Tuesday, June 04, 2013
The past two weeks have included the usual unpredictability that
goes with the end of every General Assembly session. All the
large issues were negotiated, discussed, renegotiated, and kicked
around and around. As the end came closer, the pressure rose
on the issues. This generally leads to compromise, which was
seen on the budget, conceal carry, and a few other issues.
However, the continuing pressure to reform the State's pension
systems did not bring about changes. After several different
versions in each chamber, the General Assembly adjourned without
placing a reform package on the Governor's desk. Details of
the pension bills and activities related are included below.
The next round of action will be focused on the Governor, as he
considers the many items that have been sent to his desk for review
and action. Once the Governor receives a bill, he has 60
calendar days to take action.
The biggest question now is will the General Assembly return
before their scheduled fall veto session on Oct. 22?
In the end, there was little fanfare regarding the State budget
when compared to the other end of session issues. After many
hours of hearings across hundreds of appropriation items, most
budget lines are very similar to the levels they were last
year. There were adjustments, especially since the State had
to use more of its General Revenue Funds to fund pension payments,
with some of those reductions coming in the education budget
Agriculture Related Programs
The Illinois Department of Agriculture's (IDOA) approved Fiscal
Year 14 (FY 14) budget is very similar to last year with funding
for most programs nearly flat. The approved budget would
provide the Department $99.7 million in total appropriations,
including funds from the General Revenue Fund (GRF), Other State
Funds, and Federal Funds. The total budget of $99.7
represents a $1.2 million increase in funding. $750,000 of
the additional funds were appropriated to a program dealing with
emerald ash borer damage to trees and other landscaping materials
and $500,000 was appropriated for IDOA's initial regulation
responsibilities included in the medical marijuana
The following are major agricultural related budget line items and
their proposed levels for the FY 2014 budget:
State Cooperative Extension
Service Trust Fund
Ag Extension - 4-H
Co. Fair and Exposition
Co. Fair & Agriculture
Animal Disease Labs
Facilities Act Administration
Inspection of Agricultural
Food Safety Modernization
Dixon Springs Agricultural
The elementary and secondary education funding will remain at
current levels. The General State Aid formula will be
prorated at 89%, which translates into an estimated foundation
level of $5,720 per student. This differed from the
Governor's proposed budget. If the Governor's proposed
budget, with an overall $300 million reduction of education
funding, would have been implemented, it would have reduced the
General State Aid formula to 82%. There were reductions to
other categorical programs like alternative schools, which will be
cut by $239,000, drivers education which will be reduced by $2.5
million and several others for an additional $4.25 million.
FARMLAND ASSESSMENT IN "OMNIBUS BILL"
The House Revenue committee took action yesterday and approved a
massive amendment with numerous items that included language,
proposed by the Illinois Dept. of Revenue, to adjust the Farmland
Assessment Law. Many of the items included in the "omnibus
bill" had been included in other bills or had informational
hearings by the House Revenue Committee over the past several
months. The Farmland Assessment law had two specific subject
matter hearings in order to hear testimony on the issue.
SB 20, as amended by a 372 page amendment, includes language to
limit the value changes of all Farmland Productivity Index (PI)
soils to 10% of Illinois' median cropland soil PI. At the
request of the Chairperson of the House Revenue Committee, Rep.
Bradley, language creating a $5 discount to the 2015 certified
value was added.
The impact of this change would allow 2015 Certified Values of
cropland increase up to 10% of the PI 111's 2014 Certified
Value. The 2014 Certified Value for a PI 111 is
$203.33. An increase of 10% in the certified value would be
$20.33. With the discount added in the legislation, this
would then translate into a maximum increase in all PI certified
values of $15.33 for 2015. This change would impact the 2015
assessed values for taxes payable in 2016 and is a one year
The proposed amendment is intended to bring farmland assessed
values in line with the original intent of the Farmland Assessment
Law and allow the statutory formula to be more effective in
determining the income potential of all farmland. The 10% cap
on individual PI soils implemented in the 1980's is artificially
keeping the value on lower PI soils from increasing to the actual
productivity levels where they should be assessed. The
proposed change in the legislation would maintain the integrity of
the Farmland Assessment Law so it will continue to be an effective
implementation of an income approach to determining the assessed
value of farmland.
