March 5, 2021

This Week in Illinois
Session Update
While no floor action is occurring, both the House and Senate held virtual committee hearings this week. Bills have still been debated and passed out of the various committees. Next week, both the House and Senate will continue virtual hearings. However, the Senate is scheduled to return to Springfield on Tuesday, March 9th. All Senate proceedings can be viewed live here and all House proceedings can be viewed live here.

Illinois Democratic Party Elects New Chair
Earlier this week, Illinois Democrats elected a new party Chair. Congresswoman Robin Kelly, a Member of the US House since 2013, currently represents the South suburbs of Chicago. Kelly was elected in a close vote over Chicago Alderman Michelle Harris. Kelly will succeed Former Speaker Michael Madigan who served as Party Chair since 1998.

Tribune Highlights Chamber Bill on COVID-19 Liability for Businesses
In the editorial titled "Gov. Pritzker, protect ‘health care heroes’ from excess litigation over COVID-19" the Chicago Tribune highlighted legislation sponsored by Rep. Batinick (R) that limits liability for businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Liability Act creates a higher burden of proof for plaintiffs bringing lawsuits against businesses during the ongoing public health emergency. The Tribune article specifically highlights the potential benefit for healthcare facilities.

Earlier this week, the Washington Examiner also highlighted COVID-19 liability legislation in Illinois. The full article can be read here.

Impact on Hospitality Industry
Yesterday, the Senate Tourism & Hospitality Committee held a hearing on the continued loss of state and local revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions imposed. Witness testimony by a representative of the Chicago labor community was provided for the hearing. The witness, Bob Reiter of the Chicago Federation of Labor, talked about the State's need for a transition out of Phase 4 mitigations, which sets capacity limits at 50 individuals, and the dire impact on locations like McCormick Place. Reiter said there needed to be a reform of the metrics that emphasized an individual location's capabilities and moves away from a one-size-fits-all approach.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza also provided testimony. Mendoza said that bringing conventions and other events back to Illinois will take time and is more than "flipping a switch." Mendoza did say that Illinoisans should plan for conventions in the Fall and the real possibility of the annual State Fair in the summer. Prior to the pandemic, the tourism industry in Illinois brought in $43 billion and supported 350,000 jobs not including the associated restaurant workers. To amplify the loss of revenue, Mendoza said that the Chicago hotel tax, which generated $125 million for the state prior to the pandemic, only brought in $29 million in 2020.

Legislation to Watch:
  • HB 3003 (Batinick) COVID 19 Liability Act
  • Creates the COVID-19 Liability Act. Provides that a person may bring a coronavirus exposure action under certain circumstances. Provides that no individual or entity engaged in businesses, services, activities, or accommodations shall be liable in any coronavirus exposure action unless the plaintiff proves specified elements by clear and convincing evidence. Provides that a person may bring a coronavirus-related medical liability action under certain circumstances. Provides that no health care provider shall be liable in a coronavirus-related medical liability action unless the plaintiff proves certain requirements by clear and convincing evidence. Provides that if any person transmits or causes another to transmit in any form and by any means a demand for remuneration in exchange for settling, releasing, waiving, or otherwise not pursuing a claim that is, or could be, brought as part of a coronavirus-related action, the party receiving such a demand shall have a cause of action for the recovery of damages occasioned by such a demand and for declaratory judgment if the claim upon which the demand letter was based was meritless. Provides that an employer conducting testing for coronavirus at the workplace shall not be liable for any action or personal injury directly resulting from such testing. This is a Chamber Initiative.

  •  HB3090 (Harper) Environmental Justice
  • This bill creates the Environmental Justice Act. Creates the Illinois Environmental Justice Advisory Council to provide independent advice and recommendations to the Governor, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the other State agencies about broad, cross-cutting issues related to environmental justice and on policies, practices, and specific actions. Requires the Agency to: (1) develop and implement a strategy prioritizing enforcement in neighborhoods with environmental justice populations; (2) compile an annual report detailing the number and types of enforcement actions in neighborhoods with environmental justice populations; (3) establish and maintain a supplemental environmental project bank with specified requirements; (4) publish a progress report on environmental justice no less often than every 5 years; and (5) work with the Department of Public Health to establish health risk assessment guidelines and develop an online mapping that identifies specified information. The Chamber opposes this bill.

  • HJRCA 2 (Yednock) No Right to Work in Illinois
  • This amendment provides that collective bargaining is fundamentally necessary to protect the economic welfare and safety of all workers in the public and private sectors. Provides that no law shall be passed that restricts or interferes with the ability of workers to join together and collectively bargain over wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment, including any law that prohibits or restricts the right of private sector employers and employees, through a representative of their own choosing, to enter into and administer union security agreements, should they choose. This amendment would effectively ensure that Illinois never becomes a right to work state. 

  •  SB 1974 ( Fine) Payment Recoupment
  • Amends the Illinois Insurance Code. Provides that an insurer, health maintenance organization, independent practice association, or physician hospital organization may not attempt a recoupment or offset until all appeal rights of a health care professional or health care provider are exhausted. Provides that no recoupment or offset may be requested or withheld from future payments 6 months or more after the original payment is made (rather than 18 months or more after the original payment is made). Effective January 1, 2022. The Chamber opposes this legislation.

  • SB 2080 (Castro) New PRA, Technology
  • This bill provides that it is unlawful for a person who provides any smart service through a proprietary smart speaker to: (i) store or make a recording or transcript of any speech or sound captured by a smart speaker or to use any storage or recording or transcript of any voice interaction by a user with the voice-user interface, or (ii) transmit such a recording or transcript to a third party, for any purpose, without obtaining express informed consent and permitting the user to require the deletion of any recording, transcript, or sound recorded by the speaker at any time. Provides exemptions. Provides that it is unlawful for a person who provides any security monitoring or other service through a proprietary video doorbell to: (i) store or make a recording of any video, image, or audio captured by the video doorbell's camera, or (ii) use any storage recording of any video, image, or audio captured by the video doorbell's camera, or transmit such a recording to a third party. Provides exemptions. Provides that, if the Attorney General or a State's Attorney has reason to believe that any person has violated or is violating the Act, he or she may, in addition to any authority he or she may have to bring an action in State court under consumer protection law, bring a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin further violation by the defendant, enforce compliance with the Act, or obtain civil penalties not to exceed $40,000 per violation. The Chamber opposes all new private right of action. 

  •   SB 2268 (DeWitte) Minimum Wage Delay Implementation
  • This bill provides that the increase in the minimum wage scheduled for January 1, 2022 is delayed until January 1, 2023. Provides that the subsequently scheduled annual increases in the minimum wage are delayed by one year culminating in a minimum wage of $15 per hour in 2026 rather than 2025. Makes corresponding delays in the minimum wage increases for persons under 18 years of age who do not work more than 650 hours per year. The Chamber supports this legislation.

  • SB 2531 (Stoller) SALT Cap Work Around
  • This bill amends the Illinois Income Tax Act. Provides that a partnership or Subchapter S corporation may elect to pay a tax computed by multiplying the share of business income apportionable to Illinois and nonbusiness income allocated to Illinois that is distributable to each partner or shareholder and multiplied by the applicable rates of tax for that partner or shareholder. Creates a deduction in an amount equal to those amounts. This bill is a SALT cap work around for partners of partnerships and S corporation shareholders. This is a Chamber Tax Institute Initiative

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