Veto session week 1 recap: minimum-wage hike, mandatory caregiver training still up for grabs
Ridesharing regulations, ObamaCare exchange and extension of the 2011 tax hikes all lay dormant.
The first week of veto session in Springfield has come to a close. Before lawmakers return to the Capitol during the first week of December, here’s a look at some of the issues Illinois lawmakers discussed, negotiated and voted on over the last few days:
The Senate Executive Committee passed a bill that would incrementally increase the minimum wage to $11 an hour from its current rate of $8.25 an hour. The Illinois Policy Institute was ready to respond within minutes of this amendment being filed, so we were able to have our Director of Jobs and Growth, Michael Lucci, testify in opposition before the committee. Lucci highlighted the negative effects a minimum-wage increase would have on Illinois businesses and the overall economy, but also discussed why raising the minimum wage hurts the very people its proponents intend to protect. Unfortunately, the committee passed the measure by a vote of 10-3, so the bill has advanced to the Senate floor. The Senate adjourned for the week on Thursday afternoon without having heard the bill, but that does not mean the upper chamber will not call for a vote on the legislation when they reconvene after Thanksgiving.
Mandatory training and SEIU recruitment
State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, introduced a measure in the House this week that makes mandatory a training program for home-based caregivers participating in the state’s Home Services Program. While on the surface, mandatory training sessions do not seem overtly harmful, these “training” sessions have been an unnecessary burden for caretakers of loved ones with disabilities. In addition to this hardship, these training programs have turned into a recruitment haven for the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, even though a recent Supreme Court case, Harris v. Quinn, made joining the union optional for caregivers. Harris’ bill passed out of committee and now awaits legislative action on the House floor. Because the House adjourned for the week without calling this bill, the earliest it will be voted on by the full chamber is the second week of veto session.
State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, failed to find enough support to override Gov. Quinn’s veto of crippling regulations on ridesharing passed by the General Assembly last spring. A lack of support for the override came down to the fact that the city of Chicago – the only location where these services are currently active – passed its own local ordinances that provide fair regulation of ridesharing businesses that ensure safety and consumer protection. With Chicago’s ordinance already in place and operating well, Governor-elect Bruce Rauner called to allow Gov. Quinn’s veto to stand. It appears unlikely that the General Assembly will act on any more ridesharing regulations this year.
State-based health-insurance exchange
Illinois lawmakers faced mounting pressure this week to establish a state-based ObamaCare exchange, but despite the efforts of state Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, little movement was made on the issue. While state lawmakers face a federal deadline to establish an exchange, a bill has yet to be filed this veto session, and support for implementation of an exchange has been lackluster. That being said, it is entirely possible that a bill may be introduced in coming weeks that seeks to establish an Illinois exchange. While the state would get seed money from the federal government at first, it is estimated that operating a state-based exchange could cost Illinois taxpayers $100 million a year in the future.
It became increasingly clear in this first week of veto session that Illinois legislators are prepared to allow the 2011 income-tax increase to sunset on schedule, as required by current law. Republicans and Democrats from both chambers have voiced their opposition to extending the 67 percent income-tax increase on Illinois families. While no legislative action was taken this week to extend the tax hike, our team will continue to watch this issue closely until every Illinoisan gets the tax relief they were promised.
This year’s veto session is far from over, as Illinois lawmakers will return to Springfield the week after Thanksgiving to tackle these issues, among others. Illinois Policy Action’s government affairs team will be at the Capitol, monitoring any movement and serving as a watchdog for all Illinoisans.