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Op-Ed: Frivolous lawsuits cost jobs, hurt economy in Illinois

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It’s time to sound the alarm on an issue that is crippling small businesses across Illinois: the overwhelming burden of financial harm caused by the cost associated with the rise in number of frivolous lawsuits in our state.

As a small business owner in McHenry County and a board member for the Associated Builders & Contractors, I have seen countless businesses close because of the costs associated with systemic lawsuit abuse.

At my mechanical and electrical contracting business, we are certainly feeling the pinch, and it’s not just in our present operations but also our ability to chart growth in this tough economic environment.

Did you know that every resident of Illinois, including small business owners like me, pays a so-called “tort tax” of over $1,800 per person annually? This staggering figure doesn’t just add to our overhead operating expenses, it siphons off the resources we need to innovate for the future.

The broader impact is even worse. An independent study estimated the loss of over 146,000 jobs in the wholesale trade sector across the U.S. in 2023 tied to costs from frivolous lawsuits. Every one of those jobs lost represents lives and livelihoods directly affected by the financial strain of excessive litigation.

The stacked costs of skyrocketing insurance premiums and navigating a complex web of regulations are only making matters worse. These barriers prevent us from hiring the next talented worker or pursuing the next innovative project.

This isn’t just about my company. This is much bigger than that. This is a widespread crisis impacting small businesses across our state.

We are seeing our neighboring states capitalize on our challenges. They are doing a better job attracting businesses and talent as a result. These were once the foundation of Illinois’ economy but sadly those days are no longer.

We’re not just losing numbers on a spreadsheet – we’re losing the very people who make our communities vibrant and robust.

It’s time for Springfield to take decisive action. We need relief from these burdensome costs and regulations that do nothing but hold us back. Engaging the business community to streamline these processes is crucial.

We have the expertise and firsthand experience to pinpoint where change is most needed. All we need is for our lawmakers to listen.

We can’t wait for more businesses to shut their doors or flee our state. The time for action is now. Our state, local communities, its citizens, and the fabric of our local economy depend on it.

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