Illinois This Week in Springfield, – 99-04




The House was in Session Wednesday and Thursday of this week, while the Senate members spent the week in their districts. The deadline for Senate bill introductions concluded last Friday and the House deadline for bill introductions concluded this Friday.  These deadlines are for stand-alone introductions.  At any time, introduced bills may be amended. Committee hearings for both the Senate and the House will begin in earnest next week. The next substantive deadline is Friday, March 27th which is the House and Senate committee deadline for bills to be passed out of standing committees.


Two energy proposals were introduced recently in Springfield that purport to expand Illinois’ reliable and diverse energy grid. The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, which is comprised of environmental groups, renewable energy companies, and some unions have touted a renewable energy initiative in the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (HB 2607).  Meanwhile, Exelon, which owns and operates six nuclear plants in Illinois, has introduced a low-carbon emissions initiative in the Low Carbon Portfolio Standard (HB 3293).  Both initiatives have attracted bipartisan support.

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition believes the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will create 32,000 new clean energy jobs per year.  This will be accomplished by removing cost caps and increasing the share of power coming from renewable sources, like wind and solar, to 35 percent by 2030; mandating energy efficiency standards to reduce electricity use in Illinois by 20 percent by 2025; and initiating a market based Cap and Trade system to redistribute carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, Exelon introduced a Low Carbon Portfolio Standard initiative that would bring Illinois in compliance with the federally mandated rules that require all states to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants. Exelon argues that the legislation would also would help ensure the continued operation of their nuclear power plants in Illinois.  Specifically, the Low Carbon Portfolio Standard would require Ameren and ComEd to purchase low carbon energy credits to match 70 percent of electricity used from qualified sources such as solar, wind, hydro, nuclear and clean coal. Ameren and ComEd would be allowed to recover through rates all of the costs associated with the purchase of these credits. The annual customer increases would be capped at 2.015 percent compared to 2009 rates.

IRMA is in the process of reviewing both initiatives. Obviously, utility costs and reliability are of utmost importance to the Illinois retail sector. Therefore, IRMA will be heavily involved in the discussions regarding these proposals and looks forward to working with the advocates and sponsors of both proposals.

Return to Top



As TWIS readers are aware, a great many bills touch the retail sector. In order to avoid inundating the readers with a flood of introductions, the following bills are a highlight of introductions that are of greater interest to retail.


SB 1833 (Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie) and HB 3188 (Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago) expands the scope of information to be protected to include medical, health insurance, biometric, consumer marketing, and geolocation information. It requires notice of breaches of security to be provided to the Attorney General. Requires privacy policies to be posted.


SB 1433 (Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake) creates the Carpet Stewardship Act. It requires consumers to pay a 3.33 cents tax per square foot of carpet purchased in order to fund the collection, transportation and recycling of carpet in Illinois. It requires manufacturers—and some retailers—to join a representative organization and create a plan to implement and finance the program through Carpet America Recover Effort (CARE). CARE may raise or lower the tax with very little oversight from the State. Finally, it provides that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency must approve each carpet stewardship plan for the plan to be valid. It requires retailers to list the tax separately on the receipt, remit the tax to the representative organization; and allows retailers to be voluntary collections points.

SB 1485 (Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park) requires the Planning and Procurement Bureau to establish a long-term renewable resources procurement plan that includes all renewable energy credits necessary to meet specified goals (replacing the current renewable portfolio standards). It makes changes concerning nondiscrimination, energy efficiency and demand-response measures, natural gas efficiency programs, real-time pricing, infrastructure investment and modernization, the Illinois Smart Grid test bed, and on-bill financing programs for electric and gas utilities. It also provides that upon promulgation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of a final rule regulating carbon dioxide emissions from existing electric generating units, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency shall be authorized to implement a cap and trade program or similar market mechanism to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

HB 3293 (Rep. Larry Walsh, D-Joliet) requires the Planning and Procurement Bureau to include in procurement plans and competitive procurement processes the procurement of low carbon energy credits (LCE credits) for all of the utilities’ retail customers. The procurement plans shall include cost-effective low carbon energy credits from low carbon energy resources in an amount equal to 70% of each electric utility’s annual retail sales of electricity to retail customers in the State during the planning year immediately prior to the development of the procurement plan. Renewable energy credit, carbon emission credit, or LCE credit can only be used once to comply with a single portfolio standard and cannot be used to satisfy the requirements of more than one portfolio standard. It allows the electric utility to recover through tariffed charges all of the costs associated with the purchase of low carbon energy credits from low carbon energy resources. It requires electric utilities to procure low carbon energy credits from low carbon energy resources for all retail customers in its service area in accordance with provisions concerning the low carbon energy portfolio. It requires electric utilities and alternative retail electric suppliers to provide to its customers on a quarterly basis a pie-chart that graphically depicts the quantity of low carbon energy credits from low carbon energy resources procured as a percentage of the actual load of retail customers within its service area.


