violent offenses.

IRMA supports the efforts of Rep. Zalewski and the Cook County Sheriff’s office to find reasonable solutions to jail overcrowding and to using taxpayer money wisely in the process without undermining Illinois’ retail theft laws.

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USING CRIMINAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION IN MAKING EMPLOYMENT DECISIONS

SB 567 (Sen. James Clayborne, Jr., D-East St. Louis) passed out of the Criminal Law committee this week on an 8-3 vote.  The bill seeks to address the concern regarding the employment rates of individuals with criminal backgrounds.  It would add to the IL Human Rights Act that if an employer makes an adverse employment decision based on an applicant’s criminal background, that the decision must be based on whether the background was job-related and consistent with business necessity.  In addition, the bill would prohibit individuals from pursuing a remedy in more than one forum.  The language of this bill will be amended to adequately include the arrest and conviction information that Title VII already permits.  We should note that the EEOC issued guidance in 2012 for employers and applicants on how Title VII is being interpreted regarding the use of criminal backgrounds in making hiring decisions.  This language does not seek to adopt or interpret that guidance, but rather clarify how case law is treating criminal background information in employment decisions.

We would like to thank Sen. Clayborne for agreeing to make the changes necessary so that the Illinois law does not conflict with federal law.  This amendment is expected to be heard in committee next week before the measure is considered by the full Senate.

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