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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121 Report – CRMA – April 2015

 VOTERS ELECT MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL FOR ANOTHER FOUR YEARS

Yesterday, Chicagoans experienced their first-ever runoff election. Unable to acquire the 50% plus 1 votes needed in order to avoid a runoff on February 24th, Mayor Emanuel had an additional 6 weeks to convince voters that he was the right person for the job. After a long campaign, and with nearly 40% of registered voters weighing in, Mayor Emanuel was elected to a second term in office.

Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, whose campaign seemed to focus on establishing Mayor Emanuel as an out-of-touch leader who was only concerned with the top 1% of income earners and corporate interests, fell short of victory. The latter half of the campaign zeroed in on which candidate voters believed had the better plan for fixing the city’s finances. With upcoming pension payments putting Chicago in a financial chokehold and much discussion about an impending property tax increase, Chicago’s residents voted with their wallets in mind.  More than anything, Mayor Emanuel was able to define himself as the person with the team and experience to lead Chicago out of its financial woes and back to prosperity.  Garcia struggled to prove to voters that he had a financial plan at all, even saying that he would put a team of thought leaders together after the election.

Finances actually were a central theme surrounding the campaign with lots of attention being paid not only to each candidate’s plan for the budget, but also their campaign fundraising efforts.  The media had daily reports on Mayor Emanuel’s big money donors and Garcia’s large contributions from labor unions. While the money contributed to Garcia was just a fraction of what was contributed to Mayor Emanuel, Garcia was not without his own advantage. With the help of his supporters in the labor unions, he had numerous troops on the ground to help get out the vote.

There was also much interest in which candidate could attract the powerful African American vote. African Americans largely supported Mayor Emanuel in his first bid for office, but most stayed home in the February election, and many that voted supported Willie Wilson, a successful entrepreneur and gospel singer with strong ties to many churches. In the run-off, Garcia courted the vote by aligning himself with the legacy of former Mayor Harold Washington who was the city’s first African American mayor and is still much beloved in the community. Garcia was also an Alderman during Mayor Washington’s tenure. For his part, Mayor Emanuel was seen in the waning days of the campaign with President Barack Obama at a national park dedication on the south side of the city. In the end, the numbers showed that African Americans, along with a strong voting block of condo owners on the lakefront, largely broke for Mayor Emanuel, pushing him to the win.

Now, the budget can be debated in earnest and the tough decision-making can begin. CRMA congratulates Mayor Emanuel on winning his second term in office and we look forward to continuing to work with him and his staff on issues that are important to job creators in Chicago.

 Rahm Emanuel (I) – 55.72%

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia – 44.28%

CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL RACES DECIDED

While the mainstream media has focused on the Mayoral election, Chicago’s retail community has taken great interest in the aldermanic run-off races. Aldermen are critical partners in the continued operation of successful business, and having a good relationship with your local Alderman can help a business develop substantive relationships within the community. CRMA congratulates the Aldermen that won re-election and all winners that will become Aldermen for the first time in May. We look forward to helping inform them on issues that are of interest to the retail community specifically, and to the business community at large.

City officials will be sworn in on Monday, May 18, 2015.

 

Ward 2 (open seat)

Brian Hopkins – 56.3%

Alyx Pattison – 43.7%

 

Ward 7

Natashia Holmes (I) – 43.2%

Gregory Mitchell – 56.8%

 

Ward 10

John Pope (I) – 49.97%

Susan Sadlowski Garza – 50.03%

 

Ward 11(open seat)

John Kozlar – 42.08%

Patrick Daley Thompson – 57.92%

 

Ward 15 (open seat)

Raymond Lopez – 57.59%

Rafael Yanez – 42.41%

 

Ward 16 (open seat)

Stephanie Coleman – 49.04%

Toni Foulkes (current Alderman of the 15thWard) – 50.96%

 

Ward 18

Lona Lane (I) – 32.10%

Derrick Curtis – 67.90%

 

Ward 20

Willie Cochran (I) – 55.53%

Kevin Bailey – 44.47%

 

