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Manufacturers push legislative agenda with focus on workforce, technology, clean energy 

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) unveiled its 2024 legislative agenda on Wednesday, Feb. 7, advocating for measures to strengthen the state’s manufacturing ecosystem by supporting students and families entering the workforce, advancing the development of cutting-edge technology, and allowing carbon capture and sequestration to help the state reach its clean energy goals.

The IMA called on lawmakers to adopt policies that make it easier for manufacturers to hire and retain qualified workers and encourage businesses to invest in new technologies. To advance these goals, the IMA recently partnered with members of the General Assembly the Illinois Manufacturing Caucus, which will focus on issues that impact the industry.

“Illinois has a proud manufacturing history, but we cannot rest on our laurels as other states implement policies that incentivize manufacturers to locate outside of our borders,” said Mark Denzler, President & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “We must harness our talent to build a workforce of the future and embrace technology that is poised to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Manufacturers across Illinois look forward to working collaboratively with lawmakers to get the job done.”

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association 2024 legislative agenda

  • Student Loan Employer Tax Credit (SB1313, Sen. Meg Loughran Cappel/HB4435, Rep. Katie Stuart): This initiative is an attempt to help with two issues: student loan debt for employees and workforce shortages. Employers will earn a tax credit if they assist with the payment of student loan debt of their employees. This proposal, modeled off the federal Employer Participation in Repayment Act, will help ease student debt while also attracting employees to manufacturing jobs.
  • Manufacturing Promise Scholarship Program (Sen. Karina Villa): Similar to the MAP grant program, this initiative would provide high school students with free community college education if they are enrolled in a manufacturing pathway. This is not a tuition waiver and will require a minimum 20% participation from underrepresented groups. Community college manufacturing programs as well as apprenticeship and union manufacturing programs qualify under this program. 
  • The Manufacturer Childcare Incentive Pilot Program (HB4670, Rep. Amy Elik): Establishes a pilot program that will allow 10 manufacturers to open on-site, employee-only childcare centers at no cost to their employees. The employer is required to follow staffing, medication, background checks and liability insurance requirements through an expedited approval process. The IMA is also seeking to bring grant dollars/incentives to employers who open childcare centers in designated childcare deserts. 
  • High School Graduation Requirements (HB3307, Rep. Amy Elik/Rep. Katie Stuart): Under this proposal, high school graduation requirements would be changed to allow for two years of Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses in place of the two-year foreign language requirement. This will allow for critical education that more closely meets the needs of students and employers.
  • Modernize Research & Development Tax Credit (SB163, Sen. Don DeWitte/HB4457 Rep. Joe Sosnowski): Research and Development (R&D) is the lifeblood of manufacturers who are constantly creating and improving products. However, Illinois’ R&D credit is outdated and will soon expire without state intervention. This proposal increases the R&D credit by providing that the increase in research and development activities shall be based on an increase of over 50% of the average of the qualifying expenditures for each year in the base period. Currently, the credit is based on an increase of over 100 percent of the average of the qualifying expenditures for each year in the base period. This change modernizes the bill to match changes to the R&D credit at the federal level and makes the R&D credit permanent moving forward.
  • Carbon Capture & Sequestration: The IMA continues to champion legislation to establish regulations for land issues, permitting, liability and fees surrounding carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Illinois is primed to be a leader in CCS, which would help the state reach its clean energy goals while growing our economy. However, as more time passes without action in Illinois, other states are taking advantage of CCS, including winning competitive federal funding. 

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