State Legislative Program

As Illinois and our nation face a second year of battling the COVID-19 global pandemic, our foremost priority is ensuring the health and safety of our residents, public servants and businesses. Northwest Municipal Conference (NWMC) communities have lost over $40 million in state collected local revenues due to the pandemic. These revenue losses threaten our ability to provide a robust response that protects residents and supports businesses during this global pandemic. The NWMC recognizes that the state is confronting these same threats. By working together, we can ensure the health of our communities and state during this ongoing crisis.  With that context in mind, here are the Northwest Municipal Conference’s legislative priorities for 2021:

Securing Local Government Services

 
  • Local Government Revenues: Securing the full distribution of state collected local revenues is critical to maintain services during this crisis. The NWMC appreciates the General Assembly reversing the five percent cut to the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF), as this revenue is vital to maintain critical operations. Should economic conditions warrant, the NWMC respectfully requests restoration of prior year cuts to state collected local revenues, including the LGDF and Corporate Personal Property Replacement Taxes (CPPRT).
  • 2019 Capital Bill Implementation: Investing in infrastructure will help Illinois rebuild stronger. Many projects listed in the 2019 capital bill legislation have not received funding. With many municipalities deferring local capital projects to balance their budgets, lawmakers can help by accelerating bond sales to put Illinoisans back to work and strengthen local infrastructure.

Controlling Local Government Costs

 
  • Pension Reamortization: Due to the timeline of consolidating public safety pension funds, communities have not begun to reap its benefits. Meanwhile, Tier 2 enhancements in that legislation have added to the taxpayer burden. Extending the amortization deadline beyond 2040 will curb the annual rate of growth in taxpayer contributions and take pressure off municipal budgets.
  • Unfunded Mandates: Local governments are poorly positioned to absorb new costs. State lawmakers should pursue opportunities to lower burdens on local governments by eliminating onerous and outdated publishing requirements for legal notices, lowering prevailing wage thresholds or reducing the need for costly Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation.  In addition, newly passed requirements for police body cameras and enhanced police training should include substantial funding for implementation.  

Facilitating Police Reforms

 
  • Qualified immunity: The amended peace officer certification process, enhanced training and body camera requirements and other measures should be given the full opportunity to succeed before any changes or limitations to qualified and tort immunity protections for local government taxpayers are considered.
  • State Funding: New requirements for enhanced training and body cameras (which include both the equipment purchase and storage of massive amounts of data) did not include new financial assistance for local governments to implement.  These mandates will place a burden on communities struggling to recover during the post-COVID economy.  Existing programs such as the Law Enforcement Camera Grant Act and the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board will require additional funding to meet the new demands. 

Empowering Local Governments

 
  • COVID-19 Data Sharing: Require county health departments to share COVID-19 positive test addresses for first responder notification by municipal dispatch agencies.
  • Home Rule Authority: Communities need the flexibility and tools to respond to these challenging times. To ease pressure on local government budgets and property taxpayers, the state should grant home rule powers to municipalities over 5,000.
  • Opening Revenue Options: The state should explore opportunities for new local revenues, such as a tax on services and expanding real estate transfer taxing authority to non-home rule communities.

 Protecting Local Government Personnel

 
  • COVID-19 First Responder Definition: llinois should ensure that Public Works, Highway Department and Emergency Management personnel, who often play a critical role during emergency situations, receive the same protections from COVID-19 as first responders including prioritization for immunizations and PPE.
  • Remote Attendance: Allow for remote meeting attendance of elected officials that are high risk of having serious complications from contracting COVID-19 after the state’s emergency declaration ends.