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Rauner signs bill to change ‘arcane’ state liquor control act, gives back local control

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It will now be up to local officials as to whether they want a bar next to a church, school, military facility or hospital, and Gov. Bruce Rauner says it’s a step in the right direction.

A post-Prohibition-era state law required businesses to go to the state legislature for a liquor license if the establishment was within 100 feet of certain places such as schools or churches.

Small Business Advocacy Council President and Founder Elliot Richardson said that would take six months and wasn’t a guarantee.

“This archaic 1934 law is going to be changed, and the result is it is going to spur economic development in the city of Chicago and throughout the state,” Richardson said just before Rauner signed Senate Bill 2436 Thursday in a Chicago café. “Local communities are going to decide what’s best for them.”

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said one business had to wait a year to get a bill through the state legislature to get a liquor license. She said it didn’t make sense to require farmers in southern Illinois to sound off on a liquor license request for a Chicago business.

“Sixty-eight pages of the 72-page liquor control act are exemptions,” Feigenholtz said. “Today, we end that.”

She sponsored Senate Bill 2436, which passed with large bipartisan support.

Rauner said he has pushed hard to give control back to local governments since he took office in 2015.

“I actually vetoed two license requests to try and force the change because business was being browbeaten to come to Springfield,” Rauner said. “I said, ‘stop this, no more.’”

Rauner, without naming names, said some state politicians used the 1934 state law to play politics or to get campaign contributions.

The governor said he hopes the new law encourages lawmakers to return local control on other issues.

“If we do the same thing that we do with this for things like consolidating local governments or streamlining procurement or competitive bidding or contracting, get Springfield off the backs of local communities, we’ll bring down our property taxes and we’ll grow even more jobs,” Rauner said.

Although he didn’t mention the idea at Thursday’s bill signing, Rauner has in the past pushed what he called “empowerment zones,” or giving local elected officials the power to manage labor laws such as prevailing wage.

Article by Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org 

Illinois News Network, publisher of ILNews.org, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media company dedicated to the principles of transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility in the state of Illinois. INN is Illinois’ pioneering non-profit news brand, offering content from the statehouse and beyond to Illinoisans through their local media of choice and from their digital hub at ILNews.org. Springfield Daily was granted republishing permission by INN.

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New free-market consulting firm opens in Springfield

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Fighting poverty is often seen as something that governments or non-profits do. Entrepreneurs in low income communities often turn to these resources for help starting or developing their businesses. But a new Springfield consulting firm is trying a different approach. KC Community Consultants is looking at how free market principles can help low income communities fight poverty.

Kelvin Coburn started KC Community Consultants because of the failures he has seen in the existing efforts to fight poverty. During his ribbon cutting speech, Coburn spoke about the need to develop local talent, and to give a voice to local leaders who have been successful. He also condemned the “bigotry of low expectations,” which holds back lower income communities by not expecting success. His plan is that KC Community Consultants can be accessible to the community and develop local businesses and talent. By being a for-profit business rather than a nonprofit, he hopes to avoid the issues that often arise for nonprofits.

Owner Kelvin Coburn was joined by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon cutting this morning. You can watch Coburn’s full speech in the player.

You can learn more about their services on their website https://www.kccommunityconsultants.com

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Davis discusses economic growth, tariffs at Roland Machinery

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Roland Machinery is a Springfield success story. Starting over half a century ago, the company has spread to more than dozen locations across the Midwest. Roland deals in heavy machinery, and works with firms from around the world. Their contribution to the local economy, as well as global ties, made them a fitting place for Congressmen Rodney Davis’ (R-13) to talk about the pressing economic issues of the day.

The booming economy has been good for Roland. The combination of tax cuts, falling unemployment, and increased consumer confidence have driven growth for the company. They are doing more business, and are able to reinvest more because of the strong economy.

But the growing trade conflict with China and others poses some risks to their continued growth. Rising steel prices has impacted some of the attachments to the larger machines. Digging buckets are solid steel. When the price of steel goes up, so does the cost of the buckets. Such attachments are often only a small percentage of the total price of a system; but when the price jumps by 20 to 50 percent, it becomes far more noticeable. And because there are in a global supply chain, trade disruptions can pose unforeseen risks. However, Roland is confident that as long as the economy stays strong, they can manage any new costs.

