Summer advocacy season begins as legislative session ends

The last few weeks of Illinois’ legislative session are always frenetic, as politicians and stakeholders advocate to pass and block legislation, and have their priorities included in the budget.

Constant negotiations ensue as policymakers work to get bills past the finish line. Because circumstances are constantly changing, it’s crucial to frequently communicate and engage with legislators. The current session ends shortly, perhaps by the time you read this piece, so it is truly crunchtime in Springfield.

This year we have been fighting for an array of policies that will support and empower the small business community.

If enacted, one of those initiatives will provide property tax relief to small businesses that own their commercial spaces. This will foster the growth of brick-and-mortar small businesses and support local economies.

We also continue advocating for a program that will provide incentives to small businesses that hire formerly incarcerated individuals. This program will support small businesses struggling to hire employees, provide opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals, improve public safety, and reduce the costs of recidivism.

We also have been closely monitoring legislation that will impact small businesses, including robust legislation addressing health insurance. There will be a great deal to unpack after session concludes.

As we sprint toward the finish line, planning already has commenced for the summer. We look forward to rallying with our partners to build momentum for legislation that was not passed this session. We also will disseminate materials that highlight important laws enacted in 2024 so that small businesses and entrepreneurs can take appropriate action.

We are very excited to work with policymakers over the next few months to implement a 2018 law that will reduce red tape for small businesses across our state. This will save small businesses time and money, and also improve our business climate.

The SBAC district advocate program will connect small business owners with their legislators through in-person and virtual meetings. These meetings are extremely meaningful because they build relationships between small business advocates and their elected officials and underscore the importance of a small business agenda.

Speaking of an agenda, we use the summer to bring small business owners and advocates together and explore ways to support small businesses. The legislation championed by the SBAC is formulated through these discussions. We collaborate, communicate, and coalesce during the summer and fall, so we are ready to go once session begins the next year. Please reach out if you have a policy idea you believe will support the small business community.

The SBAC is a nonpartisan, policy-driven organization that harnesses the power of critical mass to advance legislation and initiatives that will grow small businesses and improve our economy.

The summer provides us the opportunity to assess the last session in Springfield, formulate policy initiatives, connect with politicians, spread our message, and galvanize the small business community.

• Elliot Richardson is co-founder and president of the Small Business Advocacy Council.

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