Both houses of the Illinois General Assembly adjourned late in the afternoon on May 31, the officially-scheduled adjournment date for the spring session. The legislature is expected, however, to remain in what the legislative leaders are calling “continuous session” throughout the summer. The House reconvened on June 4 and took up several Democratic amendments to Workers Comp legislation (House Bill 1287-- see below); the Republicans voted against all of these amendments. Both the House and the Senate are meeting in session on June 9; the Senate will take up the issue of a property tax freeze in a Committee of the Whole; the House is also expected to debate property taxes. If any votes are taken, they are again expected to be divided along partisan lines.
This political stalemate has come to pass because the majority Democrat lawmakers passed a Fiscal Year 2016 state budget that they admit is $3.3 billion higher in spending than available revenues. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is expected to veto the budget bill, and has said he will negotiate on the budget with the Democratic leaders, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, only if they include substantive items from his “Turnaround Agenda,” such as Workers Compensation reform, term limits for legislators, a property tax freeze and a new method of redistricting. While the partisan political rhetoric is expected to escalate over the next few weeks (and possibly months), no meaningful action will occur in Springfield until some deal on the budget is reached.
On a more positive note, the spring session ended with the resolution of almost all of the legislation of concern to CAA members and no imposition of new burdensome restrictions and regulations for landlords. A complete report follows:
House Bill 160 (Thapedi) - This legislation, which the CAA legislative committee discussed with Rep. Thapedi, would have provided that a landlord may recover rent or reasonable satisfaction for use and occupation when the unit is held and occupied by a tenant who is a defendant in an eviction or possession action, and the tenant continues to maintain possession of the land or property. It also permitted the court to set a firm trial date for the pending eviction possession action no less than 7 days from the date that the violation of the use and occupancy order is entered. In general, CAA members did not believe that this legislation was necessary or would be very effective, but supported the bill in the House Judiciary Committee. It was not called for a final vote on the House floor, and was re-referred the House Rules Committee on April 24.
House Bill 1287 (Madigan; Cullerton) – This amended bill contains the House Democrats’ version of Workers Compensation reform. Among its provisions: it defines excessive insurance rates and provides for prefiling (rather than filing) of rates with the Director of Insurance and makes other changes regarding rate filings and disapproval of rate filings; provides that accidental injuries sustained while traveling to or from work do not arise out of and in the course of employment and defines those terms; provides that any accidental injury which results from repetitive or cumulative trauma and occurs within three months after the employee begins his or her employment shall not be considered by a workers' compensation insurer in setting the premium rate; provides that the Department of Insurance shall report annually on the state of self-insurance for workers' compensation in Illinois and specifies the contents of the report; and, creates the Workers' Compensation Premium Rates Task Force. House Bill 1287 passed the House 63-39-4 on June 4 and has been sent to the Senate.
House Bill 1319 (Lang; Silverstein) – Amends the Security Deposit Interest Act to provide that the requirement that a lessor pay accumulated interest within 30 days after the end of each 12 month rental period applies to interest that has accumulated in an amount of $5 or more. HB 1319 passed both houses and is headed to the Governor. CAA supports.
House Bill 2745 (Andersson; McConnaughay) - Sets forth an alternative proceeding to take place after the expiration of the period in which judicial review may be sought for a final determination of a code violation. Provides that if a defendant has failed to comply with a judgment to correct a code violation or pay a fine, any expenses incurred by a municipality to enforce the judgment shall be a debt due and owing the municipality by the defendant; it also permits a hearing officer to set aside any judgment entered by default if the hearing officer determines that the petitioner's failure to appear was for good cause or because the municipality did not provide proper service of process. CAA did not take a position on this legislation which passed both houses and is headed to the Governor.
House Bill 3149 (Cabello; Link) – Allows a person who earned a high school diploma, associate's degree, career or vocational certification, or bachelor's degree, or passed the high school level GED, during the period of his or her sentence, aftercare release, or mandatory supervised release, to petition for sealing his or her records before expiration of applicable waiting periods under the sealing law. CAA is neutral on this legislation, which passed both houses and is headed to the Governor
House Bill 3464 (Hernandez; Martinez) – An initiative of the Illinois Department of Human Rights, this bill clarifies that it is a civil rights violation for an owner or any other person engaging in a real estate transaction, because of unlawful discrimination or familial status, to make, print, circulate, post, mail, or publish any notice, statement, advertisement, sign, or form of application that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on unlawful discrimination or unlawful discrimination based on familial status. CAA is neutral on this legislation which was amended to reflect language already in place in federal statute. It passed both houses and is headed to the governor.