HB 3570 (Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion) requires providers of prepaid calling services to permit customers to transfer any telephone number used by that customer to any other telephone used by the customer.

HB 3571 (Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago) states that a provider of wireless telephone service may not use or permit the use of perma-cookies to monitor the viewing habits of its data plan users.

HB 3584 (Rep. Silvana Tabares, D-Chicago) provides that a cable or video providers shall cease charging customers for internet modems rented to the customer when the customer has paid to the provider the cost of the modem and the customer requests that the rental charges be discontinued. Cable and video providers shall provide notice regarding the discontinuance of rental charges to customers in each billing statement. The notice shall include a disclosure of rights and responsibilities relating to the maintenance of the modem.

HB 3651 (Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Chicago) provides that restrictions concerning the sending of unsolicited or misleading electronic mail messages apply also to text messages.


HB 3495 (Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston) requires restaurants to be aware of food allergy recalls from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It also requires restaurants to indicate on a placard, poster, or menu that consumers with food allergies to inform a waiter or waitress of the restaurant of their allergy.


HB 3237 (Rep. Sarah Feigenholtz, D-Chicago) requires in provisions that prohibit liquor distributors and manufacturers from giving, and retail licensees from receiving, anything of value, provides that a manufacturer, distributor or importing distributor may furnish free social media advertising to a person having a retail license if the social media advertisement does not contain the retail price of any alcoholic liquor.


SB 1836 (Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago) creates the Healthy Workplace Act and requires employers to provide 7 paid sick days to part-time and full-time employees each year they are employed with the employer. Paid sick leave shall accrue at the rate of one (1) hour of leave for every thirty hours (30) of work up to the maximum of 56 hours of paid sick leave per year.

HB 3554 (Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago) provides that employees must be given notice of the shifts to be worked 2 weeks in advance of the scheduled shift. And establishes requirements for minimum pay for working shifts outside of scheduled shifts.

HB 3619 (Rep. Cynthia Soto, D-Chicago) expands the Equal Pay Act of 2003 to include all employers rather any employer with 4 or more employees. Also, it increases the maximum civil penalty for all violations of the Act or a rule from $2,500 to $5,000.


SB 1611 (Sen. Antonio Munoz, D-Chicago) provides that a pharmacist may substitute a prescription biological product for a prescribed biological product only if specified criteria are met. It requires that, within a reasonable time following the dispensing of a biological product, the dispensing pharmacist or the pharmacist’s designee shall communicate to the prescriber the specific product provided to the patient, including the name of the product and the manufacturer. Additionally, it requires the pharmacy to retain a record of the biological product dispensed for a period of 5 years. Finally, the legislation requires the State Board of Pharmacy to maintain a link on the Department’s Internet web site to the current list of all biological products determined by the United States Food and Drug Administration to be interchangeable with a specific biological product.

HB 3321 (Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago) stipulates that health care providers shall not, as a result of their acts or omissions, be liable for civil damages under the Department of Human Services’ Drug Prevention Program who, acting in good faith, directly or by standing order, prescribes or dispenses an opioid antidote to a patient who, in the judgment of the health care professional, is capable of administering the drug in an emergency.

SB 1811 (Sen. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago) provides that any pharmacy with more than one retail location operating in this State shall collect and discard unused prescription medications, including, but not limited to, controlled substances, from residential sources in accordance with State and federal laws, including the federal Controlled Substances Act and any regulations issued pursuant thereto.

SB 1466 (Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago) allows a licensed pharmacist to dispense an opioid antagonist in accordance with written, standardized procedures or protocols developed by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, if such procedures or protocols are filed at the pharmacist’s place of practice and with the Board of Pharmacy before implementation. If a pharmacist want to dispense an opioid antagonist, the pharmacist to complete a training program approved by the Department of Human Services under the Drug Overdose Prevention Program authorized under Alcoholism and Other Drug Abuse and Dependency Act.

HB 3219 (Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Chicago) creates a pilot program beginning January 1, 2016, requiring that every new or refilled prescription for a Schedule II controlled substance containing hydrocodone shall only be dispensed in a non-reusable medicine locking closure package. It provides that medicine locking closure package must be dispensed by the pharmacy with instructions for patient use. Additionally, it provides that the manufacturer of the medicine locking closure package must make available assistance online or through a toll-free number for patient use.

