2016 IML Spring Legislative Session SummaryJune 6, 2016 | Legislative briefs
Message to our Membership
From Brad Cole, Executive Director
Illinois Municipal League
Representing our members’ interests at the Statehouse is a top priority of the Illinois Municipal League (IML). Our legislative advocacy on your behalf allows us to return real value for your membership dues. Your membership is appreciated, and we are pleased to provide the following summary of the 2016 spring legislative session:
General Assembly Fails to Pass State Budget
Prior to Scheduled Adjournment Date
The House and Senate adjourned on Tuesday, May 31, without passing a state budget for FY2017 or a standalone K-12 education funding bill. Quite frankly, the General Assembly did not accomplish much of significance during a spring session notable for substantially fewer session days than normal and intense partisan gridlock.
Prospects for a bipartisan budget agreement were shattered as the General Assembly headed into the final weekend of the scheduled session. On Wednesday, May 25, 63 House Democrats voted to pass a spending plan (SB 2048) that included spending levels $7 billion higher than existing revenues. An uproar among Republicans over procedural issues prompted the House to hold a second vote on the budget the following day. The budget bill received 60 votes the second time around.
Republicans viewed the passage of an out-of-balance budget as a provocative action, and events quickly took a turn for the negative for the remaining session days. Senate President J. Cullerton suggested a “stopgap” budget to fund critical obligations through the November election. Both Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan opposed this idea. On Tuesday, May 31, Governor Rauner reconsidered and proposed his own “stopgap” budget. The Governor’s proposal failed to gain traction with Democratic leaders and all hope for a bipartisan solution, even a temporary one, faded away.
On Tuesday, May 31, mere hours before a crucial midnight deadline, the Senate rejected the House budget on a vote of 17-31-10. Prior to this vote, Senate Democrats passed a K-12 school funding plan for FY2017 that included extra money for Chicago schools. The Senate Democrats’ K-12 school funding bill faced significant bipartisan opposition in the House and was soundly defeated on a vote of 24-92.
The Governor and legislative leaders intend to continue negotiating for a “stopgap” budget during June. The House will be in “continuous session” on each Wednesday in June beginning on June 8. The Senate adjourned to the call of the chair and will be available to consider a temporary budget solution should one manifest.
The Budget Impasse and Municipal Government
The absence of a budget agreement means that there is no immediate threat of a reduction to LGDF or other local revenues. The continued protection of this revenue has been a priority of the IML and should be viewed as a positive development, particularly when other entities find themselves without full funding (i.e., higher education and K-12). However, without a budget, the state lacks appropriation authority to make payments to local governments for Motor Fuel Tax (MFT), video and casino gaming, the Use Tax and 9-1-1 spending. This absence of appropriation authority is a replay of what occurred last year, as local governments had to wait until December, 2015, for these payments to resume. As we did last year, IML will continue to pursue legislation to grant the required appropriation authority if the budget impasse continues.
IML Introduces Aggressive Legislative Agenda
The current state of partisan gridlock and concerns about drawing significant interest group opposition did not dissuade IML from introducing a substantive and aggressive legislative agenda in 2016. IML pursued 11 legislative initiatives, which entailed finding sponsors and working to educate legislators about the issues.
The IML also introduced our “Moving Cities Forward” agenda during a February press conference. The “Moving Cities Forward” agenda allowed us to highlight and generate media attention for critical local issues including proposals from our 2016 legislative agenda, historic issues supported by IML and proposals from the Governor’s Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force.
Our 2016 legislative agenda, like most legislation with substantial opposition, did not advance during the spring. We intend to continue to press the General Assembly to improve the plight of cities, villages and towns by embracing our key initiatives.
Chicago Funding Reforms Approved
On Friday, May 27, the Governor vetoed SB 777 (President J. Cullerton, D-Chicago / Representative Currie, D-Chicago). SB 777 was approved by both chambers in 2015, but a procedural hold was applied that kept the bill from being transmitted to the Governor until March, 2016.
The bill, portrayed as providing property tax relief for Chicago taxpayers, makes several funding reforms to provide more time for Chicago to pay its police and fire pension obligation.
