November 16, 2018

This Week in Illinois 

The Illinois legislature was in session this week for week one of the two week fall veto session.  Traditionally, veto session is a time for the legislature to take up action on vetoes by the Governor.  The legislature can either override a governor's veto or concur with a governor's recommendations to amendatory vetoes.  However, the fall veto session can also be used to take up non-veto legislative matters.  Historically speaking, the legislature does take advantage of this session to pass legislation before the new General Assembly is sworn in on January.  For a bill to pass during veto session, it must receive a three-fifths majority in each chamber.  See below for a recap of the legislative week.  In short, the Chamber had a very successfully first week of veto session.  

Employment Law
The Illinois Senate overrode the amendatory veto for  SB 904  (Hastings/Hoffman) on a 55-1-1 vote. Prior to the override vote, the Senate also passed modifications to SB 904,  HB 3452   (Soto/Hastings) and  HB 200  (Hoffman/Hastings) by unanimous roll calls. The measures now move to the Illinois House to be considered when they return after Thanksgiving. SB 904 makes significant changes to the medical billing process.
Our major concern of allowing medical providers to take medical bill disputes to circuit court is being addressed in HB 3452. The amendment limits the ability to go to circuit court only for collection of the 1% interest after the bill is paid. The amendment essentially limits the action at the circuit court to a bill collection matter and not an issue of whether the medical services are payable under workers' compensation. The amendment to HB 3452 changed the Chamber's position on SB 904 to neutral. The Chamber appreciates the intervention of the Senate President John Cullerton and the work of his staff to addressing our concern of the circuit court issue.
HB 200 adds that an explanation of benefits in addition going to the medical provider also will be required to go to the injured worker or their attorney. Early indications are that Illinois would become the first state in the country to require an EOB to the injured worker. Details of the EOB will be determined by the Commission with the assistance of the Commission Medical Fee Advisory Board.

Also pending further action by the House is SB 1737  (Munoz/Hoffman). The Governor's total veto also was overridden by the Senate 52-0.  The Chamber supported the override.  SB 1737  made changes to the workers' compensation insurance rates overseen by the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI). The Chamber considered the provisions on captive insurance an overall net positive and supported overriding the Governor's veto.

The Governor's amendatory veto of HB 4743 , (Ford/Lightford) was overridden on a 75-17 vote. Twelve House republicans joined 63 democrats to provide the minimum 71 votes to override. The legislation amends the Equal Pay Act providing that no employer may discriminate between employees by paying wages to an African-American employee at a rate less than the rate at which the employer pays wages to another employee who is not African-American for the same or substantially similar work on a job that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions. An unjustified pay differential based on race already is a form of discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act.
The Chamber supported the Governor's amendatory veto because it appropriately provided protection against pay discrimination for all races. 

No action was taken on the Governor's amendatory veto of HB 4163, (Moeller/Castro) this week. It is our understanding that Governor-elect Pritzker requested it be held until 2019. Similar to legislation passed in 2017 and vetoed by Gov. Rauner, the legislation amends the Equal Pay Act to prohibit an employer from inquiring about salary and wage history. While we question the argument for the need of the legislation; asking these type of questions of a job applicant is a factor in wage differentials between males and females.  Our biggest concerns about the legislation was the diminishing of employer defenses and adding new compensatory and punitive damage remedies on businesses who violate the Act.

Another issue being held over for 2019 is HB 4572, ( Guzzardi/Castro), which redefines "employer" under the Illinois Human Rights Act to include any person employing one (currently 15) or more employees within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks within the calendar year of or preceding the alleged violation.

There were two hearings this week that both dealt with proposals to regulate ethylene oxide (EtO).  The chemical used in a variety of uses has come under pressure from lawmakers due to the potential risk of cancer if exposed.  