HB 3519 (Rep. David Harris, R-Mount Prospect) provides that a pharmacist may substitute a prescription biosimilar product for a prescribed biological product under certain circumstances.

HB 3627 (Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago) allows pharmacists to administrate vaccinations to patients ages 10 through 13 pursuant to a valid prescription or standing order (was, limited to Influenza (inactivated influenza vaccine and live attenuated influenza intranasal vaccine) and Tdap (defined as tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) vaccines).

HB 3774 (Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago) states that before mailing or shipping a prescription medication to a patient’s residence, a pharmacy or nonresident pharmacy must telephone the patient, informing the patient of the type of prescription medication and its purpose and giving the patient the option to cancel delivery of the prescription medication.


SB 1755 (Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Sokie) creates the Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act and provides that an employer that intends to relocate a call center or portions of a call center to a foreign country must provide notice to the State Treasurer at least 120 days before the relocation. It requires the Treasurer to compile and post on the Treasurer’s website a list of employers that have relocated call centers. Additionally, it requires employers that relocate call centers to foreign countries to repay grants, loans, and tax benefits that may have been received. Finally, it authorizes a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for violations of the Act.

HB 3462 (Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez), D-Cicero provides that no person or business shall sell or offer to sell any cleaning product that contains triclosan and is used by consumers for sanitizing or hand or body cleansing. This prohibition does not apply to individual products for which specific United States Food and Drug Administration approval for consumer use has been secured. Each violation of this prohibition is a business offense with a fine of $10,000.

HB 3773 (Rep. Silvana Tabares, D-Chicago) requires the Department of Agriculture to create and maintain an Animal Abuse Registry that is funded by an Animal Abuse Registry Fund. Any person 18 years of age or older that has been convicted of cruel treatment, aggravated cruelty, or animal torture shall register with the Department of Agriculture within 30 calendar days after the date of conviction to be placed on the Animal Abuse Registry. The registry will be publicly accessible. The bill also prohibits a registered person from owning a companion animal or being employed at an animal shelter, pound, pet shop, zoo, or other business where companion animals are present.


HB 3121 (Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Rochelle) provides that certain information that may be disclosed to municipalities may also be disclosed to counties.

HB 3168 (Rep. David Leitch, R-Peoria) provides that the Department of Revenue may furnish certain financial information to municipalities and counties (now, only municipalities) if the municipality or county agrees in writing to the Act’s confidentiality provisions. The Department of Revenue is authorized to provide the information to municipalities or counties by electronic means.


SB 1675 (Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights) would permit the state to issue an RFP for digital cigarette tax stamps in IL and  Would allow a stamp to be considered “affixed” if it’s at least 90% affixed to the package

HB 2513 (Rep. Marcus Evans), D-Chicago and SB 1919 (Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield) provides that a person who is both a licensed distributor and a licensed retailer shall be issued a single license number by the Department of Revenue. It also provides that records may be kept electronically and may be kept at an out-of-state location so long as those records are made available upon reasonable notice for the purpose of investigation and control by the Department of Revenue. In provisions that provide for increased penalties for retailers that do not have training programs, provides that those training programs may be conducted electronically. If a retailer has a training program in place prior to the effective date of the amendatory Act, has a training program approved by another state, or follows the guidelines set forth by the federal Food and Drug Administration, then that training program shall be deemed to meet the minimum standards in this State.

HB 3362 (Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Northlake) creates the offense of unlawful sale of flavored electronic cigarettes or flavored cigarette liquids. It provides that a person commits unlawful sale of flavored electronic cigarettes or flavored cigarette liquids when he or she knowingly sells flavored electronic cigarettes or flavored cigarette liquids, or causes, permits, or procures flavored electronic cigarettes or flavored cigarette liquids to be sold from his or her premises or establishment.

Return to Top


Follow IRMA on the following social media outlets!

Twitter: @ILRetail
Facebook: Illinois Retail Merchants Association
Instagram: ILRetail





CRMA Poll Finds Emanuel Near 50%




Undecided Voters Breaking Towards Emanuel



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                    

CONTACT: Ryan McLaughlin

312-969-0255 |


CHICAGO – Chicago Retail Merchants Association (CRMA), a committee of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), has released findings from a poll indicating Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is at or over the 50% required to win the Chicago mayoral election were the election to be held today.

