Ill. General Assembly: Update on Bills

April 30th, 2016

Taxes

HJRCA 8 (Mitchell) is a proposed constitutional amendment that would amend the Illinois Constitution to authorize the imposition of a graduated income tax.  This proposal was also introduced last year and never made it out of Rules committee, but was recently assigned to the House Revenue committee and to the Income tax subcommittee of the Revenue committee.

Amendment 1 to SB 2367 (Stadelman) would amend the Property Tax Code to modify the assessment procedures for certain “big box” stores defined as “limited market or special purpose property”.

SB 2921 (Hutchinson-Althoff) is an initiative of the Illinois Chamber’s Tax Institute. This bill amends the Uniform Penalty and Interest Act to provide for automatic abatement of the underpayment penalty when a taxpayer has been determined upon audit to have paid at least 95% of the taxes due. The bill also caps the underpayment penalty at 15% and eliminates the provisions in the current law that impose a 20% penalty on any underpayments paid after commencement of an audit unless the audit results are agreed to by the taxpayer.

SB 2148 (Hutchinson) would amend the Illinois Income Tax Act to decouple from IRC Section 199 – the Domestic Production Activities Deduction, requires an addback of the foreign and domestic dividend subtractions, and repeals the unitary business group “non-combination” rule. The Illinois Chamber is strongly opposed.

There are several measures before the Senate Revenue Committee that would amend the Retailers’ Occupation Tax Act to allow the sharing of certain taxpayer information by the Department of Revenue with municipalities and counties. Among the bills scheduled for consideration were SB 2562, SB 2933, and SB 3295. SB 2933, would allow the sharing of such information by the municipalities with third parties. The Chamber opposes the sharing of tax information with third parties. It is the Chamber’s understanding that the Senate Revenue Committee may hold a subject matter hearing in April to discuss the topic of sharing taxpayer’s information with other units of government.

Employment Law

SB 2506 (Righter) is an initiative of the Illinois Chamber. This would require the Department of Human Rights to close its investigation if the charge filed with IDHR is based on a litigated discrimination violation that is identical to a charge filed with a local government unit or the federal EEOC and such protection also is provided by the other governmental body.

SB 2613 (Bertino-Tarrant) would mandate four weeks for child bereavement.

SB 3097 (Collins) and HB 6162 (Skoog) would require employers to allow employees to use personal sick leave benefits provided by the employer for absences due to an illness, injury, or medical appointment of the employee’s child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury.

SB 2147 (Hutchinson) would create the Healthy Workplace Act and require employers to provide seven paid sick days to employees.

HB 4999 (Rep. Guzzardi) amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act making it unlawful for an employer or prospective employer to request or require an employee or applicant to authenticate or access a personal online account in the presence of the employer; to request or require that an employee or applicant invite the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal online account of the employee or applicant; or join an online account established by the employer. It prohibits retaliation against an employee or applicant. An amendment is being prepared to address concerns.

HB 5533 (Rep. Morrison) creates the Limitations on Actions for Negligent Hiring Act limiting a cause of action brought against a party solely for hiring an employee or independent contractor who has been convicted of a nonviolent, non-sexual offense.

HB 3297 (Mitchell) would create the Employee Paid Health Care Time Act and would employees to accrue paid health care time at a rate of no less than one hour for every 22 hours worked for an employer with 50 or more employees and at a rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked for an employer with fewer than 50 employees.

Infrastructure

HJRCA 36 is a lockbox amendment. This constitutional amendment would end Road Fund diversions by preventing any money from being removed from the Road Fund for any purpose other than transportation. As a result of this, transportation investment will be predictable, allowing businesses to plan investments long term.

HB 3755 (Hoffman) would require rail carriers to operate with a two-man crew.

SB 2592 (Althoff and Rep. Munoz) would impose a $3 surcharge in addition to other registration fees for motor vehicles of the first division, motorcycles, motor driven cycles, pedalcycles, and vehicles registered in the 8,000 lb. and less flat weight plate category to be used to help fund the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Healthcare

HB 6025 (Yingling) amends the Biometric Information Privacy Act to provide that a private entity may not require a person/customer to provide his/her biometric identifier or biometric information as a condition for the provision of goods or services. The bill makes an exception for an employer to conduct background checks or implement employee security protocols. In addition, this provision does not apply to 1) companies that provide medical services, 2) law enforcement agencies or 3) governmental entities.

The Public Health committee passed  SB 2403 (Rose), as amended, which requires hospitals to adopt and implement evidence based protocols for the early recognition and treatment of patients with sepsis, severe sepsis or septic shock based on generally accepted standards of care.

HB 5750 (G. Harris) creates a one percent assessment on health claims paid by a health insurance carrier or third party administrator.

