This Week in Springfield – 101-09

 March 22, 2019

 IN THIS ISSUE:

BROAD INTERNET DEVICES ACT PASSES SENATE COMMITTEE
BPA BUSINESS RECORDS
SESAME SEED LABELING COMPROMISE ADVANCES
DOOR-TO-DOOR CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT “COOLING OFF PERIOD” COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE
LATEX GLOVES BAN COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE
RESTAURANT FOOD ALLERGEN NOTICE COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE
CORPORATE BOARD MANDATE PASSES COMMITTEE
WORKPLACE TRANSPARENCY ADVANCES
RETAIL THEFT DIVERSION PROGRAM PASSES COMMITTEE WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
REBATE CARDS DORMANCY CHARGES PROHIBITION PASSES THE HOUSE

This Week in Springfield the first Senate committee deadline was reached and House committee action heated up in advance of its first committee deadline next week. Any legislation that does not have its deadline specifically extended is considered ‘held’. That does not mean the same idea cannot re-emerge as an amendment to another bill.

BROAD INTERNET DEVICES ACT PASSES SENATE COMMITTEE

Currently, laws at the federal and state level have long prohibited the unauthorized use of a device to record a person’s communications. Drafter’s of the federal Wiretap Act and Illinois’ existing wiretapping law focused on the activity prohibited, rather than the technologies that are used to engage in the activity. The drafters understood that technological advancements would continue to provide convenience for individuals, but individuals’ actions regarding the use of the technology needed to be regulated.  Any product can become dangerous, illegal, or intrusive if used improperly. SB 1719 (Sen. Christina Castro, D-Elgin) flips that rational upside down and assumes a product is illegal if the person bought it but did not consent to the intended use of the product for which it was bought .  It makes the incorrect assumption that the product can distinguish between the owner and an authorized user and has the capability to derive consent, and be able to produce a schedule and calendar of use, categories it has recorded, and how it will collect and disseminate the information.

SB 1719 assumes everyday home appliances can do spectacular things that they obviously cannot. As a consequence IRMA remains opposed to the legislation.

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BPA BUSINESS REPORTS

Environmentalist contend that bisphenol-A (BPA) found in receipts cause adverse reactions to those individuals who handle the receipts.  HB 2076 (Rep. Karina Villa, D-Batavia) would prohibit the use of business documents, including receipts that contain BPA.

The majority of Illinois retailers stopped using receipts that contained BPA many years ago. This decision was not based on any scientific studies but public opinion and capitalism. Retail sales of “BPA free” products increased so therefore retailers offered and used more “BPA” free products including paper products.  Testimony from a union representative that employees of specific retailers are currently handling receipts that contain BPA is factually incorrect as those listed retailers do not currently use receipts that contain BPA.

Even though retailers do not use BPA receipts the legislation has issues as drafted. The legislation prohibits the use of any document that contains any level of BPA.  Therefore, without a de minimis standard, this would preclude the ability to use recycled paper because it contains traces of BPA due to the mixing of paper during the recycling process. Additionally, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) only employs one toxicologist and does not currently have the equipment to test for BPA.  Even though retailers moved away from the use of BPA, the ability of the IEPA to adequately monitor or enforce the prohibition would be impractical.  Finally, the legislation does not contain an adequate “use through provision” to allow businesses to deplete current stock and phase in for the orderly transition to BPA free paper.

The bill passed the House Energy and Environment Committee by a vote of 16-12. Representative Villa committed to working on the bill with stakeholders and to bring an amendment back to committee for consideration.

IRMA would like to thank Representative Karina Villa for convening a stakeholder meeting and IRMA looks forward to working with stakeholders to address the current issues and reach a compromise.

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SESAME SEED LABELING COMPROMISE ADVANCES

An initiative to address the growing issue of sesame seed allergens passed the Heath Care Licenses Committee. Food allergen labeling is governed by the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). FALCPA requires the labels of domestically manufactured or imported pre-packaged goods to include the eight major food allergens: milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and crustacean shellfish. Together these foods cause the majority of allergic reactions in the U.S.  Due to the rise of sesame seed allergen the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering adding sesame seed to the food allergen labeling requirements. The majority of the largest manufactures already include sesame seed labeling on prepackaged food.

