May 8, 2020

This Week in Illinois

Session Update
The House has cancelled next week's session. The deadline to release House bills from committees has been extended one week to Friday, May 22. The next scheduled Senate session date is Tuesday, May 18. 

The House did return a skeleton staffing crew to the capitol this week.  It still appears that the last week of May would be the absolute earliest the General Assembly will return to Springfield.  
Governor Releases Plan to Reopen Illinois  
On Tuesday, Governor Pritzker outlined his Restore Illinois that plan divides the state into four regions and lays out five phases towards a return to pre-coronavirus life. The entire state is currently in Phase II.  Each region can move independently into the next stage when certain public health benchmarks are obtained over a 28-day period. Under this plan, it might take up to a year to reopen the Illinois economy. 
Yesterday, Chamber President and CEO  Todd Maisch released a statement on the Chamber's response that includes:
" The Illinois Chamber supports the administration's efforts to develop a reopening roadmap for our economy.  Unfortunately, today's news that more than 1 million Illinoisans are out of work since March 1, reaffirms the inadequacy of its plan. We face an unprecedented job losses and government fiscal implosion. Illinois cannot afford to outsource the future of our economy to a handful of epidemiologists without considering the financial future of families. Government leaders must be able to address the public health crisis and the economic crisis at the same time. Otherwise it is failing us.

You can read the whole statement here
New Legislation Filed
New legislation is trickling in from the General Assembly to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.  We wanted to highlight the Chamber's opposition to this bill:

HB 5769, sponsored by Rep. Andre Thapedi (D-Chicago) c reates the Personal Protective Equipment Responsibility Act requiring an employer designated as an essential employer under a disaster proclamation issued pursuant to the Illinois Emergency Management Act or an executive order issued pursuant to the disaster proclamation to provide personal protective equipment to independent contractors and to all employees  during the duration of the disaster proclamation or executive order. It also creates a new cause of action allowing the recovery of damages, including punitive damages, and attorney's fees. 

First, the legislation seeks to bypass the workers' compensation system and the "exclusive remedy" doctrine. This legal doctrine bars employees injured on the job from making a tort liability claim against their employer. The benefits provided under workers' compensation are the sole remedy available to an injured employee.

The Workers' Compensation and Occupational Disease Acts and case law provides that if an employee contracts a disease that is caused by the workplace, such as COVID-19, defined benefits are paid to the employee and the employer is protected from  legal issues like punitive damages.
Second, it provides a cause of action for independent contractors which under the law are not employees. 

The Chamber believes this is a very flawed bill that could seriously harm employers at a time when they need the most help and will actively be opposing this legislation. 
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Available in Illinois Starting Monday
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) is now providing unemployment benefits through the CARES Act Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Benefits are available for individuals  who are out of work due to specific COVID-19 related reason and  who have been determined ineligible for state unemployment benefits. Individuals wanting to access the PUA program can apply on the IDES website. As of now they must first apply for regular unemployment and be denied to get their information in the system.  
Governor Reissues Stay at Home Order
On Wednesday, the Governor reissued his stay at home order with slight modifications.  This order will remain in place until the end of May. Some of the major changes include allowing non-essential retail stores to reopen to fulfill online and telephone orders, pet groomers are now essential, golf may resume with certain guidelines. 

Revised DCEO Guidance for Essential Business  
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has issued 
revised FAQ for essential businesses for the governor's revised Executive Order 2020-33

Businesses and activities that may increase services and operations:
  • Non-essential retail stores may reopen to fulfill telephone and online orders through pickup outside the store and delivery. Employees working in these stores must follow the Social Distancing Requirements and must wear a face covering when they are unable to keep six feet distance from another employee or a customer.
  • Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries may operate as essential businesses, following the distancing requirements for essential stores.
  • Pet Groomers are essential businesses.
  • Golf courses can reopen if these guidelines are followed.
  • Fishing and boating is permissible if these guidelines are followed
Requirements for all Businesses
All businesses must evaluate which employees are able to work from home and are encouraged to facilitate remote work from home when possible. All businesses that have employees physically reporting to a worksite must post the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) regarding workplace safety during the COVID-19 emergency.
The State Budget   
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) issued its monthly report for April 2020. Base tax revenues fell $2.740 billion from last April. COGFA indicated that $1.3 billion of that decline was attributable to moving the individual and corporate income tax return due date and payment date to July 15 from April 15.
Business Suggestions   
The Chamber is consulting with the governor's administration on business relief. Please send any information or suggestions  we can use to advocate on your behalf  to Andrew at

We also want to share your good news. Please send any announcements or positive stories on your business to Darbi at

Connect with the Chamber


If you have questions about the Government Affairs Report, contact Clark Kaericher at Do not reply to this email. 

Illinois Chamber of Commerce

2020 Government Affairs Report | Clark Kaericher, Editor