Ward 21

Howard B. Brookins, Jr. (I) – 50.71%

Marvin McNeil – 49.29%

 

Ward 24 (open seat)

Vetress Boyce – 32.56%

Michael Scott, Jr. – 67.44%

 

Ward 29

Deborah Graham (I) – 47.88%

Chris Taliaferro – 52.12%

 

Ward 31

Regner “Ray” Suarez (I) – 49.20%

Milagros “Milly” Santiago – 50.80%

 

Ward 36 (open seat)

Omar Aquino – 44.05%

Gilbert Villegas – 55.95%

 

Ward 37

Emma Mitts (I) – 52.71%

Tara Stamps – 47.29%

 

Ward 41

Mary O’Connor (I) – 48.04%

Anthony Napolitano – 51.96%

 

Ward 43

Michele Smith (I) – 50.38%

Caroline Vickrey – 49.62%

 

Ward 45

John Arena (I) – 53.78%

John Garrido – 46.22%

 

Ward 46

James Cappleman (I) – 53.81%

Amy Crawford – 46.19%

TanyaTriche

 

Tanya Triche
Vice President/General Counsel
312-726-4600
ttriche@irma.org

Illinois This Week in Springfield – 99-08

IN THIS ISSUE:

MEDICAID CUTS & STATE BUDGET
HEROIN
BIOSIMILARS
RESTAURANT SELF-INSPECTIONS
LIQUOR “OF VALUE” PROVISIONS
SNAP ELIGIBILITY
WORKERS’ SCHEDULES
ENERGY
SCHEDULE
BUSINESS DAY

This Week In Springfield, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly reached their first committee deadline. Any legislation not passed out of the committee to which it was assigned is considered ‘held’ unless it specifically has its consideration deadline specifically extended. As with all deadline weeks, there was plenty of activity on bills of interest to Illinois retailers.

 MEDICAID CUTS & STATE BUDGET

Illinois pharmacies are once again having their Medicaid reimbursement cut as the state attempts to close the $1.6 billion deficit in the state’s current fiscal year 2015 budget. When Governor Pat Quinn’s 2015 fiscal year budget was adopted last May, the appropriations were not adequate to cover a full year of spending at the current spend rate. Former Governor Quinn directed the agencies to continue to spend as if their budget was fully funded. It was widely assumed Governor Quinn would win re-election and a supplemental appropriation, including additional taxes, would have been passed in the November Veto Session to ensure the FY 15 budget was made whole. The voters of Illinois made a different choice in November meaning newly elected Governor Bruce Rauner inherited a current-year budget shortfall of approximately $1.6 billion.

This week, the four legislative leaders and their respective caucuses reached an agreement with Governor Rauner to address the FY 2015 budget shortfall. That agreement included sweeping $1.3 billion in monies from dedicated funds. Dedicated funds hold monies that are received by the state and put toward specific purposes. As an example, $250 million was taken from the Road Fund. This fund is used to fund road construction/repairs. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, this sweep will leave this Fund with a balance that is considered lower than prudent but large enough to provide the required match for federal funds.

In addition to the dedicated fund sweeps, there was a 2.25% reduction of general revenue fund spending. Included in this across-the-board cut was another reduction in Medicaid reimbursement of $140 million. However, given the fact that only two or three months will be left in the fiscal year, the annualized reduction will result in an effective reimbursement cut of approximately 12% to Medicaid. At this writing, the Department is not certain how they will accomplish pharmacy’s portion of the cuts although it will very likely be a reduction in the dispensing fee. IRMA will provide that information to our pharmacy members as soon as it becomes available. This is the second significant cut to Medicaid pharmacy in a relatively short period of time.

HB 317 (Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago)/Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and HB 318 (Speaker Madigan/Sen. Steans) contained the appropriations and implementation language, respectively. They passed the Senate 32-26 and the House 72-45 with bipartisan majorities. In both chambers, all Republicans supported the FY 15 fix. In the Senate, 12 of 39 Democrats supported the budget fix while in the House 25 of 71 supported the fix. Governor Rauner signed these bills into law shortly after passage.

