Around Illinois – April 26

Apr 26, 2012
  • What happens to the Illinois 'Amazon Tax' now?
  • A 'surreal' interview with Dixon's mayor
  • How's our neighbor doing on jobs?
  • Chrysler comeback gets an airing
  • Will crime victim rights be strengthened?

Retailers don’t like ‘Amazon Tax’ ruling

Wednesday’s ruling by Cook County Circuit Judge Robert Lopez Cepero knocking down the Illinois “Amazon Tax” law has sparked an adverse reaction from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. 

"This ruling, if it stands, will have an adverse impact on retailers, small business owners and consumers who are already struggling in this tough economy," said IRMA President and CEO David Vite. “We fully expect that this decision will be appealed and that this law will ultimately be upheld.”

IRMA represents more than 23,000 stores of all sizes and merchandise lines.

A Cook County Circuit judge ruled against the state of Illinois in its attempt to tax online sales from out-of-state companies.

Cepero’ ruling says that simply having an affiliated company in the state that makes sales or refers customers to an online retailer doesn't create enough of a presence, or nexus, for tax purposes. He also ruled that the 2011 Illinois law is unenforceable because of a federal Internet tax moratorium that runs through 2014.

Comments from a company that left Illinois because of the law – and the state’s reaction to the ruling – were reported in an article in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Dixon mayor recounts ‘surreal’ investigation

Dixon Mayor James Burke and City Clerk Kathe Swanson uncovered the possibility that City Comptroller Rita Crundwell had been misappropriating funds last fall.

Thus began a five-month wait before the long-time appointed city financial officer was arrested on a charge of wire fraud regarding $3.2 million in apparently missing funds – and the hint that the total may be as high as $30 million over a six-year period.

The mayor sat down with Sauk Valley Media reporter Emily K. Coleman and detailed his emotional roller-coaster ride.

Burke helped with the investigation and set up the meeting at which the arrest occurred. It’s an interesting account.

State’s neighbor alone in significant loss of jobs

Illinois has been treated to a visit from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker touting the business climate of the Badger State. We also have endured the beleaguered Republican’s taunts inviting Illinois companies to shut down and move north.

Now, according to a story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Wisconsin is the only state in the nation that had "statistically significant" job losses over the past 12 months, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Illinois didn’t show up on the list either way, so any change apparently was not statistically significant.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel gives the governor’s office an opportunity to comment as well.

Walker faces a recall election June 5 over his policies since taking office in January 2011.

Chrysler executive hails company resurgence

The keynote speaker at the Growth Dimensions annual spring reception this week touted the accomplishments of his company since merging with Italian carmaker Fiat in 2009. They include:

  • Investments of $4.5 billion in the U.S. and Canada
  • Addition of 9,400 jobs
  • Introduction of the new Dodge Dart
  • Coming third shift at the Belvidere Assembly Plant

Rockford Register Star reporter Jeff Kolkey provides a more detailed account of Brian G. Glowiak’s presentation.

Crime victim rights amendment clears Senate

Victims of crime could have a broader set of rights under a proposed change to the Illinois Constitution.

Backers say the existing protections in the Illinois Constitution are regularly ignored.

Ann Spillane, with the Illinois attorney general's office, says the office routinely gets complaints from people struggling to enforce their rights.

"Victims told us that they were never provided notice of court proceedings in some instances,” Spillane said, “that they were never informed that a plea agreement was about to be entered in some instances; and that, in some cases, they never had the opportunity to present a victim-impact statement."

She says the proposal would give victims legal standing in court to assert their rights. That includes being able to confer with the prosecutor about plea deals, and having the opportunity to make a statement at the time of sentencing.

Prosecutors say they're always working on behalf of victims, but they worry the new rights are ambiguous and could interfere.

"What if a victim's attorney does not agree with the charging decision by the state's attorney?” asks Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. “Or the trial strategies?"

The measure has passed both chambers of the Illinois legislature, but the Senate made some changes and returned the proposal to the House. Because the measure would change the state Constitution, voters would have the final say on whether to approve it at this fall's elections if the House and Senate can agree.