May 25, 2018

This Week in Illinois 
The legislature is in its final days of the spring legislative session.  Both the House and Senate cancelled session for Saturday and Sunday, but will return Monday afternoon.   This time of the year the budget tends to dominate the attention at the statehouse.  Negotiations over the budget continue.  There has been little to know public discussion of the budget negotiations by the legislative leaders or the Governor this week.  Generally speaking, this tends to indicate that discussions between the legislative leaders and the Governor are productive.  Compared to the last couple years, there appears to be more optimism in the building to hash out a budget deal for the next fiscal year and get out of town by the May 31st. 

We continue to be on alert for any attempts for the legislature to bring in new revenues on the backs on job creators.  This would include decoupling from the beneficial aspects of the federal tax law changes to be used as a mechanism to attempt fill any budget gaps between revenues and proposed expenditures.  There are also ongoing discussions on constructing a gaming expansion bill.   The Supreme Court's recent decision to allow states to permit sports betting has ginned up lawmakers interested in picking up additional revenues that would be generated by having a new law in place.  Gaming issues tend to be very complex and the clock is ticking.  The House has a hearing scheduled for Monday at noon to discuss SB 7, a gaming expansion omnibus.  

While this has been a historically quiet end of session, m any issues remain on the legislature's docket.  Several employment law issues are pending floor votes in both the House and Senate.  First up, HB 4163 (Moeller/Castro) passed out of the Senate Labor Committee this week.  This bill would prohibit employers from inquiring about salary and wage history by adding new standards that limit employer defenses and adding new compensatory and punitive damage penalties on businesses who are not compliant.  The Chamber opposes this bill and would prefer the alternative method outline in SB 3100 (Bertino-Tarrant).  SB 3100 only prohibits the inquiry about or using of a job applicant's wage, salary, benefits history. It does not diminish employer defenses or enhance and expand legal remedies and fines as HB 4163 does.

Earlier this week, the House Labor Committee voted to advance House Amendment 2 to SB 904 to the full House. The vote was a bipartisan 22-1-4 vote. There are elements of the legislation that the Illinois Chamber is committed to working on to find solutions to resolve medical bill disputes in a more timely fashion and to establish a mechanism for medical providers to recover the interest penalty for undisputed bills or undisputed portions thereof that are unpaid after 30 days from receipt of the necessary data elements to adjudicate the claim.   While we do not condone delayed payment of legitimate, undisputed medical claims and have expressed a willingness to discuss ways to reduce the friction in medical bill payments with medical provider interests for some time, our strong opposition to increasing the interest penalty to 2% and allowing medical bill disputes to go to circuit court remain.  The Chamber is opposed to the bill as it would increase workers' compensation costs for employers.  We are currently working with stakeholders on an agreement.  

On a brighter note, the Chamber has received confirmation on two employment law bills that appear to not be moving this session.  First, HB 4081 (Halpin/Bennett) is not moving in the Senate due to insufficient votes in committee.  This bill would have required an employer that intends to relocate a call center or portions of a call center out of state to provide notice to the State Treasurer at least 120 days before the relocation. Employers found non-compliant would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per day. The bill would have also required the Treasurer to compile and post on the Treasurer's website a list of employers that have relocated call center and would have required an employer that relocates a call center from Illinois to another state or a foreign country to repay grants, loans, and tax benefits that may have been received. The Chamber led a coalition of industry groups in opposition, arguing that the Illinois WARN Act and the ability of DCEO to claw back state incentives in certain situations provide adequate protection that the legislation sought to address.  

Second, a bill that would allow an employee to place a lien against the personal property of a business owner will likely receive a Senate vote but will not move in the House.

There are several other bills in which the Chamber is working on to help pass or defeat, however the content above represents issues the Chamber will be actively working in the final days of session.   It is also worth mentioning that it is common for controversial amendments to be filed on empty bills (also known as shell bills) that are positioned to pass both houses expeditiously.  If any amendment of major significance breaks between now and the scheduled May 31st adjournment, we will be sure to notify members. 

SB 2641 (Munoz/Turner) passed House Executive Committee 11-0-0.  This bill would seek to apply the same statutory and regulatory obligations on non-traditional car rental companies (defined in the bill as personal car facilitation) as traditional car rental companies such as liability, loss or injury and the ability for local units of government to apply a rental service tax on vehicles.  The Chamber has no position on the bill.  
SB 2436 (Nybo/Feigenholtz) passed the House Executive Committee 11-0-0.  This bill would amend the Liquor Control Act to allow a local liquor control commissioner to get local approval of the sale of retail liquor within 100 feet of a church, school, and hospitals (rather than getting General Assembly approval).  The Chamber supports.   

HB 4275 (Andrade/Steans) passed the Senate 50-5-0.  This bill would remove the arbitrary cap on how much fitness clubs can charge in yearly contracts.  This bill moves Illinois more in line with 47 other states that have no such cap.  The Chamber supported this bill.  It now heads to the Governor's desk.

SB 20 (Steans) passed Senate Executive Committee.  We have agreed to the  amendment the makes extensive procedural changes to the Illinois Human Rights Act and significant structural changes to the Illinois Human Rights Commission to provide for full-time, professional commissioners. A temporary panel of commissioners also will be responsible for eliminating the backlog of requests for review at the Commission. The one provision of concern were proposals that allowed for a complainant to go to circuit court during the investigation process. While not ideal, we did agree to a 60 day option that will allow a charge to be moved to circuit court. Notice to respondents will be required and any charge that goes to circuit court will be closed by the Department and no similar charge will be allowed to be filed at the Department at a later time.  Our analysis is that the amendment to SB 20 is a net positive for employers.

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2017 Government Affairs Report | Tyler Diers, Editor