With passage of these bills, the FY 15 state budget is made whole and the discussions will begin in earnest on the FY 16 budget. This budget contains significant shortfalls that will require steep cuts, as outlined by Governor Rauner in his budget address in February, significant new revenue, or a combination of both.  To quote the song-writer Jerry Reed, “we’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there” with thirty official session days left before the target adjournment of May 31st. Of course, they can always go into overtime as the state’s fiscal year does not end until midnight on June 30th. Either way, things are going to get very interesting in the days to come. Hope can be found in the fact that by all appearances, Governor Rauner and his senior staff have forged a working relationship with the four leaders and their staffs.

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HEROIN

As noted in previous editions of TWIS, House Amendment #1 to HB 1 (Rep. Lou Lang, D- Chicago) attempts to comprehensively address some of the underlying factors of the heroin epidemic present particularly, but not exclusively, in the greater metro Chicagoland region. This week, HB 1 was reported out of the Substance Abuse Special Committee with the understanding from the sponsor that it was still a work in progress, he would be working with all interested parties, and would be amending HB 1 as discussions unfold.

While there are many provisions of concern to pharmacy, one in particular is a mandated pharmacy-level take-back program. While the state could mandate such a program, pharmacies must operate under the rules recently adopted by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). As IRMA has demonstrated, it is a practical impossibility for pharmacy to serve as a take-back location and abide by the DEA’s rules. IRMA met with the sponsor regarding this documented problems. Additionally, as part of a broader coalition addressing many of the other concerns, IRMA met with the sponsor Thursday afternoon where important progress was made on a number of the many outstanding issues. Given the complexity of the bill, there is still a long way to go. IRMA would like to thank Rep. Lang, the lead sponsor, for the constructive manner in which he had conducted these discussions to date as well as co-sponsor Representative John Anthony (R-Morris) and Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago).

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BIOSIMILARS

For a few years, pharmaceutical manufacturers have sought to create artificial barriers to the substitution of interchangeable biosimilar drugs at the state level. They are attempting to do this in advance of action by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so that when the FDA ultimately approves an interchangeable biosimilar drug, unless the FDA preempts state law, which they are unlikely to do, additional barriers will exist making it harder to interchange and, thereby, forcing patients to continue to use the more expensive biosimilars.

This week, HB 3519 (Rep. David Harris, R- Mount Prospect) was reported out of the House Healthcare Licenses Committee but only after promising the committee he would return with an amendment attempting to address the concerns of pharmacy prior to any final consideration on the floor.

Throughout this deliberation over the years, the proponents’ sponsor, Senator Tony Munoz (D- Chicago) has taken a deliberate, consistent approach insisting that all sides be heard and trying to forge a compromise. In an apparent attempt to force quicker action, the proponents turned their attention to the House. Sen. Munoz has indicated no legislation will pass the Senate absent agreement by the stakeholders. IRMA would like to thank Sen. Munoz for his balanced approach. IRMA has offered yet another potential compromise to the proponents via Senator Munoz and Representative Harris.

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RESTAURANT SELF-INSPECTIONS

An initiative by the City of Chicago to allow certain low-risk food establishments to conduct their own health inspections passed out of the Senate Committee on Public Health unanimously.  SB 1800 (Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago), seeks to solidify the city’s current pilot self-inspection program that a number of IRMA members have participated in for the last couple of years.  The pilot program has been a success and has proven that self-inspections do not present a greater risk of harm to consumers but that they help both government and business operate more efficiently while ensuring a safe food supply.  This bill is part of a larger effort to ensure that health inspectors are spending their time with high-risk food establishments where food is being prepared and stored in temperature-controlled conditions, and less time in locations that present less risk of food-borne illness.  Low-risk food establishments will be able to self-inspect every 2 years, and those inspections will be randomly audited.

IRMA would like to thank Sen. Steans and co-sponsors Sen. John Mulroe, Sen. Iris Martinez and Sen. Don Harmon for supporting this legislation which adequately protects consumers while concentrating the efforts of inspectors on high-risk establishments.

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LIQUOR “OF VALUE” PROVISIONS

HB 4018 (Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley) passed out of the House Executive Committee 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 violated the ‘of value’ prohibition in the Act.

