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Transportation Bills Under Consideration in Illinois General Assembly

Several transportation bills are currently before the Illinois General Assembly. These bills cover a variety of topics, financing issues chief among them, and directly affect the northeastern Illinois region's ability to implement the recommendations presented in GO TO 2040. This Policy Update reviews selected bills.

HB 3875 would extend the Regional Transportation Authority's (RTA) ability to issue working cash notes from the current expiration date of July 1, 2012, by two years to July 1, 2014, and would cap the amount of working cash notes at $300 million. Working cash notes are essentially short-term loans (i.e. less than 24-month) used to cover operating expenses, including cash flow deficits in anticipation of tax receipts or other revenues. Extending the RTA's authority to issue working cash notes supports GO TO 2040's recommendation to increase commitment to public transit and to support transit operations, and CMAP supports this legislation. HB 3875 passed the House of Representatives on March 7, 2012, by a vote of 65 in favor and 51 opposed. The bill now awaits action by the Senate.

SB 3216 would amend the recently passed Public-Private Partnerships for Transportation Act. In addition to making technical changes, the bill would impose new hearing requirements for candidate public-private partnership (PPP) projects, eliminate restrictions on the length of PPP agreements, direct net proceeds from PPP agreements to a new PPPs for Transportation fund, exclude the Illiana Expressway project from the provisions of the Act, and make various changes to the procurement process for PPPs. These modifications would replace the prequalification process with new "shortlisting" provisions, provide that public and private entities have equal opportunities to contract for a PPP candidate project, permit successful public applicants to follow the Illinois Procurement Code rather than the provisions of the Act, require qualifications-based selection of design work, and remove language requiring a transportation agency to be subject liens granted by a contractor on a PPP project's revenues.

As originally introduced, SB 3216 would have removed language prohibiting the Illinois Tollway from entering into PPPs for the purpose of making roadway improvements to existing facilities, restricted the term of PPP agreements from 99 years to 65 years, and directed net proceeds from PPPs to the state Road Fund. These provisions have subsequently been removed by an amendment, which also added some of the new provisions listed above. CMAP supported SB 3216 as introduced.

GO TO 2040 supports innovative financing for transportation and specifically cites the targeted use of PPP agreements. SB 3216 passed the Senate as amended on March 28, 2012 by a vote of 52 in favor, 0 opposed, and 1 present. This bill now awaits action by the House.

CMAP is following several other bills this session. Five bills were reviewed and passed out of their chambers of origin:

  • HB 4036 would authorize Pace to borrow money in support of four projects identified in the bill.
  • HB 4078 would authorize the Illinois Tollway to construct railroads and charge access fees to passenger and freight operators.
  • HB 5547 would define that home rule municipalities with populations over 2 million and home rule counties are not prohibited from imposing a tax on parking facilities.
  • SB 2530 would require at least eight of 11 directors of the Illinois Tollway to approve future toll rate increases.
  • SB 3318 would allow the Illinois Department of Transportation to acquire property for the Illiana Expressway project using eminent domain or quick-take powers. The bill would also clarify that a contractor's debt undertaken for the Illiana Expressway project through a PPP not be considered a debt of the State.

An additional five bills have not passed their chambers of origin as of April 2, 2012:

  • HB 5226 would divert $2 million in Tollway revenues to be split equally between the Illiana Expressway Project Fund and the SouthEast Service Line Project Fund.
  • SB 2514 would exempt the Motor Fuel Tax Fund, State Construction Account Fund, and Road Fund from budgetary sweeps or transfers to other funds.
  • SB 2527 would provide airport authorities with the power to plan for and invest in intermodal transportation.
  • SB 3236 would index motor fuels tax receipts in the six-county RTA region and devote those incremental revenues to transit operations.
  • SB 3516 would prohibit local governments from imposing vehicle size, weight, and load permit fees in excess of those defined in the Illinois Vehicle Code.

Neither the Senate nor the House is currently in session. The General Assembly will next meet on Tuesday, April 17.