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March 22, 2013

Springfield Snapshot, March 18-21, 2013

Today, March 22, marks an important deadline for the Illinois General Assembly. Bills that have not been voted out of committee will now require a deadline extension in order to advance through the legislative process. CMAP has been tracking over 350 bills, but only a handful of these have moved forward out of committee. Other significant bills, including pension reform legislation, advanced this week out of the full Illinois House of Representatives or Illinois Senate.

Pension Reform
This week, both the House and Senate advanced pension reform legislation. In the House, members passed HB 1165, which would cap cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) and would also force retirees to wait five years or reach age 67 before these increases begin. This is the third pension reform bill recently passed by the House. The first two bills, which both passed last week, included a cap on pensionable salaries (HB 1154) and an increase to the retirement age (HB 1166).

The Senate also considered two pension proposals this week -- SB 1 and SB 35. Reforms proposed in SB 35 were similar to those passed in the House. SB 1's comprehensive pension reforms included the controversial option to give workers a choice of the unchanged COLAs or health insurance, as well as other reforms proposed in SB 35. SB 1 ultimately succeeded, but only with reforms to the current working teachers' pension. Now the House and Senate bills head to the opposite chambers for consideration.

Bills Directly Impacting CMAP
Two bills directly impacting CMAP passed out of committee this week. The first is the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)-CMAP Merger (SB 1594) legislation. The bill would create a transition committee to develop a detailed staff- and operations-integration plan to merge the RTA and CMAP. The bill was heard in committee on Wednesday and passed as amended by an 8 to 5 vote. Senate Amendment 1 removes a reference to Kendall County residency requirements regarding the post-transition Board; changes the expiration date for the terms of board members appointed by the City of Chicago; and authorizes the CMAP Board Chairman to be appointed from among other specified directors after the Board transition date.

The second bill, 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.

Finally, HB 1549, which establishes a state technical advisory group to implement performance-based funding for transportation, was not heard in committee this week and was referred to the Registration and Regulations Subcommittee. It is unlikely that the bill will advance further in this session. CMAP supports this legislation as a good first step toward improving how limited state resources are invested in transportation infrastructure.

Other Bills Passing Out of Committee this Week
In addition to the bills listed below, hundreds of "shell bills" were also voted out of committee this week. These bills normally serve as placeholders for future legislative issues that are still being negotiated and may arise later during the legislative sessions. Both chambers have a two-week break starting Monday, March 25, and will not return to Springfield until Monday, April 8.

Affordable Housing SB 1244
Establishes an Affordable Housing Trust Fund pilot program in Lake County. Gives Lake County the authority to impose a $3 recording fee on real estate transactions to be deposited in a trust fund. CMAP supports this bill.

Elgin-O'Hare HJR9
Authorizes the Illinois Tollway to build the Elgin O'Hare Western Access 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 Elgin-O'Hare project to move forward. CMAP supports this bill.

Local Government Distributive Fund HB 961
Provides that, from each income tax payment that the Illinois Department of Revenue receives, the Department must deposit certain amounts directly into the Local Government Distributive Fund.

RTA Fare Increase Hearing HB 2453
Amends the Regional Transportation Authority Act. Requires both the Mass Transit Committee in the House of Representatives and the Transportation Committee in the Senate to hold a public hearing regarding any increase in the revenue recovery ratio or any increase in fares or charges for public transportation.

RTA Bid Threshold HB 3178
Amends the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act, the Local Mass Transit District Act, and the Regional Transportation Authority Act. Provides that the construction or acquisition of services or public transportation facilities by each Authority costing over $50,000 (now $10,000) are subject to certain public notice and public bidding requirements.

Urban Composting HB 2335
Allows compost piles of up to 25 cubic yards to be exempt from a permit. Removes limits to certain Chicago permitted facilities. Allows for on-farm composting exemptions to urban/suburban areas with up to 2 percent of their property with materials brought off site.

Local Government Consolidation SB 494
Authorizes DuPage County to consolidate inefficient county-appointed (non-elected) governmental agencies that deliver local services. Requires the county to demonstrate cost savings and ensures that all funds from a dissolved unit are utilized only to pay costs of performing duties on behalf of the residents of the dissolved entity.

Integrated Passenger Transportation SB 1346
Designed to promote "integrated passenger transportation" by allowing municipalities and airport authorities the power to invest in and market other transportation services such as rail and bus services to get airline passengers to the airport terminals.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Redevelopment SB 1432
This would automatically exempt from property tax all property currently owned by a land bank or similar agency with the intent to return tax-delinquent, low value. or troubled property to productive use.

Township Dissolution SB 1585
Provides a process by which a single township within a county under township organization could dissolve. Senate Amendment 1 provides changes that 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.

Video Gaming Clean-Up SB 1738
The bill's sponsor will return the bill to committee with an amendment containing final language.

Rate Increase Prevention SB 2253
Prevents the Illinois Commerce Commission from approving any rate increase for water or sewer utilities greater than 15 percent. This bill was approved with the understanding that negotiations will continue.

On‐Bill Financing Program SB 2350
The intent of this measure is to expand "on‐bill" financing programs for energy efficient appliances to include apartment complexes. Under such programs the utility company provides financing for an approved energy efficient appliance through a surcharge on the utility bill. The measure was sent to the floor with an agreement that discussions will continue.

Water Infrastructure SB 1869
Updates language in the state's Municipal Code to allow cities and villages to construct, and maintain storm sewers, detention basins and retention basins (currently drains, ditches, levees, dykes, pumping works, and machinery). Senate Amendment 1 allows construction of "green infrastructure," including green roofs, rain gardens, bioswales, tree boxes, porous pavement, porous pipe systems, native plantings, constructed wetlands, and cisterns. Cities and villages may also acquire land to manage runoff by infiltration, evapotranspiration, or collection.

TIF Redevelopment SB 2258
This bill makes numerous changes to the TIF statute. The changes include providing more data about TIFs in annual audit reports, on property tax bills, and online via the State Comptroller and municipal websites. Additionally, the State Comptroller would be given the authority to fine municipalities for failing to file audit reports on time. The Comptroller may also charge an annual, population-based fee to cover the cost of the additional reporting requirements. Finally, the Comptroller would be required create a required training program for TIF Finance Administrators.