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Government Affairs Reports

                                           

March 27, 2015

 

Increased Movement on Bills in House and Senate 

Both the House and Senate adjourned late yesterday for the spring break. Because Friday, March 27 was the deadline for committee action, there was a lot of movement on bills this week:

 

Chamber Advances Major Environmental Proposal

The Senate Environment Committee this week passed the Chamber’s initiative, SB 1672 (Rezin, R-Peru), that would level the playing field for businesses seeking air permits from the Illinois EPA. Currently, businesses seeking air permits in non-attainment area of the state–generally, northeastern Illinois and the Metro-East–have appeals of their permits heard by the Illinois Pollution Control Board in a process that remains under the control of state government. However, businesses that operate in attainment areas are forced to defend their permits on appeal at the US EPA, a venue that puts them at a distinct disadvantage.

The ability to receive an air permit is a “go/no go” factor for new plant construction or major expansions of existing facilities, making the permitting process a vital economic development issue. While the permitting process is not simple in non-attainment areas of the state, businesses in those regions at least have appeals of their permits vetting in a state-run process. Businesses in attainment areas are subjected to an appeals process before the US EPA where appeals are longer, more costly and burdensome. The process at the US EPA has often led businesses to abandon new plants or expansions entirely and move them to other states with a state-run process.

The Chamber’s initiative will set up an appeals process at the Illinois Pollution Control Board for businesses in attainment areas as well as non-attainment areas of the state. It will also benefit areas of the state that are currently non-attainment as successful efforts to clean the air result in more communities reaching attainment status. The Chamber and allied organizations will continue to refine the legislation in an effort to achieve final passage.

 

FY15 Budget Fix

Gov. Rauner has already signed the FY16 budget fix bills, which had arrived on his desk only hours earlier. That finalization ended major debate on how to fill a massive budget hole in the current year’s budget.

The Illinois Senate passed the $1.6 billion, FY15 budget fix Thursday. It passed the House Wednesday. It’s divided between HB 317 and HB 318. The plan authorizes the governor to transfer $1.3 billion from other purposes. The rest comes from a 2.25 percent across-the-board budget cut.

 

Illinois Chamber of Commerce Member Invitation to the USS ILLINOIS (SSN-786) Commissioning Committee Fundraiser

Later this year, the USS ILLINOIS, a Virginia Class submarine currently under construction, will launch. Next Wed., April 1, 2015, Illinois Chamber President and CEO Todd Maisch will be speaking at an event along with dignitaries including Gov. Rauner to show our support for this vessel and its mission. That evening, Chamber members are also invited to attend at Gene & Georgetti Steakhouse for a reception organized by the USS ILLINOIS commissioning committee and to learn more about the submarine and its mission. There is no cost but you must RSVP to attend.

 

