To drive positive change in our community, the business community-that's you and I-need to speak with one voice to our elected policy makers. Otherwise, policy makers are left with a confusing assortment of mixed messages.
The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with other chambers around the state, is leading the way to do just that. We've developed a joint legislative agenda for 2004, which is highlighted below. Why is a common, business-generated legislative agenda important to our communities? Because we're best positioned to communicate with our governor, state representatives, and senators concerning the policy initiatives needed to create and sustain jobs and prosperity in our communities.
Each of us has the responsibility to do our share by contacting our legislators on these important issues. The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce is committed to providing you with the information you need and the opportunities to talk with the legislators. The rest is up to us.
Human Resource Issues
Health care mandates: The cost of providing health care to employees is a major issue for business. Government-mandated coverage increases the problem. We oppose further state-imposed mandates.
Minimum wage: We oppose proposals that would expand the minimum wage in any way.
Workers' comp reform: Workers' Compensation costs are unnecessarily high in Illinois. Common sense reforms need to be made that will continue to protect workers, but also reduce the cost to employers.
Family and medical leave expansion: We oppose expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), including lowering the employee requirement to fewer than 50 employees, because of the burdensome requirements it would place on small businesses.
Structural work act: We oppose any efforts to reinstate the Structural Work Act, commonly referred to as the Scaffolding Act.
Small group health insurance coverage act: We support the Illinois Chamber's legislation that would offer small employers choices in coverage options for their employees.
Business Tax Climate Issues
We support repeal of anti-business taxes and fees passed in the spring 2003 session, including $1 billion in higher business taxes and fees. Important tax incentives, credits, and structural features of our tax system have been eliminated in the last two years. Repeals should focus on: rolling stock exemption (tax on trucking), elimination of sales tax exemptions for certain businesses, elimination of business income tax exemptions, death tax, natural gas tax, workers' compensation fee increases, and environmental fee increases.
Illinois' gaming industry: Higher admission taxes and a regressive tax structure takes 50 percent of gross receipts from the most successful riverboats. We support a return to pre-2003 tax levels and approval of new gaming positions at existing facilities.
Civil Justice Reform
Class action reform: In the last 36 months, corporations have faced as much as a 1,000 percent increase in the number of class action lawsuits filed against them. We support SB1158, introduced in 2003, which addresses abuse of class action lawsuits in Illinois by limiting Illinois class action filings to Illinois residents, limiting class action filings to appropriate jurisdictions, establishing a superiority requirement, and establishing consumer protections for class members.
Asbestos liability laws: We support legislation that will establish reasonable medical criteria for claims, suspend the statute of limitations for claims so the time limit doesn't begin until the exposed person discovers physical impairment, and limit the extent to which a company that's acquired another company with asbestos-related liabilities is responsible for the newly-acquired company's liabilities.
- Oppose further liability: It's vital that any further efforts to increase employer liability be opposed. IBI