The other provisions in the legislation include:
• Creating an Enterprise Zone for a fertilizer plant that is
looking to locate near Tuscola, Illinois.
• Making changes to the general Enterprise Zone law to
clarify the steps and requirements of enterprise zones.
• Creating the Brownfields and Intermodal Promotional Act to
provide an incremental income tax attributable to newemployees of
businesses located in the area created.
• Changing a Grundy County Tax Increment Financing district
by changing the agreements needed.
• Allows municipalities to designate a facility that operates
for the benefit of multiple local governments portions of the
buildings to be exempt from property taxes.
• Creating the East St. Louis River Edge Zone which is a new
income tax Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District.
• Requiring that underground storage tank owners and
operators to enter into a Project Labor Agreement to receive funds
from the Underground Storage Tank Fund for remediation. The
Tank Fund will receive an annual transfer of funds from State sales
taxes to make sure adequate funds are available to fund remediation
• Changing the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority,
better known as McPier and Navy Pier, to allow them to build a new
arena for DePaul University using TIF dollars from Chicago.
It will also allow McPier to construct a new hotel and make other
improvements at Navy Pier.
• Creating Public-Private Agreements for development of South
Suburban Airport. This authorizes the Illinois Department of
Transportation to enter into public-private agreements to develop,
finance, construct, manage, and operate and maintain a new airport
in Will County. The new airport authority will be able to
obtain land by gift, donation, purchase, or condemnation. The
bill also allows the authority to use quick take eminent domain
powers for land in the original foot print of the airport only
after the Federal Aviation Administration provides grant funds to
fund the airport authority. The Department of Transportation
may enter into interim agreements with contractors that involve
property acquisition, engineering and environmental analysis, but
is not authorized to conduct construction work.
• Allowing the Rosemont Convention Center to use $5 million
of annual distribution from the incentive fund for the purpose of
paying debt service. This was requested since DePaul
University Athletics will be leaving the Rosemont Convention Center
and moving to McPier once construction is completed.
• Extending the Midwest Redevelopment TIF District in the
City of Chicago.
SB 20 (Rep. Bradley/President Cullerton) has been approved by the
House with 81 yes, 35 no, and 1 present vote. The Senate
approved the bill with 38 yes, 17 nos, and 2 present votes.
It will now be sent to the Governor for his consideration.
PENSION REFORM BATTLE
The difficult path to pension reform continued this week. SB
1, which had passed the House previously, failed during a vote in
the Senate, receiving only 16 yes votes. SB 1 was considered
a more aggressive pension reform package, reportedly saving the
State more than $180 billion over the life of the changes. The
Senate had previously passed SB 2404, a pension reform package that
would offer State employees and teachers a choice of
benefits. SB 2404 reportedly would save the State much less
than SB 1 and was supported by the We Are One Coalition which
represents public employee and teacher unions. The House did
not take up SB 2404 for a vote.
The House did address a portion of the pension cost shift concept
that has been discussed previously. Currently, the State pays the
entire employer contribution amount for university employees and
teachers. SB 1687 would transition the employer costs of
pensions for State universities and community colleges from the
State back to the universities and community colleges. The
State universities and the community colleges negotiated to reach
the solution offered in SB 1687. The proponents of the
pension cost shift feel that this will bring more accountability to
the process by combining pension plans with salary
negotiations. They also feel that the accountability will
also help curb the trend to raise certain salaries in the final
years of an employee's tenure.
