Senate Passes Pension Reform - In the ongoing pension battle, the Senate passed a watered-down version of pension reform this week that realizes only one-third of the savings contained in SB 1 that previously passed the House of Representatives last week. SB 2404, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), was the result of negotiations with representatives of labor unions who supported the final language that passed on a vote of 40-16-0. Thirty-seven Democrats and three Republicans provided the affirmative votes needed for passage. The IMA opposed passage of SB 2404 because it does not realize enough savings to solve the state’s $97 billion pension problem.
Pension Reform Passes House of Representatives - Illinois lawmakers took a major step forward toward resolving the state’s massive pension debt by narrowly passing a comprehensive bill with bipartisan support. Actuarial studies indicate that SB 1 reduces Illinois’ long-term pension liability by more than $30 billion immediately and ensures that the state’s pension system are fully funded in thirty years. As a result of the reduced pension liability, the plan lowers the statutorily required annual pension payment by nearly $2 billion providing more budget flexibility for critical programs in education, infrastructure, and public safety. The IMA strongly supports SB 1 and remains hopeful that the Senate will pass the legislation.
House of Representatives Defeats Concealed Carry Measures - With the clock ticking toward June 9, the date by which the Courts ruled that Illinois must bring its current gun laws into constitutional compliance, the Illinois House of Representatives defeated two vastly different concealed carry bills that sought to address the ruling. In late 2012, the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals ruled that Illinois’ law banning concealed carry violates the Second Amendment and ordered lawmakers to resolve the issue within 180 days. While the IMA normally does not engage in concealed carry issues, there is one provision regarding an employer’s right to control their property that creates concern.
IMA Business Day - The IMA’s annual Business Day event is only weeks away. If you are concerned about the state’s direction and want to play a direct role in lobbying your elected officials, then register today for this great event. It begins with a noon luncheon and program followed by Capitol visits and a gala reception. There will be a special demonstration by America’s Natural Gas Alliance that will feature natural gas fired vehicles.
IMA Champions Final Deal on Hydraulic Fracturing
Acting as the lead negotiator for the GROW-IL Coalition that represents the business community, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association reached a tentative agreement with lawmakers and the Governor’s office on a comprehensive hydraulic fracturing regulatory and revenue package. The IMA testified in favor of the agreed-upon legislation on Thursday morning in a subject matter hearing in the House Revenue and Finance Committee. The legislation (HB 2615) is expected to receive a vote next week before advancing to the full House of Representatives. Hydraulic fracturing has the opportunity to create nearly 50,000 good, high-paying jobs, reduce reliance on foreign oil, develop low cost energy for decades to come, and generate new revenue for state coffers.
Governor Quinn Proposes Budget, Tax Hikes on Employers - Calling it “the most difficult budget proposed in Illinois history,” Governor Pat Quinn addressed a joint session of the General Assembly this week and offered his spending plan for the state’s coming fiscal year while admonishing lawmakers for not passing pension reform yet. Criticism started immediately upon completion of the twenty-five minute speech from lawmakers who complained that the Governor’s budget exceeded their revenue prediction by nearly a half-billion dollars while the IMA and business community expressed outrage over the Governor’s desire to hike taxes by $445 million to begin paying down old bills that now total nearly nine billion dollars.
IMA, GROW-IL Coalition Meet with Governor Quinn - The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association led a delegation from the GROW-IL Coalition to meet with Governor Pat Quinn on Wednesday to discuss the need to pass common sense hydraulic fracturing legislation this session. Representatives from the Illinois AFL-CIO, Illinois Petroleum Council and Illinois Oil & Gas Association joined the meeting to stress that the current negotiated legislation (HB 2615) is a precarious agreement and that additional negative changes, including a massive severance tax, could jeopardize the legislation.
Hydraulic Fracturing Agreement Reached After more than seven months of negotiations, a bipartisan group of lawmakers announced a new regulatory framework for hydraulic fracturing backed by both industry and the environmental community. At the State Capitol press conference on Thursday, IMA Vice President & COO Mark Denzler spoke on behalf of the GROW-IL Coalition noting that this legislation will allow for the creation of thousands of new jobs, reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign sources of oil, and lead to low energy prices for decades to come.
Hydraulic Fracturing Negotiations Continue - The IMA and the GROW-IL Coalition continue to work with lawmakers to finalize new hydraulic fracturing regulations. This week, the IMA met with top staff in the Governor’s office to discuss the importance of fracturing for jobs and growth in the state. Members of the GROW-IL Coalition are strongly opposed to SB 1418 that seeks to impose a two-year moratorium on the industry.
New General Assembly Seated -One hundred seventy-seven members of the 98th General Assembly took the oath of office at noon on Wednesday of this week including thirty-seven new lawmakers. Democrats, who now enjoy veto-proof majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate re-elected Speaker Michael J. Madigan and President John Cullerton as their caucus leaders. On the Republican side of the aisle, Tom Cross and Christine Radogno were re-elected to the top leadership posts.