IRMA would like to thank Rep. Mautino and co-sponsor Rep. Lou Lang for supporting this piece of common sense legislation which allows for arms-length transactions within the three-tier system regarding non-alcoholic products and furnishings.

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SNAP ELIGIBILITY

This week, SB 1847 (Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie) passed out of the Senate Human Services Committee on a party-line vote.  The bill would increase the number of people eligible to receive SNAP by increasing the income limit from the current 133% of FPL to 165% FPL.  This change is projected to allow $60 million additional dollars to flow into the program from the federal government.  While IRMA is generally supportive of increased access to food, we have a much larger and more pressing concern about how SNAP funds are distributed in Illinois today. That concern, if not address, will be exacerbated by this proposed expansion if not addressed at the same time.

In 2013, under the previous administration, the decision was made to change SNAP distribution from the first 23 days of the month to the first 10 days of the month.  After much discussion with the Department, the Governor’s office, and representatives of the advocacy community, IRMA produced documentation regarding the negative impact the distribution had on retailers, employee hours, job loss, and access to fresh produce, meat and dairy for consumers.  The Department offered to add 3 temporary distribution dates beyond the 10th of the month.  The parties agreed that they would accept those dates with the understanding that they would come together in 2015 to discuss a permanent solution to how SNAP funds would be distributed in the future.  Although we are still working to achieve that solution, this bill was introduced which would add more people to the SNAP program, further exacerbating the current problem of how funds are distributed.

We are hopeful that an agreement on SNAP distribution can be reached soon, and are grateful that Sen. Biss has offered to help.  However, until a permanent solution is implemented, we remain opposed to this bill which adds more people to a problematic distribution system that needs to be fixed.

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WORKERS’ SCHEDULES

HB 3554 (Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago) passed out of the Labor and Commerce Committee on a party line vote Wednesday. The legislation mandates all employers, including school districts and local governments, negotiate any changes to their schedule as requested by the employee.  Employers consider the needs of their business and employees when developing schedules. A variety of data points that are considered include but are not limited to, employee preferences and availability; productivity of the location; seasonal fluctuations; peak guest hours; and product delivery and stocking.  Despite employer’s best efforts to predict scheduling needs in each location, the need for employers in any given location is subject to external factors that may change frequently, unpredictably, and for reasons out of the control of the employer. Circumstances such as last minute employee requests for time-off; weather; peak hours; disrupted deliveries; sales fluctuations; sales and special events all impact an employer’s ability to develop and adhere to schedules.

Employers need flexibility to respond efficiently to the rapidly changing environment and balance the needs of consumers, employees, and the work location. Prescriptive constraints on developing schedules reduce the ability of the employer to respond to the changing needs of the employer and employee. Every industry and employer has a unique process and every employee has unique needs. A “one size fits all” statute fails to recognize the unique needs of both businesses and their employees as well as negative impact that they will impose on employee opportunities.

Rep. Guzzardi has committed to work on an amendment to address the concerns of the opponents of the legislation before bringing it back to the Committee for further discussions.  We look forward to these continued discussions.

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ENERGY

When the Assembly returns on April 14th, we can expect Illinois energy policy to be one of the primary issues under debate. There are competing proposals from various entities including SB 1485, an initiative of the various environmental groups, SB 1585, an initiative of Exelon, and SB 1879 an initiative of Commonwealth Edison. All deal in some way with the renewable portfolio standard and energy efficiency. Others include cap-and-trade, demand-response, microgrids, kilowatt-based rates for retail customers (as opposed to the current demand-based rates), etc. One of the core issues of these discussions will be Exelon’s stated need to preserve their nuclear fleet currently operating in Illinois. Without these cornerstone reactors, Illinois energy users face significantly higher prices and reliability issues. IRMA will engage in these discussions.

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SCHEDULE & TIDBIT

The Illinois General Assembly is now on a two-week break and is scheduled to return on Tuesday, April 14th.