Other Legislation

  • SB 313 introduced by Senator Steans was passed out of committee as a shell bill this week. Yesterday Amendment 1 to that bill was posted, which includes Chamber supported language to expand the use of alternative finance and procurement as way to invest in infrastructure. The Chamber strongly supports this language, as it would help us address some of our infrastructure needs. We are continuing to work with Senator Steans and many organizations across the state on this legislation.
  • HB 3548 (Hernandez)-was passed out of the Economic Development & Housing Committee on an 8-5 vote.  This bill, which is opposed by the Chamber, creates an Insurance Premium Tax Act to be administered by the Illinois Department of Revenue.
  • SB 1672, an Illinois Chamber initiative, passed out of the Senate Environment and Conservation committee today. The bill requires the State of Illinois to adopt its own state Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit (PSD) program, putting Illinois on a level playing field with 41 other states.
  • The Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee approved SB 1585, backed by Exelon. The bill establishes a Low Carbon Portfolio Standard and is intended as a market-based solution to prevent the closure of three of the state’s nuclear generating units. Exelon estimates it would add $2/mo to the average residential customer bill and that commercial customers would see an increase of approximately 3%.
  • SB 1879 also passed out of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee today. The proposal supported by ComEd would construct microgrids, develop community solar projects, allow for the construction of 5,000 electric vehicle charging stations, expand energy efficiency offerings including voltage optimization, provide $50 million in customer assistance, make changes to the RPS and propose a new rate structure in which residential customers’ bills would be based on their peak demand instead of overall consumption.
  • SB 1485 also passed out of the Senate Environment and Conservation committee today. The legislation is a proposal from the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition that changes and expands energy efficiency and renewable energy goals and sets up a cap and invest program run by the Illinois EPA to comply with the federal clean air act rules that are scheduled to be final this summer. The Chamber opposed.
  • The House Labor and Commerce Committee passed HB 3438 which requires all vehicles purchased by the state to be manufactured in the United State or Canada. The measure infringes upon free trade and would limit choices and increase costs for state agencies as well as local governments that buy vehicles through the state’s master contract. The Chamber opposed.
  • HB 3605 (Andrade, Jr.) – Cap the Co-Pay, which caps the amount that insurers can charge the insured for prescription drugs, passed out of committee on a partisan roll call. The sponsor committed to hold on 2nd in order to work with the opponents. The Chamber is opposed.
  • HB 3519  (D. Harris) allows Illinois pharmacists ability to substitute an FDA approved interchangeable biologic for a prescribed biologic product without first seeking approval. The bill passed out of committee with a commitment from the sponsor to continue working on the bill.
  • SB 1573 (Haine) carves out captive insurance companies from the recently-enacted 3.5% insurance premium tax.  The bill passed Senate Insurance with an overwhelming majority.
  • SB 750 (Hastings) is an initiative of the Dental Society to try to keep  provider directories current and accurate.  The Chamber is currently opposed but will continue to work with the sponsor  as he has committed to hold on second and work on an agreed amendment.
  • SB 662 passed out of the Subcommittee on Special Issues which repeals the 14.35% sales tax on commercial license plates known as the Commercial Distribution Fee (CDF). The CDF is a surcharge on the cost of all license plates greater than 8,000-pounds. The Chamber supports this legislation.
  • SB 1608 (Althoff) – Provides that provisions of the Uniform Penalty and Interest Act imposing a $100 penalty for failure to file a transaction reporting return apply only to transaction reporting returns that would not, when properly prepared and filed result in the imposition of tax. Example:  a sales tax exempt organization (a church) purchases a van tax-free. The dealer neglects to file the IDOR form 556 to report the tax free sale. The dealer would be subject to a $100 penalty. Example 2: Same facts except an individual purchases a car and pays sales tax, but dealer doesn’t file the 556 and report the transaction.  Under current law, the dealer would be subject to the late payment penalty under the UPIA plus the $100 transaction return penalty. This legislation eliminates the $100 penalty under example 2. It passed Senate Revenue.
  • SB 1786 – This legislation gives IDOR the authority to enter into agreements with banks to facilitate the recovery of fraudulent refunds. This proposal includes a statutory provision that states that a person in possession of funds upon which a tax levy was made by the Department of Revenue can discharge any obligation with respect to the funds upon surrendering those funds.
  • SB 1548 (Hutchinson) amends the Retailers’ Occupation Tax provide that a retailer selling tangible personal property to a nominal lessee or bailee under a conditional sales agreement is presumed to be engaged in the business of selling at the location where the property is first delivered to the lessee or bailee for its intended use. It passed out of Senate Revenue.
  • SB 1804 – This legislation, which passed Senate Revenue, grants IDOR the authority to allow taxpayers who overpay their excise taxes to use the overpayment against a future liability without first making application to have the overpayment converted to a credit. IDOR currently has this authority with respect to the Retailers’ Occupation Tax and Use tax, but not for the excise taxes – for example the Hotel Operators Tax or Motor Fuel Tax.
  • SB 1833, data breach legislation, passed out of Senate Judiciary Committee as is but the sponsor, Sen. Daniel Biss, is committed to continuing to work on language with the Chamber and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and bring an amendment back to committee.
  • Another Biss bill, SB 1834 passed out of Senate Judiciary with intent to work out differences. Provides for the use of video event recorder devices in vehicles to be used exclusively for driver feedback or safety monitoring programs, as long as the device does not obstruct the driver’s clear view through the front windshield. Prohibits rail carriers from using audio or video images obtained from a video event recorder originating within a contract carrier vehicle in any disciplinary proceeding against an employee.
  • SB 1951, as drafted, would make insurance filings subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Sponsor Sen. John Mulroe told the Chamber that he won’t call the bill this week.
  • HB 2677 (A. Williams) requires dental service plan corporations to comply with provisions of the Illinois Insurance Code concerning reinsurance. The bill passed House Insurance Committee and the Chamber supports.
  • HB 2450 (Burke) is an initiative of 1-800-CONTACTS.  The bill prohibits unilateral pricing policies for contact lenses. Testimony only was given in committee and the bill was not called for a vote. The Chamber opposes this legislation.

 

Energy Council Quarterly Meeting

The Chamber’s Energy Council held its quarterly meeting in Springfield this week, hearing from several notable speakers:

  • Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, chair of the House Energy Committee
  • Alec Messina, Energy and Environment Policy Advisory to the Governor
  • Brien Sheehan, Chairman, Illinois Commerce Commission
  • Alec Davis, Executive Director, Illinois Environmental Regulator Group

About 30 Council members attended the meeting, which was sponsored by Nicor Gas, an AGL Resources Company.

 

Fit Caucus Hosts “Active April”

The Illinois Chamber was proud to host a reception for the Fit Caucus this week. This is a great effort to help encourage lawmakers’ constituents to challenge their activity levels and perhaps win prizes. Walking clubs, office challenges, healthy eating, it’s all part of “Active April.”

Co-chairs are Rep. Don Moffitt, In the photo are caucus co-chairs Sen. Pam Althoff and Rep. Linda In the photo are caucus co-chairs Sen. Pam Althoff and Rep. Linda  and Sen. Martin Sandoval. They each received a free pedometer to help them stay on track.

 

Reminder:  April 15–Employer Action Day

Don’t forget to register for the Chamber’s Employer Action Day. Gov. Rauner will be our keynote speaker for the event which will be held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Hotel and Conference Center.

The registration fee is $59 per person with breakfast and lunch provided.  If you would like to find out more or register online, you may do so by clicking here.

 

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