SPRINGFIELD – Jan. 5, 2016 –Several new laws are taking affect this month, changing the way many businesses function. “Fortunately,” said Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber, “These laws will help businesses rather than hurt them, meaning improvement in the business climate.”
From reform in the unemployment insurance system to a new Illinois program for air permits, these new laws are a step in the right direction. “Illinois businesses are starting to see positive changes from the Capitol,” said Maisch. “If we want a strong Illinois, we have to have a strong business climate.”
Unemployment Insurance Reform
Rep. Jay Hoffman, Sen. Terry Link
Unemployment insurance reform became possible because of successful negotiations between business, labor, and lawmakers. It is a compromise bill that the Illinois Chamber was involved in crafting. It broadens the definition of “misconduct” so that employers would not have to prove that eight kinds of misconduct that led to termination was “willful and deliberate” and therefore not eligible for unemployment insurance. Those eight circumstances are:
Falsification of employment documents
Failure to maintain licenses, registrations, certifications etc.
Violating attendance policies
Gross negligence in damaging the employer’s property
Refusal to obey reasonable instructions
Using alcohol or drugs–illegal, prescribed, or over-the-counter if used not according to the label–while at work
Reporting to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs–illegal, prescribed, or over-the-counter if used not according to the label
Gross negligence that endangers the safety of the individual or co-workers.
It also eliminates the Social Security offset in determining benefits based on income. Finally, it prevents the increase of $470 million in unemployment insurance taxes, and prevent further changes to the UI law until Jan. 1, 2018.
Permits of Significant Deterioration (PSD)
Sen. Sue Rezin, Rep. Elaine Nekritz
The new law requires the Pollution Control Board to adopt rules for a state-implemented program for PSD permits – which are necessary for new plant construction or major expansions of existing facilities in attainment areas. The attainment areas in Illinois are generally our downstate communities outside the Chicago and Metro East areas of the state.
The ability to receive an air permit is a “go/no go” factor for new plant construction or major expansions of existing facilities, making the permitting process a vital economic development issue. This will help put Illinois in a better position to compete for businesses and jobs with the other 41 states, including all our neighboring states, that have state implemented plans for these permits.
Rep. Michael Tryon, Sen. Karen McConnaughay
This law makes the Illinois Air Permit Program fully consistent with Title V in the federal Clean Air Act which excludes internal combustion engines used for transportation purposes, nonroad engines, and nonroad vehicles from the definition of “stationary source.” Illinois law has long been inconsistent with the federal law, leading to situations in which businesses were told by the state regulatory agency they needed to obtain permits that were not required under federal law. This legislation removes any confusion regarding the need to obtain an air permit. Nonroad engines would still be required to comply with applicable air emission regulations.
Sen. Antonio Munoz, Rep. Edward Acevedo
The Chamber joined with the pharmaceutical manufacturing community in supporting SB 455. This will result in the removal of barriers to lower cost drugs by allowing pharmacists the ability to dispense safe and potentially less expensive biologic medications to patients by substituting an FDA approved interchangeable biologic for a prescribed biologic product.
Current Illinois law does not provide a pathway for such substitution of interchangeable biologic drug products and SB 455 updates the law to clearly establish a substitution pathway as well as provide a communication process between pharmacists and prescribers to ensure that medical records are accurate.
Property Tax Documents
Rep. Sam Yingling, Sen. Pamela Althoff
This law deals with documents filed with boards of review. The bill provides that complaints and other written correspondence sent by the U.S. Postal Service are deemed filed on the postmark date—consistent with Section 1.25 of the Statute on Statutes. It provides that if such materials are sent by another delivery service, for example UPS, such materials are considered as filed on the date sent as indicated by the shipping tracking label. Finally, HB 2554 also provides if a board of review authorizes the electronic filing of documents the documents shall be considered filed as of the date received.
Veterans Preference in Private Employment Act
Rep. Robert Pritchard, Sen. Michael Hastings
A private employer may adopt a voluntary veterans’ preference employment policy if: The veterans’ preference employment policy is in writing; the policy is posted at the place of employment or the employer’s website; the employer’s application informs all applicants of the veterans’ preference employment policy; and the policy is applied uniformly for all employment decisions regarding hiring, promotion, or retention of veterans.
Amendment of the Equal Pay Act of 2003
Rep. Cynthia Soto, Sen. Michael Noland)
Employers with fewer than four employees are subject to penalties ranging from $500 for a first offense to $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense. Employers with more than four employees are subject to penalties ranging from $2,500 for a first offense to $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense.
Employee Classification Deadline
Sen. Kyle McCarter, Rep. Dwight Kay
Amends the Employee Classification Act to delay the deadline for reports of payments to an individual or entity not classified as an employee from Jan. 31 to April 30, and requires the report to be filed electronically.
Amendment of the Private Employment Agency Act
Sen. Linda Holmes, Rep. Cynthia Soto
Requires the Department of Labor to provide on its website a public list of all licensed employment agencies and all employment agencies whose license has been suspended or revoked. States that it is a violation of the Act for an employer to accept a referral of an individual for employment from an agency not licensed under the Act. For a first violation, DOL shall provide a notice of violation. For a second violation or a first violation not remedied within 10 days, the Director of Labor may impose a civil penalty up to $500 for each referral. After a second violation, the penalty is raised up to $1,500 per referral.