State of Illinois Proposed Rules Open for Public Comment 
Proposed Rules Open For Comment 
The following rules have been proposed by State of Illinois agencies and are open for public comment.   To see a comprehensive list of rules which could impact small businesses, visit   You can learn about rules and submit comments regarding their impact  by clicking on " submit comments".   
The Chief Procurement Officer fo the Department of Transportation proposed amendments which will impact businesses seeking contracts with the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission proposed an amendment which will impact manufacturers and distributors of alcoholic liquors.

The Office of the State Treasurer proposed amendments which will impact small business and non-profits with 25 or more employees.

The Chief Procurement Officer for Higher Education proposed an amendment which will impact small businesses seeking procurement contracts with Illinois public higher education institutions.

The Department of Revenue proposed amendments which will impact retailers who sell electronic cigarettes or smoking devices.

The Illinois Gaming Board proposed an emergency amendment which will impact licensed video gaming locations.

For more information on any of the above proposed rules, contact Katy Khayyat at (217) 558-0190 or email .    
Federal Regulatory Corner
National Labor Relations Board Restores Employers' Right to Restrict Use of Email
The National Labor Relations Board reestablished the right of an employer to restrict employee use of its email system if it does so on a nondiscriminatory basis. 

The Board upholds that employees do not have a statutory right to use employers' email and other information-technology (IT) resources to engage in non-work-related communications. Rather, employers have the right to control the use of their equipment, including their email and other IT systems, and they may lawfully exercise that right to restrict the uses to which those systems are put, provided that in doing so, they do not discriminate against union or other protected concerted communications. To this extent, the Board effectively reinstated the holding of Register Guard, 351 NLRB 1110 (2007). Recognizing that employees must have adequate avenues to engage in communications protected by Section 7 of the NLRA, the Board's decision creates an exception for circumstances where the use of employer-provided email is the only reasonable means for employees to communicate with one another on non-working time during the workday. The decision can be found  here .

US Department of Agriculture Extends Comment Period on Interim Final Rule to Establish a Domestic Hemp Production Program
On Dec.18, 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service issued an extension of the comment period for its previously published interim final rule to establish a domestic hemp production program in the United States. The rule is set to take effect immediately and will expire on Nov. 1, 2021 or when a final rule is issued. The rule outlines a procedure by which states and Indian tribes can submit hemp production plans for approval by USDA. In those areas where there is no USDA approved plan, and where hemp production is not illegal on the state level, USDA will administer a Federal plan. The rule also outlines how information will be maintained, testing requirements to ensure that the products are legal, disposal requirements for non-compliant products and more. The agency is seeking comments on the plan to help inform a permanent final rule.  Written comments on the rule are now due by Jan. 29, 2020.
EPA Proposes Revisions of Application Exclusion Zone Requirements for Agricultural Worker Protection
On November 1, 2019, EPA published proposed revisions to the application exclusion zone (AEZ) requirements under its Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.  An AEZ is defined as the area extending horizontally around application equipment.  Under the current regulations, employers are required to keep workers and other persons out of AEZs during pesticide application.  EPA originally added this requirement in its revision of WPS in 2015.  Since then, many small businesses and state agencies have expressed concerns with this requirement due to its lack of clarity and unenforceability.

In this proposal, EPA seeks to simplify and clarify the AEZ requirements. For instance, EPA proposed changes streamline the criteria and factors for determining appropriate AEZ distances for the various methods of application. Another example is EPA's explanation regarding the specifics for when suspended applications may resume in the context of both when workers and non-workers remain within the boundaries of the establishment.  These modifications, along with others in this proposal, are intended to facilitate compliance by reducing the regulatory confusion caused by the 2015 rule.
Comments are due on January 30, 2020.

Read the proposal and submit comments  here.   Advocacy contact: Tabby Waqar at (202) 205-6790 or email at .

