Public Policy Newsletter
|Tuesday, February 28, 2017
To Be Pro-Business is To Be Pro-Jobs
Employers throughout Chicagoland create the employment opportunities and economic activity that make Chicagoland a great place to live and work. Businesses invest in their employees and communities, and create tax revenue to support the services that governments provide. In Illinois, 98% of all registered businesses are classified as small businesses. Government policies affect their ability to thrive and to retain and create jobs, as evidenced by the Chicagoland Chamber’s 2017 Small Business Outlook Survey, which can be read here.
Advocacy Champion Honored at Chicagoland Chamber PAC Luncheon
Each year the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee (PAC) celebrates a business person of great success who understands the intersection of politics, policy, and their impact on the community. This year, we honored a champion and leader of small businesses, whose success proves that being “pro-business” yields jobs and community benefits.
Bob Crawford, founder, retired CEO, and senior advisor of Brook Furniture Rental, Inc. was honored at the Chicagoland Chamber PAC Luncheon, held at the Hyatt Regency on February 24. Crawford was named the 2017 Chamber PAC’s Advocacy Champion. Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, Bob built his small business into a nationwide employer, and today actively advocates for entrepreneurs to help ensure that all businesses can thrive and grow.
The annual luncheon raises money for the Chicagoland Chamber PAC to support our overall advocacy efforts on behalf of Chamber members and the broader business community. The PAC is critical. It helps us elect officials who support job creators like Bob.
Photos of this year’s luncheon are posted here. To learn more about the Chicagoland Chamber PAC click here.
State of Illinois Advocacy
The Budget Impasse
The Illinois Senate, led by President John Cullerton and Republican Leader Christine Radogno, is attempting to craft a bi-partisan budget compromise to end the state budget impasse. Details remain very fluid, but the items being discussed include: reforms to the State’s pension systems, procurement codes and workers’ compensation laws; a 2-year property tax freeze; CPS pension parity; local government consolidation; an expansion of gaming, including a land-based casino for Chicago; and a revenue package, Senate Bill 9, that would raise the personal income tax from 3.75% to 4.99% and the corporate income tax from 5.25% to 7%. The bill would also repeal the Illinois franchise tax and create new excise taxes, including a 7% excise tax on cable television and broadcast satellite services. The Chicagoland Chamber has communicated budget-related needs and concerns of our members to state legislators. Our talking points for a bi-partisan 2017 state of Illinois budget are here.
Illinois Small Business Development Centers
Separate from a budget “grand bargain,” the Chamber drafted and recently filed legislation to provide appropriations for Illinois Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). Many SBDC’s have closed in Illinois and the remaining ones provide valuable consulting services to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The services help business owners who are just starting out navigate an increasingly complex and competitive landscape. We are pleased that newly elected State Representative Juliana Stratton is the chief sponsor of the legislation, House Bill 4000, which can be read here.
Cook County Advocacy
Sweetened Beverage Tax Ordinance
On November 10, 2016 the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted to pass the Sweetened Beverage Tax Ordinance, which calls for a penny per ounce tax on any sweetened beverage. The new law requires that distributors or retailers include the tax in the sale price of sweetened beverages, syrups or powders, or absorb the tax themselves. The tax takes effect July 1, 2017. The Chicagoland Chamber opposed the ordinance. Early in January, the Chamber participated in a meeting with County staff to further discuss implementation, collection, and enforcement of the new tax. Conversations with the County are ongoing and we continue to push for changes that would make the ordinance easier for businesses to implement, and to clarify ordinance language.
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 1, 2017. The Chamber is working with the Commission to ensure implementation of the laws place the lowest level of burden possible to employers while protecting jobs and economic activity in Cook County. The Chamber is addressing issues such as clarity around rates of accrual and carryover from one year to the next, benefit start date, and definition clarifications. The Chamber is pleased that the County is pursuing 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.
Neighborhood Small Business Committee
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) sponsor a neighborhood small business committee comprised of members from each organization. The purpose of the committee is to identify and discuss the challenges posed by regulations, at every level of government in Illinois, to people who are starting and growing businesses. Based on committee feedback and member discussions, the Chicagoland Chamber and IRMA will lead efforts to advocate for policy changes that support a healthy and vibrant economic climate in Chicago and across Illinois. The committee is chaired by Chamber member Neil Byers of Horse Thief Hollow.
Council on Logistics and Transportation
On February 3, the Council on Logistics and Transportation met with John Yonan, Superintendent for the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways, who presented Cook County’s long range transportation plan. As discussion around federal and state infrastructure legislation heats up, additional meetings and planning will take place. Please contact Michael Reever, Vice President of Government Relations at the Chamber, if you are interested in the Council. Michael’s email is here. The Council is co-chaired by Ray Drake of UPS and Adrian Guerrero of Union Pacific Railroad.
Tax Policy Council
On February 22, the Tax Policy Council welcomed Connie Beard, Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue, for the annual update on the department and recent initiatives. The Council has sent a letter to members of the Senate Revenue Committee providing substantive feedback on the position of the Chamber on its revenue package. The Tax Policy Council is chaired by Stanley Kaminski, Partner at Duane Morris, LLP.
City of Chicago
New Accessibility Regulations go into effect July 1, 2017
The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance requires that Chicago businesses ensure that their facilities, products and services are available to individuals with disabilities. On July 1, 2017, new disability rights regulations passed by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR) go into effect. These regulations specify what Chicago businesses must do in order to make their goods and services accessible to people with disabilities. For more information on these new regulations, visit CCHR here.
- On February 23, the Chamber’s President & CEO, Theresa E. Mintle, penned an Op-Ed in Crain’s Chicago Business that highlights the need for a compromise to end the State’s ongoing budget impasse. You can read the Op-Ed here.
- On February 19, Craig Dellimore of WBBM News Radio interviewed the Chamber’s President & CEO, Theresa E. Mintle, about the budget stalemate in Springfield. You can hear the interview here.