Currently the Illinois Legislature is examining several bills that could significantly impact libraries. Now is the time to recruit trustees, staff and patrons to advocate for our libraries. The Illinois Library Association (ILA) offers an Advocacy page with a wealth of tips and resources for making your case. An Advocacy and Public Policy page is also available on the American Library Association (ALA) site. It provides more tips on getting started, statistics and more talking points. The Illinois State Library has a link to connect you with resources to monitor legislation.
ILA has a list of the library related bills on its Illinois Legislative Issues page. The bills generating the most discussion among our public library directors are listed in detail below.
Before moving on to the bills, a newly created group you should follow is the Fair and Equitable Assessment of Property Task Force. This body was created by a joint resolution and assigned the task of examining the issues of property taxes, TIFs, utilization of technology and the consolidation and streamlining of some of the 7,000 units of government in Illinois. The task force will be making a report of their findings to the Governor and the General Assembly on Dec. 31, 2019.
Bills to Watch
SB1 Amend the Minimum Wage Act to increase the amount to $15 per hour by 2025
Amends the Illinois Income Tax Act and the Minimum Wage Law. Provides for an increase in the minimum wage and for a credit against withholding payments in relation to the increase. Increases the minimum wage to $9.25 per hour beginning January 1, 2020. Provides for annual increases in the minimum wage culminating in a minimum wage of $15 per hour beginning on January 1, 2025. Provides to employers with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees a credit against tax withheld beginning January 1, 2020. Reduces the credit beginning January 1, 2021. Provides employers may claim the credit amount in effect on January 1, 2025 until December 31, 2026 and that employers with no more than 5 employees may claim that credit until December 31, 2027. Authorizes the Department of Labor to perform random audits of employer to ascertain compliance with the Minimum Wage Law. Authorizes a penalty of $100 per employee for failure to maintain required records. Effective immediately.
SB1149 Make consistent across all types of public libraries the requirements to be a library trustee
Amends the Illinois Local Library Act. Provides that a person is not eligible to be elected or serve as library trustee: unless he or she is a qualified elector of the local jurisdiction and has resided in it for at least one year at the time he or she files nomination papers or a declaration of intent to become a write-in candidate or is presented for appointment; or who, at the time of his or her appointment or filing of nomination papers or a declaration of intent to become a write-in candidate, is in arrears in the payment of property tax due to the library or has been convicted in any court in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony. Amends the Public Library District Act of 1991 making conforming changes to the wording of the trustee eligibility requirements. Effective immediately.
SB1216 Amend FOIA to increase burden on public bodies
Amends the Freedom of Information Act. Provides that a public body that asserts that a record is exempt from disclosure has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that release of the record would harm an interest protected by the asserted exemption. Removes the requirement that, before imposing specified civil penalties, the court find that a public body willfully and intentionally failed to comply with the Act or otherwise acted in bad faith. Provides that in assessing the civil penalty, the court shall consider in aggravation or mitigation, among other factors, whether the public body acted in bad faith and the extent to which the public body delayed the resolution of the request or lawsuit. Provides that, under specified circumstances, the court shall (rather than may) impose an additional penalty of up to $1,000 for each day the violation continues.
Three bills that would amend the Property Tax Code and P-TELL to enable property tax freezes and upon passing would require implementation of mandates without reimbursement.
HB317 Property Tax – PTELL Freeze
Amends the Property Tax Code. Provides that, beginning with the 2019 levy year, the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law applies to all taxing districts, including home rule units. Provides that, beginning with the 2019 levy year, the extension limitation under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law is 0% or the rate of increase approved by the voters. Preempts home rule. Amends the State Mandates Act to require implementation without reimbursement. Effective immediately.
HB320 Property Tax – PTELL Freeze
Amends the Property Tax Code. Provides that, beginning with the 2019 levy year, the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law applies to all taxing districts, including home rule units. Provides that, for the 2019 levy year, the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law shall be calculated by reducing the district's 2016 aggregate extension by 5%. Provides that, for the 2020 levy year, the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law shall be calculated by reducing the district's 2018 aggregate extension by 10%. Provides that, beginning with the 2021 levy year, the extension limitation is 0%. Preempts home rule. Amends the State Mandates Act to require implementation without reimbursement. Effective immediately.
HB821 PTELL-School Districts
Amends the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law in the Property Tax Code. Provides that, for levy years 2019 and later, for school districts, the "aggregate extension base" is the greater of (A) the district's last preceding aggregate extension limit or (B) the district's last preceding aggregate extension, subject to certain adjustments. Provides that the term "aggregate extension limit" means the district's last preceding aggregate extension if the taxing district had utilized the maximum limiting rate permitted without referendum for each of the 3 immediately preceding levy years. Effective immediately.
Facing payroll increases, property tax freezes, and unfunded mandates libraries must make their voices heard. Please call on all of the library supporters in your community to help you make your case while there is still time to before these bills become law.