• Legislative Update with the Illinois Chamber

     
    Message from the
    President
     



     
    Todd Maisch
     
    President & CEO
    Illinois Chamber of Commerce
     
    March 16, 2020
      
    Hello. We understand these are unprecedented times for the business community and you could be receiving an overload of information. We assure you we will not be flooding your inbox with redundant communication that is easily available in the newspaper. 
     
    To that effect, late this morning, I spoke with Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Erin Guthrie and she asked me to convey the following information. 
     
    DCEO is in the final stages of submitting Illinois' application to participate in Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus. The federal government typically turns around these applications in a few days, and we are hoping for movement by the end of the week. Once we have more information, DCEO and the Chamber will be aggressively distributing information about applications for this loan program. 
     
    DCEO is also working on pulling together a plan for economic relief, for small businesses in particular, and it is possible we may see this by the end of the week as well. 
     
    The Chamber has conferred with our colleagues from other states and is actively submitting ideas for additional measures to help alleviate the economic stress. We are working with the governor's administration and our allies in the legislature on ways to bring more fiscal assistance to small businesses. We are specifically advocating for prudent regulatory relief that has already been implemented in other states. 
     
    The Chamber is also monitoring the passage of a federal paid leave bill, HR 6201, that was approved by the US House of Representatives this weekend, but awaits action of the US Senate. As is, it provides $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, under certain conditions. 
     
    This afternoon, the Chamber participated in a multi-state conversation with the US Chamber on legislative action. The White House has conveyed concerns about the bill's upfront cost to small businesses required to pay the leave and we could be seeing some changes in the Senate before final passage. The current version reimburses employers for the cost with a future tax credit. 
     
    The US Chamber believes another bill is already under development that will be specifically targeted to address liquidity issues for small and medium sized businesses. There are three things they are asking for: 
    • Cutting payroll taxes;
    • Streamlining the process for accessing federal loans; and  
    • Additional measures from the fed and treasury to make more loans and loan guarantees available.
    The US Chamber is working closely with the federal administration and Congress to find additional measures to lessen the burden on companies of all sizes in dealing with the epidemic. 
     
    Here in Illinois, as of last Friday, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) issued an emergency rule addressing unemployment eligibility. The issue of chargeability to an employer's experience rate is not addressed in the emergency rule and will likely need to be clarified through legislation. The Illinois Chamber and other business groups are pushing for such a change when the General Assembly returns to Springfield.
     
    You can find more details on HR 6201 and the emergency rule here.
     
    We will continue to keep you updated as things progress. We would love to hear from you on any ideas on how to help businesses during this time. Please send all suggestions to Whitney at: wbarnes@ilchamber.org.
     
    I have included a few links below that may be helpful for employers. 
     
    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Workplace Tips for Employees
     
    Guidance For Employers To Plan and Respond To Coronavirus
     
    Customizable Workplace Flyer (Please open this file in the latest version of Chrome or Edge browser, or Adobe software, to customize.)
     
    Thank you for your support and please reach out with any questions or concerns. 
     
      
     
     
    Sincerely,
     
     
    Todd Maisch  
    President and CEO
    Illinois Chamber of Commerce