Clark Kaericher | Vice President, Government Affairs | 217-522-5512 x 296

March 20, 2020

The Infrastructure Council is an initiative of the Illinois Chamber that brings together Chamber members with a focus on increasing infrastructure investments in a strategic and thoughtful way to boost the overall business climate in Illinois. Our focus is on the public and private systems that are essential to Illinois businesses. 


I think I speak for everyone when I say this week has felt like a year. Oak Park prepares to shelter in place at midnight tonight. The Tribune asks the question on everyone's minds -  is the entire state next ? Rumors abound, and you might want to tune into the Governor's press conference today at 2:30. Regardless, we hope you and your loved ones are social distancing, checking on your elderly relatives and taking care of your mental health 
 
Legislative Updates 
 
Legislative session has been canceled next week, and it remains very unclear when we will be in Springfield next. The hospital assessment is the primary short-term item that needs to be addressed. Illinois faces a federal deadline of April 2nd to pass legislation or risk an unsustainable $3 billion hit to the budget. There is, however, some optimism that the feds will grant an extension for this deadline.   
 
The deadline to advance legislation out of committees has been extended one week. Legislators have been told by leadership to cancel any travel plans on their scheduled Easter break from April 6-17th and to be available on short notice to return to Springfield. We will send out a notice as soon as we know when the legislature will meet next.  
 
Business Relief  
 
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced that the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns will be postponed until July 15. Specific guidance from IRS will likely be posted at this  link . The state will follow suit.  
Additionally, the federal government has considered a series of relief measures. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a $100 billion coronavirus aid package into law which includes provisions for emergency paid leave for workers as well as free testing. Congress will be debating this weekend a $1 trillion stimulus package that includes direct payments to Americans ($3000 for a family of four with a household income below $150,000 in 2018), tax cuts and relief to suffering industries.  
 
SBA COVID-19 loans 

We just concluded a conversation with the Midwest Region of the US Small Business Administration (SBA). As we mentioned Monday, DCEO submitted Illinois' application for the  Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program  to assist small businesses and private non-profits in paying expenses during the COVID-19 disaster. We believe a decision on that application is imminent, and we know of no hurdles causing denial. Approval would allow Illinois businesses and non-profits to begin submitting their applications.  
 
This is a direct loan program. Applicants will apply directly to the SBA and the SBA will disperse funds directly from the U.S. Treasury to the applicant. There will be considerable funding available, but we recommend getting applications in as quickly as possible. You can also amend your application downstream to ask for more funds if your need becomes greater.  
 
You can read the SBA's one-pager on the program  here  and the governor's press release from his announcement  here
 
Illinois DCEO working on economic relief 

Also this week, the Chamber provided our first set of ideas to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) for economic relief for small businesses. We will continue to be in communication but our first tranche included: 
  • Recommending state banking regulators communicate flexibility in forbearance related to banks' management of small business loans; 
  • Expanding opportunities to help the hospitality industry weather the crisis;  
  • The possibility of a state fiscal stimulus to assist the infrastructure community; and  
  • Specific needs of the transportation and energy sectors, including the paramount importance of mobility for transit workers in the event of a shelter in place order 

We will continue advocating for these options and are requesting your ideas for actions the state government can take to alleviate the crisis. 
  
Court Cases 

Guns Save Life, Inc. v. Ali . This is an interesting case in that it provides that a membership organization, such as the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, would have standing to challenge certain taxes and regulations while individual members might not have standing. 
An ERISA preemption case currently pending before the United States Supreme Court-
Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) .  ERISA preemption is critically important because it protects benefit plan sponsors and the entities that help them administer benefits from the need to monitor and comply with a myriad of state and local laws bearing on the provision of employee benefits. The specific issue in Rutledge is whether ERISA preempts an Arkansas statute imposing burdensome, State-specific rules and requirements on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs)-third-party administrators (TPAs) that manage prescription drug benefit programs for ERISA plans. The answer to the question presented in Rutledge is vitally important not just to PBMs, but also to all stakeholders involved in the provision of employee benefits, including employers, employees, health plans, pension plans, TPAs, and their service providers who might otherwise be subject to divergent and onerous state and local regulations. 

Illinois Chamber Webinar  

The Chamber is hosting a webinar on the Coronavirus impact on employers on March 25th. The presenter is Scott Cruz, an employment attorney at Greensfelder Hemker & Gale. Continuing education credits are available: 1.50 HRCI for approval, 1.50 SHRM for approval, 1.50 CLE credits per request prior to event, and 1.50 HR & Management/Supervision Compliance Credit. 
The event is free for Chamber members and $79 for nonmembers. Please send an email request to  kconstant@ilchamber.org  if you would like to participate.  
Future webinars about the economic impact of the coronavirus, contractual impacts of a pandemic and other topics are being scheduled. I'll send out that information when it's available.  
 

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