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Springfield Highlights

Springfield Highlights – April 8, 2016

House and Senate Committee Deadline Passes

As the State of Illinois enters it’s 10th month without a budget in place the Spring legislative session is in full swing this past week, and has hit an important milestone.  Today marks the deadline for bills originating in the House and Senate to be considered by committees of their respective chambers. It was a busy week as legislators considered a host of issues including tax policy, educational initiatives to help address the skills gap, new environmental and insurance regulations and a host of bills calling for mandated paid and unpaid leave for workers.

The next two months will be very busy as the Legislature moves to act on remaining legislation before their scheduled adjournment on May 31st.  Overshadowing much of the legislation under consideration is the need to negotiate an end to the current budget stalemate and come to an agreement on a FY17 budget before the new fiscal year begins on July 1.

Paid and Unpaid Leave Mandates

There were seven different pieces of legislation brought before legislative committees this week dealing with employee leave.  They range from mandatory sick leave to additional unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Three bills were approved by House committees and are moving to the House floor for consideration including HB 3297 (C. Mitchell, D-Chicago) that would require all employers to provide paid sick leave, HB 4036 (Lilly, D-Chicago) would require employers of all sizes to provide 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA leave to victims of violent crimes and HB 5738 (Cabello, R-Loves Park) allowing 30 days of leave for employees who donate an organ and 5 days for bone marrow donation.

Two bills were approved by Senate committees and advance to the Senate floor for further consideration including SB 2147 (Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights) that provides up to 7 paid sick days per year to employees and SB 2613 (Bertino-Tarrant, D- Plainfield) that would extend bereavement leave to employees following the death of a child.

Identical legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate that would mandate employers to allow employees to use paid sick leave benefits for absences due to illness, injury, medical appointment of a child, spouse, sibling, parent, in-law, grand-parent, or stepparent.  Both HB 6162 (Skoog, D-Peru) and SB 3097 (Collins, D-Chicago) remained in committee.

In addition, the House is considering HB 166 (Flowers, D-Chicago) that would create a Family Leave Insurance Program to provide financial assistance to employees using FMLA.  The Illinois Department of Employment Security, the agency that would be charged with administering the fund under the bill, reported the proposed program would have $100 million in start up costs.

Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation

Earlier this week, Jim Shultz stepped down from his job as the Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity this week so he can fully concentrate on his new role as the Executive Director the the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation (ILBDC).  The ILEDC is a 501(c)(3) created by Governor Bruce Rauner by executive order back in January.  The group will be funded by private donations with a goal of attracting and growing business in Illinois.  Governor Rauner appointed Sean McCarthy to serve as acting DCEO Director.  McCarthy previously served as the Governor’s Policy Advisor for Economic Development.

Appearing before the House Special Committee of Public Private Partnerships shortly after his change of jobs, Executive Director Shultz gave more details about the emerging corporation.  He said that because of statutory requirements only about 30 of DCEO’s 350 employees, less then 15%, actually work on economic development.  Schultz told lawmakers the new corporation would not be bound by the same limitations as a state agency and could focus a lase-like intensity on job creation.  He said they would focus on the 4 R’s that make Illinois a destination for business, roads, runways, rivers and rail.  Shultz also noted that the corporation is still in the early development stage.  They still need to choose permanent directors.  The corporation is actively seeking donations but they have not yet set up a bank account or accepted any money to date.  While IBEDC will work to attract new business development, all grants and incentives will continue to be administered and overseen by DCEO.

Steel and Iron Slag Re-definition Considered

Steel and Iron slag are currently considered non-hazardous special waste under Illinois law and as a result producers are required to seek renewal of a beneficial use determination (BUD) from the Illinois EPA each year in order to bring the commodity to market.  Slag is produced in the development of metals.  It acts as an insulator capturing heat and chemical energy during the steel making process.  Afterwards, it is separated from the metal and processed as a valuable co-product of production.  It is commonly used as a replacement for portland cement in concrete, as an aggregate for road bed construction as well as an ingredient in concrete and asphalt.  It’s also used in agriculture as a substitute for lime fertilizers and as a filter to trap phosphates in storm water runoffs.

Legislation being considered by the General Assembly, HB 6032 and SB 2810, would change the definition of steel and iron slag in the environmental code so that the material would no longer require a beneficial use determination.  Instead, the commodity would be regulated in the same manner as a standard product of the manufacturing process.  The IMA appreciates the leadership of Rep. Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) and Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton) on this issue.