SB 1687 did not include a cost shift for the employer costs of
teacher pensions for local school districts. School officials
reported they were asked to negotiate on this issue for local
school districts, but no compromise was reached. The
responsibility of local school employee pension costs remains with
the State of Illinois. SB 1687 was called for a vote in the
Senate and failed with a vote of 21 yes, 33 no, and 5 present
At the adjournment of both chambers, no comprehensive pension
reform passed both chambers of the General Assembly. It is
uncertain what the next steps will be for pension reform.
Senate Bill 1 failed in the Senate with 16 yes votes, 42
no votes. SB 2404 was held in House Rules committee. SB
1687 passed the House with 60 yes votes, 55 no votes, and 2 present
votes. It failed in the Senate on a vote of 21 yes, 33 no,
and 5 present votes Illinois Farm Bureau supports SB 1
and has no position on SB 2404.
CONCEALED CARRY - HB 183 (REP. PHELPS/SEN.
Compromise legislation agreed to in both the House and Senate
means Illinois will join the 49 other states that allow concealed
carry of a firearm. Last week, legislation emerged in the
House that authorized concealed carry of a firearm. The bill,
sponsored by Rep. Brandon Phelps, created an appropriate license
process along with some limitations on where a firearm could be
carried for sensitive areas such as courts, schools, and other
locations. The bill also included a clause that preempted
home rule units of government from any regulation of guns.
This meant that any gun regulation was the exclusive responsibility
of the State. SB 2193, which included these concepts, passed
the House with 85 yes votes and was supported by IFB.
However, SB 2193 ran into problems in the Senate. The home
rule preemption included in SB 2193 was seen by some Senators as
removing too much ability for home rule units of government to
implement their own ordinances on some gun issues. Some
Senators also expressed concerns that SB 2193 would allow a license
holder to carry a gun into an establishment that sold less than 50%
of its total receipts in alcohol. They preferred not allowing
a firearm to be carried into an establishment that sold any
alcohol. SB 2193 was called for a vote in the Senate
Executive Committee, but these concerns were too much to overcome
and it failed to pass the committee.
A second concealed carry bill, HB 183 offered by Sen. Kwame Raoul,
was then considered in the Senate Executive Committee. It was
similar to SB 2193, but changed the home rule preemption language
so that it made only concealed carry of a firearm the exclusive
responsibility of the State, while other gun regulations could be
implemented by home rule units of government. It also
addressed the concerns of Senators who felt guns should not be
carried anywhere that alcohol is sold. It also made some
changes to the penalties for unlawful carrying of a concealed
firearm. HB 183 passed the Senate Executive Committee, but it
became clear during testimony on the bill that it was unlikely to
pass the House.
The result of these actions led to final negotiations between the
Senate and House leaders on this issue on compromise
legislation. The legislation surfaced today and was added as
another amendment to HB 183, offered by Sen. Gary Forby. This
legislation was very similar to the two previous versions
discussed. A significant change included in this version is
that it creates a preemption of the regulation, licensing,
possession, registration and transportation of handguns and
ammunition for handguns and makes them the exclusive responsibility
of the State of Illinois. The bill continued to allow for
licensees to carry a firearm into an establishment that sells up to
50% of its receipts in alcohol. It also states that
ordinances already in place imposing regulations or restrictions on
licensees of handguns and ammunition for handguns inconsistent with
the Act are invalid in their applications to licensees. HB
183, with this new amendment, passed the Senate on a vote of 45
yes, 12 no, and 1 present vote.
The General Assembly faced a potential deadline for acting on
concealed carry legislation this session. A federal appellate
court decision in December required Illinois lawmakers to pass
legislation on the concealed carry issue by June 9th or existing
Illinois carry laws would have been found unconstitutional.
