Public Policy Newsletter
|Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Chicagoland Chamber Chicago Legislative Reception: June 14th
Our Legislative Reception at Goose Island Brewery and Taproom (1800 West Fulton St., Chicago) is an invite-only reception for Chicagoland Chamber members to connect with elected officials who make decisions that impact the short and long-term future of our business climate. Meet policymakers, and share your thoughts and concerns in a relaxed, intimate setting. Mark your calendars: June 14th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. Registration information will be sent to Chamber members at the Leadership Circle level members and higher. We look forward to seeing you!
State of Illinois
The Illinois General Assembly returns from its spring break this week, for third reading deadline. While the Chicagoland Chamber is monitoring hundreds of bills, there is one group of bills worth mentioning.
Protection of consumer data and privacy is an important issue, and many businesses already do much to protect consumer data. There is no incentive for a business to mishandle, or be perceived as mishandling, consumer data; consumers would simply take their business elsewhere while the company takes a huge PR hit and loses market share and millions or billions in revenue.
Three bills, House Bills 2774 and 3449, and Senate Bill 1502, are each attempting to work their way through the legislature. They would allow plaintiffs’ firms to sue businesses of all sizes, even for “honest” mistakes related to data collected or used for commercial purposes. For example, if you are a business that has a website or mobile app, but does not follow the rules set forth in this legislation (which by the way, are not comprehensive in potential violations), then you could be sued and you would lose automatically because of its strict liability standard. The private right of action signifies that this bill is about allowing plaintiffs firms to sue, not about consumer privacy. More background on the bills is here.
Michael Reever, Vice President of Government Relations testified in opposition to two of these bills. His testimony can be viewed here.
Michael was also highlighted in several news stories. A sampling can be seen here, here, and here.
Sweetened Beverage Tax
Cook County has updated its website with additional Sweetened Beverage Tax information. The tax goes into effect July 1st. All distributors subject to the Sweetened Beverage Tax must register with the Cook County Department of Revenue. We are continuing our conversations with the County, as we know not all questions have been resolved. If you still have high priority concerns, please contact the Chamber’s Government Relations team so we can work with you to address these concerns.
Commissioner Sean Morrison introduced an amendment that would allow distributors or retailers to identify the tax imposed by the ordinance as a separate line item charge on any invoice pertaining to sales of sweetened beverages in Cook County. This amendment is now in the Finance Committee.
The ordinance as passed can be found here.
Rules and Regulations: Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave
The Cook County Commission on Human Rights is drafting regulations for the enforcement of the recently enacted Minimum Wage Ordinance and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. Both laws take effect July 1st. The Chamber has been working with the Commissioner to ensure implementation of the laws place the lowest level of burden possible on employers while protecting jobs and economic activity in Cook County. The Commissioner recently posted a draft version of regulations for implementation of the County’s Paid Sick leave Ordinance and a draft version of regulations for implementation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance.
The Chamber is pleased that the County has pursued a formal rulemaking process, and that it is seeking input from those who will be affected by the law. The Chamber has continually expressed concern in recent years about localized labor mandates, and we will work with the County to see that the laws are implemented in the most efficient and least burdensome manner possible. Please provide us with feedback if you have not done so already, as we are in ongoing conversations with the Commissioner.
City of Chicago
Chicago Employers’ Expense Tax and Development Incentive (“Employee Head Tax”)
An ordinance introduced on April 19th would place a tax on every employer with 50 or more full-time employees. The ordinance requires a $33 per month tax on each full-time employee. The full cost of the tax falls on the employer. The Chamber is opposed. The ordinance is in the Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics.
Use of Public Toilet Facilities for Emergency Purposes
Introduced on April 19th, this ordinance states that any licensee that provides public toilet facilities to its customers must allow individuals who have an “emergency and need to use the toilet facilities to do so without having to make a purchase.” Additionally, the ordinance prohibits a fee from being charged for use of toilet facilities. This all comes at a time when the City has doubled the sewer and water fees on residents and businesses. The Chamber is opposed to the ordinance and on April 21st did a televised interview about why with CBS Chicago. We will continue to monitor the proposed ordinance and engage with sponsors and Council members. The ordinance is in the Committee on License and Consumer Protection.