SBA Proposes to Merge 8(a) Business Development Mentor-Protege Program and All Small Mentor-Protege Program
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) proposes to merge its 8(a) Business Development (BD) Mentor-Protégé Program and its All Small Mentor-Protégé Program to eliminate confusion and remove unnecessary duplication of functions within SBA. The proposed rule would change certain joint venture rules and certain set-aside rules. It would also require recertification for certain orders under unrestricted multiple award contracts. SBA  is also considering whether to limit mentors only to those firms having average annual revenues of less than $100 million.
The proposed rule would also revise several 8(a) BD program regulations to reduce unnecessary or excessive burdens on 8(a) participants and clarify other related regulatory provisions to eliminate confusion among small businesses and procuring activities.
  • The text of this proposed rule and further information is posted here.
  • Comments on this proposed rule are due by January 17, 2020 and can be posted here.
  • Advocacy contact:
Need Help With Federal Regulatory Issues?
There are two main ways you can connect with SBA's Office of Advocacy and share your concerns about regulatory burdens on small businesses: 1) Fill out this form and share it with your small business colleagues.2)  Talk to your regional advocate about regulatory issues your small business is experiencing.
Applications Open for First $21 Million in Low Cost Loans for Cannabis Social Equity Applicants
As social equity applicants continue to apply for the coming round of cannabis dispensary licenses, the Pritzker Administration opened applications for the first $21 million Low Cost Loan Program that was authorized in the cannabis law signed in June. The initiative is funded through the Cannabis Business Development Fund, created by the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, to support social equity applicants seeking cannabis business licenses.

The fund is primarily supported through the licensing fees of the first round of dispensaries and cultivators, among other sources. As additional early use licenses for dispensaries and cultivators are
Applications for the loans are available here.   Initially, social equity applicants for the conditional adult use dispensing organization license will be able to apply for a loan.  As the license application periods open for craft grower and infuser licenses in January 2020, those social equity applicants will be able to apply to the loan program as well.
The low-interest loans will be available to those applying for a license to operate a cannabis business that meet the following criteria as set forth in the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act:

* Has at least 51% ownership and control by one or more Illinois residents who:
  • Have lived in a Disproportionately Impacted Area in 5 of the past 10 years.  Disproportionately Impacted Areas are census tracts that have high rates of arrest and incarceration related to cannabis offenses, among other qualifications including high poverty and unemployment. A map of these areas is available here
  • Have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for cannabis-related offenses eligible for expungement, including cannabis possession up to 500 grams or intent to deliver up to 30 grams. 
  • Have a parent, child, or spouse that has been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for cannabis-related offenses eligible for expungement, including possession up to 500 grams or intent to deliver up to 30 grams.
  • Has more than 10 full-time employees, and more than half of those employees:
    • Currently reside in a Disproportionately Impacted Area.
    • Have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for cannabis-related offenses eligible for expungement, including cannabis possession up to 500 grams or intent to deliver up to 30 grams.
    • Have a parent, child, or spouse that has been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for cannabis-related offenses eligible for expungement, including possession up to 500 grams or intent to deliver up to 30 grams.
In addition to the above, other criteria will be considered for qualification for a loan, including business plans, financial details, operational and compliance information, and need. While the interest rates for all loans will be below market rate, the specific rate, size and duration of each loan will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Successful applicants will receive pre-approval for a Cannabis Social Equity Loan, conditional on receipt of a license.

In addition to releasing the application for low interest loans for social equity applicants for cannabis licenses, DCEO is continuing to partner with the Community Enterprise and Solidarity Economy Clinic (CESEC) at the John Marshall Law School to offer technical assistance. Through this partnership, social equity applicants are receiving additional help with understanding licensing requirements, preparing business, security, operational plans and other important elements of running a cannabis business. CESEC has already conducted multiple community workshops across the state to educate potential social equity applicants on the cannabis industry.

For more information, including a map of Disproportionately Impacted Areas, visit DCEO's cannabis equity webpage:
Governor Pritzker Signs 'Illinois Works' Legislation, Bolstering Diverse Workforce on Capital Projects
As the state embarks on a historic $45 billion capital program, Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation to strengthen a pillar of Rebuild Illinois and increase diversity in apprenticeships for construction and the building trades.
The Illinois Works Jobs Program will help ensure that Illinois residents from all communities not only benefit from capital projects, but also have access to careers in the construction industry and building trades. Today's effort includes especially those who have been historically underrepresented in those trades.
The law makes a $25 million investment and works through community-based organizations to recruit new apprentices to work on the construction projects and sets strong apprentice participation goals of 10 percent on public works projects. Through this pre-apprenticeship program, bid credit program and review panel, the new law ensures the Illinois Works Jobs Program can deliver on its goal of building and maintaining a diverse workforce on Rebuild Illinois projects.
Senate Bill 177 took effect January 1, 2020.
New Laws Effective January 1
Here's a look at some new laws effective January 1:

Minimum Wage - The state's minimum wage increased by $1 an hour to $9.25 an hour on Jan. 1. It is the first increase since 2010. A 75-cents an hour increase is scheduled for July 1. After that, the minimum wage will increase by $1 an hour each year until it hits $15 an hour in 2025.