Illinois Farm Bureau policy supports the creation of a process for
the concealed carry of a firearm. The compromise legislation
included in HB 183, as amended, creates an appropriate process for
granting a license to carry a concealed firearm as called for in
IFB policy. HB 183 passed the Senate with 45 yes
votes, 12 no votes, and 1 present. It passed the House with
89 yes votes and 29 no votes. It will be sent to the Governor
for consideration. IFB supports HB 183, as
HYDRAULIC FRACTURING - SB 1715 (REP. BRADLEY/SEN.
Legislation dealing with hydraulic fracturing passed both
chambers and will now be sent to the Governor for his
consideration. The legislation includes the most protective
regulations for high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing
anywhere in the nation. Among the regulations are well
construction and casing standards, setback requirements, water
testing requirements, and waste management procedures.
Protections for surface landowners are also included in the bill,
with specific requirements for the repair of land following
drilling and following the useful life of the well. The bill
includes a "severance" tax on the oil and gas extraction. The
tax will be assessed on the oil that is collected from wells at 3%
on the total value of oil in the first two years of the life of the
well. In subsequent years the tax will be between 3% and 6%
based on a sliding scale related to the production of the
well. If a well produces less than 15 barrels of oil a month,
a tax will not be applied. A tax credit was also created that
reduces the amount of the severance tax paid by working interest
owners by .25% for wells where more than half of employees are
Illinois workers paid at least the prevailing wage. This
solution was supported by both the oil and gas industry and the
unions as an appropriate way to encourage the hiring of Illinois
workers for the jobs associated with hydraulic fracturing.
With the long negotiation process on hydraulic fracturing
legislation now complete, the exploration of energy resources in
parts of Illinois will now occur with appropriate regulations for
the protections of land and water resources. Throughout the
negotiation process, Illinois Farm Bureau continued to call for
protections and requirements in the legislation that are outlined
by the organization's grassroots policy established on hydraulic
fracturing. SB 1715 passed the House with a vote of
108 yes votes and 9 no votes and the Senate with a vote of 52 yes,
3 no, and 4 present votes. It will now be sent to the
Governor for his consideration. IFB supports SB
SAME SEX MARRIAGE LEGISLATION - SB 10 (SEN. STEANS/REP.
SB 10, which authorizes marriage between individuals of the same
sex, continues to be on Second Reading. While proponents
continued to push for the measure, the bill was not called for a
vote in the House. The sponsor has indicated he will continue
to work on the measure with the intent of possibly calling the bill
during the fall veto session. SB 10 was held on
Second Reading in the House. IFB is opposed to SB
Minimum Wage - SB 68 (Sen. Lightford)
No action took place on increasing the minimum wage this
session. Sen. Lightford, the sponsor of SB 68, has stated
that she intends to continue to work on increasing the minimum
wage. Discussions on the topic may continue during the summer
months. IFB continues to oppose any effort to eliminate the
overtime exemption for agricultural employers or any increase in
the minimum wage, as called for in IFB policy. SB 68
was held in the Senate Executive Committee. IFB opposes
Wind Energy Facility Construction - SB 1469 (Sen.
Progress stalled on SB 1469 with no opportunity for its passage.
The bill would require an operator of a commercial wind energy
facility to enter into an agricultural impact mitigation agreement
with the Department of Agriculture prior to construction. It
also requires the filing of a deconstruction plan, prepared by an
independent third party, detailing the cost of deconstruction per
turbine. The Illinois Dept. of Agriculture would then review the
decommissioning plans and ensure that sufficient financial
securities are in place to assure decommissioning can occur if
needed. SB 1469 was held on Second Reading in the
Senate. SB 1469 is an initiative of IFB and is
Permanent Road Closures and Weight Postings - HB 2367
Rep. Rosenthal's bill states that highway commissioners cannot
permanently close, vacate, or reduce the weight limit on any road
or portion thereof without the written approval of themselves, the
county superintendent of highways, and the elected board associated
with that road district. This bill is a legislative priority of
IFB. HB 2367 was held in the Transportation:
Regulations, Roads & Bridges Committee. The Highway
commissioners, Township officials, Illinois Department of
Transportation, and the County Highway Engineers are all adamantly
opposed. IFB supports HB 2367.