Hotel Employees Portable Emergency Contact Devices
Introduced on April 19th, this ordinance would require hotels to equip employees with a panic button when they are assigned to work in a guest room or rest room when no other employee is present. The ordinance also specifies terms of, and requires the posting of, anti-sexual harassment policies. The Chamber is working with our hotel and hospitality members, including the lead of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association, to express our concerns related to the ordinance and to ensure it is not unduly burdensome, as our members already provide such policies, training, and security protocols. The ordinance is in the Committee on Workforce Development and Audit.
License Applications, Renewals, and Inspections
This ordinance would give alderman 20 days to inform the Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) of concerns for the purpose of denying licensing applications. The Chamber has expressed our objections to the sponsor, Alderman Greg Mitchell, and we continue to monitor the proposal and will work in opposition to any movement of it. The ordinance is currently in the Committee on Licensing and Consumer Protection.
Pharmacy Work Rules
On April 18th, a hearing was held in the Committee on Finance. The ordinance would further regulate pharmacies, limiting the amount of prescriptions that can be filled per hour and impacting the operations of pharmacies that are currently operating in accordance with state and federal labor laws. The Chamber submitted testimony for the record in opposition during the Committee on Finance. Currently, the ordinance is being held in Committee.
Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices/Hidden Fees Ordinance
This ordinance would require all fees to an advertised price of a good or service, or added at some point in the transaction, to be disclosed with a posted sign on premises that details all fees in the sale transaction. The ordinance currently is in the Committee on Finance. The Chamber is opposed and is continues to monitor the ordinance.
This ordinance passed Council last Wednesday with a vote of 44-4. The ordinance establishes a Municipal ID program in the City of Chicago with a $1 million appropriation from the 2017 budget approved this past fall. The program would provide a form of identification for undocumented residents, ex-offenders, and the homeless. The Chamber will continue to stay updated on the implementation of this program.
Commercial Loading Zones
On March 15th, the City started the pilot conversion of loading zones to user-paid commercial loading zones in an area bounded by the Chicago River on the North, Lake Michigan on the East, Randolph Street on the South, and Michigan Avenue on the West. The Chamber was opposed to this initiative. Tickets are now being issued. You can view documents with more information here and here.
Chamber Public Policy Council Updates
Council on Logistics and Transportation
On April 17, the Council welcomed Secretary Randall S. Blankenhorn of the Illinois Department of Transportation to its April meeting. Secretary Blankenhorn discussed electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, priority projects, smart cities, sustainable revenue, and the potential for a “Peotone Airport” in Will County. The Council appreciated getting updates and engaging in conversation on the state of infrastructure and transportation planning in Illinois. Planning is underway for the Council’s next meeting. The Council on Logistics and Transportation is a member invite-only Council.
Tax Policy Council
On April 20, the Tax Policy Council was joined by Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago Law Department, Wes Hanscom, and Deputy of Tax for the City of Chicago Finance Department, Joel Flores. Wes and Joel discussed recent developments at the City and provided further information on taxes the Chamber is following and continues to follow and field questions about. These include the bag tax, cloud tax, and satellite tax. Tax Council members also engaged in Q&A with the city representatives.
To learn more about how to get involved with our Tax Policy Council, please contact Elise Houren at email@example.com.
Chicagoland Chamber in the News
- WAND-TV (NBC) March 30, 2017 – Right to Know Act creating talk at the Capitol
- WLS-AM March 30, 2017 – Internet Privacy Bill Floated in Springfield
- Channel 4/OurQuadCities.com March 31, 2017 – State senator pushes “Right to Know Bill” to protect privacy on the internet
- Chicago Sun-Times April 21, 2017 – Chicago’s 7-cents-a-bag tax driving down bag use, study shows
- CBS Chicago April 21, 2017 – Proposal Would Require Businesses To Let Anyone Use Toilet For “Emergencies”
- McHenry Times April 22, 2017 – Wheeler lauds Crystal Lake semi-finalist for business award