The tariff balancing act

Rodney Davis then spoke about the current tariffs and their impact on Illinois farmers. Although not explicitly aimed at Illinois, any tariff on soybeans is going to heavily impact Illinois. Chinese tariffs on soybeans alone may end up costing American farmers billions. But soybeans are not the only trade issue from Davis’ district. The American steel industry, including in plant in Granite City, suffered from Chinese trade policy. Protecting American businesses from unfair Chinese practices is part of what has contributed to the current trade conflict.

The farmers’ unexpected politics help simplify Davis’ dilemma. Many of the farmers who stand to be most affected by the tariffs supported President Trump during the election. And they supported Trump in part because of his stance on trade, rather than in spite of it. Davis said that the farmers who have spoken to him say they still trust in Trump’s ability to handle the trade situation, and that Davis should as well. Davis said he is willing to work with the president, but, “If the President asks us personally to trust him on these issues, then we need to see results.”

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Jacksonville residents hold town hall to discuss trailer park rent increases

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Lot rents are going up in two Jacksonville trailer parks. Renting is a businesses, and their costs go up every year just like everyone else’s. When rents rose by eight percent a year and a half ago, tenants saw it as normal economics. But on August 1st, rents at Prairie Knolls and Rolling Acres will be going up again. Not by eight percent, but by upwards of 80 percent. At Rolling Acres, the new lot rent will be $365 per month, up from $195. Legally, Time Out Communities, who now own the park, are allowed to raise the rents with proper notice.

The Town Hall

Last night, nearly 100 park residents and other members of the Jacksonville community gathered at Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church to discuss the situation and brainstorm about what could be done. Organizers Ron Hoffstadt and Danny Davison have made a counter offer of a ten percent increase with a two year lease, followed by another ten percent increase after that. They said that this would give residents time to plan for future increases or sell their homes and move out. Many residents also took the opportunity to share their experiences. In addition to the rent increases, they expressed frustration with a perceived general lack of maintenance in the parks.

But to actually stop the increase, they would need a lawyer and a judge. If the residents could get a hearing, the judge could issue an injunction to stop the increases. However, these individuals would need to work on a pro-bono basis, because the residents cannot afford legal representation.

There are few other options available to the residents. Increasing rates is perfectly legal. Even the Time Out Communities’ resistance to offering two year leases is only a minor legal issue. The $365 rate could be implemented via the lease with little trouble from a legal perspective.

State Representative C. D. Davidsmeyer (R-100) shared his frustration with the limited options the residents have. In comments very similar to the city council’s on Monday, he said the law is what it is; and the law allows the rates to be raised this way. Davidsmeyer did say that it was likely that reform efforts would enjoy bipartisan support in the General Assembly. But even then, he said they would not be back in session until after the November election.

Why not just move?

If the residents do not want to pay the increased rents, why don’t they just relocate? Ironically, having a “mobile home” usually makes relocation harder rather than easier. Trailers are not nearly a mobile as their name would suggest. Moving them is a very expensive undertaking. It costs around $5,000 just to connect a trailer to a truck that can move it, not counting any additional costs of the relocation. Homes often have two trailers, doubling these costs. These costs make moving a difficult proposition for those residents on fixed incomes who would struggle to pay the new rent. They can’t afford to stay and they can’t afford to leave.

But other challenges await those who can afford to relocate. Time Out Communities has purchased many of the trailer parks in Morgan and Sangamon Counties. The same dramatic rent increases are likely in all of the parks run by Time Out Communities. As one woman put it, there’s no where for them to go.

So what’s going to happen?

The residents have gathered support from many local leaders. Rep. Davidsmeyer, the City Council, a coalition of Pastors, as well as other local citizens have all spoken in sympathy of their plight. But unless the residents can get a pro bono lawyer and judge to take their case, the rent increases will probably be implemented August 1st. Hoffstadt and Davison said they will continue to organize and petition, but they are just running out of time.

Davison has been passing a petition to get a more reasonable increase put in place, and is continuing to gather signatures. The hope being that public pressure may cause Time Out Communities to reconsider their rates. That petition can be signed at the American Legion Post at 903 W. Superior in Jacksonville.

You can watch the full meeting in the player above.

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