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Government Affairs Reports

                                           

March 16, 2015

The committee deadline for substantive House and Senate bills is Friday, March 27. We’ll be monitoring every bill that affects businesses as they are assigned, amended, voted on, etc. Here’s the action from last week:

 

Call Center Legislation

The Illinois Chamber is opposed to legislation related to call centers that was proposed by Sen. Daniel Biss. SB 1755 would create the Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, which would require employers to notify the Illinois State Treasurer at least 120 days in advance of any relocation of a a call center or portions of a call center to a foreign country, The penalty for not providing timely notice would be up to $10,000. Names of those companies would be posted on the Treasurer’s website. As of Jan. 1, 2016, any such employers would have to repay grants, loans, and tax benefits that may have been received.

 

Minumum Wage

Another bill to increase the minimum wage has popped up. HB 3345, sponsored by Rep. Arthur Turner, increases the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9 beginning July 1, 2015 and increases it to $10 per hour on and after July 1, 2016. Provides that the establishment of a minimum wage that employers must pay their employees is an exclusive power and function of the State and is a denial and limitation of the home rule powers and functions, except that the limitation on home rule powers does not apply to a municipality with more than 1,000,000 inhabitants. Creates a credit against the withholding tax liability of employers with fewer than 50 employees in an amount equal to the increased wages paid as a result of the increase in the minimum wage. The Chamber is opposed.

 

Jet Fuel

Rep. Lou Lang has proposed HB 3110 that would change the sourcing of fuel and petroleum products sold to operators of aircraft to the point of delivery. We are opposed to this legislation. It changes the selling location determination for sellers of a limited class of sales to a limited class of purchasers would cause a host of administrative problems for sellers and purchasers. Finally, in the unlikely event that such legislation would be upheld by the courts, this could open the door to other similar changes that would make the current complicated sourcing determinations seem simple by comparison.

 

Workers’ Compensation Hearing

The House Labor Committee held a subject matter hearing on the impact of the 2011 changes to the workers’ compensation law. The two-hour hearing will be continued this Wednesday as time ran out for questions for the witness for organized labor and there was no time left for the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Jay Shattuck, Employment Law Council executive director, explained that Illinois was in the middle of the pack when it came to competitive rates 10 years ago. The 2005 changes to the law had caused Illinois to move to the third most costly state in the country. The 2011 moved the needle to 7th highest cost state. Illinois employers would be happy to return to the middle again.

His testimony was followed by Mark Flannery of self-insured Caterpillar and Kristen Foley of the City of Naperville, a self-insured public entity. Flannery testified that Caterpillar had seen little to no savings since 2011. They were especially disappointed in the lack of savings from AMA guidelines. Foley said that Naperville was frustrated by the extra resources necessitated by bill review and utilization review to assure that quality care is provided to injured workers at the most cost effective level.

 

Other Legislation

HB 1326 (Ammons) passed out of the House Environment Committee. It prohibits disposal of certain levels of manufactured gas plant waste and Polychlorinated Biphenyl waste in any landfill from which the run off goes into the Mahomet Aquifer. The Chamber is opposed.

HB 2669 (Dunkin) requires all vendors who contract with the state or local governments to disclose information to CMS on all employees’ racial and ethnic background, position within the company and title. At the end of the contract, the vendor must disclose the breakdown of employees who worked on the contract, including their ethnic background and the amount of time they worked on the contract. Rep. Dunkin held the bill in House Cities and Villages Committee. Chamber opposes

SB 870 (Munoz) on the issue of reinsurance for collateral was debated in Senate Insurance Committee. The opposition and debate centered largely upon the fact that without a current director of the Department on Insurance, it is difficult to be certain how DOI will promulgate rules and regulation on the issue.  The passed out of committee on a partisan roll call. The Chamber is currently opposed.

SB 1571 (Haine) provides that the recently enacted medical marijuana regulations may not be construed to require an employer or a property and casualty insurer to reimburse a person for costs associated with the medical use of cannabis. The bill passed out of the Senate Insurance Committee. The Chamber supports.

SB 1396 and SB 1397 are measures on lawsuit lending, and we met last week with Sen. Haine, who explained that he doesn’t intend to call those bills this session.

HB 95 was amended and passed out of House Judiciary Committee last week. As originally proposed, this bill was opposed by the Chamber and other groups because it would have repealed certain protections afforded litigants by the Code of Civil Procedure. In response to the opposition, the sponsor amended the bill to eliminate the proposed repeal of these protections.

SB 1421 (Koehler) allows a public utility that provides both water and wastewater service to request in an ICC rate case proceeding that a portion of the allocation of infrastructure investments for water be included for recovery in wastewater base rates or a portion of the allocation of infrastructure investments for wastewater be included for recovery in water base rates. It provides the opportunity to smooth rates and mitigate rate increases for wastewater and water customers when it can be shown to be in the public interest. The Chamber supports..

Other bills we’re watching are:

  • Opiates/Heroin Addiction Protection
  • Family Leave Insurance Program
  • Increased Overtime Exemption Threshhold
  • Best Candidate for the Job Act
  • Failure to Pay Wage-Felony
  • IDOL Private Letter Ruling
  • Equal Pay Act Cover All Employees
  • Prevailing Wage-Classification
  • Employment Study-Child Support
  • Department of Human Rights-Powers
  • Human Rights-Protection Orders
  • Child Support-Non-Employee Withholding
  • Day Laborers-Discrimination
  • Employment Act-Violations
  • Family Care Provider Act/Grandparent Grandchild FMLA

 

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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