Week-in-Review: Minimum Wage Set to Increase Jan. 1

Minimum Wage Set to Increase Jan. 1

Illinois’ minimum wage will increase to $11 per hour with the start of the New Year – the third in a series of incremental steps that will bring the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. The first increase to $9.25 per hour came on Jan. 1, 2020, and the second step to $10.00 per hour came on July 1, 2020.

Opponents to the series of minimum wage increases cite the additional cost burdens on small-business owners across the state, and well as repercussions for employers across the board, including public universities, school districts, and not-for-profit organizations.

To help offset increased costs to the business community, small businesses are encouraged to take advantage of a tax credit available to businesses and nonprofits with 50 full-time equivalent employees or fewer. The Minimum Wage Credit will allow small businesses a maximum credit of 25 percent of the difference between the new minimum wage and what each employee was paid previously. The percentage allowed each proceeding year will decrease before it sunsets in 2026.  Businesses can begin to claim the credit on their quarterly Illinois Withholding Income Tax Returns.

While this is not a long-term solution for small businesses, it will provide a measure of relief to employers as they face the hardships imposed by the minimum wage increase. More information on the Minimum Wage Credit is available here. 

In February, legislation was filed to regionalize the minimum wage. Senate Bill 3396 would provide for minimum wages based upon a percentage of the otherwise required minimum wage, depending upon the region of the State.  The legislation establishes six regions for purposes of determining the minimum wage.

Local governments concerned about the impact a $15 minimum wage will have on their local economies should be allowed to decide what is best for their communities.

Senate Bill 3396 would allow specified units of local government to opt-out of the state-mandated minimum wage rates and opt-into a regionally adjusted minimum wage, which will be statutorily-authorized and statutorily-approved.  It would provide a sliding scale type of rate – so areas with historically-low unemployment or higher costs of living would keep rates closer to the state-mandated hourly rate.

Sponsored by 18 Republican Senators, Senate Bill 3396 was not allowed a public hearing by Senate leaders in legislative committee or on the Senate Floor.

Staying Cyber Secure at the Holidays

Illinoisans virtually shopping this holiday season are urged to stay safe and be aware of cyber security risks. During this period of heightened reliance upon online shopping from COVID-19 safety restrictions, Illinois residents need to be more careful than ever when looking for cyber-related risks. Increased online traffic makes it easier for cyber thieves to trick buyers into scams and steal personal information for financial gain.

Online shopping recommendations by the National Cyber Security Alliance include:

·Think before you click: Beware of ads encouraging users to click on links, account warnings and shipping notifications. Do not click on the link until you visit the company’s website to verify the offer is legitimate first.

·Do your homework: Prior to making a purchase, read reviews to hear what others say about the merchant. Look for a physical location and any customer service information. It is also a good idea to call the merchant to confirm that they are legitimate.

·Consider your payment options: Using a credit card is often recommended over a debit card as there are more consumer protections for credit cards.

·Watch what you give away: If the merchant is requesting more data than you feel comfortable sharing, cancel the transaction. You only need to fill out required fields at checkout and should never save your payment information in your profile.

·Keep tabs on your bank and credit card statements: Be sure to continuously check your accounts for any unauthorized activity.

Educate yourself on cyber scams and fraud to ensure you do not become a victim. View more information here.

IDOA to launch anhydrous ammonia use training for farmers

Illinois farmers and employees who transport or apply anhydrous ammonia are required by state regulation to participate in the mandatory training approved by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which has announced a new training platform available online starting January 1, 2021.

Training must be completed by April 1, 2022. Farmers who complete the training will received a three-year certification they can provide to anhydrous ammonia retailers if requested. 

Once COVD-19 mitigations allow for group gatherings, in-person training sessions will be offered, as well. The Department and interested agriculture organizations are seeking qualified volunteers interested in delivering in-person training to growers. 

If interested in becoming a trainer for Illinois growers, please contact:

·Jeff Squibb, Illinois Department of Agriculture at 217-785-8212, jeff.squibb@illinois.gov
·John Rebholz, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association at 309-827-2774 john@ifca.com
·Travis Deppe, Illinois Corn Growers Association at 309-557-3257, tdeppe@ilcorn.org
·Mike Levin, Illinois Soybean Association at 309-808-3606, levinm@ilsoy.org
·Lauren Lurkins, Illinois Farm Bureau at 309-530-0398, llurkins@ilfb.org .​

It’s Not Too Late to Get Your Flu Shot

Illinoisans six months and older who have not yet received their flu shots are being encouraged by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to contact their health providers or local health departments, as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 6-12).

Get a flu vaccination this year to avoid the risk of influenza setting in suddenly and causing more complications if contracted alongside COVID-19. Many of the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are the same, such as fever and cough, but there are some differences. Persons with symptoms of either the flu or COVID-19 should self-isolate and contact a health care provider.

To find a location to get a flu shot in your community, check with your health care provider or local health department. You can also use https://vaccinefinder.org/. More information about influenza can be found on the IDPH website at www.dph.illinois.gov. More information about COVID-19 can be found at www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19.

Dale Fowler

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