Public Policy Newsletter
|Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Improving Chicagoland’s Economic Future: A Dissenting Report on Paid Sick Leave, Innovative Workforce Initiatives, Growing International Opportunities for SMEs
April has been a busy and very productive month for the Government Relations team and the Public Policy Committees and Forums of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. We’ve worked on several discrete, but connected initiatives, all designed to improve Chicagoland’s economic future.
A Dissenting Report on Paid Sick Leave
The Chamber represented the business community on Mayor Emanuel’s Working Families Task Force, which reviewed proposals for mandated paid sick leave, fair scheduling and paid FMLA. We opposed these Chicago-only mandates throughout task force meetings and focus groups because they would create economic disincentives for businesses operating and seeking to operate in the City of Chicago. In conjunction with the Task Force recommendations release on April 2, the Chamber issued a dissenting report in partnership with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association .
The report, “The Dissent: The Business Perspective on the Effects of Another Mandate on Employers,” finds that the cumulative effect of 14 months of government mandates will not help people get back to work and will only continue to weaken Chicago’s economic future. Read full details of the report here, and a Chicago Tribune editorial on why Chicago is not ready for another labor mandate, such as paid sick leave, here.
The report concludes by sharing that the Chamber, our members, and the employer community fully support and invest tens of millions of dollars in robust skills development programs each year as a more effective approach to increasing employee wages and benefits. As an example, the Walmart Foundation recently invested $10.9 million in the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership to provide education and employment services for retail workers.
Timely Visit by Secretary Perez
On April 25, the Chamber hosted a timely roundtable with U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez and Congressman Mike Quigley, where we had an opportunity to discuss the state of Illinois’ and Chicago’s workforce. The Chamber believes efforts to train and re-train individuals who are under-employed, unemployed, or are looking for better paying jobs are the only truly viable, long-term, self-sustaining alternatives to achieving the middle class American dream. We applaud our corporate Chamber members who are investing tens of millions of dollars in workforce training and education.
Important Workforce Development Programs from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation
During the roundtable with Secretary Perez, two far-reaching workforce development programs of the Chicagoland Chamber Foundation were shared, including the Pathways to Pipeline event taking place on May 25. The event brings together national talent development experts to explore best practices for working with interns and creating a “win-win” situation for the business and young adult.
Also this spring, the Foundation is expanding its STEM initiative matching small business owners with talented high school students in paid summer internships. For more information about this program, click here.
International Business Growth for SMEs: EXIM Bank Event
On April 21, the Chamber hosted Fred P. Hochberg, Chairman and President of the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank for an update on re-authorization of the bank. The Chamber is a strong supporter of the EXIM Bank as an invaluable resource for small and medium size businesses growth in international markets.
In fact, in 2015, 90 percent of the number of EXIM Bank authorizations directly benefited small businesses. International business growth is an important pillar for the Chamber: 48 percent of our members conduct international business, and according to our recent Chicagoland Small Business Survey, more small businesses in our region plan to expand internationally in 2016 than the year prior. Click here to see the full results of that survey.
To learn how the Ex-Im Bank can support your business, click here.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out and tell us about your efforts to invest in your workforce and to promote your products and services overseas so we can share the good news about Chicago businesses.
State of Illinois
As the State continues to operate without a budget, the Chamber is present in Springfield monitoring developments and engaging in discussions with our members and legislators. In addition, Chamber members at the Premier level or higher are invited to join us at our Springfield Legislative Reception on May 18. Click here for more information and to RSVP.
The Chamber supports Rep. Mike Zalweski’s House Bill (HB) 5717, which seeks to stimulate job creation and retention by reinstating the research and development credit for tax years ending on or after January 1, 2016, and provides that the credit applies on a permanent basis.
Specifically, HB 5717 provides that the credit may be carried forward for a period of 20 years (instead of 5 years). Additionally, this package calls for reform to the Manufacturers Purchase Credit and makes it permanent by merging it into the Manufacturing and Equipment exemption. It also promotes that the graphic arts sales tax exemption be reinstated and made permanent.
Gas Tax Ordinance
On April 13, an ordinance was introduced that would impose a special use tax of $0.04 per gallon in addition to the existing Cook County tax of $0.06 per gallon on the sale of gasoline, diesel fuel, biodiesel fuel, and GDiesel fuel. The proceeds from the new special use tax would be dedicated to violence prevention.
The Chicagoland Chamber is opposed to the proposed ordinance because: the business community cannot absorb another tax not tied to a comprehensive strategy to improve our economy; and because this particular tax would divert funds traditionally used to pay for the necessary infrastructure maintenance and upgrades to keep roads safe for commuters and commerce. Click here to view the ordinance.
‘Drug Take Back’ Ordinance
We are continuing to monitor a pharmaceutical ‘drug take back’ ordinance, which the Chamber opposes and can be viewed here. As introduced, the ordinance mandates:
- Prescription drug manufacturers must implement a drug take back program.
- Each producer must fund and administer a stewardship plan for the collection, transportation and disposal of unwanted covered drugs.
- Reporting requirements, costs and fees will result in higher prices for prescription and non-prescription medications.
The next Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting will be held on May 11, 2016 at 11 a.m.
City of Chicago
The Chamber is actively monitoring numerous City ordinances. Below are a few highlights of those we are monitoring:
Neighborhood Opportunity Fund Ordinance (introduced on April 13)
The Mayor introduced his Neighborhood Opportunity Fund ordinance, which overhauls the City’s current density bonus system. Currently, developers can earn their density bonus via a variety of means such as underground parking garages, winter gardens, plazas and arcades. This ordinance replaces these density bonus options with funds that developers would have to pay into in order to acquire bonus density. These three funds are:
- Neighborhood Opportunity Fund: This would support projects in low-income neighborhoods.