HB 2123 (Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook), as introduced, requires a state specific Illinois label to be placed on packaged food as well as ready to consume food. In the modern restaurant, there is no such thing as ‘standardized’ meal. Every offering can be customized to the customer’s desire and 75% of restaurant customers customize their orders. Using a coffee shop as an example, there are over 80,000 different ways to order a cup of coffee.  Due to the movement of the FDA and manufacturers changing their current labeling practices to include sesame seed and HB 3018 which passed during the same committee hearing requiring the on premise certified food protection manager to answer consumer requests regarding allergens, Representative Carroll agreed to amend his bill to apply to prepackaged foods.

IRMA will be neutral upon the adoption of the amendment.  IRMA would like to thank Representative Carroll for working with us to reach an agreement on this important consumer safety issue.

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DOOR-TO-DOOR CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT “COOLING OFF PERIOD” COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE

 

Every year thousands of Illinois residents are victim to home repair schemes. Oftentimes, “home repair contractors” will visit a town recently devastated by violent weather and go door-to-door and offer to repair the victims homes. Seniors, especially those who live alone, are prime targets for home repair scams. In some cases, con artists pose as inspectors, city officials or police and use scare tactics to force elders to have unnecessary repairs made to windows, furnaces, chimney, water heater or the electrical wiring, etc.

HB 2643 CA#1 (Rep. Joyce Mason, D-Gurnee) would give individuals 65 years or older a 15 day cooling off period with a door-to-door home repair contract.  This provides protection for seniors who enter expensive home repair contracts unwittingly. This would not apply to a contract that was executed proactively by an individual who entered into a contract at the contractor’s physical place of business.

IRMA would like to thank Representative Mason for working with IRMA to address this important constituent issue. IRMA supports the adoption of CA#1.

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LATEX GLOVES BAN COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE

Many consumers suffer from latex allergies and there are concerns that latex could be transmitted from an employee’s gloves while handling consumer food. HB 2831 CA#1 (Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg) would prohibit the use of latex gloves while preparing or serving food for consumption. The legislation still allows the use of latex gloves for other purposes in and around the retailer.

With the adoption of the agreed upon committee amendment, HB 2831 passed the House Healthcare Licenses Committee by a unanimous vote.

IRMA would like to thank Representative Mussman for amending the bill and addressing retail concerns and supports the amended bill.

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RESTAURANT FOOD ALLERGEN NOTICE COMPROMISE PASSES COMMITTEE

Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18. Eight major food allergens – milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish – are responsible for most of the serious food allergy reactions in the United States. Illinois is one of the few states that require a restaurant to have a person who has had additional allergen training to be on duty at all times. Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia also require notices to consumers to make sure they notify the restaurant that they may have an allergy to a certain food.  HB 3018 CA#1 (Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Aurora) would provide the same notice to consumers.

The legislation allows those restaurants that already have a notice as required by another state, internal policy, or national standard to continue to use that notice. Additionally, the legislation requires the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to create a sign for those restaurants that do not currently use a notice. The notice will be provided as a downloadable document and free of charge to restaurants. Finally, the legislation creates a flexible notice while requiring the employee who receives an allergen warning from a consumer to communicate that warning to the person in charge or the certified food protection manager on duty.

With the adoption of the agreed upon amendment the legislation passed the House Healthcare Licenses Committee by a unanimous vote. This legislation provides flexibility for the retailer without creating regulatory hurdles while also providing an extra layer of protection for the consumer who suffers from food allergies.