Egg Products Violations - HB 2783 HFA #2 (Rep.
As originally drafted, HB 2783 would have made anyone who sells
eggs to someone who resells the eggs without a license from the
Dept. of Agriculture subject to fines. IFB opposed the bill
as originally drafted because it would have required that egg
farmers police their customers and verify that they were licensed
to resell the eggs. It would have also made the egg farmers
subject to penalties based on the actions of a different
party. Negotiations among the Dept. of Agriculture, IFB, and
egg farmers have led to an agreement on an amendment that will
require the Dept. of Agriculture to inform egg farmers if they are
selling to an unlicensed reseller. HB 2783 HFA #2 has
passed the House of Representatives with 98 yes and 0 no votes. It
passed the Senate with 52 yes and 0 no votes. This will be sent to
the Governor for his consideration. IFB had no position on HB
2783 as amended.
Dog Tethering - HB 83 (Rep. Burke/Sen.
Rep. Burke's bill sets certain requirements that must be met in
order for a dog to be tethered outdoors. Among the provisions
are that a log chain cannot be used to tether a dog. The
sponsor agreed to amend the bill so that it matched language that
IFB and the Illinois Pork Producers negotiated with animal care
groups during a past legislative session. HB 83 has
passed the House of Representatives with 78 yes votes and 38 no
votes. It passed the Senate with 43 yes and 9 no votes. This bill
will now be sent to the Governor for his consideration. IFB had
no position on HB 83 as amended.
Increased Speed Limits -SB 2356 (Sen. Oberweis/Rep.
SB 2356 would increase the speed limit on rural interstates
outside of the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison,
McHenry, St. Clair, and Will Counties to 70 mph. It would
also lower the limit for excessive speeding violations from 30 mph
over the speed limit to 26 mph over the speed limit to maintain the
overall speed where excessive speed violations would occur.
SB 2356 has passed the House of Representatives with 85 yes
votes and 30 no votes. It passed the Senate 41 yes, 6 no, and 1
present vote. It will now be sent to the Governor for
consideration. IFB supports HB 2573 and SB
Inspection Fine -SB 1294 (Sen. McCann/Rep.
SB 1294 reduces the fine for not having a semi-annual certificate
of safety on a second division vehicle. The legislation
limits the fine to a petty offense with a fine between $95 and
$250, unless the offense occurred in conjunction with a vehicle
accident. SB 1294 has passed the Senate with 54 yes
votes and 0 no votes. It passed the House with 91 yes and 26 no
votes. It will now be sent to the Governor for consideration.
IFB supports SB 1294.
FOOD AND LABELING
Genetically Engineered Food Labeling - SB 1666 (Sen.
Koehler) & HB 3085 (Rep. Mell)
HB 1666 and HB 3085 are similar initiatives. They would
require labeling of any foods containing "genetically engineered"
ingredients. This labeling initiative would create a negative
perception of biotechnology crops.
The sponsor of the legislation has announced that there will be
three hearings on labeling of foods with GMO ingredients this
summer. The first is scheduled for June 20. IFB is
working with a coalition of organizations to provide information in
opposition to GMO labeling. SB 1666 was re-referred
to the Senate Assignments Committee. HB 3085 was re-referred
to the House Rules Committee. IFB opposes both SB 1666
and HB 3085.
Eat Local Buy Illinois Day - HB 1272 SFA #1 (Rep.
HB 1272 designates the first Saturday of each month as Eat Local,
Buy Illinois Products Day to promote local food initiatives,
Illinois agribusiness, and to encourage residents to re-invest in
local economy. The Department of Agriculture's Illinois Product
Logo Program shall assist in increasing awareness and sales of
Illinois food and agribusiness products. HB 1272 SFA #1 has
passed the House of Representatives with 103 yes and 6 no votes. It
passed the Senate with 57 yes and 0 no votes. It will be sent
to the Governor for his consideration. IFB supports HB
Cooperatives Owning Biogas Systems - HB 1070 (Rep.