Both the House and Senate overrode the Governor’s veto of SB 777, and the funding reforms are now law as Public Act 99-0506.
The IML worked diligently to obtain public safety pension cost relief this session. To that end, we introduced SB 2775 (Senator Althoff, R-McHenry) earlier this spring to pursue changes intended to ease the financial burden that public safety pensions impose on municipalities. Although our bill did not advance, we have continued to discuss the need for pension cost relief with the Governor’s Office and the offices of legislative leaders. These discussions extended into the final days of session.
IMRF Pension Transparency
HB 5684 (Representative Breen, R-Lombard/Senator Nybo, R-Lombard) was approved by both chambers and will be considered by the Governor. The bill would create the Local Government Wage Increase Transparency Act and apply to employees under the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) who began participation before January 1, 2011, and who are not subject to a collective bargaining agreement. The bill would provide that, after an employee has expressed to the employer an intent to retire or withdraw from service, the employer may not pay a disclosable payment to the employee within a specified period before the expected date of retirement or withdrawal without first disclosing certain information about the payment at a public meeting of the governing body of the employer.
No Movement on Public Safety Pension Fund Consolidation
Legislation to transfer the investment power for eligible downstate police and firefighter pension funds to the Illinois State Board of Investment did not advance during the spring session. SB 3317 (Senator Oberweis, D-Sugar Grove) was an initiative of the Governor’s office intended to enhance investment returns and reduce administrative costs for the hundreds of municipal police and firefighter pension funds throughout the state.
Favorable Legislative Outcomes for Municipal Governments
The IML was involved in several legislative issues during the 2016 spring session to the benefit of our members.
Legislation that Passed Both Chambers
Report on State Mandates
SB 2227 (Senator Holmes, D-Aurora/Representative Kifowit, D-Aurora) would provide that the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity must submit a bi-yearly review and report on mandates (beginning in 2019) detailing the nature and scope of each existing State mandate enacted the previous two years and another review and report every 10 years (beginning in 2017) on all effective mandates. The bill was approved by both chambers.
Constitutional Amendment to Protect Road Funds
HJRCA 36 proposes to provide that no moneys derived from taxes, fees, excises, or license taxes, relating to registration, titles, operation, or use of vehicles or public highways, roads, streets, bridges, mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, or airports, or motor fuels, including bond proceeds, shall be expended for other than costs of administering laws related to vehicles and transportation, costs for construction, reconstruction, maintenance, repair, and betterment of public highways, roads, streets, bridges, mass transit, intercity passenger rail, ports, airports, or other forms of transportation, and other statutory highway purposes. With respect to local governments, transportation funds may be used for any transportation purposes as authorized by law. The proposed constitutional amendment was approved by both chambers and will be on the November ballot for voters to consider.
Enterprise Zone Changes
SB 571 (Senator Koehler, D-Peoria/Representative Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria) would provide that Enterprise Zones certified in calendar year 2016 shall be effective on the date of certification. In 2017 and thereafter, Enterprise Zones would take effect onJanuary 1 of the first calendar year after the Department's certification. The bill was approved by both chambers.
Legislation that Did Not Reach the Governor’s Desk
Mitigation of Lead in Drinking Water
SB 550 (Senator Steans, D-Chicago/Representative Harper, D-Chicago) would provide for testing of lead in drinking water in virtually all elementary schools. The bill would place the cost of testing on water suppliers.
The legislation was approved by the Senate, but not acted upon in the House. Stakeholders will continue to work on the legislation over the summer. The IML is involved in the stakeholder group and will continue to represent cities, villages and towns as this issue develops. The bill was approved by the Senate, but has yet to be considered in the House.
Prevailing Wage Responsible Bidder
HB 5759 (Representative Hoffman, D-Belleville) would have provided, as a condition of eligibility to bid, that contractors participate in a United States Department of Labor approved apprenticeship program. The consequence will be less competition, fewer bids, and higher costs to local governments and taxpayers. The bill remains in the House.