Senate Bill 11 (Lightford; Turner) – Increases the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.00 beginning July 1, 2015 and increases it by $0.50 each July 1 until July 1, 2019, at which point the minimum wage will be $11.00. It limits home rule powers for municipalities to pass their own minimum wage, except that the limitation on home rule powers does not apply to the minimum wage already adopted by the City of Chicago. SB 11 passed the Senate on February 5, but did not advance in the House.
Senate Bill 96 (Sullivan; Phelps) – Updates the expiring communications law for two years. Among its provisions: it extends video authorization for electing providers by five years; grandfathers in existing statutory “local –only” landline package subscribers for two years; amends emergency telephone safety systems to create a single statewide 9-1-1 system, to be administered by the Department of State Police and allows increases in certain 9-1-1 fees. Strongly supported by A.T and T, this legislation passed both houses and heads to the governor. CAA supports SB 96.
Senate Bill 718 (Harmon; Rita) - Provides that the Office of the State Fire Marshal (rather than the Elevator Safety Review Board) shall authorize the issuance of elevator contractor's licenses, elevator mechanic's licenses, inspector's licenses, and inspection company licenses. It further provides that the Board no longer has the power to establish fee schedules for inspections of conveyances. CAA monitored SB 718 throughout the session and believes that this legislation is technical in nature and is therefore neutral on it. It passed both houses and is headed to the Governor.
Senate Bill 777 (Cullerton; Currie) –Allows the City of Chicago to refinance its police and fire pension fund debt by stretching out the payments over the next four years, thereby saving approximately $300 million; it provides for an amount sufficient to bring the total assets of the fund up to 90% of the total actuarial liabilities of the fund by payment year 2055 (instead of 2040). SB 777 passed both house on a partisan roll call, supported by the Democrats and opposed by the Republicans. It now goes to the Governor.
Senate Bill 780 (Emil Jones; Riley) - Provides that, upon receipt of a transfer declaration for homestead property transmitted under the Real Estate Transfer Tax Law, the assessor shall mail a notice and forms to the new owner of the property providing information pertaining to the rules and applicable filing periods for applying or reapplying for homestead exemptions. Provides that, if the new owner fails to apply or reapply for a homestead exemption during the applicable filing period, or if the property no longer qualifies for an existing homestead exemption, the assessor shall cancel the exemption for any ensuing assessment year. CAA supports this bill which passed both houses and heads to the Governor.
Senate Bill 836 (Sullivan; Phelps) - Makes numerous agreed-to changes to the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act or the Concealed Carry law from 2013. Among its many changes: in the provision that a licensee may carry a concealed firearm in the immediate area surrounding his or her vehicle within a prohibited parking lot area only for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving a firearm within the vehicle's trunk, deletes language that the licensee must ensure that the concealed firearm is unloaded prior to exiting the vehicle. CAA did not take a position on this legislation.
Senate Bill 1380 (Koehler; Gordon-Booth) – An initiative of the City of Peoria, this legislation would allow all municipalities to seek a judgement lien against all property owned by the offender who has been cited for the removal of specified nuisances. CAA opposes SB 1380 which passed the Senate and is pending in a House committee with an extended deadline of June 30. We will continue to monitor it.
Senate Bill 1401 (Van Pelt) – An initiative of Housing Action Illinois, this legislation provided that eviction proceedings shall be sealed and remain so unless a final order of possession in favor of the plaintiff is entered; unsealed records shall remain unsealed for a period of seven years. CAA strongly opposed this legislation and discussed our objections with the bill’s advocates who decided not to pursue passage of SB 1401 this session. It was not called for a committee vote in the Senate.
Senate Bill 1547 (Hutchinson, DeLuca ) -Prohibits cities and counties from enacting or enforcing ordinances or regulations that penalize landlords or tenants who contact police or other emergency services under certain specified circumstances, including domestic violence calls. CAA supports SB 1547; it was amended in the House to take out objections from the landlord community. It passed both houses and is headed to the Governor.
Content provided by CAA Lobbyist Joan Parker, Joan A. Parker Government Affairs