Senate Week in Review: October 16-20, 2017

Lawmakers are preparing to return to the Capitol October 24 for the beginning of the annual fall veto session, which could result in action on a number of bills vetoed by the Governor as well as legislation covering new issues.

During the week, Illinois officially submitted its bid to land the second headquarters for Internet-giant Amazon, and plans were unveiled for an Illinois Innovation Network to boost the state’s economy through a $1.2 billion project bringing together research universities, business and the public sector.

Veto session begins October 24

Dozens of measures have been vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner, ranging from the creation of a state-operated workers’ compensation insurance provider to a bill that would prohibit employers from requiring information about a job applicant’s previous salary, and an unfunded mandate requiring that cursive writing be taught in Illinois schools.  If three-fifths of the members in each chamber vote to override the veto, then the legislation becomes law.

However, legislative action during veto session isn’t limited to vetoes, giving lawmakers an opportunity to act on other pressing issues prior to returning for the spring 2018 legislative session. 

Legislators may also take action on a number of recently introduced or amended bills.  They could hear testimony or vote on a number of bills that would ban bump stocks for semi-automatic rifles, legislation introduced following the recent tragedy in Las Vegas. Another bill is designed to bring Illinois into compliance with FAA rules that require that all aviation fuel tax revenue is to be used for airport purposes.  If Illinois is not in compliance by Dec. 8, 2018, the state could face expensive fines from the federal government.

Illinois submits bid for Amazon HQ2

The state’s official bid for a Chicago-area location for Amazon’s second headquarters was electronically submitted October 16.

The “HQ2” selection process has sent cities across the country scrambling to put together offers to try and land the much-coveted facility, which is estimated to bring 50,000 new high-paying jobs to the winning city.  Governor Rauner and other state officials worked with the City of Chicago to develop the proposal, though details of the plan have not been released to the public yet, such as offers of financial incentives or potential sites in Chicago or the suburbs.

The state is competing against cities across the country to draw HQ2.  Illinois’ diverse and established transportation infrastructure, as well as its wide talent pool and highly-educated work force, the large and diverse population, the numerous, world-renowned education and research facilities found in the state, and the attractive lifestyle opportunities, are just some of the benefits the state and region bring to the table.

According to a study by World Business Chicago, HQ2 would generate $341 billion in total spending through continued operations over 17 years.  That would include $71 billion in salaries and wages, with an additional 37,500 jobs in the region supported by Amazon settling in the area.

Illinois Innovation Network to drive economic development

Plans were unveiled October 19 for an Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) that would bring together research universities, business and the public sector as partners in a $1.2 billion network that proponents say will propel ground-breaking innovations in computing and big data, advanced materials, food and agriculture, and biosciences and health, while driving job and economic growth throughout the state.

Highlighting the network’s emphasis on discovery and innovation, the IIN would offer an Illinois-based campus allowing inventors, entrepreneurs and students to grow and learn from each other and the network’s world-class faculty.

The network would be led by the University of Illinois system, in conjunction with inaugural partners the University of Chicago and Northwestern University.

The IIN will be home to the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), with a major facility located in Chicago on donated land along the Chicago River. At DPI, students and faculty will work with leading researchers and Illinois businesses on the development of new technologies.   The IIN and the DPI are being heralded as opportunities to attract venture capital investment in Illinois, and also offer a state-of-the-art campus intended to keep and draw top graduates in the state.

An exceptional return on investment has been estimated by the U of I system, which includes training for approximately 10,000 student entrepreneurs every five years once DPI is fully operational.  It’s also anticipated there will be more than $300 million in private real estate investment and an estimated $500 million annually in new research and development spending.  It’s also projected the plan could fuel $4 billion in yearly venture capital investment, which is four times more than what Illinois currently benefits from.

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