HB 5576 (Nekritz) passed out of House Human Services Committee with a vote of 8-6. The bill mandates coverage without cost sharing for all contraceptive drugs, devices, and other products, including voluntary sterilization. Insurance companies must cover a service or item without cost sharing if the attending provider recommends a particular service or item based on a determination of medical necessity. Insurance must pay for up to 12 months of contraception at one time.

SB 2403 (Rose) passed as amended out of the Senate Public Health Committee. The bill would require hospitals to adopt and implement evidence based protocols for the early recognition and treatment of patients with sepsis, severe sepsis or septic shock based on generally accepted standards of care.

Procurement

HB 5759 (Hoffman) would require contractors and subcontractors to comply with Responsible Bidder requirements outlined in the Illinois Procurement Code to qualify for public works projects at the local level. In addition, would require contractors and subcontractors to identify and report to the public body in charge the number of hours worked by minorities and females for each craft or type of worker or mechanic needed to execute the contract.  Each contractor and subcontractor shall provide this information on a certified payroll report, or on a monthly manpower utilization report.

SB 2873 (Rezin) would streamline and update the state procurement process, improve efficiencies and improve vendor communications while putting into place compliance safeguards for vendors. The goal is to improve state-vendor interaction and opportunities while ensure that the state receives the best return on every dollar spent.

Other

HB 5526 (Smiddy) would require any person selling meat in Illinois must package the meat with a label indicating the country in which the meat was produced.

SB 2138 (Nybo) passed the Senate Judiciary with an agreement to hold the legislation until a new amendment is filed.  This bill would create the Snow Removal Service Liability Limitation Act.

SB 2887 (Silverstein) is expected to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It would introduce Vermont’s patent language into current law, even though the existing law was successfully negotiated a few years ago by all sides.

HB 4633 (Martwick) was held in the House Consumer Protection Committee. This legislation deals with unclaimed life insurance benefits.

SB 2827 (T. Cullerton) passed unanimously out of Senate Commerce and Economic Development this week.  This legislation would reduce LLC fees from $750 to $59.

SB 3315 (Bennet) would create an Advisory Committee on Workforce Shortages. The committee would be made up of appointed members and would be charged with reviewing and identifying industry and occupations in Illinois where shortages are apparent.

House Floor Amendment 1 to HB 1290 (Madigan) would allow an employee a lien right on all property of their employer, including after-acquired property, for the full amount of any wages, penalties, and interest owed to the employee.

 

Workers’ Compensation: Call for Reform

April 30th, 2016

Northern Illinois elected leader calls for workers’ comp reform. The workers’ compensation system asks employers of Illinois workers to make additional contributions on top of employee pay. Workers’ compensation is the system that repays medical care providers for the medical costs of treating injuries suffered on the job in Illinois. Employers pay insurance premiums to workers’ compensation insurers; the premiums are based upon the workplace’s claim history and the overall state of Illinois workers’ comp law.

In an op-ed piece published on Thursday, April 28, Boone County Board Chairperson Bob Walberg reported that Illinois workers’ compensation insurance costs have risen much higher than comparable costs charged to employers in neighboring and comparable states. Boone County, which borders Wisconsin, and its employers are constantly made aware of comparable workers’ comp rates and their role as an element in the overall cost of doing business in Illinois. Illinois currently has the 7th highest workers’ comp rates among the 50 states, partly because of state law’s generous treatment of injuries incurred outside the workplace or as part of a pattern of events that included both workplace and non-workplace events.

Walberg reports that on top of endangering job creation in Illinois, high workers’ comp costs also directly damage local taxpayers throughout Illinois. Local governments such as Boone County pay workers’ comp premiums as part of their overall employer-employee relationships. These costs are passed on to local taxpayers. The Illinois public sector pays $900 million in annual workers’ comp costs – an expense item that could be lowered by hundreds of millions of dollars each year if Illinois were to adopt patterns of workers’ compensation that more closely match those followed by the employers and employees of other states.

Taxes: Property

April 30th, 2016

New study generates additional published evidence that Illinois owners, including homeowners, pay highest property taxes in nation. The study, published by CoreLogic, compares aggregated property tax extensions (the total amounts billed) with the value of the real property being taxed. According to CoreLogic, which the median property tax extension aggregate extension is 1.31% of the property being taxed, the median Illinois extension is 2.67% of value. This measurement scale makes Illinois the highest-property-tax state in the U.S., with New York second at 2.53% of value.

The CoreLogic data indicates that if an Illinois homeowner is occupying a house valued at $200,000, the homeowner will be paying a median annual property tax bill of $5,340. As always, individual homeowners’ experiences may vary. Different localities within Illinois will have different property tax rates; and within localities, different property owners may enjoy the effect of specific property tax relief measures. For example, senior citizen homeowners should be able to enjoy some relief from the Senior Citizens Homestead Property Tax Exemption, which automatically subtracts some of the value from the assessment number generated for an eligible senior citizen’s house before the tax bill is generated.

