November 10, 2017

This Week in Illinois

This week wrapped up the final two week fall veto session.  Both the House and Senate will not return until January 23, 2018 when they will return for the beginning of spring session.

The House 2018 calendars can be found here and the Senate’s 2018 calendar can be found here.

LEGISLATIVE VICTORIES

Simply put, this year’s fall veto session was an overall victory for the Illinois Chamber.  The Chamber had 10 bills on the legislative docket and won (either defeated legislation or successfully passed legislation) on 8 bills, while only losing on two.  Here’s a breakdown of the victories.

Thanks to a new law passed over the veto session, Illinois consumers are one step closer to enjoying 5G internet on their mobile devices.  SB 1451 (Link/K. Burke) passed favorably this week in both chambers.  This bill is designed to help attract small cell technology to enable the next generation of 5G wireless connectivity.  Small cells are flexible network solutions that can be readily deployed to specific locations, including those where customers are prone to experience connectivity issues or in areas that can’t effectively be served by a traditional cell tower.  This is a great pro-business initiative that will spur economic growth and will meet consumer demands.  The bill now heads to the governor’s desk where the Chamber is urging his signature.

The business community also won a hard fought victory on a bill that would have prohibited local units of government from enacting so-called ‘right to work zones’ in Illinois.  As you may recall, upon taking office Governor Rauner  advocated for local units of government to enact ordinances that would allow local jurisdictions to have these local right to work zones, otherwise known as local empowerment zones.  This bill was an attempt by organized labor to enshrine in law a prohibition of these types of ordinances.  Originally the bill made it a criminal offense for local elected officials from enacting such an ordinance.  However, a trailer bill passed both chambers this week that stripped the criminal offense langue from the bill (if and only if enacted).  Fortunately for the business community, that still was not enough to garner the necessary votes to override the governors veto and the bill eventually failed after two attempts in the House.  

Job creators can now breath a sigh of relief after the Senate sponsor failed to move forward with a motion to override the  governor’s veto to a $15 an hour minimum wage.  SB 81 never saw the light of day due to the lack of votes by the sponsor.  It is worth mentioning that this bill (or another increase) will likely return in the spring session.  It will be used as a wedge issue for the upcoming November 2018 election.  Currently, every Democrat gubernatorial candidate supports a $15 minimum wage.

The business community also won on a bill that would have increased litigation opportunities and judicial awards against employers.  29-17-1.  

And lastly, victories to round of the list include defeating two bills that were nothing more than ‘fake workers’ compensation reform’ and defeating the geolocation bill.

LEGISLATIVE DEFEATS 

Unfortunately, two bills were able muster through despite opposition from the Illinois Chamber.  39-12-0.  This new law unjustly punishes companies who engage in perfectly legal federal tax planning retroactively.  Under the new law, the state can prohibit so-called “expatriated entities” who have engaged in corporate inversions from bidding on state contracts and prohibits the state’s pension systems from investing in the stock of such companies.  As a matter of fundamental tax policy, the Chamber was the only business group that opposes using the state’s procurement code to punish companies for engaging in perfectly legal federal tax planning. 

And lastly, 38-16-0.   Now law, this will require life insurance companies to cross-match lapsed or expired policies against the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File to find potential beneficiaries of unclaimed life insurance benefits. The new law also requires all insurers to search policies in force as of Jan. 1, 2012, and to Jan. 1, 2000 if a company has electronically-searchable records.  The Chamber opposed this bill as it changes the terms of life insurance policies that have lapsed or expired – effectively reviving contracts that are no longer in force. We believe that violates the contract protections found in the Illinois and U.S. constitutions.

CHAMBER PREZ OFFERS TESTIMONY ON FOXCONN

This week the House International Trade and Commerce Committee and the House Government Transparency held a joint subject matter hearing on why Illinois lost the Foxconn plat to Wisconsin.  

Illinois Chamber President and CEO Todd Maisch offered oral testimony as to what Illinois can do to attract this sort of investment in the future and how Illinois can still take advantage of the Foxconn plant despite it being in Wisconsin. 

CHAMBER SUBMITS WRITTEN TESTIMONY ON CAFOs

This week the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Confined Animal Feeding Operations met to discuss regulations on the industry.  To view the Chamber’s written testimony in support of Illinois’ agricultural industry, click here

ENERGY HEARING 

On the energy front, the House and Senate Energy Committees held a joint hearing to examine HB 4141, legislation proposed to modify how capacity auctions are conducted in MISO Zone 4.  The Committee heard testimony from the bill’s sponsors, MISO, and proponents and opponents over four panels.  The legislation is not expected move in the immediate future. 

The Illinois Commerce Commission has produced a white paper on the subject, at the request of Governor Rauner.  The paper was released last week and it is possible the ICC will establish a stakeholder process to review this issue.  Legislators were very interested to learn more about the white paper and any subsequent activity during the subject matter on Tuesday.

 Archive of Government Affairs Reports