The House Environment Committee advanced both Chamber-opposed HB 5983 (Durkin) and HB 5985 (Yingling).  Both bills seek to limit the use of EtO to medical sterilization and look to prohibit it's use altogether in the coming years. Both bills advanced out of committee with the understanding both would be held on 2nd reading and will receive an amendment.  The committee chair indicated that she ants to pass legislation on EtO before the new General Assembly is sworn in.  This issue remains fluid.  

The Senate Environment and Conservation Committee also held a hearing on EtO.  However, the Senate hearing did not advance any legislation.  Instead, the hearing held subject matter hearing from stakeholders.  

Business Regulation
SB 2332 (Morrison/Lilly) was overridden by the Senate 36-19. This bill would raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21. The bill also eliminates the penalties for underage possession of tobacco products. The Chamber opposed this legislation as it punishes businesses for the decisions of individuals.  

Senate Amendment 1 to SB 241 (Munoz) passed the Senate Executive Committee this week.  This amendment requires that projects and operations at facilities that may impact air or water pollution to receive notification from the Illinois EPA to the local state senator, state representative and "community groups."  Our concern is this additional layer of bureaucracy would slow down future and existing projects.   The Chamber testified in opposition, but secured a commitment from Senator Munoz to hold the amendment until the Chamber offered up language to remove our opposition. On Wednesday, Sen. Munoz filed the Chamber's language under Amendment 2, which removed our opposition.  The new amendment would still require certified mail notification to local legislators but would remove the notification of community groups by requiring the IEPA to post notification searchable by zip-code on their website.  The amendment was not adopted before the Senate left town.  

SB 2610 (Clayborne/Davis) failed yesterday in the House for the second time, therefore it is now dead.  This bill would require any taxing body that receives more than $2 million in motor fuel tax to implement a supplier diversity program.  The Chamber has concerns with the legislation and how it would impact the entire state.  

House Amendment 2 to SB 3051 passed the House Public Utilities Committee this week.  This bill amends the Public Utilities Act. Reenacts provisions regarding valuation of water and sewer utilities. Provides for the continuity of effect of the reenacted provisions between June 1, 2018 and the effective date of the amendatory Act. Validates actions taken in reliance on or pursuant to the reenacted provisions.  The Chamber supports the amendment.  

There are a handful of bills and amendments that were filed this week.  Please see below for more detail.  
  • SB 3646 (Bertino-Tarrant) - Creates the Occupational Board Reform Act
  • HFA 1 to SB 203 (Lightford/Davis) - Amends the Prevailing Wage Act
  • SB 3643 (Barickman)  - Amends the Civil Practice Law of the Code of Civil Procedure to add a Part concerning asbestos trust claims.
  • HFA 2 to SB 1226 (Bennett/Slaughter) - Amends the Energy Efficient Building Act. Renames it as the "Energy Efficient Building and Green Construction Act". 
  • SFA 2 to SB 515 (Haine/D'Amico) - Creates the Statewide Relocation Towing Licensure Commission Act of 2018. 
This afternoon the Illinois Chamber submitted comment and provided remarks to the Illinois Department of Labor's proposed rule changes to 56 Ill. Adm. Code 210.  

We concur that the definition  changes proposed for "Employee" in Section 210.110 will clarify issues considered by the Department when determining whether an individual is an employee or an  independent contractor.  Illinois businesses need certainty and stability regarding classification issues, and the Chamber believes the rule helps in that regard.
We have some additional suggestions that we ask the Department to consider as factors under the definition of "employee" that could help with further clarification  and compliance by employers.  Those suggestions have been submitted to the Department under the public comment period of the rule.  Our suggestions can be found here.  

The Illinois Chamber's Tech Council is proud to invite all Illinois Chamber members to attend a free two-day, localized program bringing together small business owners, entrepreneurs, job seekers and community groups to enable them to learn how to use technology to grow their business and to learn new skills.  The event, put on by Facebook, will take place from December 3 through December 4 at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield, IL.  For more information and to register, click here.  

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Illinois Chamber of Commerce

2017 Government Affairs Report | Tyler Diers, Editor