From the Desk of Director Kevin O'Keeffe
On April 6th, 25 delegates including myself took a full day away from their business to visit with legislators in Springfield. Along with Elmhurst, West Suburban, Chamber 630 and Western DuPage Chambers, we visited with several elected officials, attended committee meetings at the Capital and Stratton buildings and ended the day hosting a crowded reception with legislators which allowed chamber leaders and business leaders to further their relationships with those that make so many important decisions that affect their bottom line. The experience was possible with the generous sponsorship of AT&T amongst others.
The primary focus of this trip was budget, independent maps, and education funding. We also addressed a proposal for the Employee Paid Health Care Time Act; Workers Compensation, specifically causation and the unfunded mandates of public/private entities.
The delegation was provided legislative briefings by Illinois Chamber President, Todd Maisch and lobbyist, Elizabeth Van Holt of Isaiah Consulting at a luncheon sponsored by AT&T. Van Holt covered education funding and consolidation for institutions of higher education as well as the proposal for School Funding Reform Act, SB1. She also reviewed the history and logistics of the Independent Map Amendment.
Maisch spoke to workers’ compensation which continues to be a critical concern for employers as does the increase in minimum wage, especially without meaningful business reforms. He also covered transportation funding and various proposals for it’s revenue resources, as well as the bill mandating accrued paid sick leave.
Members brought all of these topics over to the Capital while visiting with elected officials including Governor Bruce Rauner, Senator Tom Cullerton (D23), Representative Grant Wehrli and others. I was able to speak directly to Governor Rauner and discussed the Independent Maps initiative. The Chambers have a petition with over 600,000 signatures of which we need only 220,000, however, when the petition is submitted, it is expected to be challenged in court. This was originally brought together 1 ½ years ago and thrown out in court but the feeling is this petition will survive a lawsuit and will be on the ballot in November.
We welcomed over 100 guests at the reception including Representatives Steven Anderson (R65th), Ron Sandack (R81st), Patti Bellock (R47th), Peter Breen (R48th), Michael Connelly (R21st), Mike Fortner (49th), Mark Batinick (R97th), Lawrence Walsh, Jr. (D86th), Jeanne Ives (R42nd), Emily McAsey (D85th), Michael Zalewski (D23), and many others. As always, a lot of work is done after hours
We heard over and over again, the importance of “Showing Up” in Springfield, If anyone is interested in joining me on my next trip to Springfield, please contact me.