IRMA would like to thank Representative Kifowit for working with IRMA to create the current compromise and is neutral on the amended legislation

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CORPORATE BOARD MANDATE PASSES COMMITTEE

HB 3394 (Rep. Chris Welch, D-Chicago) requires publicly traded companies with principle executive offices in Illinois to maintain a minimum number females and African American directors on its board of directors.  At least two legal arguments are presented by the legislation: (1) it violates equal protection by facially discriminating based on sex and race, and (2) because it applies to companies organized outside Illinois, it violates the dormant commerce clause and the “internal affairs doctrine,” which requires that internal company affairs be under the regulatory purview of only one jurisdiction. California passed a similar bill and the California Governor admitted that “There have been numerous objections to this bill and serious legal concerns have been raised. I don’t minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation.”  As drafted, IRMA is opposed to the legislation.

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WORKPLACE TRANSPARENCY ADVANCES

SB 30 (Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake) creates the Workplace Transparency Act and prohibits employers from requiring an employee or prospective employee to sign a nondisclosure agreement that contains any provision that has the purpose or effect of: (1) limiting the disclosure of sexual misconduct, retaliation, or unlawful discrimination; (2) suppressing information relevant to an investigation into a claim of sexual misconduct, retaliation, or unlawful discrimination; (3) impairing the ability of any person to report a claim of sexual misconduct, retaliation, or unlawful discrimination; or (4) waiving a substantive or procedural right or remedy of any person relating to a claim of sexual misconduct, retaliation, or unlawful discrimination.

The Act does not prohibit a settlement agreement, entered into between an employer and employee or former employee claiming sexual harassment, retaliation, or unlawful discrimination, from containing confidentiality provisions as agreed to between the parties. These types of nondisclosure agreements are not widely used, if used at all, in the retail industry.  This bill strikes a reasonable balance to protect a victim of harassment while also given the parties to enter into a confidentiality agreement upon settlement of the accusations. The legislation passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. IRMA is neutral.

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RETAIL THEFT DIVERSION PROGRAM PASSES COMMITTEE

WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

Over the past few years, IRMA has worked with criminal justice reform advocates to ensure that non-violent offenders, particularly first-time offenders, are not languishing in prison while waiting for arraignment. IRMA worked with Cook County Sherriff Tom Dart’s office to pass the ‘Rocket Docket’ legislation which requires an immediate hearing for retail theft offenders and requires them to be released on an I-bond or electronic monitoring. Additionally, over a decade ago, IRMA begin supporting, and still supports, the expungement and sealing of non-violent offenses so that previous mistakes do not restrict a person’s future endeavors.

Specifically, SB 1878 CA#2 (Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Vandalia) provides that any person that has a previous felony or misdemeanor conviction is eligible for a 12 month diversion program for a misdemeanor retail theft violation. The only individuals not eligible for the diversion program would be those that have a previous conviction in Illinois or another state for criminal financial crimes enterprise—organized retail crime.  This draws the distinction between a crime of need or addiction and a premeditated crime for profit.  With the agreement of the State’s Attorney and the defendant, the defendant will receive a 12 month probationary status where the individual must not commit another crime, possess a firearm, and must make restitution to the retailer.  Additionally, the court may require the defendant to attend a retail theft awareness class. After successful completion of the diversion program the retail theft charge will be dismissed.  A person would be eligible for the retail theft diversion program once every three years.

This compromise continues IRMA’s efforts to provide relief to those who make a mistake or need help while protecting retailers and consumers from those individuals who steal as part of an organized retail crime enterprise.

IRMA would like to thank Sen. Plummer for his work on this issue. IRMA supports the legislation as amended.

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REBATE CARDS DORMANCY CHARGES PROHIBITION PASSES THE HOUSE

HB 2156 (Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago) is an initiative of the Illinois Treasurer’s Office and is intended to prohibit the issuance of product rebate cards that charge dormancy or other post-issuance fees. The language only applies to multi-store cards utilized for rebates after the consumer completes the rebate submission process. It exempts closed-looped merchant cards that are distributed and used at one retailer—also known as “store cards”.

HB 2156 passed the House by a 67-47 vote. IRMA is neutral to the legislation.

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