As a matter of interest, and to give readers an idea of the volume of legislation dealt with to-date, TWIS offers these stats:

 House bills introduced: 4,198

House amendments filed: 456

House bill passed committee: 515

Senate bills introduced: 2,124

Senate amendments filed: 291

Senate bills passed committee: 1,169 (including 833 shells. Shell, or vehicle, bills are pieces of legislation that contain on real content. They can become vehicles for amendments later in the process.)

Bills signed into law – 2 (the FYI 2015 budget fix)

Obviously, as session continues, these numbers will change as many more amendments will be offered and legislation progresses through the process.

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BUSINESS DAY 2015

On May 6th, Governor Bruce Rauner will address the opening luncheon of Illinois Business Day 2014 – an annual joint program of IRMA and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. It is the largest gathering of Illinois employers comes as the process enters the final scheduled month when many decisions are being made. Plan now to attend on Wednesday, May 6th. There are still openings available but they are going fast. You can register here Business Day Registration.

robtanyaalec

 

Retail Register No. 359, March 2015

CRMA poll on Chicago’s mayoral race shows Emanuel with decent lead

Undecided voters seem to be swaying towards reelecting incumbent Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel over his opponent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.  The Chicago Retail Merchants Association (CRMA), a committee of IRMA, recently released findings from a poll of likely voters conducted in late February that indicates Emanuel is at or over the 50 percent required to win the Chicago mayoral election.

The poll results find Emanuel at 48.65 percent, Garcia at 37.72 percent with undecided voters at 13.63 percent. However, when undecided voters were asked to make a decision, nearly 21 percent chose Emanuel while 15 percent picked Garcia.

The mayor holds a commanding lead among likely female voters but his lead is narrow among males. In addition, when asked who would be better at creating jobs, Emanuel leads with women and his support among men jumps substantially. Likewise, the mayor has a healthy lead among likely African-American and Caucasian voters. Garcia, however, holds a large lead among Hispanics; the candidates are split among Asian voters.

The poll was conducted by We Ask America on Wednesday, February 25, collecting responses from 1,138 likely voters with a margin of error of ±2.91 percent.

“While this poll was conducted six weeks before Election Day, it appears that Mayor Emanuel is in a strong position with likely Chicago voters,” said Rob Karr, president/CEO of CRMA and IRMA. “When voters are asked about their perception of which candidate would be better at creating new jobs in Chicago, the numbers mirror each candidate’s overall support, indicating this is a major factor in voters’ opinions.”

1.     As you may know, Rahm Emanuel and Chuy Garcia will run against each other in a mayoral runoff election on April 7th.  If that election were held today, for whom would you vote?

Rahm Emanuel: 48.65%      Chuy Garcia:  37.72%             Undecided: 13.63%

 

2.      (Only asked to “undecided” voters:) Even though you haven’t decided who you’ll vote for, we’d like to know if you’re LEANING toward voting for either candidate.

 Rahm Emanuel: 20.89%       Chuy Garcia:  15.46%        Undecided: 63.65%

 

3.      Which candidate for mayor do you think would be better for creating new jobs in Chicago? 

Rahm Emanuel: 49.12%        Chuy Garcia:  34.66%         Undecided: 16.22%

Poll Methodology

Demographic information recorded in the poll provided data to normalize (weight) the results to provide the most accurate results that account for ethnic origin, gender over/under-sampling.  Our sampling methodology ensures that We Ask America poll results are projectable, meaning that if every telephone in a given geography was dialed, the results would not differ from the reported poll results by more than the stated margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level (the industry standard), were the same survey taken repeatedly.  For this case, results with a margin of error of ±2.91 percent at the 95 percent confidence level means that if the same survey were conducted 100 times, then 95 times out of 100 the results would not vary in either direction by more than 2.91 percent in either direction.

IRMA makes its mark in the social media world

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association now has an active presence in the social media world with accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  “Social media is an important component in building IRMA’s brand, keeping those already engaged with our organization informed and attracting new interest,” said Rob Karr, IRMA president and CEO. “We see social media as a great opportunity to educate about the importance of the Illinois retail industry.”

