Bloomington-Normal Human Resource Council
Affillate of the Society for Human Resource Management
Bloomington, IL

Legislative Updates

Costly Employment Bills Vetoed by Governor Rauner

Governor Rauner has vetoed a number of anti-jobs legislation. The Governor was faced with a number of issues that expanded government intervention into employer benefit plans and added legal traps for Illinois employers. Individually each measure increased the cost of doing business in our state. Together these bills posed a terrible blow to Illinois being able to compete for high paying jobs with good benefits.

With the General Assembly meeting to address the school funding issue this week, the 15 day veto clock begins when they meet. Consequently, when the House convenes today, those bills vetoed or amendatorily vetoed and originated in the House must be overridden by September 12th. The Senate has not specifically set a date yet but is expected to also meet this week to take up any action from the House.

 

HB 2462 (Rep. Anna Moeller (D-Elgin)/Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Skokie) Equal Pay - Wage History: Prohibits an employer from: (i) screening job applicants based on their wage or salary history, (ii) requiring that an applicant's prior wages satisfy minimum or maximum criteria, and (iii) requesting or requiring as a condition of being interviewed or as a condition of continuing to be considered for an offer of employment that an applicant disclose prior wages or salary. Prohibits an employer from seeking the salary, including benefits or other compensation or salary history, of a job applicant from any current or former employer. In addition, the very concerning changes being made by HB 2462 are the undermining of employer defenses along with the expansion of civil penalties, including punitive damages and injunctive relief.  The question we ask is this legislation really about limiting what employers can ask of a job applicant or is the bill all about increasing litigation opportunities and judicial awards against employers? The Illinois Chamber’s request for a veto was granted by the Governor.

Sustaining this veto may be the most difficult of bills vetoed as 25 House Republicans joined 66 Democrats to pass the measure back in April. To sustain the veto only 3 Republicans can vote with Democrats to override. In his veto message, the Governor recommended that the General Assembly consider the Massachusetts approach. The Illinois Chamber spearheaded an effort to promote the Massachusetts alternative by supporting an amendment introduced by Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) to HB 2094 . A similar amendment was filed in the Senate by Sen. Mike Connelly (R-Lisle).

HB 2525 sponsored by Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea)/Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), is being promoted by the House & Senate Democrats as workers' compensation reform. It is far from it. Codification of current bad case law for "causation" and "traveling employee" merely locks employers into the court-expanded liability. In addition, it prevents employers from being able to achieve a change in the case law from future courts. Some benefit relief is included but is far outweighed by increased regulation and litigation that are contained in the measure. The Illinois Chamber urged for a veto by the Governor. No Republicans voted for HB 2525 when it passed the House on May 31. Sixty-four Democrats supported the bill.

 

HB 2622 (Fine/Biss). This measure uses employer and insurer tax dollars to capitalize the creation of a state established, mutual insurance company to compete with the over 300 insurers that already provide workers' compensation coverage. The $10 million of startup money are tax dollars that currently go to run the operations of the Workers' Compensation Commission. The legislation provides that the funds are a "loan" to be paid back with interest. Given the track record regarding finances of Illinois state government, it is difficult to believe the loan would be paid in a timely fashion. Furthermore, removing resources meant to support the operations of the Commission jeopardizes the entire adjudication of workers' compensation for injured workers as well as employers. Governor agreed with the Illinois Chamber and vetoed this measure. Again, no Republicans voted for HB 2622. But, all 67 Democrats voted “yes”.

 

SB 81, sponsored by Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago)/Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), increases the minimum wage for an employee who is 18 years of age or older or if under 18 has worked more than 650 hours during any calendar year: to $9 per hour from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018; to $10 per hour from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019; to $11.25 from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020; to $13 per hour from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021; and to $15 per hour on and after January 1, 2022. For an employee who is under 18 years of age that has not worked more than 650 hours for an employer during any calendar year, the minimum wage shall be: (1) $8 per hour from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018; (2) $8.50 per hour from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019; (3) $9.25 per hour from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020; (4) $10.50 per hour from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021; and (5) $12 per hour on and after January 1, 2022. The legislation creates a convoluted credit against the withholding tax liability of employers with 50 or fewer employees, calculated based on the increase in the minimum wage. The Illinois Chamber asked for a veto by the Governor. In the Senate, SB 81 received only 30 votes, 6 short of an override. Joining all Senate Republicans in voting against SB 81 were Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) and Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield). SB 81. Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) voted “present”. Senate Democrats “not voting” were Bertino-Tarrant (Shorewood), Haine (Alton), Harris (Flossmoor), and Silverstein (Chicago).

SB 1720 (Sen. Biss /Rep. Lisa Hernandez (D-Chicago) increases criminal penalties for violation of the Wage Payment & Collection Act. It also bars contractors for 5 years from bidding on any state procurement by a business violating certain Illinois employment laws, any comparable laws in other states or the federal FLSA. The Illinois Chamber sought a veto by the Governor. SB 1720 also received only 30 Senate votes, far short of the 2/3 needed to override. Sen. Steve Landek (D-Bridgeview) voted “no”. Democrats Bertino-Tarrant, Haine, Harris, Hastings (Orland Hills), Morrison and Stadelman (Rockford) all were recorded as “not voting”.


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