The liability to which retailers are exposed can add significantly to the cost of doing business in Illinois. IRMA advocates for a reasonable tort system that punishes defendants based on fault and not ability to pay, that punitive damages reflect actual damages, etc. IRMA opposes efforts to shift one entity’s or group of entities responsibilities to retail.
Retailers actively serve and protect their customers on a daily basis as it is in retailing’s best interest to have safe and satisfied customers. Protections must be effective and addressed to narrow, specific, and true harms. IRMA will work to ensure the enactment of legislation in this area meets these stringent tests and does not inhibit the use of information and technological advancements.
Credit and Finance
Credit and finance issues directly impact the bottom-line of both retailers and their customers and can negatively impact the ability of consumers of all income levels to participate in the free market economy. The financial system is heavily dependent upon the free flow of information. That system has ensured access to credit that is the envy of the world. IRMA will oppose efforts to inhibit the flow of information necessary to render appropriate decisions for every customer and meet their preferences. Likewise, IRMA opposes artificial pricing schemes and interest rates or efforts to hinder the use of coupons.
While many of the other subject areas relate to economic development, the overall regulatory and fiscal atmosphere is important. Employers, no matter their size, have limited amounts of money to invest in operations and facilities each year. They will invest where they can realize the best rate-of-return. If we want good jobs in Illinois, the economic and governmental atmosphere must be stable and encourage employers to make their investments in Illinois.
Education and Workforce Development
The long-term vitality of Illinois’ economy hinges on having a literate, educated workforce able to adapt to the demands of an ever-changing and challenging global economy. To that end, IRMA has found it necessary to be involved in education reform efforts. Reforms must ensure funding is tied to results, standards are uniform and fair, and that any funding reform is real and long-term. Developing a quality workforce goes beyond elementary and secondary education. Workforce development efforts targeted at adults and existing workforce members are vital to ensuring they remain professionally viable.
IRMA supports the expansion of recycling options for consumers. IRMA opposes efforts to ban or tax packaging products such as plastic or paper bags or Styrofoam or require consumers to pay additional fees at the point of purchase such as mandatory bottle deposits. Illinois-only solutions hinder product distribution and harm Illinois’ competitiveness. Likewise, one-size fits all approaches and mandatory take-back requirements threaten the operation of retail stores and the safety and welfare of consumers.
Regulation and Licensing
Government adds significantly to the cost of doing business through the regulatory process. In many instances, the bureaucracy attempts to extend its reach or justify its existence through this process. IRMA works to simplify the existing regulatory maze while attempting to halt efforts to further extend the bureaucracy and impose unfunded mandates on Illinois employers. Finally, IRMA works to ensure that retailers can continue to meet the needs of each individual customer as opposed to seeing customers frustrated by one-size-fits-all approaches that squash innovation and customer service.
IRMA led the way toward electric deregulation resulting in substantial, on-going savings for Illinois retailers and other commercial customers. In addition to obtaining better service and more options for businesses, particularly in more rural areas, IRMA helped secure $90 million in rebates for business during the most recent rewrite of the Illinois Telecommunications Act. IRMA supports efforts to ensure sufficient, cost effective energy supplies and generation to meet the needs of growing economy but opposes efforts to do so through artificial subsidies.
Food retailing is one of the most vital retailing sectors. IRMA continually works with the Illinois Department of Public Health and local health departments to ensure Illinois’ food supply is safe and that the regulatory system is efficient and practical. IRMA opposes efforts to require Illinois-specific labels or impose Illinois-specific requirements on national programs such as SNAP and WIC. IRMA opposes proposals that interfere with a retailer’s right to display and sell his/her merchandise.
IRMA believes the private sector is the best provider of health care services both from a quality and cost perspective. Coverage mandates artificially increase the cost of health care coverage. Efforts to instill transparency and competitiveness should be encouraged. Employers are consumers of healthcare and should be treated as such.
Much of the cost of doing business in Illinois, and the less than stellar economic reputation Illinois suffers nationally, is from the workers’ compensation system and unfunded wage and leave proposals and mandates. These costs place Illinois employers at a substantial competitive disadvantage with their competitors in other states. Workers’ compensation in particular must be comprehensively and effectively addressed.
The liquor industry is one of the most over-regulated industries in America. This over-regulation stifles innovation and keeps the industry locked in a regulatory scheme originally designed in the 1920’s. IRMA opposes efforts by distributors or manufacturers to further shift their costs onto retailers and their customers. All stakeholders should be treated equitably and fairly by regulators and policymakers.
Retail theft costs retailers and their customers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Higher prices are the result of this theft. This theft can take many forms. Illinois’ retail theft laws are recognized as among the best in the country. IRMA will oppose efforts to undermine existing retail theft laws and ensure that retail theft is treated as the serious crime that it is.
IRMA is the only statewide association representing pharmacies. Pharmacies play an increasingly crucial role in the provision of primary healthcare and are therefore vital to the well-being of Illinois’ citizens. There is ample evidence that a more fully engaged pharmacist can save healthcare systems millions of dollars. IRMA will work to ensure that pharmacy reimbursement rates reflect the true cost of provision of services and will protect the professional rights and integrity of pharmacists. This includes ensuring that pharmacists are treated as equals with other medical providers in terms of reimbursement and payment.
The tax climate of a state is one of the biggest variables when a business decides whether to locate or open in a certain location. If that employer can operate more efficiently and realize a better rate-of-return in a nearby state with a better tax climate, they will do so. With 2/3rds of Illinois’ population within a 40-minute drive of a bordering state, it is imperative that Illinois tax climate be as low and broad-based as possible. IRMA will oppose efforts to alter or decrease the vendor collection allowance which is the portion of the sales tax Illinois retailers are allowed to retain as a partial reimbursement for their costs of administering the State’s sales tax. The tax laws must apply uniformly, be broad-based, and apply to one base. Likewise, the Illinois Department of Revenue should be the sole interpreter and enforcer of Illinois tax laws and regulations.
IRMA opposes additional taxes on tobacco products which will further encourage an already pervasive illegal street market in cigarettes purchased from lower tax states. Further, IRMA advocates for uniform penalties for those illegally selling cigarettes to minors and for minors initiating the crime by attempting to purchase said products.