Rep. Keicher, colleagues propose action to level the playing field for small businesses during COVID-19

Amid the ongoing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, State Representative Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, announced today that he will sponsor legislation to help support small businesses in Illinois.

The legislation, called the Fair Business Treatment Act, calls for small businesses to be given the same opportunities that larger, big box stores currently have.  The proposal is meant to alleviate the existing disparity that allows large retailers to sell items available at local small businesses, but preventing those small businesses from opening to in-store shopping under restrictions imposed by Governor Pritzker’s Stay at Home order.

“Every day that small and family-owned businesses are forced to remain closed, the livelihoods of thousands of local families are further stretched to their limit without the promise of remedy by our elected officials,” Rep. Keicher said. “The State of Illinois must act to level the playing field for small businesses by treating them the same as bog box retailers. This means putting guidelines in place to protect public health such as requiring that customers wear a mask or face covering, practice social distancing, and limiting the number of customer in-store at any one time.”

Keicher continued, “The Governor of Wisconsin reopened small businesses this week with these same specific guidelines in place. Our local business leaders here in Illinois have said they’re ready to reopen safely and responsibly, if only the State will let them. We should follow Wisconsin’s lead and let our small businesses reopen immediately.”

In a recent statewide poll conducted by Ogden and Fry, Illinois residents strongly support opening small retail businesses, if they follow the same social distancing requirements as big box stores.  Of the 493 polled, 75% agreed that small retail stores should be open.

“Others have noted how the Governor’s current policy arbitrarily picks winners and losers in Illinois’ retail economy,” Rep. Keicher added. “Corporate giants are the winners, while the backbone of the economy, our mom-and-pop independent retailers, are limited to filling curbside pickup orders. This has devastating consequences to the millions of families across our state who depend on jobs created and sustained by small business. By modifying our reopening plan to treat small businesses the same as big box stores, we can alleviate the hardship our local employers have endured for two months now.”