Monday, July 20, 2020

Illinois Chamber Government Affairs Report 7.17.2020

Federal Prosecutors Make Enormous Public Statement
The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois announced an agreement with Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) to resolve an ongoing criminal investigation into corrupt lobbying practices. Of particular interest, the deferred prosecution agreement notes that the company was making payments to associates of Public Official A at the same time it was seeking his support for the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA). 

For those of you who do not closely follow energy policy, FEJA was the predecessor of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) currently being pushed for consideration in Springfield. The Chamber opposes CEJA and strongly believes today's news is yet another reason why CEJA is wrong for Illinois. 

For more on this story read the Chicago Sun-Times groundbreaking article here.

Governor Prtizker Announces New "Restore Illinois" Regions 
On Wednesday, Gov. Pritzker announced that Illinois would expand from the four current COVID-19 response regions to eleven. The new regions closely follow the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) regions already in place.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said that this transition would allow for more targeted action against the virus while "keeping as much of the state open as possible."  In this new mapping, the city of Chicago is given its own region while central Illinois is divided into a eastern, western  and northern division.  A full listing of the regions can be found here. 

 Also on Wednesday, the IDPH announced  new mitigation procedures if resurgence of COVID-19 occurs. Possible mitigation techniques include restricting access to gyms, restaurants, salons and other indoor locations. 

Business Groups Call for Face Covering Compliance 
Many business groups across the State, including the Illinois Chamber, have called for residents to wear face coverings in public when social distancing cannot be maintained. This is in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and revitalize the Illinois economy. 

Gov. Pritzker has stated his willingness to once again close sectors of the economy if the virus spread becomes uncontrollable. Business leaders calling for mask use have recognized that a second economic shutdown could have a dire financial impact on the state and its people. 

Other business groups calling for face covering compliance include the Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA), Illinois Retail Merchant's Association (IRMA),  Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (ABDI), Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and many more.

Key Bills Signed into Law 
The conclusion of the special session in May was accompanied by the passage of numerous pieces of legislation in the House and Senate. Listed below are key bills that have now been signed into law by the Governor.
  • HB64 (Hoffman/Harmon)
    • This bill is the re-appropriation for capital projects and maintains the current infrastructure funding level.  
  • HB357 (Harris/Harmon) 
    • This is the budget implementation bill (BIMP). The percentages of income tax collections to be deposited into the income tax refund fund have been lowered. In the case of corporations, the percentage is lowered to 14% from 14.25%.
  • HB2174 (Willis/Jones)
    • This bill extends the sunset of a number of regulations by one year. Some of the regulations included are the Telecommunications Article of the Public Utilities Act; and the Transportation Network Providers Act. 
  • HB2455 (Hoffman/Holmes) 
    • This bill waived the benefit charges to individual employers due to benefits paid and caused by COVID-19. This change will save employers who had to lay off workers following the pandemic from costly increases. The bill also complied with federal conditions in order to net the state approximately $2 billion in federal funds. 
  • SB2052 (Castro/Welch)
    • This bill extends the expiration deadlines for a number of local TIF districts. 
  • SB2541 (Steans/Harris)
This bill is the renewal of the hospital assessment. The renewed assessment will provide approximately $3.8 billion for Medicaid services, which is an increase of approximately $250 million.

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