Chamber: Speak out to legislators about business initiatives

<p>Nicki Anderson was named president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. | Submitted</p>

Nicki Anderson was named president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. | Submitted

If you thought the General Assembly would lay low and stay away from hot-button issues because it was an election year, the flurry of activity during the past several days should prove you wrong.

Last week, bills to raise the minimum wage and create a statewide mandatory retirement fund for private-sector workers passed the Senate Executive Committee. Various constitutional amendments also have been proposed to change Illinois’ flat income tax structure.

Details were finally published about an amendment to install a graduated tax rate on incomes, while Speaker Michael Madigan unveiled a constitutional amendment to impose a surtax on millionaires — which would include and take money from many small businesses that file taxes as individuals.

It is unclear if the new surtax was unveiled for election purposes or because bipartisan opposition to the graduated income tax had become so strong. The chamber heard repeatedly and emphatically from fiscally conservative Democrats such as Sen. Linda Holmes and Rep. Stephanie Kifowit that they were opposed to the graduated income tax. They joined every Republican legislator from the region in rejecting the concept.

So, what does all this mean for the business community and local job creators? It means we cannot sit out this session of the General Assembly. We need to take advantage of every opportunity to meet with our elected representatives, share our stories and work to get apathetic business owners active in these efforts.

One of the reasons this chamber has a great reputation as a leader is because so many of our community’s business owners and executives are willing to take the time to advocate for our business climate. Your participation is crucial, so we are asking for your help once again. We need it now more than ever.

Springfield needs to hear from businesses across the state that we are opposed to bills that will make it harder to grow, invest and expand in Illinois, and that we support commonsense proposals that make it easier for us to create jobs.

Even if your member of the House or Senate agrees with you, providing your background, analysis or concerns about how these proposals would impact your ability to grow your business makes their job easier in the capitol halls.

The chamber is leading a delegation of businesses from the region to Springfield on April 30 for Employer Action Day, so job creators can share their stories. We’re teaming up with the Illinois State Chamber and other chambers of commerce to have a true statewide presence.

This summit is just one way our local businesses can take action. The chamber hosts monthly legislative committee meetings where elected officials provide updates and hear from you directly. We also have an online voting tool, napervillevoteraction.org, which allows you to contact your elected officials at your convenience.

You are the greatest advocate for your business. I know how busy work can get, but it is critical to get involved and speak out about how these proposals will impact you.

Nicki Anderson is the president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, a 1,500-member organization. She can be reached at nanderson@naperville.net or 630-544-3382.

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