The Senate had a full schedule of committees during the week and some floor action with several controversial measures making news.
Other notes of interest include new reports on job creation, and our state and local tax burden.
Some of the legislation moving through the legislative process in Springfield may raise a few eyebrows.
Illinois’ state and local tax burdens
Illinoisans understand well, the amount of state and local taxes they pay each year. What you might not know is how we compare with other states.
The online consumer and financial website, WalletHub ranks Illinois with having the highest effective state and local taxes in the nation at 14.9 percent. The ranking was based on a Median U.S. Household income of $58,082, with an estimated annual tax burden of $8,653. WalletHub ranks Illinois’ current flat income tax rate of 4.95 percent at 39, our real-estate tax at 50 and our sales and excise taxes (taxes on products such as gasoline, tobacco and alcohol) in the middle of the pack at 25.
Senate passes Tobacco 21
This week the Illinois Senate tackled the controversial issue of raising the age to purchase tobacco, electronic cigarettes or alternative nicotine products to 21.
House Bill 345 would eliminate penalties for underage possession, but retailers still would be fined for selling restricted products to underage customers. A number of communities in Illinois have adopted Tobacco 21 rules, but this legislation would make it a statewide standard.
While the intent of the legislation may be a sincere effort to help people avoid the illnesses associated with smoking, State Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) raised concerns during floor debate that the legislation repealed penalties on possession of tobacco products by minors. This means that while people younger than 21 couldn’t legally purchase these products, there would be no penalty for possessing them.
HB 345 passed the Senate on March 14 on a vote of 39-16-1. The bill heads next to the Governor’s desk.
Some good news for Illinois’ Economy
The improving national economy may be impacting Illinois, although there’s still room for improvement.
According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), preliminary figures show nonfarm payrolls increased by 24,000 jobs in January 2019 over December 2018. IDES also reported during the week that job growth during the three-month period of November to January averaged a monthly gain of 12,500 jobs.
However, the agency revised its previously reported December jobs gain downward from 13,600 to 7,400. IDES also notes the state’s unemployment rate remained at 4.3 percent in January, unchanged from December. Illinois’ unemployment rate is .5 percentage points higher than the 3.8 percent national unemployment rate reported for February.
New ballot requirements for presidential candidates heard in committee
Under Senate Bill 145, candidates for President and Vice-President would be required to publish or make their income tax returns public. Failing to do so would mean that candidate would be barred from appearing on an Illinois Presidential ballot. Under current federal law, presidential candidates are not required by law to publish or make their income tax returns public.
Courts have held, in two separate cases, that it’s unconstitutional for states to add requirements to a federal office. Those cases are U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton and Cook v. Gralike.
Senate Bill145 now moves to the full Senate for action.
Wanted: State Troopers
The Illinois State Police (ISP) are accepting applications for its next Cadet Class. Cadet Class 130 is tentatively scheduled to begin in October. ISP has 21 patrol districts across the state. The deadline for a completed application and required documentation is May 31. More details are available at the Illinois State Police Merit Board website at www.illinoistrooper.com.