The poll results find Emanuel at 48.65%, Garcia at 37.72% with undecided voters at 13.63%. However, when undecided voters were asked to make a decision, nearly 21% chose Emanuel while 15% chose 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 holds his lead 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 while the candidates are split among Asian voters. The poll was conducted by We Ask America on Wednesday, February 25th, collecting responses from 1,138 likely voters with a margin of error of ±2.91%.

“While there are six weeks before Election Day, it would appear that Mayor Emanuel is in a strong position with likely Chicago voters,” said Rob Karr, President, Chicago Retail Merchants Association. “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% confidence level (the industry standard), were the same survey taken repeatedly.  For this case, results with a margin of error of ±2.91% at the 95% 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% in either direction.

About the Chicago Retail Merchants Association (CRMA)

Chicago Retail Merchants Association (CRMA), a committee of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), is dedicated to protecting the retail industry in the City of Chicago. Employing one in every five Chicagoans and generating 1/3 of local tax revenues, today, more than ever before, it is necessary for the retail industry to have a firm, solid footing in the activities of local government. CRMA is the voice for retailers in the City of Chicago.


Illinois This Week in Springfield – 99-03



This Week In Springfield, legislative committees began their work while the week was dominated by Governor Bruce Rauner’s first budget address.



Wednesday, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his first budget address. The much-anticipated proposal attempts to close the deficit in the current budget, balance the Fiscal Year 2016 budget while attempting to restore Illinois’ fiscal health in the long-term. He laid the blame for the current condition on “years of bad decisions, sleight-of-hand budgeting and giveaways we couldn’t afford.”

Stating that Illinois has “been living beyond our means-spending money that Illinois taxpayers could not afford”, Governor Rauner’s proposed budget cuts over $1.6 billion in spending to close the deficit in the current budget. He then proposed an additional $6.1 billion in spending reductions to bring Illinois’ spending in line with anticipated revenues while leaving room to pay off an additional $500 million in unpaid bills.

The Governor’s proposal did not include tax increases. He stated that “asking for more of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money without fundamentally reforming the structure of state government would further erode public confidence and accelerate our decline.”

Illinois’ largest-in-the-nation pension obligation backlog of over $110 billion is the Governor’s first target.  While he plans to protect benefits that have been earned to date, Governor Rauner desires to ensure that future workers are pushed to a 401K-type of retirement plan.  He made note that because of the dangerous nature of police and fire who put their lives on the line every day for our safety, he would exempt those groups from the proposed changes.  He also would allow employees hired before 2011 a buyout option which would include a payment and defined contribution plan in exchange for a reduction in COLA. The Governor estimates these reforms would save over $2 billion. However, it is a virtual certainty that even if such reforms were to pass the Assembly, they would be immediately challenged in court by unions representing state employees.

Governor Rauner then turned his attention to local governments.  Claiming that some had cash reserves and that payment to local governments in general had been increasing over the years, Gov. Rauner noted that they would experience a reduction equal to 3% of their revenue.  Local governments could then consolidate and restructure compensation packages and employment in order to adjust to the cut.  Cuts are also on the horizon for transportation agencies and Medicaid although the details here will be forthcoming in a separate package set to be introduced on Monday.  For now, we know that he proposes to save $75 million by conducting an aggressive eligibility review campaign and re-instituting SMART Act reforms that could save an additional $320 million.

The entire speech was not about spending reductions, however. Governor Rauner is proposing additional funds for early education and K-12 education in the neighborhood of $300 million. While universities were included in the budget cuts, community colleges and vocational schools were not.

Of immediate concern to Illinois’ pharmacy community, the Governor’s budget proposes $1.5 billion in cuts to the Medicaid program. Of this cut, approximately $42 million will fall on Illinois pharmacies through a reduction in the dispensing fee. This is particularly hurtful to Illinois pharmacies who experienced a 9% cut during the last round of Medicaid reform in 2011 while other providers only realized a 3% reduction. IRMA released the following statement in response to the budget address in general and the proposed pharmacy reimbursement cuts in particular:

“Governor Rauner inherited an enormous budget crisis and pension obligation that presents many fiscal challenges to our state. IRMA applauds his desire to balance the budget and help turn the state’s economy around. Our members – which include retail and mom and pop pharmacy providers- are more than a little concerned with the cuts to Medicaid. We hope to work closely with Administration and the legislature on issues impacting Medicaid in general and pharmacies in particular. Pharmacists, one of the nation’s most trusted professions, have seen two rounds of cuts and three times more than any other provider is asking more than a fair share of pharmacy providers,” said Rob Karr, President/CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

In an effort to push economic growth, the Governor has plans to achieve additional reforms to workers compensation, tort reform, pensions and taxes.  In an additional nod to the high costs of doing business Illinois, he wishes to freeze property taxes as well.