Through social media outlets, IRMA will be able to provide real time updates on developments at the Illinois Capitol and Chicago City Council, as well as share important news, facts and updates about issues pertaining to the retail industry.  We will also use social media to showcase our members, but we need your help on that!  See the Feature Friday article for more details on how you can get involved.

IRMA Showcases Illinois Retailers on social media with #Feature Friday

Mall photoWe are leveraging IRMA’s social media efforts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to give your business extra exposure while educating Illinoisans about the importance of the Illinois retail industry.

Each week we have Feature Friday (#FeatureFriday) where we are showcasing one IRMA retailer on our three social media pages. We’re highlighting significant milestones, store anniversaries, grand openings, accomplishments, recognitions, facts or any other interesting information you are willing to share about your business.  A pertinent picture from your business makes these posts complete and much more memorable!

Email news@irma.org to share your story, fun fact, interesting development, etc. and a picture. Once we have drafted the posts, we will be sure to get your stamp of approval. This won’t take more than a few minutes of your time. We greatly appreciate your participation.

Check out our social media pages to see some of our recent Feature Friday posts!

Twitter: @ILRetail

Facebook: Illinois Retail Merchants Association

Instagram: @ilretail

IRMA adds new team member

Alexia CesaroneThe Illinois Retail Merchants Association would like to welcome Alexia Cesarone to our staff! Starting in late March, Alexia will serve as the manager of member relations based in IRMA’s Chicago office.

Alexia comes to IRMA from the Northstar Lottery Group where she served as a corporate affairs specialist. In that role, Alexia specialized in community outreach as well as internal and external communications.  She also created and implemented an internship program.

Alexia is a graduate of Purdue University.  She currently resides in Geneva with her husband, Nick.

IRMA, law enforcement officials team up in the fight against meth

rob nflexIRMA is helping law enforcement in their fight against meth. Partnering with Appriss, Inc., the company behind the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), free trainings for law enforcement are being conducted around the state. The trainings provide law enforcement the opportunity to learn about NPLEx and the many tools it contains that can significantly assist them in their efforts to control meth. Prior to each training, local media is given the opportunity to learn about the tools NPLEx provides and the significant impact it is having on blocking illegal purchases of pseudoephedrine. NPELx blocks the illegal purchases will allowing law-abiding citizens with legitimate needs to obtain the medicine they require.

 Save the Date: Business Day in Springfield

Business Day will be held in Springfield on Wednesday, May 6, 2015.  The luncheon starts at noon with keynote speech from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.

After the luncheon, visit the Illinois State Capitol to meet with policy makers.  At 5 p.m., the party under the tent will start near the IRMA office.  A formal invite and details will follow; we hope to see you there!

Full-tuition scholarships available to retail employee

Retail industry employees who want to boost their careers through higher education can apply for scholarships offered by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the University of Phoenix School of Business. There are 20 full-tuition scholarships are available to retail employees through the Dream BIG Scholarship. Eligible applicants must reside in the United States and work full or part-time for a retail or restaurant company and meet additional criteria.

The stories shared by the hundreds of 2014 Dream BIG applicants demonstrate the fulfilling and challenging career paths available for retail professionals who work hard and want to move up in their organizations.

“Behind every great retail brand are great retail workers – truly the heart and soul of our industry and the fuel that keeps the fires going for hundreds of thousands of businesses throughout the country,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Many of these individuals share a common goal to grow personally and professionally in the retail industry and we want to help them get there. The Dream BIG Scholarship is more than just an opportunity to earn a degree, it’s a chance to help people recognize their full potential and prosper in their career path.”

“The multi-faceted retail industry moves at a fast pace and needs professionals who can grow with their organizations,” said Ruth Veloria, executive dean for University of Phoenix School of Business. “The retail sector employs millions of Americans, and as technology and consumer preferences evolve, University of Phoenix is committed to preparing the next generation of retail leaders with education that is aligned to industry needs. The industry offers many diverse and rewarding career paths and the scholarship was created to help retail employees realize their full potential and meet evolving employer needs.”

Visit nrf.com/dreambig to apply and learn more about the program. Applications are being accepted through March 31, 2015.

