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Illinois Municipal League Statehouse Briefing - August 29, 2017

August 29, 2017 | Legislative briefs

The General Assembly approved a school funding compromise agreed to by the four legislative leaders and the Governor.

On the evening of Monday, August 28, the Illinois House of Representatives approved SB 1947 (available via this link) taking two attempts at passage. On an initial vote, the bill met strong opposition in the House and failed by a vote of 46-61-5 (roll call available via this link); 71 votes were required for passage.

The House then made an effort to override Governor Rauner’s amendatory veto of SB 1 (available via this link), which had previously been overridden in the Senate. With 71 votes necessary for a successful override, the House failed to override the amendatory veto on a vote of 63-45 (roll call available via this link).

With the prospect of the school funding impasse continuing, the House made a second, and ultimately successful, attempt to pass SB 1947. The vote was 73-34-3 (roll call available via this link).

The Senate voted to approve the bill today (Tuesday, August 29) on a vote of 38-13-4 (roll call available via this link). Governor Rauner has indicated he will sign the bill into law.

SB 1947 includes many of the funding formula provisions approved by the General Assembly in May. The bill grants authority for the City of Chicago to raise additional revenue above the tax cap amount applicable to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) property tax levy. The state would also bear some of the cost for funding CPS teacher pensions. Allowing some school districts relief from certain state mandates, such as daily gym requirements, is also included.

In a compromise with the Governor, the bill creates a $75 million scholarship program to benefit non-public schools recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). The scholarship program will be supported by a state income tax credit.

A document (available via this link) with additional information about SB 1947 was distributed to House Democrats prior to the vote on Monday.

Of particular interest to municipalities is that the legislation does not include a provision proposing that Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) within Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts count toward available local property wealth. This policy could have reduced state aid to some school districts while creating additional animus toward TIF as an economic development tool. The Illinois Municipal League (IML) had expressed concern in a letter to the Governor (available via this link) and letter to the legislative leaders (available via this link) about the consequences of undermining the benefits that TIF brings to local communities.

The bill does, however, create a bi-partisan Tax Increment Financing Reform Task Force. The Task Force would consist of 12 appointed members, three legislators from each of the four legislative caucuses.

The stated purpose of the Task Force is to study current TIF laws in the state and issues that include, but are not limited to:

· the benefits and costs of TIF districts; 
· the interaction between TIF law and school funding; 
· the expenditure of TIF funds; and 
· the expenditure of TIF surplus funds.

The Task Force is charged with issuing a report on its findings, along with any recommendations to the General Assembly, on or before April 1, 2018. IML will closely monitor the Task Force and will advocate to protect TIF, a critical economic development tool.

Recent Actions by the Governor on IML-Tracked Bills

The following bills of note were acted on by the Governor. For a complete list of actions to-date on all IML-tracked bills, please review our “Bills Approved by Both Chambers, Public Acts and Other Actions by the Governor” report.

Illinois Trust Act

SB 31 (Senator John Cullerton, D-Chicago/Representative Chris Welch, D-Westchester) was signed into law by the Governor. The new law is P.A. 100-0463.

The bill would prohibit law enforcement agencies and officials from detaining or continuing to detain an individual solely on the basis of an immigration detainer or non-judicial immigration warrant or from otherwise complying with an immigration detainer or non-judicial immigration warrant. The bill mandates additional law enforcement training in order to be compliant with the Illinois TRUST Act.

IML previously sent Governor Rauner a letter (available via this link) expressing concern about how the legislation would affect federal law enforcement grant money following a policy announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice (available via this link) that could jeopardize some sources of federal funding based upon state laws pertaining to undocumented immigrants.

With the enactment of the Illinois Trust Act, local governments applying for Department of Justice Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants will need to carefully review and consider the compliance requirements described in the grant application (available via this link), and in particular, the Chief Executive and Chief Legal Officer certifications. Those include the 8 U.S.C. 1373 compliance provisions, as well as the new express conditions set forth on page 30 of the grant application concerning access to detention facilities and the 48-hour notice provisions on scheduled release of aliens in custody.

Fire Chief Appointment Qualifications Signed into Law

SB 1304 (Senator Neil Anderson, R-Rock Island/Representative Kathleen Willis, D-Addison) was signed into law by the Governor. The new law is P.A. 100-0425.

