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March 20, 2013

Illinois Chamber of Commerce Policy Statement Immigration Reform

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce recognizes that a comprehensive approach is needed to fix our immigration system. We need an immigration system with laws that are easy to enforce, make sense, and work. The Chamber supports legislative action that:

  • Promotes our national security interests by continuing to focus on securing our borders while pursuing other immigration reform initiatives. Substantial progress must be made in securing the border prior to initiating pathways to legal status for undocumented immigrants. This is important both for national security and to ensure new waves of undocumented workers do not enter the country specifically to access the pathways.
  • Addresses both our current and future economic needs for both high skilled and lower skilled workers through the creation of work visas programs.  These work visa programs must be tied to market demands beyond those for high skilled, seasonal, and agricultural labor, and include other areas where employers face demonstrated labor shortages. Such programs would also increase national security and reduce illegal immigration by creating a functional, controlled system meeting workforce needs-a need not met by prior immigration legislation.
  • Creates a workable, reliable national employee verification system. The federal E-Verify program has been improved dramatically. We are ready to move forward with it nationally, provided there is strong preemption language for state and local laws, no obligation to re-verify the entire current workforce for private employers, and a safe harbor for good faith efforts by employers.

  • Provides a path towards legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the United States today with the understanding that they will meet strict conditions, such as paying civil penalties and back taxes and learning English. All applications currently filed to immigrate legally must be processed first before the applications of undocumented immigrants.

Taken together, these proposals can help fix our broken immigration system and return business owners to doing what they do best: creating jobs.



March 8, 2013

Governor Calls for $450 Million Tax Hike on Illinois Businesses as Part of Budget Plan

Governor Quinn delivered his annual state budget address this Wednesday to state legislators and called for a $450 million tax hike on Illinois businesses by closing what the Governor claims to be corporate tax "loop-holes" to pay for the state's $9 billion backlog of unpaid bills.  The Governor proposes to repeal or eliminate the Non-Combination Rule, the Domestic Production Activity Credit, and the Foreign Dividend Deduction.  Click on each to learn about why eliminating these provisions of Illinois' Tax Code would be bad for the business community.


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Illinois Transportation Secretary Announces Three Key Traffic Safety Laws for 2013

SPRINGFIELD - Three important pieces of legislation supported by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) aimed at reducing cell phone use while driving and clearing lanes of traffic immediately following crashes are now in effect as of January 1, 2013.

Senate Bill 2488 prohibits cell phone use in construction or maintenance speed zones regardless of the speed limit in those zones. Motorists can use cell phones in voice-operated mode, which includes the use of a headset or cell phones used with single button activation.

Prior to the passage of this law, the speed limit in a work zone had to be lower than the posted speed limit, or it was not actually considered a work zone by the definition in statute and the higher ticket did not apply. Voice activated use of cell phone was permitted prior to this change.

House Bill 5101 prohibits texting or using a hand-held cell phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle and makes this a serious traffic violation. Previously, Illinois law prohibited texting while driving for all vehicles, but cell phones were permitted. Illinois statutes were since amended to be in compliance with the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (MCSR) law that prohibits texting and cell phone use by commercial motor vehicle drivers.

A commercial motor vehicle is a vehicle used in commerce with a weight of 26001 lbs or more (or a lesser weight if determined by the federal government or Secretary of State) or a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more people, or a vehicle transporting hazardous materials. Exceptions are RVs for personal use, military vehicles, fire trucks, police vehicles and other emergency response vehicles.

“People are tragically injured and killed in work zones and by commercial motor vehicles due to distracted driving. Cell phone distractions have been proven to be as dangerous as drinking and driving,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “These laws will stiffen distracted driving laws and save lives.”

Senate Bill 3409 allows the driver of a vehicle involved in a motor vehicle crash resulting only in damage to a vehicle to move the vehicle off the highway to the nearest safe location. The locations for the driver to consider are an exit ramp shoulder, a frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other locations that will not obstruct traffic. The law states the driver should remain at that location until the requirements are fulfilled concerning the duty to give information and render aid.

The previous statute involving moving a vehicle following a crash stated “Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.” Senate Bill 3409 clarifies the language and explains that moving your vehicle to safety will not violate the statute.

“The decisions made immediately following a crash are critical,” Secretary Schneider said. “This law will reduce the chances of further injury and secondary crashes by allowing able vehicles to clear the roadway following a crash.”

The Illinois State Police (ISP) and nearly 300 law enforcement agencies statewide began enforcing these new laws on January 1, along with current impaired driving and seat belt laws.

For more information about IDOT’s traffic safety programs, please visit http://www.trafficsafety.illinois.



Employee Paycheck Reduction

[March 22, 2013] Legislation to require employers to withhold 3% of their employees pay was held in the House Financial Institutions Committee on a 4-6 vote and was not considered in the Senate Licensed Activity and Pension Committee.
HB 2461 (Rep. Deborah Mell, D- Chicago) and SB 2400 (Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie) seek to require every employer with 10 or more employees who does not currently or has not offered a qualified retirement plan in the last two years, to enroll all of their employees in a State-run individual retirement account program. Employers would withhold 3% of the employee's pay and remit it to the State-run program. Employers would have had the option to provide matches. While employees could opt-out, the government-established Board that would govern the program would determine how employees are notified of their right to opt-out. The account, once established, follows the employee.
IRMA was part of a very broad coalition of employers opposing HB 2461.



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