Sexual Harrassment - Public and private employers will be required to give employees training to combat workplace sexual harassment. The new law also prohibits private employers from requiring employees to sign non-disclosure agreements covering sexual harassment situations. Some hotel and casino employees will also have to be equipped with devices that can alert security if a person needs assistance.

Recreational Marijuana - Starting January 1 anyone over the age of 21 can buy and use recreational marijuana.  

Parking Tax for Garages ad Lots - Starting Jan. 1, the state will charge a 6% tax on parking in daily and hourly garages and lots, and a 9% tax on parking in monthly and annual garages and lots. 

Protections for Employes Who Receive Tips - A new law states that gratuities are the property of employees, and employers are forbidden from taking them. The law requires tips to be paid to employees within 13 days after the end of the pay period where they were earned. The Illinois Department of Labor can take the issue to court if employers do not comply.

Use of Arrest Records - Employers will be prohibited from inquiring into or using a record as the basis for an employment decision. Arrest records also cannot be used as the basis for refusing to take part in a real estate transaction.

Worker Protection Unit and Task Force - A new law will establish a Worker Protection Unit within the Attorney General's office, which will have the authority to enforce existing laws and protect workers' rights. It is intended to help remedy wage theft and unfair labor practices, according to the Attorney General's office.
SBA News

Last Chance for the Small Business Awards Nominations
National Small Business Week will take place May 3-9, 2020. Nominations are now open for SBA's Small Business Week Awards! In addition to the typical national awards - Small Business Person of the Year, Exporter of the Year, 8(a) Graduate of the Year - the SBA Illinois District has also added some new categories this year, including Young Entrepreneur of the Year, an Encore Entrepreneur of the Year, a Rural Small Business of the Year, and a Family-Owned Business of the Year. Nomination forms and guidelines are available at and . The deadline to apply is January 7, 2020.
News from the IRS 
January 31 Filing Deadline Remains For Employer Wage Statements, Independent Contractor Forms 

The Internal Revenue Service reminded employers and other businesses that wage statements and independent contractor forms still have a Jan. 31 filing deadline.

Before the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, employers generally had a longer period of time to file these forms. But the 2015 law made a permanent requirement for employers to file their copies of Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, with the Social Security Administration by Jan. 31.

Certain Forms 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, filed with the IRS to report non-employee compensation to independent contractors are also due at this time. Such payments are reported in box 7 of this form.

The early filing date means that the IRS can more easily detect refund fraud by verifying income that individuals report on their tax returns. Employers can avoid penalties by filing the forms on time and without errors. The IRS recommends e-file as the quickest, most accurate and convenient way to file these forms.

Employers should verify employees' information. This includes names, addresses, and Social Security or individual taxpayer identification numbers. They should also ensure their company's account information is current and active with the Social Security Administration before January.  If paper Forms W-2 are needed, they should be ordered early.

Automatic extensions of time to file Forms W-2 are not available. The IRS will only grant extensions for very specific reasons. Details can be found on the instructions for   Form 8809, Application for Time to File Information Returns.
For more information, read the instructions for Forms W-2 & W-3 and the   Information Return Penalties page at

New Downloadable Assistant  Helps Small Businesses WIthhold the Right Amount of Income Tax
The Internal Revenue Service has launched a new online assistant designed to help employers, especially small businesses, easily determine the right amount of federal income tax to withhold from their workers' pay.
Known as the Income Tax Withholding Assistant for Employers, this new spreadsheet-based tool is designed to help employers easily transition to the redesigned withholding system (no longer based on withholding allowances), which goes into effect on Jan. 1. It does this by helping them easily implement new income-tax withholding requests from employees who fill out the completely redesigned 2020 Form W-4 , Employee's Withholding Certificate.
At the same time, the tool can also help employers continue to properly withhold from employees who still have a withholding request on file using a past version of the W-4, which was based on withholding allowances.
Now available for download, without charge, on, the Income Tax Withholding Assistant for Employers is designed to help any employer who would otherwise figure withholding, manually, using a worksheet and either the percentage method or wage bracket tables found in Publication 15-T, Federal Income Tax Withholding Methods. Employers who already use an automated payroll system won't need this new assistant because their system already does the math.

