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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Jul 11, 2013

IL Immigration Reform Advocates to U.S. House Leadership: Take Up The Senate Bill

Illinois business leaders and immigrant advocates are putting the heat on U.S. House Republicans after they met for a closed-door meeting on immigration Wednesday and signaled that they would not consider the Senate-passed bill. Instead, House GOP leaders say they plan to take their time piecing together their own approach to immigration reform.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Jun 3, 2013

New Report Highlights Need To Reform The Farm Bill's Sugar Program

Changes made to the federal sugar program in the 2008 farm bill have caused sugar prices to spike to record levels, which hurts businesses, manufacturers and consumers, a new report from the food and agriculture consulting company Agralytica shows.

Extra consumer costs due to the 2008 farm bill have tallied about $3.7 billion each year, according to the report (PDF) released Monday. Currently, sugar prices in the United States are about 46 cents per pound, which is higher than 28 cents per pound under the 2002 farm bill.

Sugar producers in the United States and Mexico have responded to the high prices in the U.S. market by expanding sugar production by 20 percent to 25 percent, said Agralytica’s Vice President Tom Earley.

The 2008 changes have made “a bad program even worse and have destabilized the U.S. sugar market,” said Earley, who is also an agricultural economist and trade policy specialist.

“Now we have too much sugar that’s driving prices down that’s going to result in significant costs for the government,” he explained.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu May 23, 2013

Senate Votes Down Amendment To Reform 'Outdated' Sugar Program In Farm Bill

Reforming the sugar program in the nation's farm bill would make U.S. manufacturers more competitive and reduce prices for consumers, said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), co-sponsor of an amendment to revamp the system.

The amendment, S. 345, did not seek to eliminate the program. Instead, it aimed to reform restrictions on imports as well as subsidies for sugar growers, along with other changes. But the Senate rejected the amendment by a 45-54 vote Wednesday.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the need to protect America’s sugar farmers, but what we haven’t heard is that sugar remains the most tightly controlled commodity market in this country,” Shaheen said during floor discussion in the Senate Wednesday. “We currently have an outdated ... program that offers a sweet deal to a small group of sugar growers and processors at the expense of too many other American businesses and at the expense of American consumers.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu May 2, 2013

New Study Challenges Prominent Business Climate Rankings (UPDATED)

Prominent studies that rank states’ business climates often contradict each other and should not be used to inform public policies, according to a new “Grading Places” report published by the Washington, D.C.-based Good Jobs First.

“There’s no such thing as a state business climate,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, on a conference call with reporters. “One size can’t fit all. Things vary much too much among different kinds of business facilities and among metro areas. There are no silver bullets. There [are] no magic variables.” <--break->

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Wed Apr 17, 2013

Bustos Introduces Legislation Aimed At Boosting Job Creation, Regulating Federal Contracts

A new House bill would make job creation an important element in contract bids for the federal government.

The legislation, called the American Jobs Matter Act, HR 1332, would require companies to include a “jobs impact statement” in their proposal for contract bids. The statement tells the government the number of jobs that will be created by the company and its subcontractors.

The legislation also requires companies to guarantee that jobs will not be moved outside of the U.S. once the contract has been awarded.

“America, specifically our region of America, has the best workers in the world,” said U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D, IL-17), sponsor of the legislation, on a conference call. “We should take advantage of their skills and craftsmanship.”

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Mon Apr 8, 2013

Schneider Launches Initiative To Support Small Businesses

Freshman lawmaker U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D, IL-10) met with constituents in Gurnee today in an effort to better understand the needs of small business owners in his district.

“If I’m going to represent the district, I have to understand what makes up the district” said Schneider, who has visited 17 small businesses since taking office earlier this year.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Thu Mar 28, 2013

Foster Introduces Bill Aimed At Boosting Manufacturing Job Training

Kids don’t make stuff anymore, according to U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D, IL-11). That thought motivated him to sponsor legislation that would establish a charter of Fab Labs across the nation.

Fab Labs are open-to-the-public digital fabrication laboratories where products can be invented, designed and manufactured by adults and children alike. First instituted in 2008 by the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), there are approximately 160 Fab Labs nationwide with 150 more in development.

“A city grows when its manufacturing base grows,” said Foster at a roundtable discussion on the legislation today. “As a country, you can only consume what you create.”