Illinois B Corp Legislation Passes in the Senate
by Tim Frick
New law would place the tenets of socially responsible business at the heart of Illinois companies that want to make a difference.
Last week the Illinois Senate passed legislation that would make our fine state the eighth in the nation to enact legislation that makes the Benefit Corporation (B Corp) a legally recognized entity. If the bill also passes in the House—which is scheduled to vote in May—this could be great news for Illinois companies that want to build business while still maintaining a commitment to being socially responsible.
B Corp Laws in Illinois
The Illinois Benefit Corporation Act (SB2897 in the Senate and HB4708 in the House) seeks to support socially responsible businesses in Illinois by giving them legal recognition within the state. Under current law, corporations must maximize profits and legally cannot take into consideration other factors in business operations. Many businesses seek to not only make a profit, but also pursue a public benefit mission, such as environmental sustainability or social responsibility. Benefit corporation legislation offers a new corporate form—alongside S-Corps, C-Corps, LLC’s, and the like—that does not impact existing corporations. B Corp legislation does not provide tax incentives, but rather a free market opportunity for businesses to consider society and the environment in addition to profit margins. Mightybytes is one of ten B Corps in Illinois.
Illinois B Corps Lobby
On March 22nd, several of the Illinois B Corps traveled to Springfield to lobby on behalf of the bill, which is sponsored by Representative Sara Feigenholtz of the 12th district in the House and Senator Michael Frerichs of the 52nd district in the Senate. Nancy Goldstein from CompassX Strategy, Steve Sherman from GreenChoice Bank, and Greg Christian from Beyond Green Partners (pictured above left; photo: Nancy Goldstein) travelled by train from Chicago to spend their day in the House talking to various Representatives about B Corp legislation.
“We were excited yet nervous,” Nancy mentioned in her blog post about their trip. “We are all business people, not legislators nor activists. But fueled by enthusiasm for our cause and lots of caffeine, we set off to Springfield [and] after a long day of . . . talking legislation, we arrived back home in Chicago, having learned a lot, participated in the democratic process and having made a difference.”
Since the legislation has passed in the Senate, we keep our fingers crossed that their efforts in the House will be remembered when it comes time to vote in May.
A Growing Movement
Support for B Corps is on the rise across the nation with seven other states leading the way to legalization. If you want to know about B Corps and how they operate, here’s a great piece that PBS Newshour ran recently about B Corporations:
Watch Benefit Corporations Aim to Make Profit, Positive Impact on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
Support B Corp legislation!
If you are an Illinois resident and would like to show your support for this legislation, please sign this petition, and forward it along to others you think may be interested. If you would like more information, check out the Benefit Corp Information Center.