HB 1070 allows cooperatives that own and operate agriculture-based
biogas (anaerobic digester) systems to organize as a
non-profit. The activities of the cooperative may include the
marketing and sale of biogas system products including but not
limited to methane gas, electricity, and compost. This legislation
was derived from a potential pilot project for a cooperative to
establish a methane digester biogas system in Clinton County.
HB 1070 has passed the House of Representatives with a vote
of 109 yes and 0 no votes. It passed the Senate 56 yes votes and 0
no votes and will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.
IFB supports HB 1070.
Wheat Development Program - HB 2709 (Rep. Rosenthal/Sen.
This bill is an initiative of the Illinois Wheat Association and
amends the Wheat Development Act. It makes changes to the
appointment of a program committee whose members are nominated by
an association representing wheat producers. It states that
the total assessment levied on wheat may be, rather than shall be,
up to 1.5 cents per bushel as established by the temporary program
committee. It also changes the timeline for the filing of a
refund by a farmer. It states the refund shall be payable if
the application has been made to the board within 90 days, rather
than 60 days. HB 2709 has passed the House of
Representatives with 108 yes and 0 no votes. It passed the Senate
51 yes and 0 no votes. This bill will be sent to the Governor for
his consideration. IFB supports HB 2709.
Rural Composting - HB 3319 SFA #1 (Rep. Halbrook/Sen.
HB 3319 amends the Environmental Protection Act. It
authorizes a person operating an on-farm landscape composting
facility to accept crop residue, agricultural plant residue, plant
derived animal bedding free of manure, and up to 10% of compositing
additives necessary to maintain proper composting conditions.
It also allows an on-farm landscape composting facility to be
located closer than ¼ of a mile from the nearest residence, other
than the residence located on the facility, if a county has
approved an ordinance allowing a lesser distance and there are not
more than 10 non-farm residences within ½ mile from the facility on
the date of application. HB 3319 has passed the
House of Representatives with 114 yes votes and 0 no votes. It has
passed the Senate 55 yes votes and 0 no votes and will be sent to
the Governor for his consideration. IFB has no position on HB
Recreational Land Use - SB 1042 (Rep.
This bill amends the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas
Act. It codifies that liability coverage would be provided to
landowners who permit the general public access to their land for
recreational purposes. It does not impact the liability
coverage for private landowners who invite individuals onto their
land for hunting or shooting activities. SB
1042 passed the House with 117 yes votes and 0 no votes. It
passed the Senate with 58 yes votes and 0 no votes. It will
be sent to the Governor for consideration. IFB has no
position on SB 1042.
Fire Protection Open Burning - SB 1417 (Sen.
Sen. Noland's bill amends the Fire Protection District Act. It
would allow a fire chief of any fire protection district to fix,
charge, and collect fees (associated with a fire department) for
extinguishing any open burning that is prohibited due to
unfavorable atmospheric conditions. Amendment #2 limits the
responsibility for the fees to the person causing or engaging in
the prohibited burning activity, addressing a concern of IFB.
SB 1417, SA #2 passed the Senate with 52 yes and 0 no
votes. It passed the House 115 yes and0 no votes. It
will now be sent to the Governor for consideration. IFB
has no position on SB 1417 as amended.
VETO SESSION SCHEDULE
The House and Senate will return for their fall veto session
October 22, 23, and 24 and November 5, 6, and 7. During this
time, the General Assembly will address bills vetoed by the
Governor and a whole host of other issues.
For More Info Contact:
Senate Third Reading
Wind Energy Facility Construction And Deconstruction
Minimum Wage Increase
Same Sex Marriage Legislation
Food and Labeling
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