Illinois 2019 Legislative Session Produced Victories for Small Businesses
Statement by Geraldine Sanchez Aglipay, Midwest Outreach Manager for Small Business Majority, on the most important developments for small businesses during the 2019 legislative session
Illinois’ 2019 legislative session produced some important victories for the state’s small businesses. Most importantly, lawmakers showed they are committed to helping keep quality, affordable healthcare available to small firms and the self-employed by approving a measure that would reform the state’s Medicaid program. These reforms would offer critical assistance to the low- and moderate- income entrepreneurs and small business employees who rely on Medicaid. This bill would fix problems faced by thousands of Illinois residents such as losing Medicaid coverage from inadvertent cancellations at renewals.
Another victory for small businesses is the failure of legislation intended to increase the availability of short-term health plans, which the Trump administration previously expanded to last up to 364 days. These plans are inexpensive because they cover almost nothing, and they can come with hefty deductibles. We expect many of those who would sign up for short-term plans will be younger and/or healthier. This will create an unbalanced risk pool that disrupts the individual marketplaces and raises costs for everyone else who remains in those marketplaces. Illinois lawmakers voted in 2018 to curb the sale of these plans in the state, and we are very relieved that move was not rolled back this year.
Work remains, however, to further improve the affordability of healthcare for small firms in Illinois. This includes the legislature’s decision not to pass several bills that would have brought down the cost of prescription drugs.
In other matters important to small firms, results were mixed. Lawmakers expanded the investments available through the state’s Secure Choice program, which helps level the playing field for the many small firms that have neither the resources nor the funds to offer a retirement plan to their employees. Unfortunately, however, lawmakers declined to advance legislation that would create a state-run family and medical leave insurance program, which is a real loss for small businesses because most do not have the resources to offer this type of benefit to their employees, and often lose out on top talent to the large corporations that make this type of benefit available.
After such an active legislative session, we hope Gov. Pritzker acts quickly to sign these measures that will make life easier and better for Illinois’ small businesses, and we hope he and the legislature revisit several matters next year in the hope that more progress will be made for entrepreneurs.
About Small Business Majority
Small Business Majority was founded and is run by small business owners to ensure America’s entrepreneurs are a key part of a thriving and inclusive economy. We actively engage our network of more than 58,000 small business owners in support of public policy solutions and deliver information and resources to entrepreneurs that promote small business growth. Our extensive scientific polling, focus groups and economic research help us educate and inform policymakers, the media and other stakeholders about key issues impacting small businesses and freelancers. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.