By making the government run more efficiently, cut where he is able and invest where it is necessary, Governor Rauner stated that he hopes his budget will ignite the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln who called for everyone to “think anew and act anew” and  will put Illinois on the path “…to a more prosperous future.”

Return to Top



Reaction to the Governor’s first budget address fell along party lines. Senate President John Cullerton (D- Chicago) immediately noted that predicating the budget on the proposed pension reform was not realistic and declared that immediately put a $2 billion-plus hole in the Governor’s proposed budget.

The normally reserved and understated Speaker of the Illinois House Michael J. Madigan (D- Chicago) also stated his disagreement with the pension reform proposal and stated that he disagrees with the belief that Illinois can simply cut services and resolve the problem. “I think that the elimination of the deficits will require a blend of service cuts plus new revenue,” stated Madigan.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno and House Republican Leader Jim Durkinboth cautioned that the budget address is just the start of a long processs. Leader Radogno noted that “we absolutely have to change the way we do things” while Leader Durking noted that ‘everything in that speech is subject to negotiation”.

 Return to Top




SB 1259 (Sen. James F. Clayborne, Jr., D-East St. Louis) and HB 2450 (Rep. Dan Burke, D-Chicago) provides that it is an unlawful practice for a manufacturer or distributor of prescription contact lenses to prevent a retailer from selling or advertising contact lenses below any specified price.


HB 2541 (Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago) provides that a credit card issuer may not automatically renew a credit card that has not been used to perform a credit card transaction within the 12 months immediately preceding the renewal.


SB 1261 (Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora) mandates that manufacturers add an extra fee on all architectural paint sold in Illinois and pass it down the line. Retailers are required to pass the tax on to consumers. Retailers are also encouraged to become voluntary collection sites. This tax is mandated, assessed, and retained by PaintCare, which is a non-governmental entity comprised of paint manufacturers for the collection, transportation, and recycling of paint. PaintCare may increase the tax and products that are taxed may be expanded at any time.

SB 1300 (Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago) creates the Smart Phone Kill Switch Act. It requires that any smart phone manufactured on or after July 1, 2016 that is sold or purchased in Illinois must be equipped with preloaded anti-theft functionality or be capable of downloading that functionality and requires the functionality to be available to purchasers at no cost. Additionally, it requires wireless communications device dealers to maintain a written record of every purchase or acquisition of a used wireless communications device for resale. And further requires the installation of video security cameras at a dealer’s physical location. Finally it provides exemptions from the application of the Act, including wireless telephone providers who acquire devices for trade-in or for repair and refurbishment programs.

HB 2607 (Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Buffalo Grove) requires the Planning and Procurement Bureau to establish a long-term renewable resources procurement plan that includes all renewable energy credits necessary to meet specified goals (replacing the current renewable portfolio standards). It sets forth guidelines for what shall be included in the procurement plan. It makes changes concerning nondiscrimination, energy efficiency and demand-response measures, natural gas efficiency programs, real-time pricing, infrastructure investment and modernization, the Illinois Smart Grid test bed, and on-bill financing programs for electric and gas utilities and Adds provisions related to renewable energy credit procurement. Amends the Environmental Protection Act. Finally, it provides that upon promulgation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of a final rule regulating carbon dioxide emissions from existing electric generating units, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency shall be authorized to implement a cap and invest program or similar market mechanism to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.


SB 1363 (Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago) creates the Workplace Bullying Prohibition Act and provides that bullying is prohibited in the workplace. The legislation applies to employers that employ 3 or more individuals but excludes the State, State agencies, and units of local government. It requires an employer to establish a policy regarding workplace bullying and file the policy electronically with the Department of Labor. Additionally, it provides that a violation of the Act by an employer constitutes a business offense subject to a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $2,000.

HB 2549 (Rep. Esther Golar, D-Chicago) creates the Best Candidate for the Job Act that provides that private employers shall properly consider for employment persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses. It prohibits discrimination against such persons unless there is a direct relationship between the offense and the specific employment sought. It also establishes criteria for evaluating convictions. Provides that an employer that demonstrates that it has hired an individual pursuant to the Act, except for a willful or wanton act in hiring an individual, shall not be liable for acts or omissions by the employee. Exempts law enforcement agencies.