According to CoreLogic, neighboring states have lower property tax rates than Illinois. The California-based data aggregator generated median property tax burdens, calculated as a percentage of property value, of 1.95% in Wisconsin, 1.69% in Iowa, 1.26% in Missouri, and 0.88% in Indiana. CoreLogic’s data, published this week, agrees with previously public state-by–state surveys by firms such as WalletHub, which have also found Illinois to be one of the worst states in the nation in which to be taxed.

General Assembly: Payless Payday

April 30th, 2016

End of month sees payless payday for 118 members of Illinois House. The Illinois legislators were members of one the largest single groups of men and women affected by the decision of Comptroller Leslie Munger that she must shift the pay status of Illinois elected officials between payment queues. House members from both parties are paid, by law, at the end of every calendar month. Due to the State’s continued lack of a constitutional balanced budget, however, the Comptroller has determined that these payments to elected state leaders should be treated on a basis of equality with other budget-impacted State payments on an immediate basis. The decision became effective during the end-of-April pay period. The end-of-April business day was Friday, April 29.

Elected official pay commitments, including pay for Comptroller Munger, for other statewide elected officials and for members of the Illinois House and Senate have been shifted to a wait-queue that will generate payments when monies are available. As with other providers of goods and services to the State, delay times are expected in the settlements of these commitments and claims. While the move nominally affects Governor Bruce Rauner, the State’s chief executive has announced that he is serving without pay.

Observers see the move as increasing internal pressure within the General Assembly to discuss budget issues seriously with the goal of generating new spending numbers before the legislature’s scheduled May adjournment. Comptroller Munger’s office is currently posting a backlog of official unpaid bills that exceeds $6.8 billion.

Budget: Ill. Higher Education

April 30th, 2016

Governor signs bill, pushed by House Republicans, to provide stopgap funding for higher education. The bill was SB 2059 as amended in the House. On Monday, April 25, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law, making it possible for the Comptroller’s office to begin transferring “lifeline” funding to Illinois’ nine universities, 12 campuses, 39 community college districts and approximately 120,000 Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) Grant recipients.

The money provided by SB 2059 is “lifeline” funding intended to help keep operations going and enable students to remain active in classroom learning. Full funding awaits continued work by the General Assembly to enact constitutional balanced budgets for FY16 and FY17. Illinois higher education has not received operational funding from the State since July 1, 2016, when FY16 began.

House Republicans Mike Fortner and Dan Brady identified a source of existing tax money, $600 million in the Education Assistance Fund, that could be used to provide stopgap funding for Illinois higher education. This was money previously withdrawn from the general revenue funding stream generated by the existing Illinois income tax as a rainy-day fund for purposes of Illinois education. Using this money will not require a tax increase.

All House Republicans present and voting on this measure on Friday, April 22 voted for the bill. Governor Rauner’s signature allowed this bill to become law as P.A. 99-502. The Governor expressed optimism this week that this could be a sign that Illinois budget talks are about to get serious. In an interview, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin urged his colleagues to use SB 2059 as a stimulus to conduct further talks on other issues with the goal of enacting a constitutional balanced budget before May 31, the scheduled end of the 2016 spring session. Illinois is currently the only state in the U.S. without an enacted budget for FY16.

2016 Aurora GreenFest: Green Energy, Wild Animals, Live Music, and Local Food

April 30th, 2016
Come to the seventh annual Aurora GreenFest on Saturday, June 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.   We will be at Prisco Community Center and McCullough Park at 150 W. Illinois Ave. in Aurora.  Volunteers, sponsors and exhibitors can still sign up.
            Nature exhibits, featuring bats, eagles, bees, skunks and other creatures are center stage this year.  Loving nature is one way to teach children and grown-ups to protect the earth.  Live music and local food create a festival atmosphere.  Green-friendly energy sources show ways to save money and save the world at the same time.
            Other great exhibits include:
·       A bike, car and truck show featuring electric vehicles, including a new Tesla, a Nissan Leaf, and a Chevy Volt.
·       A Kids Eco-village with games, crafts and recycled art projects.  Kids teaching kids.
·       A local market and trade show with more than 100 exhibitors
·       Local organic farmers
·       And more!
Families, educators, and entrepreneurs come every year to the GreenFest to enjoy inspiration, connection, and fun.  Last year more than 3,000 people came to the GreenFest.
            “We are excited about this year’s festival,” said Mavis Bates, festival founder and organizer. “We love bringing our community together to celebrate our planet.  Every great movement starts locally.”
            Aurora GreenLights, an affiliate of the Conservation Foundation, organizes the festival. The Dunham Fund has generously agreed to be a major sponsor of this year’s festival, in accordance with John C. Dunham’s dream of “making the world a more comfortable, safer place for mankind to live and prosper.”
            Come and volunteer.  Or be a sponsor and partner.  We still have a few openings for exhibitors to showcase your wares.  Please to visit our website at www.AuroraGreenFest.com.
            Parents bring your kids.  Kids bring your parents.  Come to the Aurora GreenFest on June 11th.

