GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS
------------Report
May 14th, 2021

This Week in Illinois
Session Update
On Monday, the Senate returned to Springfield for another week of session. The House returned to action on Tuesday. Floor action was once again light in both chambers. The Senate was in session for five days with business concluding on Friday afternoon. Business in the House concluded on Friday morning. Both chambers continued to conduct committee hearings through the virtual platform at ilga.gov.

Originally, today, May 14th was the deadline for when when all substantive House bills had to be moved out of Senate committees and all substantive Senate bills had to be moved out of House committees. However, that deadline has now been extended by a week. Therefore, the next crucial committee deadline is next Friday, May 21st.

The Senate is scheduled to return for session this Monday, May 17th. The House is scheduled to return on Tuesday, May 18th.

President & CEO Maisch Talks Tax Part II
In the latest video from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, President & CEO Todd Maisch Todd Maisch discusses how proposed changes to business taxation will be a detriment to Illinois businesses in part two of its series on business taxation.

In the video, Maisch discusses the proposal to reverse the repeal of the Corporate Franchise Tax as well as the proposal to cap the the retailer's discount. The Chamber considers both of these issues crucial for Members' interests.

This video is the second produced by the Chamber in a new series on key issues in the Illinois legislature. Watch the full video and other Chamber content here.


Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds Cannot be Used for State Debt
Earlier this week, the US Treasury Department released its rules for the use of federal COVID-19 relief dollars. In those rules, state debt payments are not considered an acceptable use.

Aside from the prohibition on debt payments, direct or indirect tax cuts were also prohibited. Payments into pension funds were also listed as an unacceptable use of the relief dollars.

Those in state leadership had previously pledged to use some of these relief dollars to pay down Illinois' mounting liabilities. In an op-ed published last month, Governor Pritzker, Speaker Welch and President Harmon said they will first pay-off COVID-19 related debts, which amount to approximately $4 billion and then use the remaining dollars for various potential projects.

Illinois can appeal this ruling, but at this time, the federal directive appears to have hampered the State's fiscal ambitions.

On Friday, it was reported that top Illinois Democrats are lobbying the federal government to allow the payment of COVID-19 related debt to be an acceptable use of relief funds.

House Revenue Holds Subject Matter Hearing on Capital Revenues
On Thursday, the House Revenue Committee met for a subject matter hearing on capital revenues. The main topic of discussion was lowering the fee for small trailers back to its original amount of $18 from the new price of $118. Chairman Zalewski indicated he would be ok with this proposal so long as there was a revenue offset. Proponents suggested increasing the title fee by $5 to make up for the revenue loss. 

The price increase on the trailer flat weight tax was a part of the 2019 Capital bill, enacted with the expectation of gains in revenue. However, the Secretary of State's office reported 150,000 fewer applications in 2020. Proponents of the bill fear that revenues will decline as more trailer owners neglect to register due to the cost. Testifying in the committee, Representative Katie Stuart said that the current price of $118 is a burden on individuals, nonprofits and small business.

Legislation to Watch:

HB 53AI interviews, was placed on the Senate calendar for 3rd reading. This bill provides that employers that rely solely upon artificial intelligence to determine whether an applicant will qualify for an in-person interview must gather and report certain demographic information to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Requires the Department to analyze the data and report to the Governor and General Assembly whether the data discloses a racial bias in the use of artificial intelligence.

HB 117Secure Choice Savings Program was placed on the Senate calendar for 3rd reading. This bill, as amended, provides that the Act applies to employers with at least 5 employees, rather than at least one employee. (Current law applies to employers with fewer than 25 employees.) Provides that a small employer is an employer that employed less than 5 employees during any quarter of the previous calendar year, rather than less than 25 employees at any one time throughout the previous calendar year. 

HB 118Wage Payment and Collection Act Changes passed out of the Senate Labor Committee by a vote of 12-5-0. This bill provides that an employee is entitled to recover damages of 5% (rather than 2%) of the amount of any underpayments in wages for each month following the date of payment during which such underpayments remain unpaid. The Chamber opposes this bill.

HB 165Carbon Capture Task Force was placed on the Senate Calendar for 3rd reading. This bill provides that subject to appropriation, the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in consultation with an intergovernmental advisory committee, must file a report on potential for carbon capture, utilization, and storage as a climate mitigation technology throughout Illinois with the Governor and General Assembly no later than December 31, 2022. Provides that the report must provide an assessment of Illinois subsurface storage resources, state of readiness, and provide recommendations for policy and regulatory needs at the State level based on its findings. Provides that in developing the report, the Prairie Research Institute shall form an advisory committee and provides for membership of the committee. Provides that the Prairie Research Institute shall also engage with interested stakeholders throughout the State to gain insights into socio-economic perspectives from environmental justice organizations, environmental non-governmental organizations, industry, landowners, farm bureaus, manufacturing, labor unions, and others. 

HB 399High Speed Railway Commission was placed on the Senate Calendar for 3rd reading. This bill Creates the High-Speed Railway Commission Act. Prescribes the membership of the Commission. Provides that the Commission shall create a statewide plan for a high-speed rail line and feeder network connecting St. Louis, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois that includes current existing Amtrak and Metra services, connects the cities of Rockford, Moline, Peoria, and Decatur, and uses inter-city bus service to coordinate with the rail line. Provides that the Commission shall conduct a ridership study and shall make findings and recommendations concerning a governance structure, the frequency of service, and implementation of the plan.