Illinois retailers encouraged to push for new Marketplace Fairness Act

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has once again joined forces with U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and an array of bi-partisan co-sponsors to try and level out the rules for brick-and-mortar retailers and their internet competitors when it comes to the collection of sales tax. This proposal mirrors the language that passed the U.S. Senate last year with nearly 70 votes only to stall in the U.S. House.

IRMA President and CEO Rob Karr encourages members of the Illinois retail industry to ask U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) to support the newly filed Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015 and sign-on as a co-sponsor. IRMA applauds Durbin for being a sponsor of the legislation and his continued support of the Illinois retail industry. “This act will help level the playing field for online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores,” said Karr. “What’s not fair is continuing to allow Internet sellers to avoid collecting and remitting the sales tax and the negative impact that has on local stores, their employees, and the Illinois economy.”

Since sales tax amounts to 10 percent in some areas, Main Street retailers report seeing more evidence of customers buying online to avoid paying tax. Many local retailers say they deal with “showrooming,” where consumers come to their stores to look at merchandise in person, then order it online. And some smartphone apps make it easier for shoppers to avoid paying sales tax by allowing them to scan product bar codes to see where they can buy items via the internet.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) strongly believes that the disparity in sales tax rules undermines not only Main Street retailers but also the communities they support. “The billions of dollars in lost sales tax is revenue badly needed by cash-strapped state and local governments to pay the salaries of essential workers such as police officers, firefighters, ambulance crews, and schoolteachers,” said Mike Cys, NRF’s VP of state and political affairs. “Those public workers are among retailers’ customers, and when customers lose their jobs retailers lose sales.  It’s time to pass sales tax fairness.”

Illinois This Week in Springfield – 99-07

IN THIS ISSUE:

MINIMUM WAGE
FAMILY CARE PROVIDER ACT
FOOD ALLERGENS
LIQUOR ADVERTISING
REDUCING LLC FEES
BUSINESS DAY 2015

This Week In Springfield committee action was the focus and will only intensify as next week is the first committee deadline. When the Assembly leaves town next Friday, any legislation remaining in committee that does not have its consideration deadline extended will be considered ‘held’.

MINIMUM WAGE

 This week, on a party-line vote, the House Labor & Commerce Committee approved for consideration a proposed increase to Illinois’ minimum wage. HB 3345 (Rep. Art Turner, D- Chicago) envisions increasing the Illinois minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.00 on July 1, 2015 and from $9.00 to $10.00 on July 1, 2016. It also prohibits home rule municipalities from establishing their own minimum wage but this provision would not apply to the City of Chicago. Additionally, HB 3345 contains a limited income tax credit to help employers with fewer than 50 employees absorb the increased costs.

TWIS readers will recall that in early January the first act of the Illinois Senate was to the Illinois House a proposed minimum wage increase. SB 11 (Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D- Westchester) proposed increasing the Illinois minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $11 per hour starting July 1st and ending July 1, 2019. Otherwise, the two bills are virtually identical.

The advocates of increasing the minimum wage have long argued that such increases do not negatively impact employers. The presence of the tax credit is a significant admission that such increases in the minimum wage do add substantial costs to employers.

As it has for a few years now, the minimum wage debate will continue to rage but it is certainly moving closer to some sort of finale. While anything is possible, IRMA does not expect immediate action on either bill. However, with Governor Rauner having himself proposed an increase to the minimum wage, the likelihood of some increase passing before the Assembly departs later this year grew more likely this week.

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FAMILY CARE PROVIDER ACT

Illinois employers would soon have to provide up to twelve unpaid weeks to employees to tend to people with whom they are related to but do not have an existing relationship. 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. The FMLA criteria is a fact intensive inquiry that proves that there is a qualifying relationship, i.e. the individual was raised by the applicant or the applicant raised the individual. This could be an aunt, uncle, brother, sister, or even a person who is not biologically related to the individual. If an applicant can prove the fact intensive inquiry then they may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for the individual. These criteria were established by the FMLA and subsequent DOL administrative interpretations to recognize the status of a modern family while at the same time protecting employers from abuse of FMLA leave rights.