The bill prohibits a person from being appointed as the chief, the acting chief, the department head or a position, by whatever title, that is responsible for day-to-day operations of a full-time paid fire department or fire protection district for greater than 180 days unless he or she possesses: (1) Office of the State Fire Marshal Firefighter Basic Certification or Firefighter II Certification; Office of the State Fire Marshal Fire Officer I and II Certifications; and an associate's degree in fire science or a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college; or (2) a minimum of 10 years' experience as a firefighter at the fire department, or fire protection district, in the jurisdiction making the appointment. This provision only applies to fire departments and fire protection districts that hire full-time firefighters. IML opposed the bill.

Police Pension Legislation Intended to Restrict “Double-Dipping” Signed into Law

HB 418 (Representative Grant Wehrli, R-Lombard/Senator Michael Connelly, R-Naperville) was signed into law by the Governor. The new law is P.A. 100-0281.

The bill is intended to prevent “double-dipping” by prohibiting a police officer from returning to work in the capacity of a police chief and participating in a defined benefit pension plan other than an Article 3 (police) pension plan. More specifically, HB 418 prohibits a police chief from electing to participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) instead of a downstate police pension fund, unless that police chief became a participating employee under the IMRF Article before January 1, 2019.

The bill requires each municipality to establish a defined contribution plan for certain police officers. It also requires the plan to meet certain requirements, including the immediate vesting of contributions. If a police officer is receiving pension payments and returns to active service with any municipality that has established a downstate police pension fund, he or she may continue to receive those pension payments, but must participate only in the municipality's defined contribution plan. The bill authorizes a police officer to rescind his or her election to participate in the defined contribution plan. IML did not take a position on the bill.

Increased Bidding Threshold for Public Improvements Signed into Law

HB 547 (Representative Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside/Senator Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero) was signed into law by the Governor. The new law is P.A. 100-0338.

The bill increases the base amount from $20,000 to $25,000 for public improvement or maintenance of public property at which a municipality must enter into a contract by public bid or four-fifths council approval. If the contract is approved by council, the bill increases the base amount of expenses that must be taken by public bid from $20,000 to $25,000. It also provides that before the board of library trustees may commence construction, remodeling, repairing or improving of a library building, it shall advertise for bids if the cost of the project exceeds $25,000 (currently $20,000). IML supported the bill.

IMRF Exclusion of Vacation and Vehicle Allowance as Earnings Signed into Law

SB 701 (Senator Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield/Representative Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook) was signed into law by the Governor. The new law is P.A. 100-0411.

The bill amends the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) Article. For a person who first becomes a participating employee on or after the effective date of the amendatory Act, vehicle allowances are excluded from the definition of "earnings." In a provision that requires an employer to pay the present value of the increase in pension resulting from an increase in earnings greater than 6% or 1.5 times the increase in the consumer price index for any of the 12-month periods used to determine final rate of earnings, excludes earnings increases resulting from payments for unused vacation time, but only for payments for unused vacation time made in the final three months of the final rate of earnings period. IML supported the bill.

Governor Rauner Signs Automatic Voter Registration Bill

SB 1933 (Senator Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill/Representative Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston) amends voter registration laws to automatically register eligible Illinois citizens to vote at their new address whenever they apply for, update or renew a driver’s license or state ID. Individuals can elect to opt-out of the automatic registration. The new law is P.A. 100-0464.

Register Online Today for the Illinois Municipal League’s Annual Conference

You are invited to attend the Illinois Municipal League’s 104th Annual Conference in Chicago. This three-day conference (September 21-23, 2017) is the premier event for Illinois’ municipal officials, offering unparalleled access to educational and networking opportunities. Hall of Fame football legend Mike Ditka will deliver the Opening General Session address. Tracks such as Communication, Economic Development, Finance, Management, Public Safety, Public Works and Risk Management allow attendees to plan ahead and create a custom conference experience by choosing from more than 75 different sessions to meet individual needs and interests. Learn more and register online at conference.iml.org to join 2,000 mayors and elected officials from throughout Illinois at the Hilton Chicago this fall. Don’t forget to make your hotel reservation online before our room block expires August 31.

As always, IML staff will continue to monitor any prospective legislative developments and aggressively advocate on behalf of our membership. Should you have any questions, please contact our legislative team at IMLLegislation@iml.org. Thank you.

__________________________________________________

ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL LEAGUE 
500 East Capitol Avenue | PO Box 5180 | Springfield, Illinois 62705 
phone: 217-525-1220 | fax: 217.525.7438 
email: IMLLegislation@iml.org | www.iml.org

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