HB 1745, Prescription Drugs passed out of the Senate Insurance Committee by a vote of 11-0-0. This bill says that In provisions concerning individual health plans that provide coverage for prescription drugs, provides that beginning January 1, 2023, health insurance carriers shall ensure that at least 10% of individual health care plans offered in each applicable service area apply a flat-dollar copayment structure to the entire drug benefit; and beginning January 1, 2024, health insurance carriers shall ensure that at least 25% of individual health care plans offered in each applicable service area apply a flat-dollar copayment structure to the entire drug benefit. In provisions concerning group health plans that provide coverage for prescription drugs, provides that beginning January 1, 2023, health insurance carriers shall offer at least one group health plan in each applicable service area that applies a flat-dollar copayment structure to the entire drug benefit; and beginning January 1, 2024, health insurance carriers shall offer at least 2 group health plans in each applicable service area that apply a flat-dollar copayment structure to the entire drug benefit. Provides that the flat-dollar copayment structure for prescription drugs must be applied pre-deductible and be reasonably graduated and proportionately related in all tier levels such that the copayment structure as a whole does not discriminate against or discourage the enrollment of individuals with significant health care needs. Requires the health insurance carriers to clearly and appropriately name the plans to aid in individual or group plan selection. Requires the health insurance carriers to market the plans in the same manner as their other plans.

HB 1779Biomarker Testing passed out of the Senate Insurance Committee by a vote of 11-0-0. This bill provides that a group or individual policy of accident and health insurance or managed care plan amended, delivered, issued, or renewed on or after January 1, 2022 shall include coverage for biomarker testing. Provides that biomarker testing shall be covered and conducted in an efficient manner to provide the most complete range of results to the patient's health care provider without requiring multiple biopsies, biospecimen samples, or other delays or disruptions in patient care. Provides that biomarker testing must be covered for the purposes of diagnosis, treatment, appropriate management, or ongoing monitoring of an enrollee's disease or condition when the test is supported by medical and scientific evidence. Provides that when coverage of biomarker testing for the purpose of diagnosis, treatment, or ongoing monitoring of any medical condition is restricted for use by health insurers, nonprofit health service plans, or health maintenance organizations, the patient and prescribing practitioner shall have access to a clear, readily accessible, and convenient processes to request an exception, and the process shall be made readily accessible on the insurer's website.

SB 117Treasurer Infrastructure passed out of the House Revenue Committee by a vote of 18-0-0. This bill Creates the Infrastructure Development Act. Provides that the State Treasurer shall segregate a portion of the Treasurer's State investment portfolio in the Infrastructure Development Account, an account that shall be maintained separately and apart from other moneys invested by the State Treasurer. Allows the State Treasurer to make investments concerning the Infrastructure Development Account. Provides for Infrastructure Development Account-Recipient Funds created by Illinois infrastructure development firms in which the State Treasurer places money. Provides further requirements concerning Infrastructure Development Account-Recipient Funds. Provides for the adoption rules. Provides that the Infrastructure Development Fund is created as a special fund in the State treasury, which may receive a portion of earnings from the Infrastructure Development Account and may be used by the State Treasurer to pay expenses related to the Act.

SB 693, EMS Transport passed Healthcare Licenses Committee by a vote of 8-0-0. This bill Provides that EMS personnel may transport a patient to an EMS System-approved urgent care or immediate care facility that meets the proper criteria and is approved by Online Medical Control or his or her EMS Medical Director or Emergency Communications Registered Nurse. The Chamber supports this bill.

SB 1767Payroll Database passed out of the House Labor & Commerce Committee by a vote of 27-0-0. This bill Provides that beginning January 1, 2022, the Department of Labor shall make accessible to the public on its website by the 16th day of each month following the month the work was performed the following information from certified payrolls submitted under this Act: each worker's classification or classifications, skill level, such as apprentice or journeyman, gross wages paid in each pay period, number of hours worked each day, starting and ending times of work each day, hourly wage rate, hourly overtime wage rate, and hourly fringe benefit rate. Provides that the database shall be searchable by contractor name, project name, county in which the work is performed, and contracting public body.

SB 1846, Child beverages passed out of the House Consumer Protection Committee by a vote of 6-0-0 and is now on the House calendar for 3rd reading. This bill provides that, notwithstanding any other provision of law, a restaurant shall, by default, include a specified type of water, milk, milk alternative, or juice with a children's meal sold by the restaurant. Provides that a restaurant may include another beverage with a children's meal upon request. Provides that, during any inspection of a restaurant by a health officer or health inspector of a local health department, the health officer or health inspector shall inspect the restaurant to determine whether it complies with these provisions. Provides that restaurants that violate the provisions are subject to a warning and specified civil penalties. 

SB 2183Transportation Network Providers Act passed out of the House Labor & Commerce Committee by a vote of 28-0-0. As amended, this bill repeals the Transportation Network Providers Act on January 1, 2023. The Chamber supports this bill.

SB 2459Electronic Signature passed out of the House Transportation Committee by a vote of 13-0-0 and is now on the House calendar for 3rd reading. This bill provides that the Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, and the Capital Development Board shall each accept the use of electronic signatures in transactions between those State agencies and other persons or entities, unless all parties to the transaction waive the right to use electronic signatures. Provides an exception to the use of electronic signatures for transactions involving technical submissions.
Connect with the Chamber
If you have questions about the Government Affairs Report, contact Clark Kaericher at ckaericher@ilchamber.org. Do not reply to this email.