Small business advocacy in 2023: Hitting the ground running

My hope is that your holidays were wonderful, and I wish you all a safe, healthy, and prosperous year.

The Small Business Advocacy Council is excited to hit the ground running in 2023 and build on our momentum. We are ready to continue fighting to enact policies that will support Illinois small businesses, local communities and strengthen our economy.

Illinois' new General Assembly will be sworn in this week, and the 2023 legislative session will begin. We will have about four weeks to draft the framework for legislation, procure bill sponsors, collaborate with lawmakers and work with legislators to get bills filed. Through collaboration and communications with engaged policymakers, bills will likely change during this process to provide them the best chance of passing. It is exciting to see policy proposals formulated, researched, put onto paper and filed in the General Assembly.

The heavy lifting associated with moving legislation begins once bills are filed. Legislation is assigned to a committee, hearings are held and ultimately, bills must be passed out of committees. Bills must be passed by both chambers before being sent to the Governor.

Other priorities and monetary appropriations are put into the budget, advancing and funding those initiatives. The process moves swiftly as stakeholders negotiate and work to obtain the support of lawmakers. Legislation is often amended throughout the process. Time is always of the essence when it comes to advancing public policy.

Our 2023 agenda is robust and laser-focused on supporting small businesses, revitalizing neighborhood business districts, and improving the economic climate for the small business community. We will be advocating for a state child-care tax credit that will support small businesses struggling to hire qualified employees and bring people back into the workforce. There is bipartisan support for a child-care tax credit because it is crucial to defray the costs of child care for employees whose wages fall under a certain threshold.

Advocating for policies that will stabilize the costs of health insurance for small businesses will also be a pivotal piece of our 2023 agenda. The cost of health insurance is devastating for many small businesses, and because they cannot often offer the same health benefits as large corporations, puts them at a competitive disadvantage when attempting to attract and retain talent.

The SBAC will also put forth legislation that levels the playing field for small businesses attempting to procure government contracts, reduces barriers for entrepreneurs and helps replace vacant properties with vibrant small businesses. We will continue working to explore policies that help small businesses transition into a post-pandemic economy.

The commencement of the 2023 legislative session is a perfect time for small business owners and advocates to bring forth their ideas. Our agenda is ambitious, but there is always room for new ideas that can be transformed into policies that will support the small business community.

We look forward to hearing from you now, and throughout 2023.

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

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