Legislative Update - December 2014

Advocacy News,

Illinois General Assembly


The Illinois General Assembly adjourned in early December and is not expected to reconvene in Springfield until the new Illinois General Assembly is sworn in on January 14, 2015. Two days earlier, on January 12th, Bruce Rauner will be inaugurated as Illinois Governor. Listed below are a few actions taken during the recently concluded veto session that may be of interest to CAA members.

The Illinois House adjourned without passing an increase in the state's minimum wage. After the House adjourned, however, the Illinois Senate passed an amendment (Sen. Lightford) to HB 4733 that would raise the wage to $11/hour over a 4-year period (July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2019). It includes language to preempt municipalities from setting a minimum wage higher than the state, but grandfathers in the Chicago minimum wage of $13 per hour. It also contains tax credits for some employers. Governor Quinn has scheduled a special session on January 8th to set up a 2016 special election for Illinois comptroller. It is possible the House could act on the minimum wage bill during the special session.

Both houses also passed SB 2758 (Sen. Biss), which creates the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program Act and establishes a retirement savings program in the form of an automatic Roth IRA payroll deduction of three percent. The intent of this legislation is to promote greater retirement savings for private-sector employees who do not currently have a retirement savings plan. All employers with 25 or more employees must offer this as a payroll option to employees who do not have a pension or other retirement plan, but there is no mandated matching fund from the employer, and the employee may opt out. There is a state fund created to receive the moneys from enrollees and participating employers with oversight from a 7-member state board appointed by the governor. The legislation also sets forth the composition and duties of the board and provisions governing risk management, investment firms, and investment options. The governor must act on SB 2758 before January 14.

Both houses of the Illinois General Assembly have published their 2015 session schedules. They start out pretty light in January and February, but are very full in March, April and May with adjournment set for Sunday, May 31. The Calendars can be accessed at www.ilga.gov ; click on the House or Senate, then "Schedules.


Chicago City Council

Affordable Housing Requirements (Mayor Emanuel) -- Joint Housing & Zoning

After months of deliberation the Chicago Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) Task Force released its recommendations and an ordinance was introduced in the City Council on December 10th. Click here to read a summary of the ordinance and here to view the full ordinance text.

The ordinance is intended to require developers to build more affordable housing units, as opposed to opting out and paying in-lieu fees instead. For downtown rental projects, the proposal increases the in-lieu fees, requires 25% of required affordable units to be built on-site, and includes a limited linked development option. The amendments have been assigned to a joint committee of Housing and Zoning. The ordinance has not been posted yet for a hearing date but we anticipate it will be voted on at the next city council meeting on January 21. CAA continues to work in collaboration with the Homebuilders, Realtors and others to strategize on how best to respond to the amendments.

Property Tax Incentive Programs (Ald.) -- Economic, Capital & Technology Development

This ordinance adds a new Section 1-23-500 to the Municipal Code requiring all applicants for a property tax incentive involving reduced levels of assessed valuation under the Cook County Real Property Assessment Classification ordinance to execute an anti-abuse agreement. This agreement must include the following: 1) acknowledgement by the applicant that the City is not obligated to support the application for reduced assessment, 2) acknowledgement that if assessments are reduced the City will not receive full benefit of property taxes on that property, 3) covenant that applicant will not use the property for criminal purposes, 4) agreement that if this covenant is violated the owner will pay the difference to the City of the reduced assessment and the fair market value from the time the criminal activity occurred through either: a) terminate of the reduced assessment or b) transfer of the property to a bona fide arm's length party. The covenant will be deemed violated if: 1) applicant is convicted of felony involving the use of the property, 2) applicant's admission of having a role in a felony involving use the property, or 3) applicant knew, or reasonably should have known that another person was engaged in conduct constituting a felony involving use of the property. A felony will be considered to involve the property if: 1) it was actually committed on the property, or 2) instrumentalities, items taken in the course of a felony or proceeds of any felony are stored at the property. A bona fide arm's length transaction is met if: 1) neither the transferee or any manager has been convicted of or admitted to a felony, and 2) no person controlling or managing the original applicant is controlling or managing the transferee. The ordinance takes effect 30 days after passage and approval.

(Content contributions provided by CAA contract lobbyist Mary Kay Minaghan, MKM Services.)