Springfield's 2022 legislative session and small businesses

The Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to conclude its 2022 regular session in early April. This creates a sense of urgency to promptly move forward legislation focused on fostering the recovery of small businesses, supplementing our workforce and growing the Illinois economy.

Harnessing the power of critical mass, and robust engagement, will be necessary. The small business community must quickly galvanize to advance its meaningful agenda.

The legislation small business advocates have been working on for months has been filed in the Illinois House. Chairwoman Carol Ammons has filed multiple pieces of legislation, including bills to allocate additional funds for struggling small businesses, to incentive businesses to hire individuals who lost their jobs because of the pandemic and to support local chambers of commerce. She has filed legislation that will provide grants to small businesses that hire individuals who have interacted with the criminal justice system.

Chairwoman Ammons has also filed legislation that will improve the process for occupational licensing to allow Illinoisans to transition into new professions and remove barriers for entrepreneurs. Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. has filed legislation creating a child-care tax credit that can help bring working parents back into the workforce.

Now that these bills have been filed, the arduous process of passing them into law begins. Each piece of legislation must be passed out of a House Committee, passed by the House, passed out of a Senate Committee and then by the Senate. Any changes need to be squared away between the House and Senate before each bill can be sent to the Governor.

We are working in lockstep with leaders in the Illinois Senate and House on this small business agenda. We have met with many legislators to procure support for these bills.

Small business advocates have testified in hearings and there will likely be more to come. These efforts must now be paired with strong grass-roots advocacy.

Our efforts over the next two months will be laser-focused on garnering the support of politicians throughout the state. We will build coalitions, utilize email campaigns, write letters, and help small business advocates connect with their legislators.

Social media campaigns will be utilized to reach small business advocates and politicians. Our goals will include securing sponsors for these bills, moving them through the process and ultimately, passing each piece of legislation into law.

While small business owners and advocates may be diverse in many ways, they have come together before to fight for policies that support the small business community. In the past, this unity has resulted in big wins for small businesses in Illinois.

Every small business advocate has the power to energize his or her networks and have a profound impact. The sprint has started, and the engagement of a united small business community will be crucial this legislative session.

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

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