Run for Rockstar Mentors

April 30th, 2016

 REGISTRATION IS OPEN! START YOUR TEAM TODAY!

 JOIN GIGI’S PLAYHOUSE ON SUNDAY JUNE 12!

The 2016 GiGi’s Playhouse Chicagoland 5K Fun Run, 1-Mile Inspiration Walk and Dash for Down Syndrome!

06.12.16 | MB Financial Park | Rosemont, IL

We run, walk and dash for superstar mentors like Farzin. He recently interviewed for a position at Culver’s and was hired right on the spot!

Culver’s ACCEPTS Farzin and believes in his many talents. Farzin is in awesome shape through commitments to exercise and healthy eating that he learned in GiGi University – he even TEACHES ZUMBA to other GiGi U and GiGi Prep participants! Fitness is CRUCIAL for everyone with Down syndrome as it combats low muscle tone and helps build muscles needed for speech, exercise, and working at Culvers! Events like the 5K help promote ACCEPTANCE for our rockstars like Farzin – while raising funds for programs designed to help increase fitness and wellness during the rest of the year.
We could not be more proud of Farzin and all of the hard work completed in GiGi U and Hugs & Mugs that prepared him for his great new job. Please join us at the 2016 5K, Walk and Dash to wish Farzin a huge CONGRATS and let’s also thank Culver’s for being generous and kind enough to extend Farzin the opportunity he deserves and has worked so hard to achieve!

 

 
NEW EVENT VENUE AND HOST: MB Financial Park
MB Financial Park is a destination for ultimate fun and experiences for the whole family. 5K event participants and guests of GiGi’s Playhouse will enjoy various post-race amenities at many of these venues and throughout the park itself.


Golf for Kids Benefit Outing

April 30th, 2016

“Creating Opportunities for Kids to Thrive”

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The Fox Valley Park Foundation’s 22nd Annual Golf for Kids Benefit Outing
Monday, June 27, 2016
Tee Times: 7:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
Orchard Valley Golf Course, 2411 W. Illinois Ave., Aurora
“You only have one chance to be a kid, and every child deserves to play!”

fvpd15_golfforkidsThe Fox Valley Park Foundation assists local youth so that all children have the opportunity to experience enrichment programs, sports and camps.

Our mission is to make a meaningful difference in children’s lives by providing them the opportunity to participate in Park District programs regardless, of financial position. We open the door to a world of activities that enhance each child’s growth and development.

For more information on Golf for Kids, contact Cathy Schwieger at 630-966-4515 or cschwieger@fvpd.net

Thank you for your support and contributions to benefit our local youth!

Metropolitan Coworking to Hold Open House May 6

April 30th, 2016

Join Metropolitan Coworking for a Ribbon Cutting on Friday, May 6, from 3:30- 5:00 pm with Ribbon Cutting at 4:00 p.m. The grand opening celebration will include refreshments, light snacks and tours of this new shared riverfront office, meeting and event space.

Aurora Regional Fire Museum Welcomes New Director

April 30th, 2016

Aurora Regional Fire Museum, has hired a new Executive Director. Brian Failing brings nearly 8 years of experience in museums with him to this position. He has worked most recently with the DuPage County Historical Museum, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and the West Chicago City Museum in Illinois and is the former curator of The Museums at Lisle Station Park. He is an active member of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) and the National Council on Public History (NCPH) where he serves on their respective new and emerging professional committees. In 2014, Failing was recognized by the Association of Midwest Museums with their Promising Leadership Award.

Monday, May 9, 2016 at 9:00 AM The Aurora Fire Department will commemorate the 87th Anniversary of the tragic fire at the Orpheum Building located (Galena & Water St) in downtown Aurora with a special Wreath Laying Ceremony.

Each year, the Aurora Fire Department hosts a ceremony in their honor. The public is invited to attend.

On May 9th, 1929 The Aurora Fire Department suffered its first “line of duty” firefighter fatality.  Captain Barney Weiler of Fire Company 4 was tragically killed while fighting a fire at the Orpheum Building located then on the block of 79-93 Main St.  which is now known as Galena Blvd.   A plaque dedicated to honor Captain Weiler has been placed at the locations to let us not forget his last alarm.