HB 2496 (Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago) changes the additional amount of damages that may be recovered by the merchant from an amount not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 to an amount equal to the lesser of $500 or 3 times the full retail value of the merchandise.  It also provides that a merchant may recover civil damages for retail theft by bringing suit in a circuit court or by executing a settlement agreement. It specifies form of settlement agreement. It requires the settlement agreement to include a statement that nothing in the agreement shall constitute an admission of guilt for purposes of criminal law and that if the agreement is signed and payment is made in full within 60 days, no police report or criminal complaint will be filed by the merchant relative to the incident. Nothing in the agreement can or will bar the State from instituting the criminal prosecutions as it deems necessary.


SB 1359 (Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora) provides that a health plan that provides coverage for prescription drugs shall ensure that any required copayment or coinsurance applicable to drugs on a specialty tier does not exceed $100 per month for up to a 30-day supply of any single drug and a beneficiary’s annual out-of-pocket expenditures for prescription drugs are limited to no more than fifty percent of the dollar amounts in effect under specified provisions of the federal Patient Protection Affordable Care Act. It also provides that a health plan that provides coverage for prescription drugs and uses a tiered formulary shall implement an exceptions process that allows enrollees to request an exception to the tiered cost-sharing structure. Finally, it provides that a health plan that provides coverage for prescription drugs shall not place all drugs in a given class on a specialty tier.

HB 2507 (Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago) provides that smoking cessation products shall not be subject to prior approval as a result of the 4-prescription limit.

HB 2525 (Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake) provides that over-the-counter medications that are prescribed to a recipient of medical assistance by a physician, a physician’s assistant, a nurse practitioner, or any other medical care provider qualified to prescribe medications shall be covered under the State’s medical assistance program.  It also provides that pharmacies providing prescribed over-the-counter medications shall be reimbursed at the same rate determined by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services for prescription medications covered under the State’s medical assistance program. Additionally, it requires the Department to establish guidelines and standards by administrative rule on the documentation, if any, a medical care provider must submit when prescribing an over-the-counter medication to a recipient of medical assistance. Effective immediately.


HB 2513 (Rep. Marcus Evans, D-Chicago) provides that a person who is both a licensed distributor and a licensed retailer shall be issued a single license number by the Department of Revenue. It also provides that records may be kept electronically and may be kept at an out-of-state location so long as those records are made available upon reasonable notice for the purpose of investigation and control by the Department of Revenue. Amends the Prevention of Tobacco Use by Minors and Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products Act. In provisions that provide for increased penalties for retailers that do not have training programs, provides that those training programs may be conducted electronically. If a retailer has a training program in place prior to the effective date of the amendatory Act, has a training program approved by another state, or follows the guidelines set forth by the federal Food and Drug Administration, then that training program shall be deemed to meet the minimum standards in this State.

HB 2589 (Rep. Silvana Tabares, D-Chicago)provides that a person over the age of 18 found guilty of certain animal abuse offenses shall register with the national Do Not Adopt Registry within 10 days after the conviction and shall register annually for 10 years after the conviction. Further it provides that failure to properly register as required under the Act shall be a business offense with a fine of $100 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, and $1,000 for the third or subsequent offense. Additionally, it provides that any animal shelter, pet store, animal breeder, or person shall conduct a search of the national Do Not Adopt Registry prior to selling, transferring, delivering, or placing for adoption a companion animal to another person.

HB 2667 (Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston) creates the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act and imposes a tax on distributors of bottled sugar-sweetened beverages, syrups, or powders at the rate of $0.01 per ounce of bottled sugar-sweetened beverages sold or offered for sale to a retailer for sale in the State to a consumer. It requires those distributors to obtain permits. Additionally, it provides that 2% of the moneys shall be deposited into the Tax Compliance and Administration Fund for the administrative costs of the Department of Revenue, and 98% of the moneys shall be deposited into the Illinois Wellness Fund to be used for wellness programs and for expanded obesity prevention and treatment services for Medicaid beneficiaries. Finally, it creates an Advisory Council to govern the distribution of Illinois Wellness Fund moneys.


SB 1333 (Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora) provides that neither a group health plan nor an accident and health insurer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall discriminate with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider’s license or certification under applicable State law.

HB 2711 (Rep. Dan Brady, R-Normal) provides that insurers may not set reimbursement rates in a manner that discriminates against a class of eye care providers. It also provides that eye care coverage insurers may not preclude obtaining eye care directly from a licensed provider on a health care panel or promote a class of providers to the detriment of another class of providers. It requires that all providers on a provider panel be included in any publicly accessible list and requires the inclusion of ophthalmologists and optometrists in provider panels.

