By Douglas L. Whitley President and CEO Illinois State Chamber of Commerce
Veto Session left much undone
The Illinois General Assembly returned to Springfield this past week for its second and final scheduled week of Veto Session for 2013, hoping to get done what members left unresolved during the first week of session in October.
Results of the latest session were pending at press time, but still in the works is public pension reform and a trailer bill to medical marijuana to fix technical issues with implementation of the pilot program statewide.
Also pending was SB 1955, with House Amendments 2 and 3, passing the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 10-6-0 and ready for a second reading in the House. The Chamber has reviewed the language in SB 1955 and sees no concerns for Illinois employers and remains neutral on the issue as it does not weaken employer protections.
Chamber opposed legislation that could set a dangerous precedent: It involves potential legislative involvement in employer/employee relations when labor disputes may occur. A measure passed the House State Government Administration Committee by a vote of 16-4-0.
The large majority for passage was primarily secured by a promise of the sponsor to agree to hold the bill on second reading for negotiations with opponents to continue. House Amendment No. 1 to SB 1787, an amendment that “guts and replaces” the original unrelated legislation, would revoke state licenses for funeral home directors if those funeral homes engaged in lockouts as part of a labor dispute.
Among other items that were pending were a trailer bill to concealed carry to also handle technical implementation issues; same-sex marriage, SB 10; legislation to fix a technical error on the Manufacturers Purchase Credit; and legislation on tax incentives that have been heard by the House Revenue & Finance Committee prior to Veto Session, HB 380, HB 381, HB 382, HB 383, SB 336, and SB 1448.
This was to be the last scheduled week of legislative session unless special session is called to tackle public pension reform as a result of the conference committee’s work on SB 1.
Legislation imposes new Responsible Bidder rules
The Senate was also to consider a controversial bill that passed the House by a slim margin at the end of the spring session when it returned last week for the second week of veto session,. It would require contractors and subcontractors to comply with Responsible Bidder requirements to qualify for public works projects at the local level.
HB 924 (Hoffman/Harmon), as amended, passed the House in April by a vote of 60-50-3 and would mean that contractors, including small contractors, would have to participate in a U.S. Department of Labor approved apprenticeship program in order to bid on public works as defined under the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act.
Responsible Bidder requirements currently only apply to Illinois Department of Transportation and Capital Development Board contracts covered by the state’s Procurement Code; they currently do not impact public works projects bid at the local and private levels.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce, along with a long list of groups representing businesses – including minority-owned businesses – municipalities and local governments, schools, and other contractor associations strongly oppose the legislation. HB 924 will create compliance problems for small contractors that could effectively shut them out of the bidding on local construction work, threatening higher costs and lost jobs at the local level.
Sen. Don Harmon recently took over as the chief sponsor for the legislation and has indicated an interest in moving the bill forward. The Illinois Chamber, along with other groups opposing the bill, planned to meet to discuss concerns and push for further negotiations. Previous negotiations on the bill suggest that a compromise may be difficult to reach.
Register for summit on procurement
The Illinois Chamber, in partnership with the state’s Chief Procurement Office, will be offering a free event on state procurement on Nov. 14 at the Tinley Park Convention Center.
The event will feature detailed training on procurement disclosure requirements and procurement communication restrictions and provide an afternoon forum with the state’s Chief Procurement Officers.
The Illinois Chamber has also invited the chief procurement officer for the City of Chicago, Jamie Rhee, and the chief procurement officer for Cook County, Shannon Andrews, to join for the afternoon forum.