Jobless rate increased again in April. The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported this week that the State’s unemployment rate had risen marginally by 0.1% in April, from 6.5% to 6.6%. With continued recession-level joblessness in Illinois, the Prairie State continues to support fewer jobs than the number of people who were working here more than 15 years ago in September 2000. Furthermore, Illinois unemployment numbers have increased 0.7% over the most recently-measured six-month period, from 5.9% in October 2015 to 6.6% in April 2016.
Illinois added a net of 5,400 new jobs to its paycheck workforce in April 2016, a marginal number that increased the total number of available Illinois jobs by less than 0.1%. Continued strength in professional and business services (up 7,600 jobs in April 2016) was held back by net weakness in other sectors of the Illinois economy, including construction, financial activities, and other services. Illinois is one of only three states that have not regained the employment levels enjoyed during the 2000s.
Today, the Administration released its final overtime regulation increasing the salary threshold below which employees must be paid overtime for working more than 40 hours a week from $23,660 annually to $47,476 annually. This threshold will take effect on December 1, 2016, and it will increase every three years. Click here and here for additional background information. The Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act (S. 2707 and H.R. 4773) would keep the regulation from taking effect and require the Department of Labor to perform a better analysis on the impact to small businesses, nonprofits, regional economies, and local governments. We encourage you to reach out to Congress and ask them to cosponsor S. 2707 and H.R. 4773.
The Administration’s proposed changes to overtime regulations pose a serious threat to employers as well as their currently salaried workers.
The proposed regulation would raise the salary threshold under which employees would have to be paid overtime for hours worked beyond 40 per week from the current annual level of $23,660 to $47,476. Such a dramatic increase will force employers to decide whether to reclassify millions of employees to nonexempt status or increase their salaries to keep them exempt.
The Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act would prevent the Department of Labor’s disastrous overtime regulation from taking effect and directs the Secretary of Labor to conduct a more detailed economic analysis to determine the impact on an array of employers before proposing a new rule.
With your help, we can build the case that this proposed rule will not boost employees’ income, but instead will force employers to reduce employees’ flexibility, benefits, and growth opportunities.
The House and Senate were both busy last week moving bills out of committees.
Both chambers also spent a much of the week conducting subject-matter hearings on pertinent issues such as economic development, public-private partnerships, healthcare taxes, and internet lottery.
Rank and file legislators and budget staff members from both parties, also known as the ‘budgeteers’ continued to meet this week to put together a pieces of a budget deal.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Governor Bruce Rauner hint at possible budget compromise. Illinois is the only one of the 50 states that has not enacted a balanced budget to control its spending in FY16. Not surprisingly, Illinois also has the lowest credit rating among the 50 states. On Monday, May 9, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin expressed optimism that current talks going on between partisan budget experts could generate movement towards a solution.
At an educational event in west suburban LaGrange that he attended with Governor Rauner, Durkin discussed the need to reach budget action in order to improve prospects for sufficient school funding for Illinois public schools. While Illinois’ General Assembly enacted full funding for Illinois school districts in FY16, this money was not part of a constitutional balanced budget and does not extend into FY17. The next fiscal year will begin on July 1, 2016, adding to pressure on state negotiators to talk seriously on urgent issues of fiscal reform, budget reform, and Illinois job creation.
There are only 13 scheduled session days remaining, so expect any deal to be made as a result of these meetings soon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.