Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Illinois Chamber of Commerce - This Week in Illinois

Federal Government Passes Another Round of Assistance

Yesterday Congress passed another round of COVID related stimulus.  The package was just shy of $1 trillion. In addition to $600 to individuals, the bill also included some relief for businesses. 

U.S. Chamber executive vice president and chief policy officer Neil Bradley will be giving a Pandemic Relief Small Business Update

TODAY, December 22, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. ET to share more about what the bill will mean for the small business community. If you have not done so already, please click here to register now.

NPR provides this cheat sheet

Small-business help

  • PPP loans: The agreement includes some $284 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans. Democrats say they expanded eligibility for the loans to include nonprofits and local newspapers, along with TV and radio stations. Also, $15 billion would be reserved for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions, which have been struggling due to pandemic-forced closures.
  • Child care centers: According to a Republican summary of the plan, the measure includes $10 billion for child care centers to help providers safely reopen.

Vaccines

  • The agreement includes some $68 billion to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines and help states conduct testing. According to the Republican summary, $20 billion of that funding will make the vaccine available at no cost for anybody needing it.

Broadband access

  • The measure contains $7 billion to increase access to broadband Internet, including a new Emergency Broadband Benefit that Democrats say will help millions of students' families and unemployed workers afford the broadband they need during the pandemic.

Transportation aid

Lawmakers also agreed to provide $45 billion in transportation-related assistance, including:

  • $16 billion for airlines to pay the salaries of workers and contractors.
  • $14 billion for mass transit agencies.
  • $10 billion for highways.
  • $1 billion for Amtrak.

Education

  • The measure contains $82 billion in funding for schools and universities to assist with reopening, including, according to a Republican summary, $2.75 billion for private K-12 education.

Agriculture

  • There is some $13 billion in the measure for farmers and agriculture, including money under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program for growers and livestock, dairy and poultry producers.

Medical bills

  • The measure also includes a provision ending surprise medical billing. Republicans say patients would be required to receive a "true and honest cost estimate" three days before any scheduled procedure and that billing disputes would be subject to arbitration.

Tax-deductible meals

  • Lawmakers also included a provision sought by President Trump, making the cost of meals a deductible business expense.

Read the bill in full.

Illinois Chamber Tells IDOL Joint Employer Rule Unnecessary

Todd Maisch, Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, provided testimony to the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) virtual hearing on its proposed rule regarding joint employer designation. He was joined by Michael Hughes of SmithAmundsen who provided the legal problems with the proposed rule.

In response to the federal USDOL rule, IDOL filed a proposed rule that took a different approach to the joint employer issue in May. The Illinois Chamber provided written comments to the rule raising a number of concerns. Maisch's testimony highlighted those concerns:

  • Notice is insufficient given the significant impact on business: 
    • The Illinois Chamber which represents a broad swath of Illinois business and industries adversely affected by the proposed rule was not notified of the IDOL's intention. We also are unaware of any business or business organization being provided any advance notice or ability to provide input on this significant policy change.
  • The proposed rule will have a significant negative impact on Illinois business especially small businesses. We believe the Department's proposed rule will:
      • Eliminate the uniformity that the USDOL rule provides thus creating greater uncertainty for both employers and workers;
      • Increase the cost of compliance and likelihood of litigation for businesses because of:
        • multiple standards that employers must comply with; and
        • lack of viable examples to provide guidance to small businesses;
    • Discourage the use of franchise models in Illinois which results in lower economic and job opportunities; and
    • Place an additional regulation and cost of doing business that other states are unlikely to impose creating another obstacle for Illinois small businesses to operate successfully.

In IDOL's notice of proposed rule published in the May 22, 2020 edition of the Illinois Register, the IDOL erroneously indicated in its "Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis" that small businesses are not affected. A similar statement of "No adverse impact" was provided in its "Small Business Impact Analysis". We do not know how IDOL could arrive at such analysis or whether it did any analysis of the impact of the proposed rule on Illinois small businesses. We suggest IDOL has not considered options to address the negative impact on small business.

Illinois Chamber's Keith Staats Writes Article for CPA Society Insight Magazine

Keith's latest column for the IL CPA Society's Insight magazine has been published here

Keith continues his examination of the Illinois property tax system.  In this column, he discusses the constitutional limitations on providing property tax exemptions, the proliferation of preferential assessments, and explains that exemptions and preferential assessments do not reduce the amounts levied by units of local government, rather they just shift the property tax burden to the property owners who do not receive exemptions or preferential assessments.

Government Affairs Professionals (GAP) Call Reminder

On January 11th at 3 pm, the Chamber will host our first GAP call of 2021. A Microsoft Teams link was sent to the usual call participants this link and a reminder will be sent as the date approaches. If you are not on this call list but would like to be, send an email to: ckaericher@ilchamber.org

Send Us Your Legislative Agenda

With Veto Session canceled, its time to look forward to the spring legislative session. Please send us your agenda so that we can work together to develop a strategy. Email any thoughts, concerns, and ideas to: ckaericher@ilchamber.org

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