IHLA Governmental Affairs Update
November 2017

Guest Access Restriction  in Employees Only Areas Ordinance: Alderman Ed Burke introduced an ordinance in response to the Rosemont hotel incident which would make it a crime to fail to monitor and restrict guest access to non-guest areas. The bill would require installing no guest access signs at non-guest areas and securing those areas to prevent unauthorized access. IHLA expressed opposition to the ordinance when Burke introduced it in the Finance Committee and explained that hotels already have signage for employee only and non-guest areas clearly marked, and any guest who mistakenly enters a non-guest area is quickly asked to leave.
IHLA worked with Alderman Tunney who joined us in opposition at the October Council meeting. Alderman Tunney helped us secure 12 other aldermen to put a hold on the measure. Rather than deferring the bill to the next Council meeting, which would require two aldermen to Defer & Publish, IHLA succeeded in placing the bill on hold for further discussion. If IHLA does not reach agreement with Alderman Burke by the next Council meeting on 11/15/17, we can Defer & Publish it until December to give us more time. Alderman Reilly called the freezer ordinance an example of well-intended legislative overkill.
The next Council meeting is 11/15/17, and IHLA will continue to work with Alderman Tunney, Alderman Burke, and other aldermen on the issue.
Sexual Harassment Ordinance Passed City Council with IHLA Revisions: IHLA reached an agreement with Alderman Michelle Harris and the other stakeholders that reinforces a commitment to the safety of hotel employees and guests. The ordinance that passed calls for panic button systems, but not the type of systems required in New York City and Washington D.C. or by the Seattle law in which the rules are still being determined. As a result of the efforts of IHLA and those of Alderman Harris, the City's attorney, and AHLA, several improvements to the original ordinance were made before the revised substitute ordinance passed the City Council on 10/11/17. The deadline for hotels to start providing panic buttons to their room attendants has been pushed back until  7/1/18, allowing more time for budgeting the expense and possibly tying panic buttons to other uses of technology in order to give hotels a much more cost effective solution to better manage hotel operations and to increase guest service.
AED Ordinance Passed City Council after Agreement with IHLA: IHLA negotiated an agreement with Aldermen Patrick Thompson and Ed Burke to reduce the number of automated external defibrillators required for each hotel. Instead of the original proposal of AEDs on every floor and in banquet rooms with 50 or more, IHLA reached an agreement that calls for at least one AED at the front office, depending on the size of the hotel, and on floors with 4,000 or more square feet of banquet space, which would cover large ballrooms and large banquet space, and at least one trained hotel employee on duty who knows how to operate an AED. The agreement also extended the effective date from 90 to 120 days to give hotels more time to comply with the new ordinance. The agreed ordinance passed the Chicago City Council on 10/11/17.
Airbnb/Short Term Rentals: The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Affairs (BACP) has hired two staff members to run the enforcement of short term rentals. Short term rental enforcement has been slowly coming on line. By now, according to BACP, over 3,000 units have been registered, and enforcement of the prohibited building list is in process for hundreds of units.
Mayor Emanuel Unveiled His 7th City Budget: Mayor Emanuel is raising taxes and fees again to keep stabilizing the city's finances; budget hearings began on 10/23/17. The good news is that there are no taxes that directly affect the hotel industry, although he did include a phone tax and ride sharing tax. The bulk of the taxes has gone towards paying for underfunded government employee pensions, modernizing the city's aging water system and roads, and hiring more police officers.
The Mayor's proposed budget includes new taxes and fees such as:
  • A 15 cent fee hike for Uber and Lyft rides (with the money slated to go towards CTA upgrades).
  • An increase in the amusement tax - to 9% from 5% for venues with more than 1,500 seats. Smaller sized venues, now paying the 5% tax, would no longer have to pay the tax.
  • An increase in the phone tax for landlines and mobile phones: $1.10 increase in the 911 phone tax that is expected to give $30 million to the city and 28.2% increase in the monthly tax tacked on to Chicago telephone bills - both cell phones and land lines.
Soda Tax: The soda tax was repealed at the 10/11/17 County Board meeting on a vote of 15-2, reflecting the overwhelming opposition the tax faced among Cook County residents. Even President Preckwinkle conceded that voters are just taxed out. The two no votes against the repeal were Commissioners Larry Suffredin and Jerry Butler. The tax dies at the end of the County fiscal year at midnight on 11/30/17. Preckwinkle says she will work with the Board to close a $200 million budget gap. IHLA is working with Commissioners and has been assured that there is no appetite for any tax increases.
Cook County Budget: The President has presented the County budget, and public hearings are taking place at this time. The next Cook County Board meeting is 11/15/17. 

Veto Session: The General Assembly's Veto Session concluded on 11/9/17. The General Assembly will reconvene in January.
2018 Election Cycle Begins: Resignations, decisions not to run for reelection, or decisions to run for a different office will dramatically change the composition of the 2019 General Assembly. Thus far, 17 State Representatives and 9 Senators in the current legislature will not be returning in 2019. This is prior to the March Primary Election and the November General Election which will cause more attrition. Many of these legislators have been key IHLA supporters. It is incumbent that IHLA members continually develop new industry advocates while supporting our current ones. 11/27/17 is the first day for filing petitions to run in the 3/20/18 primary election. It is very important that IHLA members introduce themselves and their hotel operations to candidates shortly after they announce or file for office. By introducing these new candidates early to you, your hotel, and your employees, you position yourself as a resource for them on the campaign trail. They will be equipped to answer questions about the hotel industry, tourism, and your hotel's role in promoting jobs and economic benefits to your community.
There are 39 (out of 59) State Senate Districts that are having elections, all for 4 year terms. The Senate Districts are: 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, 32, 33, 35, 36, 38, 39, 41, 42, 44, 45, 47, 48, 50, 51, 53, 54, 56, 57, 59. All 118 State House Districts are having elections.
The 2018 Legislative Session Schedules can be found below:
Local Tourism Grants: The Illinois Office of Tourism announced in October that Local Tourism Convention Bureau grants will be funded at $13.5M or 90% of the FY18 appropriated level. Many other dedicated, "special funds" were funded far below the 90% level.
Short Term Rentals: Chicago, Rockford, and a number of other Illinois municipalities have passed or are considering ordinances applying the local hotel tax and other provisions to short term rentals (STR), such as those offered by AirBNB. IHLA has developed a list of provisions that they support in state law. Under their proposal, STRs must:
  • Comply with the same state and local taxation levels and tax compliance and reporting requirements as hotels.
  • Remit all state hotel tax revenue collected to the Department of Revenue, which shall be dedicated to support tourism.
  • Obtain commercial general liability insurance.
  • Meet the State Fire Marshal's requirements for the building in which it is located.
  • Post in a conspicuous place, (1) the name and contact number of the local contact person and (2) an evacuation diagram identifying all means of egress from the building.
  • Comply, if offering food, with minimum food handling regulations that are substantially the same as those governing bed and breakfasts.
  • Comply with the Public Accommodations provisions of the Illinois Human Rights Act.
 Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association
P: 312-346-3135 | F: 312-346-6036 

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