The Income Tax Withholding Assistant for Employers is available in Microsoft Excel. The employer can use the tool to create a profile for each employee that then automatically calculates their correct federal income tax withholding.
To use the Income Tax Withholding Assistant for Employers, the employer starts by indicating their pay period frequency (for example, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.), and then enters key information from an employee's Form W-4. For the tool to work properly, the employer must indicate whether the employee submitted a 2020 Form W-4, which does not base withholding on the number of withholding allowances claimed, or a prior version of the W-4, which does.
The employer can then save a separate customized copy of the file for each employee containing that employee's Form W-4 information. Then, each pay period, the employer simply opens the employee's file and enters their gross wage or salary amount for that pay period. The tool will then automatically display the correct amount of federal income tax to withhold from that employee's pay.

More information about the Income Tax Withholding Assistant for Employers, the redesigned 2020 Form W-4, and other tax topics of interest to employers and small businesses can be found on
Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center News

Big Changes Ahead in 2020
It's always a good idea to keep in touch with your PTAC throughout the year. You may want to schedule a counseling session, get your questions answered via phone or email, or just stay informed through our various outreach efforts to keep you apprised of changes as they come. In 2020, many significant changes are coming, and we'll do our best to keep you informed. Here are a few items you are likely to get updates on in our upcoming newsletters as we move into 2020.
  • Changes and updates to SDVOSB, WOSB, 8(a), and HUBZone Certification Programs
  • Changes to small business size standards
  • GSA Schedule consolidation
  • Updates, enhancements, and tips on the new Contract Opportunity Portal at
  • How to meet new compliance certification requirements
  • And much more...
Contact your local Illinois PTAC for the FREE Code.
Understanding, Obtaining, and Leveraging the SBA's 8(a) Certification
Date: January 9, 2020
Time: 12:00 p.m. CST
Instructors: Ian Patterson and  Haley Claxton
Click Here to Learn More
Contacting the Contracting Officer
Date: January 16, 2020
Time: 12:00 p.m. CST
Instructor: Dr. James Phillips
Click Here to Learn More
Understanding and Obtaining the SBA's WOSB and EDWOSB Certifications
Date: January 23, 2020
Time: 12:00 p.m. CST
Instructors: Matthew Moriarty and Haley Claxton
Click Here to Learn More

  Click here to find a PTAC in your area or call 1.800.252.2923.
Spotlight on Success
Spotlight on Success- Meliora Cleaning Products
Kate Jakubas and Mike Meyer are the founders and owners of Meliora Cleaning Products. They began this journey by investigating what ingredients were found in cleaning products and became inspired on making their own products that were safe for human and environmental health.

In the fall of 2019, Meliora wanted to focus on improving their role as employers and grow their production team from 2 to 5 employees. They needed to bring more structure to their workforce in order to inform their employees about the business and work expectations. Meliora wanted to make an impact in the community by expanding their workforce to hire people from Chicago. However, the founders came to realize their team needed bilingual training resources in order to make sure employees understood how the company operated.

Merly Thomas, director of the Illinois SBDC at ICNC, ensured the business did not waste time looking for resources. She immediately connected them to ICNC's Workforce Development department as part of the holistic services for entrepreneurs.

The staff provided them with the Employee Handbook template which helped Meliora move forward at a more accelerated pace by clarifying expectations of employee behavior, dress, and policies. Additionally, they were able to connect the company with local training options for their staff which also provided a reimbursement to the company for hiring locally. Merly also guided them to the website which provides basics courses for entrepreneurs, offered in Spanish, so employees can watch at their own pace.

In addition to these resources, the company was also able to utilize grants from the City of Chicago that provides reimbursement for training of employees that are local hires. The Illinois Small Business Development Center at ICNC has helped this company grow on different levels as they go through the period of incubation during their early years.
January 2019
Helpful Links
Start a Business - Illinois Small Business Development Center (Illinois SBDC)
Illinois First Stop Business Information Center
Illinois Angel Investment Tax Credit Program
Illinois Secretary of State Business Services
Comment on Any State of Illinois Proposed Rule
How Can We Help You?

Illinois Small Business Development Centers are located throughout the state and provide information, confidential business guidance, training and other resources and services for start-up and existing small businesses.

Whether your company employs two people or 102, you need a strong network behind you to succeed. And that's where the Illinois Small Business Development Center comes in. SBDC partners with well-respected business development organizations and educational institutions to assist you in maximizing your potential to grow and attract investors. SBDC connects you to the experts, tools and opportunities that translate into endless possibilities!
The Illinois SBDC program is located within the Office of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology at the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. For more information please click here.

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