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State Capitol Report

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February 10, 2017

The 100th General Assembly has begun its work for the 2017 spring session. The main activity this week at the Capitol was bill introductions. In fact, TODAY marks the deadline for bills to be introduced in either the House or Senate. Before noon today there were over 5,500 bills introduced and it is expected by the end of the day there will be hundreds if not thousands more. 

Two Illinois REALTORS®' initiatives to amend the Real Estate License Act, House Bill 3528 (Rita) and Senate Bill 2049 (Weaver), were introduced this week and other changes to the Real Estate License Act were initiated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. We will have more information on these, and other critical bills, as action begins.

It is hard to say at this point how much legislation will be advanced this year, and while the REALTORS® always have a busy legislative agenda, there appears to be a number of significant bills affecting REALTORS®, the industry, and homeowners. While we continue to read through the huge volume of bills introduced, here are a few examples of what's out there so far:

  1.  A bill to repeal the Rent Control Pre-emption Act (HB 2430), which would allow home rule units to enact rent control;
  2. A bill to add "source of income", including a HUD Section 8 voucher, as a protected class under the Human Rights Act, which would essentially mandate that rental property owners participate in the HUD Section 8 program;
  3. An expansion of home rule powers (HB 511) which would legislatively grant home rule regulatory powers to non-home rule units despite the State Constitutional provisions;
  4. Creation of a new criminal offense of criminal housing management (HB 531);
  5. A complete REPEAL (elimination) of the regulatory Acts governing various professions, including: the Land Sales Registration Act, the Real Estate Timeshare Act, and certain provisions of the Auction License Act (SB 1821);
  6. A complete REPEAL of the Community Association Manager Licensing and Disciplinary Act (SB 1818);
  7. A complete REPEAL of the Roofing Industry Licensing Act (SB 1819).

Senate leaders have been negotiating in an effort to enact what has been termed the “grand bargain” to resolve the ongoing budget impasse. The multi-bill package contained similar “effective date” language in each of the bills, such that NONE would be become law unless ALL were approved and signed into law.  Many expected that this multi-bill package would be first agreed upon as a whole and then brought to the floor. Others felt that the Senate should begin advancing those proposals that had wide appeal. On Wednesday, the Senate took up FOUR of the bills, approving three, while one for pension reform failed. Senate Bill 3 (Cullerton, T), a measure similar to bills SUPPORTED by Illinois REALTORS® and discussed in the 2016 session, would allow all counties the power to consolidate or dissolve certain units of local government. It also amended the Township Code to make it easier for those units and township road districts to dissolve, merge or consolidate.  SB 3 was approved on a partisan roll call vote of 36-14-7. Democrats voted YES and the Republicans either voted NO or PRESENT. Senate Bill 8 (Harmon), a bill enacting various procurement reforms was passed on a similar partisan roll call of 34-14-11. Senate Bill 10 (Cullerton, J), made changes in Illinois law to allow home rule communities the ability to dedicate tax revenues so that they could get a lower interest rate when borrowing money.  SB 10 was approved on a partisan roll call vote of 36-13-10.  Senate Bill 11 (Cullerton, J) was a major pension reform bill that did NOT pass.  That bill lost on a roll call vote of 18-29-10.

House Bill 537 (Pritchard) was approved this week in the House Cities and Villages Committee on a roll call vote of 11-2-0 and the bill is now pending before the full House. This bill amends the Election Code to specify information that must be included in a question when local governmental units propose referenda seeking to impose or increase a retailers' occupation tax, a use tax, a service occupation tax, a service use tax, or a property tax, or regarding the issuance of bonds. The question must include the amount of the new or increased tax or bond; the amount that this proposed imposition or increase will impact the unit of local government’s taxes or bonds; if it is a bond question then there must be information on the life of the bond and the amounts of principal, interest and total debt service; an example of the impact of the new or increased tax or bond will have on a family owning a residence worth $100,000 before and after the issuance of the tax or bond. Further, the bill states that revenue referenda seeking the same amount can only appear on ballots once every 23 months and requires publication of the question and the required disclosures noted above. 

It is typical in a session for the leaders in both chambers to introduce various “shell bills”. These are placeholders, amending various sections of the statutes, in order to have a bill to later attach substantive language. The House Executive Committee this week approved dozens of these “shell bills” introduced by Speaker Michael Madigan on a partisan roll call- Democratic members voting YES and Republican members voting NO. Illinois REALTORS® lobbyists will closely monitor amendments filed on these bills as the spring session advances.

The General Assembly will return to Springfield on Wednesday, February 15th. On that day the Governor will present his annual Budget Address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. The message will be closely monitored as we continue to deal with the budget stalemate.