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Springfield Snapshot, April 29-May 2, 2013

Both the Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate were in session this week. Four weeks remain in this legislative session, and bills need to have advanced to the other chamber or received an extension from leadership to advance through the legislative process. Bills also must advance out of second chamber committees by Friday, May 10, 2013. The following Policy Update reviews action from the week of April 29 – May 2. For a more in-depth analysis of state legislative activity thus far this session, see the most recent state legislative update memo, which will be discussed at CMAP's board meeting on Wednesday, May 8.

Pension Reform
The House took significant legislative steps to address the state's pension crisis. House Speaker Madigan introduced significant amendments to Senate President Cullerton's pension reform proposal S B1. The adopted measure, HA 1, aims to stabilize and bring solvency to four of the State's pensions by 2044. The funds included are: the General Assembly Retirement System, the State Employees' Retirement System, the State Universities Retirement System, and the Teachers' Retirement System. The legislation's reforms include requiring the State to make $1 billion in supplemental contributions starting in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 until the four pensions are 100 percent funded. Additionally, the legislation obligates the state to face adjudication if it fails to obligate said supplemental funds. Other measures directly impact the employees and retirees: the bill establishes a pensionable salary cap, sets forth a new method for calculating the cost of living adjustment, raises the retirement age for employees under the age of 45, and increases worker contributions by two percent. The bill also prohibits non-governmental organizations from participating in the State's pensions systems and prevents pensions from being subject to collective bargaining. The amended legislation passed in the House on Thursday, May 2, and was sent back to the Senate for concurrence.

State Capital Program
Stakeholders continue to discuss the state's longer-term infrastructure needs. Transportation for Illinois Coalition (TFIC) has convened numerous meetings to discuss the state's infrastructure needs in order to build support for a new capital program. CMAP is engaged in these discussions and will present a series of capital program principles at its Board meeting next Wednesday.

Tax Policy
On Thursday, May 2, the House Revenue and Finance Committee held a subject-matter hearing regarding sales tax sourcing. The purpose of the hearing was to gather more information about the State's revenue generation and collection of sales taxes. Several stakeholders provided testimony, including the Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois (TFI) and the Regional Transit Authority (RTA). TFI testimony reviewed current law and its analysis of recent proposals such as Retailers' Occupation Tax Act Sourcing (HB 3249). The RTA expressed its continued concern about the State's ability to collect sales tax from businesses operating within the RTA's service area. The General Assembly is expected spend the remainder of the session discussing the State's revenues, as well as proposed FY 2014 budget allocations.

Bills Directly Affecting CMAP
One bill with direct impacts 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 passed unanimously out of the Senate Transportation Committee; it sits on second reading in the Senate.

CMAP also closely monitored SB 1594 this session, which would have merged the RTA and CMAP. The bill missed its third reading deadline in the Senate.

Other Bills Acted on This Week

RTA Board Benefits Elimination (HB 140) eliminates compensation and pension benefits for RTA board members. Status: Awaits hearing in the Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee.

Illinois Urban Development Authority (HB 1295) amends the Illinois Urban Development Authority Act to allow for the development, financing, and maintenance of transportation projects. Status: Sits on second reading in the Senate.

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: Sits on second reading in the Senate.

Urban Composting (HB 2335) allows compost piles of up to 25 cubic yards to be exempt from permit. 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: Sits on second reading in the Senate.

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: Assigned to Counties and Townships Committee in the Senate.

Counties Affordable Housing (SB 1244) establishes an Affordable Housing Trust Fund pilot program in Lake County. The legislation also gives Lake County the authority to impose a $3 recording fee on real estate transactions to be deposited in a trust fund. Status: Assigned to Housing Committee in the House. CMAP supports this legislation.

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: Referred to Senate Assignments. CMAP supports this bill.