State legislative update (8-10-15)

Advocacy News,

State legislative update (8-10-15)

Joan Agrella Parker, Joan A. Parker Government Affairs

The legislative beat goes on! Illinois is now into its 6th week of the 2016 Fiscal Year without a state budget. In the meantime, because a court has ruled that state workers can continue to be paid their salaries and because legislation is advancing to allow federal funds to pass through state agencies, key pressure points for resolving this standoff have been removed. It is uncertain when the partisan political stalemate will end and it could drag into the fall months.

Throughout the summer, the legislature has remained in what House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton are calling “continuous sessions”. The House has convened weekly for Committee of the Whole (all legislators are on committee) hearings on topics ranging from workers compensation to a statewide property tax freeze to the effects of a Fiscal Year 2016 budget not being in place. The Senate has convened several two-day sessions, with the agenda similar to the House. Both chambers have also voted on some emergency “stopgap” budget measures; all votes taken on these bills and the issues mentioned above have been divided along partisan lines. The governor has continued to insist that he will negotiate on the full budget with the Democratic leaders, if they include substantive items from his “Turnaround Agenda,” such as workers compensation reform, term limits for legislators, a property tax freeze, tort reform, and a new method of redistricting. The Democrats claim that they have passed versions of these bills (workers comp in both chambers) or have brought some of these issues to a vote and that they have subsequently been defeated (property tax freeze bills in the House). A Senate version of a two-year property tax freeze (Senate Bill 318) is expected to be voted on in the House this week.

We have been monitoring the proceedings on behalf of CAA, but at this time, no substantive bills affecting landlords have been considered during these special legislative sessions. The governor has, however, signed a few bills of interest to our members.

Security Deposits

CAA supported House Bill 1319 (Lang) which 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 to an amount of $5 or more. The governor signed HB 1319 into law as Public Act 99-253. (Please note: we are still determining how this applies to CAA members with Chicago-based properties in City of Chicago.)

Elevator Safety

Senate Bill 718 (Harmon) was signed into law by Governor Rauner as Public Act 99-022. It 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 also states 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 was therefore neutral on it.

Homestead Exemptions

Senate Bill 780 (E. Jones) addresses a situation that often occurs when residential property is transferred: previously granted homestead exemptions may not be removed and exemptions for which the property no longer qualifies may remain on the property. SB 780 requires the new owner to apply or reapply for any homestead exemptions for which the property may be eligible. It also requires an assessor to mail information to the new owner regarding the rules and filing periods for applying/reapplying for exemptions. If the new owner does not apply/reapply for exemptions or the property no longer qualifies for an existing exemption, the legislation requires the assessor to cancel the exemption for any ensuing assessment year.

While this legislation in general does not apply to multifamily apartment buildings, it would help CAA members who own and manage single family rental properties and inherit past improper homestead exemptions to have them removed from property tax records. CAA supported this bill which was signed by the governor and became Public Act 99-164.