- Adopt-A-Landmark Fund: These funds would be used to support restoration of buildings, structures, works of art or other objects that have been designated as “Chicago Landmarks.”
- Local Impact Fund: These funds would be used for specific improvements located within 2,640 feet of the planned development site.
The Chamber is continuing to monitor this ordinance and talk to our members on how this may impact their business, which can be viewed here.
Ridesharing Ordinance (previously introduced and monitoring)
The Chamber is opposed to this ordinance, introduced in March, because it would cause significant damage to the ridesharing industry. This ordinance requires:
- Fingerprinting using an industry standard different from what ridesharing companies already use.
- Requiring drivers to have a chauffeur’s license and pay other fees totaling around $500.
- Requiring five percent of the ridesharing fleet be handicap accessible, despite the fact that the industry is made up of private drivers and their personal vehicles.
The Chamber finds this ordinance to be punitive and meant to destroy a burgeoning industry, rather than thoughtful about a different business model developed for the new digital marketplace and shared economy. The ridesharing industry already faces numerous fees and regulations originally instituted to “level the playing field” between the ridesharing and taxicab industries, including airport pickup/drop-off fees. See the ordinance here.
Short-Term Rental Ordinance (previously introduced and monitoring)
The Chamber continues to monitor the short-term rental ordinance (Airbnb), which was introduced at the January 13 City Council meeting. The ordinance amends municipal code concerning short-term residential rental intermediaries (such as Airbnb, VRBO, etc.). View the full ordinance here.
Currently, 5,000+ unlicensed, private residence rental units operate illegally in Chicago. That is equivalent to 17 large hotels. These units are not paying taxes or meeting life-safety standards. The Chicagoland Chamber is working with the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association to ensure that all short-term rental properties are held to the same standard.
Municipal Depository Ordinance (previously introduced and monitoring)
The Chamber is involved in discussions with the City Treasurer’s Office and Comptroller’s Office regarding the municipal depository ordinance. View the ordinance here.
The ordinance was originally introduced to the City Council in June, and is currently pending in the Committee on Finance. This ordinance would require financial institutions to submit reports on employee data, community involvement, and loan data.
The Chamber is opposed to this ordinance because it:
- Creates unfunded and unnecessary regulations.
- Threatens the confidentiality of employee and customer financial data.
- Exceeds local authority- the City cannot be a bank regulator.
The next City Council meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 10 a.m.
The Chicagoland Chamber signed on to a coalition letter to Congress urging them to oppose the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rule. Click here to read a summary of the proposal.
Legislation to block this rule has been introduced in both the House (H.R. 4773) and Senate (S. 2707). The Chicagoland Chamber provided recorded comment during the open comment period when the rule first was proposed by the Department of Labor in 2015.
Public Policy Committee Update
On March 24, the Chamber’s Public Policy Committee heard a presentation from the Independent Map Amendment coalition. The goal of the Independent Map Amendment coalition is to draft an amendment to the Illinois State Constitution. Its purpose is to establish a non-partisan, independent commission with authority to draw the maps for Illinois legislative districts in a transparent and fair manner.
The Chamber’s Public Policy Committee unanimously voted to support the Independent Map Amendment. The proposal was then approved by the Chamber’s Executive Committee.
Click here to view a list of our Public Policy Committee members.
Upcoming Public Policy Events
Chicagoland Chamber Springfield Legislative Reception
Wednesday, May 18 | 5-7PM
This event is open to all Premier level members and above. Please RSVP directly to Stacey Efstathiou at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chicagoland Chamber 112th Annual Meeting
Tuesday, June 7 | 7 – 9:30AM
Hyatt Regency Chicago
Join the Chamber for its 112th Annual Meeting on June 7, which will be highlighted by a Keynote presentation from Margo Georgiadis, President of Americas at Google. During her presentation, Margo will shed light on how Google stays ahead by embracing change, constantly challenging itself and creating a world-renowned culture of innovation.
Click here to learn more and register.
‘Policy Voices’ Featured Members Series
The Chamber recently launched its “Policy Voices” series, which include bi-weekly thought leadership articles on key policy issues written by Chamber President’s Circle members.
The first installment, written by David B. Ritter, Co-Chair of the Chicagoland Chamber Employment Law Forum and Partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, shared his insights on changes in overtime rules employers will soon be facing.
The second article, written by Stanley Kaminski, Chairman of the Chicagoland Chamber Tax Policy Forum and Partner at Duane Morris, LLP, took an in-depth look at Chicago’s modified ‘cloud tax.’
Other Member Events
Public Affairs and Effective Advocacy: Winning in a Changing Political Environment
June 13 & 14
University of Chicago Gleacher Center | 450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive
For Chamber members seeking to advance an advocacy agenda, this program will provide an excellent opportunity to focus on developing an effective public affairs and advocacy program that will achieve success. Chamber members receive a 25% discount.
Click here to learn more and register.
Chamber in the News
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce remains focused on our mission to serve our members by supporting pro-business policies that foster a more competitive economic climate for our region and Illinois. Our government relations team works with elected officials at every level of government on both sides of the aisle to protect our member interests. We are working every day at the City, County and State level of government to serve you.
About the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce represents over 1,000 member companies, their 400,000 employees, and over $24 billion in revenue. We combine the power of our membership with our legacy of leadership and business advocacy to drive a dynamic economy. We focus on delivering value for our members, making Chicagoland a world-class place to live and work. Visit ChicagolandChamber.org.