Ives argues wage theft bill would put business owners behind bars
Senate Bill 1720 is bad business as well as bad for business, Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) told her colleagues on Tuesday.
“We’re going to be putting business in jail that happens to violate one of our business acts," Ives said. "That’s what we are going to do. We’re going to start jailing business owners.”
The anti-wage theft bill, presented by Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero), would increase the penalties for employers who repeatedly engage in wage theft. Those found to willingly and repeatedly withhold up to $5,000 of wages from their employees would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, while employers keeping more than $5,000 would face Class 4 felony charges.
Hernandez said the bill will ensure that workers get paid their due and punsh “bad actors” that take advantage of the vulnerable, but Ives replied that IIlinois does that now.
“I would argue that we already have procedures in place,” Ives said. “We already have laws that handle these problems. All you are doing is enhancing penalties. Your side of the aisle likes to talk about giving people reprieves and not doing mandatory minimums … and now all you're about is enhancing penalties on business folks who are just trying to make a buck in Illinois and are trying to run their business.”
Ives said state and federal laws have been too complicated, and imposing another rule makes it more difficult for business owners. Jailing them is not a solution and is bad for business, she suggested.
“There are very very few bad actors out there and … this is usually taken care of, and we already have our laws in place [for this],” Ives said. “You’re just trying to send a message to your constituency, but the message you’re really sending to businesses in the state of Illinois is that we are not really open for business. We are hostile to business.”
SB1720 passed the House 67-48.
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