Obama Passed Law Creating $100 Million Earned Income Tax Credit, Formed A Political Alliance Of Republicans And Democrats To Pass The EITC.

Obama sponsored and passed a bill that amended the Illinois Income Tax Act to create the earned income tax credit. The bill provided that each individual taxpayer is entitled to a credit against the tax imposed by the Act in an amount equal to 5% of the federal earned income tax credit allowed. The credit applied to taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2000 and ending on or before December 31, 2002. The credit may not reduce the taxpayer's liability to less than zero. The original legislation repealed the credit on June 1, 2003. Obama later passed legislation eliminating the sunset.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the EITC was a bipartisan effort. "An unlikely political alliance has developed behind proposals to adjust the tax burden for working poor families. It includes politicians as far apart on the political map as Republicans Bill Black of Danville and Carole Pankau of Roselle and Democrats Currie and Coy Pugh of Chicago. 'The main political dynamic is simply that it costs money, and it's hard to mobilize support for programs that cost money but benefit low-income folks,' said Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago), lead sponsor of a bill that would make Illinois the 11th state to adopt an earned income-tax credit." [91st GA, HB 3939; 4/14/00, 3R P; 59-0-0; P.A. 91-0700, 5/11/00; Chicago Tribune, 4/10/99]

Chicagoland Chamber Of Commerce President Said The Bill Would Help Employers And Employees. Jerry Roper, President of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce said, "The EITC is a tremendous benefit not only for the employee who is working, but from the employers side, it is a tremendous benefit that can help his or her employees." [Chicago Defender, 5/13/00]

Obama Passed Law Creating The Illinois Temporary Assistance For Needy Families Program.

Obama was a chief co-sponsor of the bill to create the state of Illinois' Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The bill created flexibility for victims of domestic violence, set a five-year limit for receiving public assistance, banned anyone convicted of a serious drug-related Class X or Class 1 felony from ever receiving assistance, required that all recipients develop a personal plan for self-sufficiency, listing the steps they will take to move from welfare to work, exempted those over 60 and adults with children younger than 1. According to the State Journal-Register, "The bill pours more money into day-care a result, an estimated 90,000 families would be able to take advantage of the child care benefit, subject to legislative appropriation of necessary funds. That represents a six-fold increase from the current number... State Sen. Barack Obama, D-Chicago, called the bill a good start but urged members not to rule out future changes to the system. He said there is a need for a commission to oversee the changes and ensure the system is working properly. '(Welfare recipients) generally are not represented down here in Springfield. They don't have powerful lobbies. They do not contribute to our political candidates,' he said. Consequently, Obama said, if there are problems with this bill, it is not clear they will be addressed. [90th GA, HB 204, 3R P 56-1-1, 5/31/97, PA 90-0017, 6/19/97; State Journal Register, 6/1/97]

Obama Passed A Bill Requiring Advance Notice Of Mass Layoff And Plant Closings.

Obama was the chief sponsor of voted for bill requiring the Department of Employment Security to monitor compliance with the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act by private entities in Illinois. In January 2001, Obama announced plans to introduce Bill requiring employers to give 60 days advance notice of mass layoffs or plant closings to state officials to ensure timely unemployment assistance for workers. Under the Bill, the Illinois Department of Employment Security was required to monitor actively compliance with the 1988 federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which already required employers to give the federal government 60 days notice of layoffs. Obama said he began working on the Bill after he discovered that employees at several Goldblatt's locations on the South Side had not received notification of impending layoffs before the stores closed. He said he and Alderman Toni Preckwinkle contacted the state to ensure workers received assistance...Obama said he intended to check with the state Department of Employment Security to verify whether companies such as Motorola, Montgomery Ward & Co. and MarchFirst Inc. had provided proper notification in light of recent layoffs and closings. "My hope and assumption is that the majority of companies are abiding by these regulations . . .What we're really just trying to make sure of is that the state is in the loop in terms of making sure compliance is occurring." [92nd GA, SB 0062; 4/5/01, 3R P; 56-0-0; P.A. 92-0087, 7/18/01; Chicago Tribune, 1/29/01]

Obama Passed Whistle-Blower Protection Law.

Obama was the chief co-sponsor and voted for a whistleblower bill that prevents employers from prohibiting an employee from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of State or federal law. Crain's Chicago Business wrote, "In April 2003, Obama-sponsored Bill that protected whistleblowers from employer retaliation passed the state Senate. Under SB 1872, workers who reasonably suspected violations of law had a legal right to report their fear to law enforcement agencies. Violators could be sued for reinstatement, back pay and other damages." [93rd GA, SB 1872; 3/27/03, 3R P; 57-1-0; P.A. 93-0544, 8/18/03; Crain's Chicago Business, 4/14/03]

Obama Sponsored Law To Protect Overtime Pay To Counter Bush Restrictions.

Obama was the chief sponsor of a new law that exempted Illinois from the new federal overtime rules and protected overtime pay for thousands of our state's workers. The bill gave the 375,000 workers in Illinois who would have lost their right to receive pay for overtime under President Bush's new restrictions the compensation they deserve for the extra time they spend away from their families. "State Sen. Barack Obama, who led the push for Illinois to become the first state to block proposed federal rules on overtime pay, welcomed the Bush administration's changes Tuesday but said he isn't ready to reverse the state law. 'If it turns out to be necessary for us to make modifications to accommodate new realities at the federal level, we're happy to do so,' said Obama, the bill's sponsor and the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. 'What we don't want to do is be caught off-guard by rules that hurt Illinois workers.'" [93rd GA; 3/27/03, 3R P; 32-16-2 (BO: Y); 3/31/04, HA1 SC; 36-19-0 (BO: Y); P.A. 93-0672, 4/2/04; AP, 4/2/04]

Obama And Hatch Passed Legislation To Protect Individuals' Rights To Continue Donating To Charities And Religious Organizations During Bankruptcy.

In 2006, Obama was an original cosponsor of a bill that protected individuals' rights to continue donating to charities and religious organizations during bankruptcy proceedings. The Hatch-Obama bill responded to a court ruling that above-medium income debtors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy could not deduct charitable contributions, including religious contributions, from their payment plans. The ruling was based on an interpretation of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). Hatch and Obama authored S. 4044 to ensure that all individuals in bankruptcy, no matter their income, would be able to continue giving to charity and their church. The bill passed the senate by unanimous consent and was signed by the president. [S. 4044, Signed 12/20/06, Became Public Law No. 109-439]