Return to Top


Illinois This Week in Springfield 99-02

In This Issue:



The General Assembly convened this week and much of the attention centered on Governor Rauner’s State of the State address.  After he delivered his speech, which included an outline to increase the minimum wage, the Senate passed their own minimum wage increase.


This week, Gov. Rauner delivered his first State of the State address to the General Assembly.  The much anticipated speech laid out the issues that Gov. Rauner wants to tackle during his term.  He will focus on growing the economy and attracting jobs, ensuring that children in all income levels receive a quality education, reform the way taxes are used and structured, and change the way government operates and interacts with citizens.  But he cautioned listeners that returning Illinois to its rightful place as one of the best places to live and work in the country is a long-term goal.  Gov. Rauner stated that his focus will not be on the next election, but on doing what’s best for the state.  Citing competitiveness as his watchword and opportunity and compassion as his goals, Gov. Rauner laid out a tough and ambitious agenda.

Of particular interest to the retail community, he laid out a specific plan for the minimum wage by supporting an increase of 25 cents per year for the next 7 years.  He tied his support for a minimum wage increase to reforms in the workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance systems.

As he did during the campaign, the Governor will make Worker’s Compensation reform a priority.  He claimed Attorney General Lisa Madigan as an ally based on her past expressions of support for addressing how causation is interpreted.  Additionally, he also expressed a desire to make the unemployment insurance system work better for both employers and employees.  It remains to be seen how potential reforms to the unemployment system will be addressed. The system is currently under an ‘agreed bill’ process which was negotiated by representatives of employers and labor. The current agreement has returned Illinois Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to solvency ahead of schedule. However, it also contains ‘speed bumps’ (aka benefit cuts for laid off workers and tax increases for employers). These ‘speed bumps’ are designed to force both parties back to the negotiating table to review the agreement and ensure it is having its desired effect. These speed bumps must be addressed this year or the aforementioned benefit cuts and tax increases will take effect.

Governor Rauner put a good deal of emphasis on education reform – a topic that is near and dear to his heart and a subject area in which he has long been involved. In order to have a highly trained and educated workforce, his administration will focus on ensuring that each child in Illinois has access to a quality education form an early age.  Since not every child will want or have the means to attend a four-year university, Gov. Rauner stressed that community colleges should be better equipped with technical and vocational training so that everyone has a real shot at the middle-class.  Gov. Rauner mentioned that he wanted to eliminate unnecessary testing so that teachers have more time to teach, and he wants to create incentives to attract the best and brightest teachers to Illinois.

As part of the reforms he wants to achieve, the Governor suggested giving local citizens greater power over the collective bargaining processes of their local governments and school districts including the right to create by referendum local empowerment zones. As described by the Governor, employees in these zones would have the right to decide whether or not to join a union. Additionally, the Governor stated that Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti would be directly involved in finding ways to consolidate government and rid itself of unfunded mandates.

During his speech, the Governor made passing reference to the need to reform ‘our out-of-date tax code’ pointing out that the ‘base it too narrow, and that makes us uncompetitive.’ While the speech itself contained no other details, his staff distributed additional details after the speech. As it relates to taxes, those details included:

    • Modernizing the sales tax to include service taxes;
    • Increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit;
    • Make income taxes low and competitive with other states;
    • Restructure the motor fuel tax to appropriately invest in infrastructure.


Those interested in viewing the additional details can find them here. You can read the speech here and watch the video of the speech here.

Governor Rauner has laid out an ambitious plan for the state. As always, IRMA will engage with all parties in the days to come on those issues of interest to retail. Everyone now awaits the Governor’s budget address on February 18th.

Return to Top


The first bill heard in the Senate Executive Committee of the 99th General Assembly was a proposal by Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Westchester) to increase the minimum wage.  Sen. Lightford, who has been the champion for this issue, introduced a bill that addresses minimum wage in light of recent changes in Chicago and concerns about how a mandated increase would affect small businesses.  SB 11 proposes to raise the current minimum wage from $8.25 to $11.00 over a four-year period – a 25% increase in employers largest or second largest expense item.  In addition, it would preempt home rule units from imposing their own minimum wage with the exception of the recently enacted ordinance in the City of Chicago. In the case of Chicago, they would be allowed to increase their minimum wage to the $13 per hour called for in their ordinance but would be preempted from raising it beyond $13.  Lastly, in recognition of the fact an increase would have negative financial implications on employers, this proposal would establish a limited tax credit for businesses with 50 employees or less.  This is a significant development as it is an admission that minimum wage increases negatively impact employers and discourage employment – something the proponents have long denied.

