Plan to shrink anti-business bureaucracy now rests in Illinois House

From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD – A plan that could make it easier to open a business in Illinois passed the Illinois Senate and is now being considered by the House of Representatives. The legislation would require the state to put all permit and license applications online on one centralized website.

“It should be easy for entrepreneurs to find application forms for every single state license or permit they need online, in one location,” said Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, the measure’s sponsor. “This is the 21st century, and the state is still using paper-only forms. Even worse, business owners have to find the applications they need on each individual agency’s website. This situation is simply unacceptable.”

Right now, if business owners need more than one license or permit, they may have to visit several different state and local government websites and fill out forms both on paper and online. To see if they qualify for any economic development programs, they have to contact even more state agencies. Many other states do better, putting all of these forms and all of this information in one place.

The new website would be operated by the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The agency would be required to update the site at least once every year. Under the current system, potential business owners are often forced to struggle with broken links and hard-to-navigate, out-of-date state websites.

“Entrepreneurs and small business owners are pressed for time and often do not have the necessary resources to navigate Illinois’ complex process of obtaining permits and licenses,” said Elliot Richardson, CEO of the Small Business Advocacy Council and a small business owner. “This legislation will empower the small business community by providing easier access to an array of information. This will help entrepreneurs start businesses and expand in our state.”

Morrison’s plan was inspired in part by the state of New York’s business license website: http://licensecenter.ny.gov/business-licenses.

Under New York’s system, entrepreneurs start by selecting the type of business they would like to open. They then answer a series of questions. When they finish, they are provided with links to all of the forms they need to fill out and any additional information they requested.

Morrison’s plan to create a centralized licensing and permitting website is Senate Bill 659. Her legislation to require all state agencies to put their business license application forms online, Senate Bill 1921, has also passed the Senate.

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