NFIB/Illinois State Director Kim Clarke Maisch reports on what’s happening at the State Capitol:
Illinois’ veto session has ended. Gov. Pat Quinn is threatening to call a special session to vote on a statewide minimum-wage increase, but that appears unlikely to happen. Lawmakers are unlikely to return to Springfield until Jan. 12, when Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner and legislators will be sworn in.
Chicago Raises Its Minimum Wage
With an election looming in 2015, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed through a $13-an-hour minimum wage for city workers with annual, automatic increases after 2019.
The Chicago ordinance increases the wage from $8.25 to $10 in July 2015. It then will increase by 50 cents in July 2016 and another 50 cents in July 2017. After that, the minimum wage would go up $1 in July 2018 and $1 in July 2019 to reach $13 an hour.
After 2019, yearly increases would be pegged to the local consumer price index, with a limit of 2.5 percent, if the unemployment rate stays below 8.5 percent.
It was this maneuver that left Democrat state legislators scrambling to pass a statewide minimum wage hike, ultimately failing to get it done.
The Illinois Senate did pass H.B. 4733, which hikes the state wage to $11 over five years with the first hike going from $8.25 to $9 an hour in July 2015. Each year thereafter the wage goes up 50 cents until it hits $11 per hour in 2019.
The bill also provides a tax credit for businesses with 50 or fewer employees to help offset the cost of the wage hike and limits home rule municipalities from raising their local wage over $13. It is this provision that left many House Democrats unwilling to support the bill and go against the City of Chicago.
Ironically, the Senate passed the wage hike bill after the Illinois House adjourned sine die, which means the House will not be coming back until it is time for the new General Assembly to be sworn in.
Governor Pat Quinn has vowed to call the House back in for a “special session” to pass the wage hike, but at this point Speaker Madigan says it would be futile as there are not enough votes to pass it.
AUTO IRA BILL SENT TO GOVERNOR
After a year-long battle, S.B. 2758, which mandates employers with 25 or more employees set up an automatic Individual Retirement Account for their employees, has now passed both chambers and is heading to Gov. Pat Quinn.
The bill, which includes both full-time and part-time employees, forces employers to automatically deduct at least 3% from their employees’ paychecks to be invested in a retirement plan. An employee would have to actively pursue “opting out” if they did not want to participate.
A state-run fund will be set up as at least one option for those employers who will be required to set up these accounts. As well, employers will have an array of private sector options as well. Employers will not be required to contribute any money to the accounts
NFIB, along with a large coalition, vigorously fought against this measure but with Democrat super-majorities in both chambers it was ultimately approved.
APPRENTICESHIP BILL FAILS TO MOVE
H.B. 924, which requires contractors and subcontractors that want to bid on prevailing wage work to “participate” in an apprenticeship program, failed to move during the Veto Session.
NFIB contended the bill would essentially shut out nonunion businesses from being able to bid on work with their local governmental bodies, school districts and in some cases private development that receives state financial assistance.
The Black Caucus in the Illinois Senate was key to stopping movement of this bill, despite it being a top priority for organized labor. NFIB was part of a large coalition of local governments and business associations who fought to defeat this bill.
OTHER NEWS FROM VETO SESSION
- An effort to start an Illinois-run Healthcare Exchange as part of Obamacare failed to get called in the Illinois House despite great effort by the sponsor. Currently Illinois has a partnership with the federal government to run its Exchange. Proponents are pushing for an Illinois Exchange because of a pending lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court that could lead to Illinois residents losing their healthcare subsidies.
- Trial lawyers got a last minute gift when Democrats pushed through a bill to allow negligence lawsuits against those who were part of construction projects that included asbestos and may have resulted in workers contracting mesothelioma. Current law only allows lawsuits against the manufacturers of asbestos, which is now a banned product.
For questions or comments on small-business issues contained in this edition of Capitol Roundup please contact Illinois State Director Kim Clarke Maisch in the NFIB/Illinois office at 217-523-5471 or [email protected].