Our state has recently implemented a law that poses a threat to the years of economic development achieved in Madison County. The intersection of I-270 and I-255 has seen the creation of over 13,000 jobs and the construction of more than 30 million square feet of logistics/warehouse space, contributing to Illinois’ positive economic growth. However, the introduction of HB 2682 by the Illinois General Assembly has caused concern.
Initially intended to amend the Acupuncture Practice Act, the bill was mysteriously changed on May 18 to amend the Day and Temporary Labor Services Act. The new law states that temporary employees working for more than 90 consecutive days must receive the same pay and benefits as full-time workers in the same position. While this may seem fair, it puts Illinois at a disadvantage when it comes to competitiveness in industries that require flexibility.
What is frustrating is the manner in which this bill was passed. It swiftly went through the General Assembly, leaving no opportunity for the warehousing/logistics and manufacturing industries to present their case to the legislators. Despite the negative implications of the bill, the governor signed it into law on August 4, catching many stakeholders off guard.
The Southwestern Illinois Leadership Council recently discussed the bill and questioned its origins. It appears that similar anti-business legislation has been passed in New Jersey and California, with Michigan also considering it. However, adopting these measures will not help Illinois retain its current jobs or attract new businesses.
The sudden changes brought about by this law are simply unfair. Logistics businesses have made significant investments in Madison County over the past decade, with a half billion dollars currently being invested in the construction of a new I-270 bridge and other upgrades in the area. However, these businesses have the option to leave, taking their jobs and tax revenues with them, due to the changed regulations.
The Illinois Department of Labor has issued proposed permanent rules, and the public will have until October 2 to provide comment. Hopefully, the General Assembly will take another look at this legislation and reconsider its impact on the county’s economic development. As Madison County Chairman, I remain hopeful for a resolution that benefits our community’s continued growth.