Springfield Snapshot, May 13-18, 2013
With two weeks left in the spring session, both the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate were in Springfield this week. One final legislative deadline remains before the General Assembly adjourns on Friday, May 31, 2013: Bills in both chambers must meet third reading deadlines by Friday, May 24. The following Policy Update reviews action from the week of May 13-17.
Legislators in both chambers continue to deliberate over two very different proposals for resolving the State's pension crisis. House Speaker Madigan's proposal (SB 1) emphasizes reform of four State pension systems, restructuring how much money some retirees could receive and when they would be eligible for retirement benefits. Opponents contend that the measures would be deemed unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court. The second bill under consideration is Senate President Cullerton's (SB 2404), developed in collaboration with public employees' unions (see their summary of the bill). Opponents of this bill contend that reforms would fall far short of making a sufficient fiscal impact.
To build support for a new capital program, the Transportation for Illinois Coalition (TFIC) continues to engage stakeholders across Illinois regarding the state's long-term infrastructure needs. CMAP is engaged in these discussions and advocating for reform in the potential capital program. Last week, CMAP launched an interactive website that articulates the need for performance-based funding of highway and bridge projects. This approach would improve current transportation programming practices by enabling transparent, data-driven investment decisions and consistent collaboration among stakeholders.
Additionally, TFIC released a proposal to eliminate the state motor fuel tax (MFT) and remove motor fuel from the 6.25-percent state sales tax base, which would then be replaced with an 18-percent wholesale tax on motor fuel. While TFIC argues that the MFT-wholesale tax swap would address the MFT's vulnerability to inflation, a recent Policy Updates blog analyzes the substantial impacts of volatility in fuel prices on the proposal's revenue yields and equity.
Bills Directly Affecting CMAP
One bill with direct impact on CMAP continues to advance through the legislative process. HB 3199 requires the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability to hold a hearing within 30 days after the Governor's Budget Address to the General Assembly to consider CMAP's annual report and its impact on the State budget. Status: HB 3199 sits on third reading in the Senate.
CMAP also closely monitored SB 1594 this session, which proposes merging the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and CMAP. The bill missed its third reading deadline in the Senate.
Other Bills Acted on This Week
Property Tax-Green Energy SSA (HB 67) allows two distinct new authorities: first, counties or municipalities may create a green special service area (SSA) and levy related taxes; second, the Illinois Finance Authority may purchase SSA bonds and accept assignments or pledges of public or private green SSA projects. Green projects are any installation, modification, or replacement that reduces energy consumption in any residential, commercial, or industrial building, structure, or other facility. Status: Assigned to House Property Tax Subcommittee.
RTA Board Benefits Elimination (HB 140) eliminates compensation and pension benefits for RTA and transit service board members who are appointed on or after the effective date of the amendatory Act. Status: Passed in both chambers.
Water and Sewer Utilities Value (HB 1379) provides an alternative procedure that a large public utility may choose in establishing the ratemaking base of a water or sewer utility that the large public utility is acquiring. Status: Passed in both chambers.
Stormwater Management (HB 1522) allows DuPage and Peoria Counties to impose user fees for stormwater management. Status: Passed in both chambers. CMAP supports this legislation.
Urban Composting(HB 2335) allows compost piles of up to 25 cubic yards to be exempt from permit and removes limits to certain Chicago permitted facilities. The bill also allows for on-farm composting exemptions to urban/suburban areas on up to two percent of their property with materials brought off site. Status: Passed in both chambers.
Counties Reduction Efficiency (SB 494) establishes a local government reduction and efficiency pilot program whereby DuPage County can develop a process to dissolve some local units of government. Status: Passed in both chambers. CMAP supports this legislation.
Open Space Land Grants (SB 1341) reduces the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant match requirement from the current 50 percent to 10 percent for communities that are distressed (defined in rules to be promulgated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources). Status: Sits on third reading in the Senate.
Township Code-Singular Dissolution (SB 1585) provides a process by which a single township within a county under township organization could dissolve.Amendments limit the provisions to townships within a coterminous, or substantially coterminous, municipality in which the City Council exercises the powers and duties of the township board, or in which one or more municipal officials serve as an officer or trustee of the township. Status: Passed in both chambers.
Toll Highway Expansion (HJR 9) authorizes the Illinois Tollway to build the Elgin O'Hare Western Access (EOWA) project. The Toll Highway Act requires a joint resolution of the General Assembly before the Tollway can issue bonds for or begin constructing a new Tollway. The resolution also calls on the Tollway to minimize environmental impacts, accommodate alternative modes of transportation, and support the involvement of diverse groups in the project and broader economic development in the corridor. This joint resolution is required for the EOWA project to move forward. Status: On the Senate calendar of resolutions. CMAP supports this resolution.