This Week In Springfield, lawmakers returned to Springfield for the second and final scheduled week of the 2017 Veto Session. Lawmakers returned amongst a maelstrom over allegations of sexual harassment.
In between House and Senate sexual harassment training seminars, lawmakers continued to override some of Governor Bruce Rauner’s total vetoes and amendatory vetoes. Of the 39 total vetoes issued by the Governor, 15 were overridden while 22 were sustained. The rest were not called for an override so the veto stands. Of the 10 amendatory vetoes issued by the Governor, three were overridden, three were sustained, and four were not called for an override or acceptance of the amendatory veto. The vetoes overridden included, but were not limited to, Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s ‘Debt Transparency’ bill (HB 3649), Treasurer Michael Frerich’s ‘ Life Insurance’ bill (HB 302), and the Illinois Student Loan Bill of Rights (SB 1351 Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston/Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago). At one point, the Senate overrode eight vetoes in 21 minutes. By the end of the week 18 total and amendatory vetoes were overridden and 23 were sustained. By comparison, prior to this year only one gubernatorial veto was overridden.
Although a surprising number of the Governor’s vetoes were rejected by lawmakers, they were unable to override the Right to Work veto that provides the foundation, symbolically or otherwise, to his Turnaround Agenda.
Last week, several House Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in overriding the Governor’s veto of the Pay History Prohibition legislation, HB 2462 (Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin/Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie). The bill sought to prohibit an employer from asking job applicants their wage or salary history. The idea is that women are getting paid less than men and this follows them from job to job. The theory is that if an employer is not able to ask about a person’s previous wage they will be paid more.
In reality, the bill does a great deal more than just prohibit employers from asking about prior wages and salaries. It does not allow a company to base an employee’s salary or raise on seniority, merit, quality or quantity of production. These are the current defenses to an unequal pay claim in Illinois and almost every other state. Courts have repeatedly upheld this process as legitimate business measures that protect and promote employees. HB 2462 would have prohibited a company from using these common sense and practical measures as defenses if an employee can find any “alternative practice” used by any company in the United States for a similar job. In Illinois, a state of just under13 million people, only 266 claims have been filed in the last four years. Only 13 claims were found to have any merit. Only ½ of 1% of all businesses in Illinois are responsible for any paid out unequal pay claims. Companies spent more money defending frivolous claims than unequal pay claims were awarded by the courts. Frivolous claims will only be exacerbated by the fact the legislation also provides for additional penalties that includes but is not limited to compensatory damages, punitive damages, and special damages. Additionally, a claimant would be allowed to pursue federal damages in addition to the state damages. Unfortunately for all, this all could have been avoided if compromise was alive and well in Springfield.
Early in the process, IRMA drafted legislation that was based off the Massachusetts law that was supported by Massachusetts businesses and advocacy groups alike. IRMA and a coalition of business associations including the Illinois Manufacturers Association and the Illinois Chamber supported this legislation. Rather than negotiate a compromise, the proponents ‘accepted’ two minor changes, concluded they compromised, and dared legislators to vote against women. Fast forward to the Senate override, when it became clear that lawmakers understood the overreach of the legislation in lieu of the offered compromise by the business coalition and there was not enough votes for the override, the proponents drafted another ‘compromise’ that removed one minor penalty but left the remaining six penalties in the legislation and made no other substantive changes or considered the aforementioned Massachusetts model. Lawmakers in the Senate responded to this faux compromise by sustaining the veto by a vote of 29-17-1. IRMA would like to thank those legislators who voted to sustain the Governor’s veto. The advocacy groups continue to reject compromise and have vowed to re-introduce the legislation next year.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AGREEMENT
Every two-to-three years the business community and labor come together and enter into an agreed bill process for unemployment insurance. IRMA leads the business coalition while AFL-CIO leads the labor coalition. Two years ago, the process led to labor getting the repeal of the Social Security offset and employers getting a re-definition of ‘misconduct’. This year SB 1381 (Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Bellevue/Sen. Terry Link, D-Gurnee) is the result of the agreed bill process and extends the ‘speed bumps’ for another two years. Speed bumps are increases in UI taxes on employers and UI benefit cuts on labor. ‘Speed bumps’ are intentionally inserted to incentivize both sides to return to the table to review the current UI agreement and negotiate any changes that may be necessary for either side, or the Governor’s Office, desires. In this case, no changes are necessary and it is speed bumps that brings everyone together. As it is an agreed bill, it passed the House and Senate unanimously.
GIFT CARDS/UNCLAIMED PROPERTY
Last year lawmakers passed a revenue bill to pay for the state budget that included a sweeping re-write of Illinois’ unclaimed property law. At that time, working with the office of State Treasurer Frerich’s, IRMA managed to preserve the exemptions for gift cards and remove a provision that would have made in-store credit escheatable. The Governor vetoed the revenue bill because it also increased income taxes but it was subsequently overridden. Over the summer, IRMA and other parties worked with the Treasurer’s Office on a trailer bill to clear up some ambiguity in the legislation. SB 868 HA#2 (Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago/Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park) resolves the ambiguity regarding a gift card versus a store value card. SB 868 passed both the Senate and the House unanimously.
IRMA would like to thank the Treasurer’s Office for their willingness to consider clarifying language.
IRMA testified in House and Senate committees in favor of a proposal enabling the implementation of small cell “networks” in Illinois by telecommunication companies. IRMA testified that with mobile data traffic expected to double annually, small cell base stations are set to play an important role in expanding the capacity of retailers to meet the technological demands of the consumer for highly customized, on-demand services. At a time when consumers are relying on smartphones and tablets more than ever for their shopping needs small cells address coverage, capacity, and reliability concerns to ultimately enable a superior experience both consumers and retailers and the use of cutting edge, data intensive technologies not only in retail but all business sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare, and finance. To meet these demands, SB 1451 (Sen. Terry Link, D-Gurnee/Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Oak Lawn) updates the regulatory framework to enable the latest technology networks, like 5G, that depend on deploying a large volume of small cells.
SB 1451 passed both the House and the Senate and now will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
GEO-LOCATION AND $15 MINIMUM WAGE
As reported last week there a few vetoes that were not called for an override due to the fact the sponsors did not have the requisite votes for an override. These included Geo-location (HB 3449), Workers Compensation ‘Reform’ (HB 2525), and $15 Minimum Wage (SB 81). The sponsor of the minimum wage bill specifically stated that she did not have enough support in the Senate for an override. IRMA appreciates our members’ support and due diligence in educating lawmakers on the negative impact this type of mandate would create and is creating in jurisdictions who have implemented such increases.
2018 SESSION SCHEDULE