October 16, 2015
Cuba, Award, Gridlock and Planning
Neither the House nor the Senate were in session this week. The House and Senate return Tues., Oct. 20.
Trade Mission to Cuba
Chamber President and CEO Todd Maisch spent four days in Cuba earlier this week on a trade mission. Others on the trip included U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos and Rodney Davis, as well as officials of the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Soybean Growers and other groups. Potential trade between the U.S. and Cuba may not be on the immediate horizon, but this key topic needs to be a priority.
Rep. Davis said the trip is crucial not only to forging new paths for sales of American goods and services, but to encourage Democracy in the island nation. “I look forward to working on a bipartisan basis to encourage economic reforms in Cuba, such as moving to a single currency and expanding private enterprise, which will ensure Illinois and the Cuban people benefit from increased trade,” said Davis. ”
Rep. Bustos added, “While we have made real progress in the last year toward improving bilateral trade relations with Cuba, we still have a lot of work to do to cut through the red tape that holds back our family farmer’s ability to export.
According to the Illinois Cuba Working Group, of which the Illinois Chamber is a member, Illinois corn and soy eports to Cuba reached about $66 million in 2008, but dropped to $24 million in 2014.
The Illinois Chamber has won a W3 Silver Award from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts for it’s “Foreign Oil Enyart” political campaign. The category was Integrated Campaign-Politics. That campaign has now won five awards. Thanks to Gravina Public Strategies for it’s work on it.
(In)Action at the Capitol
Neither Chamber met this week to take action on legislation. There is no negotiated budget proposal in the hopper.
The House Revenue Committee has scheduled a subject matter hearing Oct. 20 on the FY 2016 budget along with “homestead exemption, Chicago Property Tax relief.” The focus of the property tax portion of the subject matter hearing will again be the proposal by the Mayor of Chicago to increase the homestead exemption in conjunction with an increase in property taxes. The Illinois Chamber remains opposed to any efforts to increase the homestead exemption in conjunction with an increase in property taxes.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed, and lawmakers have already filed legislation for, the sale of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. Rauner believes a sale would create $12 million in annual savings once workers at the JRTC are moved to existing state government offices.
The Illinois Chamber is planning its goals for 2016. Please coordinate with your council’s executive director if you have input to share.
Archive of Government Affairs Reports