Plastic Bag Recycling Act
SB 2224 (Senator Link, D-Waukegan) would have created the Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act. It proposed a registration process for all plastic bags manufacturers. This legislation would not apply to Chicago, but would preempt home rule elsewhere. The bill remains in the Senate.
Local Government Audit Requirements
SB 2270 (Senator Stadelman, D-Rockford/Representative Acevedo, D-Chicago) would have required that local governments employ audit firm or partner rotation. The bill was approved by the Senate, but remains in a House committee.
Required Posting of Records on Internet
HB 5522 (Representative Ives, R-Wheaton/Senator Sandoval, D-Cicero) would have required a unit of local government or school district with an operating budget of $1 million or more to maintain an Internet website and post a significant amount of information to that website. The bill passed the House, but remains in the Senate Assignments Committee.
Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act
SB 2785 (Senator Link, D-Waukegan) would have created the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act to provide that an authority, defined as a city, village, incorporated town, township, or county and each department or agency thereof, may not prohibit or regulate the collocation of small wireless facilities or small facility networks. The small wireless facilities and small facility networks would be a permitted use in all authority zoning districts. The bill remains in the Senate.
IML Shapes Legislation
On several occasions, the IML was invited to meetings and provided an opportunity to raise issues of concern with legislation. In many cases, IML was permitted to draft amendments that either improved legislation or made the legislation less onerous. The following are a few of the bills we were able to influence for the better.
Administrative Towing Fees
IML successfully removed a proposed cap on administrative towing fees and drafted legislative intent that was read on the House floor to clarify the meaning of certain provisions in the bill. SB 2261 (Senator Haine, D-Alton/Representative Zalewski, D-Chicago) was approved by both chambers.
Economic Incentive Disclosures
After hearing concerns that a bill requiring the reporting of economic development incentives was ambiguous, IML worked with legislators to clarify the reporting requirement. HB 3760 (Representative Franks, D-Harvard/Senator Biss, D-Evanston) is awaiting a concurrence vote in the House.
Firefighter Arbitration Appeals
An AFFI initiative intended to financially discourage employers from appealing arbitration decisions was well on its way to passage. IML worked with the Senate sponsor to add language ensuring that both employers and unions are treated equally during the appeal process. HB 1380 (Representative Phelps, D-Harrisburg/Senator Manar, D-Bunker Hill) was approved by both chambers.
State Mandates Report
Legislation to require the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to provide a report assessing the costs of state mandates ran into trouble in the Senate. IML drafted an amendment to ease the compliance requirements for the agency while preserving the cost estimate provision. SB 2227 (Senator Holmes, D-Aurora/Representative Kifowit, D-Aurora) was approved by both chambers.
IMRF Repayments for Improperly Paid Pensions
A bill was introduced to make employers bear some responsibility for repaying IMRF in the event that an annuitant returned to work without the Fund suspending their pension. IML amended the bill to make employers responsible only if they hired an annuitant knowing the annuitant was collecting a pension and did not report it. SB 2896 (Senator Althoff, R-McHenry / Representative Andrade, D-Chicago) was approved by both chambers.
Travel and Entertainment Expense Reporting Requirement
Legislation was introduced to require that the travel expenses of every municipal official and staff member be approved during a meeting of the governing board. IML drafted an amendment to significantly lessen this requirement while encouraging each unit of government to adopt a travel expense policy. HB 4379 (Representative McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills/Senator T. Cullerton, D-Villa Park) was approved by both chambers.
IML Strengthens Statehouse Relationships
Successful legislative outreach is dependent on relationships. IML staff participated in over 700 interactions with legislators, legislative staff and agency staff during the spring session. These numerous points of contact helped us to stay informed, convey information about IML issues and influence the legislative process. Additionally, we hosted a series of dinners for important groups such as the House Cities and Villages Committee, Senate Local Government Committee, Legislative Black Caucus, Legislative Hispanic Caucus and House Democratic Freshman legislators. Our goal is to host additional dinners for other groups of legislators as the year progresses.
The IGFOA thanks the IML for its ongoing commitment to providing the IGFOA with timely and relevant information on legislative issues important to the IGFOA membership. Please follow IML on Facebook and Twitter.