IRMA President & CEO Rob Karr testified in opposition noting that no employer can afford a 25% increase in costs as no employer, certainly in the retail space, is experiencing sales and profit increases of 25%. Moreover, these increases are just on labor and do not include or take into account the ever-increasing costs of inputs, property taxes, etc. IRMA noted that the day before a noted and popular bookstore in San Francisco, CA, whose owner was among the leading advocates when San Francisco enacted their minimum wage which currently stands at $11.05, is closing this year citing the unsustainable minimum wage.

SB 11 does nothing to change the economic perception of Illinois. It does nothing to create jobs and grow the economy – something every economist agrees is the only prescription for significantly lowering unemployment and raising wages. Further, it continues to economically disenfranchise young workers who are experiencing unemployment over 50% in Illinois and over 90% in large portions of the City of Chicago.

After a short debate, the measure passed out of committee on a party-line vote of 11-5-0 and was sent to the Senate floor for additional consideration.  Wednesday, Senate Bill 11 passed the full Senate by a vote of 36-18-0.

Return to Top


The Transportation for Illinois Coalition (TFIC), a coalition co-chaired by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois AFL-CIO, has been trying for several years to garner support for additional taxes to fund a new capital infrastructure campaign. The State’s largest infrastructure program in history of $30 billion expired two years ago and was plugged last year by a $1.1 billion program.

The coalition is trying to raise at least $1.8 billion in annual revenues – $1.5 billion would be used for a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGo) program and another $300 million to finance $3 billion in bonds.

Presently, the TFIC is laying out four funding scenarios. TWIS readers can view those scenarios here. The current centerpieces of their tax proposals are:

  1. Increase the Motor Fuel Tax by 13-cents. This would give Illinois the fourth highest state imposed motor fuel tax in the nation. (estimated to raise $780 million)
  2. Increase the state sales tax by .1%. (estimated to raise $154-$198 million)
  3. Double the sales tax on food from the current 1% to 2%. (estimated to raise $329 million)

Other proposed revenue sources to be paired with one or more of the above include increases in vehicle registrations, certificates of titles, driver’s licenses, and various fund transfers.

It is important to note that Governor Rauner’s administration, via Capitol Fax, a highly-read political blog focused on Illinois government and politics, is denying any connection stating: “The administration has not launched behind-the-scenes talks with legislators to raise the gas tax, or any other taxes or fees to fund a capital program. What’s being circulated by some advocacy groups is not the governor’s plan and does not have his blessing.”

IRMA will continue to monitor the discussion.

Return to Top


Last year, an IRMA initiative to return fairness to the refunding of sales tax on bad debt passed both chamber of the Assembly unanimously. Former Governor Pat Quinn decided to use the bill as a vehicle for meaningless political posturing in literally his final moments in office effectively killing the bill. The initiative has been reintroduced in the form of HB 498 (Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D- Chicago Heights) and has already attracted 13 co-sponsors. The proposal has no known opponents. As a refresher, if a consumer does not pay for the merchandise they purchase on credit, and efforts to collect fail, a bad debt is declared and sales tax is refunded to the retailer. This happens because in the eyes of the law, a sale is deemed not to have occurred.

Several years ago, the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) issued a controversial opinion that this did not apply to private label credit cards (PLCC’S). PLCC’s are cards emblazoned with the logo of a store and can only be used at that store unlike multipurpose cards (e.g. cards that may carry a logo but can be used anywhere) or general use cards (e.g. VISA, MasterCard, etc.). Over the course of last year, IRMA worked with IDOR to address their procedural concerns to ensure proper documentation would be available and lines of accountability would be clear.

Return to Top


State of the State Address- Illinois


Ryan McLaughlin, 312-588-4102

Statement from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association in Response to Governor Rauner’s State of the State Address

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) has issued the following statement regarding Governor Rauner’s State of the State address:

“Governor Rauner has laid out an ambitious agenda reflective of a desire to see Illinois return to the role of an economic leader. We are concerned about proposals to increase the minimum wage as those mandates fall disproportionately on the retail industry, but attempts to offset those costs are welcomed as they recognize such mandates impose significant costs. Retailers will withhold judgment until we see the details, how those benefits accrue to Illinois retailers, and what other proposals may come from the upcoming budget address. We stand ready to work with Governor Rauner and the legislature to help grow the economy and jobs accordingly,” said Rob Karr, President/CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association.


Economic facts about the retail industry in Illinois:

  • 144,715 retail establishments
  • 1.6 million retail jobs
  • $65 billion in total labor income
  • $50 billion in direct impact on GDP

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.