As drafted, SB 1238 does not require a fact intensive inquiry to prove there is an existing relationship between the applicant and the family member. For instance, all an applicant would have to prove is that they are biologically related and the family member is sick. So therefore, an employee who has never met their grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc. and has no existing relationship could ask and be awarded 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their family member. As such SB 1238 eliminates the delicate balance created by Congress and the DOL to protect employers and non-traditional families.

The sponsor has agreed to amend the legislation to tie the requirements of the bill straight to the FMLA statute. There are a number of concerns with this approach. The federal FMLA is constantly changed and interpreted by US DOL rules, regulations and adjudications. For instance, the fact intensive inquiry mentioned above to establish a qualifying relationship was decided through US DOL case law and administrative review not the language of the FMLA. If the amendment is referenced only to the FMLA statute and not subsequent US DOL rulings and interpretations, the amendment could actually reduce the minimum protections intended for employers. Also, since the FMLA is always being changed by US DOL cases and adjudications, Illinois would be required to constantly update its statute. The amendment could also potentially give the IL DOL additional investigative and punitive authority over employers that it currently does not have.  For the reasons, stated above, the sponsor has indicated that he intends on having continued discussion regarding this initiative.

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FOOD ALLERGENS

An initiative to address the notification process for food allergens passed out of the Consumer Protection Committee this week only after the sponsor promised the committee she would work with IRMA and other opponents to amend the language on the House floor.  HB 3495 (Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston), which is directed at restaurants, would require the certified Food Service Sanitation Manager on duty to register for the FDA’s text/email service which notifies the public about recent food allergy recalls.  The management must then take precautions to notify staff of the recall and check the supplies of recalled food.  In addition, the bill requires restaurants to place a notification in the restaurant that customers should tell their servers of food allergies.  The notification can be placed on the menu/menu board, a placard or poster in the restaurant.  Restaurants already have procedures in place to process recall notices received from the manufacturers or FDA. Illinois should not impose a one-size fits all. Additionally, changing menus, again, after just doing so to abide by federal nutritional labeling requirements imposes a significant expense. Food allergy sufferers are very proactive already so the question becomes whether additional notification really adds any value.

We appreciate that Rep. Gabel is willing to continue to work with IRMA to ensure that the bill allows current corporate food allergy notification systems to remain in place while exploring potential alternatives to encouraging customers to be more proactive than they already are.  We look forward to an amendment before a vote is taken on the House floor.

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LIQUOR ADVERTISING

As consumers increasingly turn to social media as one of their primary sources to receive information and news, businesses have moved much of their advertising to this platform to reach their audience right where they are.  HB 3237 (Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago) was introduced to ensure that liquor manufacturers and distributors could provide retailers and restaurants with the opportunity to advertise on social media platforms without violating important “of value” laws.  The bill passed out of the Executive Committee unanimously.

IRMA would like to thank Rep. Feigenholtz and co-sponsor Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) for keeping the law current with the increasing changes in technology, allowing retailers and restaurants to remain relevant to their customers.

REDUCING LLC FEES

 

SB 680 (Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago) would reduce the costs of establishing Limited Liability Corporations in Illinois.  Currently it costs $500 to file the Articles of Incorporation and $750 to for businesses that want to file Articles to establish series.  Those costs would be reduced to $39 and $59 respectively.  The bill passed out of the Commerce and Economic Development Committee unanimously.

IRMA would like to thank Sen. Steans for sponsoring this business friendly action to reduce the front-end costs of potential business owners, particularly small business owners, so that they can spend that money investing in their business and growing the economy.

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BUSINESS DAY 2015

Despite Illinois’ lagging economy and need for substantial and sustained growth over a long period to get Illinois back on track fiscally, proposals continue to be advanced that only add to employer costs and make it harder to hire or retain employees, increase salaries, and open or expand businesses. Make your voice heard. Join your fellow employers in Springfield on Wednesday, May 6th to hear from policy makers and have your voice heard. Governor Bruce Rauner will keynote the opening luncheon. Register today at www.irma.org .

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