News

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

What Every Municipality Really Needs to Know (and Do) About Recreational Cannabis

If you feel inundated with the flurry of updates about the legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois, we hope this provides you a practical summary of what you really need to know and what actions can be taken:

  1. The law is not effective until 2020, so do not panic. There are a few things to contemplate before then, but the sky will not fall if it takes a couple of weeks to understand and identify what actions your municipality wishes to take.
  2. Use/Possession: A municipality may not outlaw possession or use of legally obtained cannabis by persons 21 or greater if the amount is within the prescribed limits allowed.
    • Action Item: Update your cannabis ordinance. Almost every municipality has a general prohibition on use and possession of cannabis and cannabis related devices. You will probably want to keep the ordinance because you will potentially still enforce it against persons under 21 and anyone who does not meet the statutory requirements, but you should amend the ordinance to make sure there is an exception for legal use.
    • Possible Action Item: Consider mirroring your existing ordinance on public possession or consumption of alcohol in certain public areas, such as parks, to similarly prohibit possession or consumption of cannabis.
  3. Zoning: A municipality may opt out of allowing production centers and/or dispensaries if it chooses, or a municipality may otherwise limit or restrict locations through zoning—all of this subject to the law governing ordinances and zoning requirements.
    • Possible Action Item: If your municipality chooses to not allow cannabis facilities, then it should pass an ordinance before the end of the year stating that.
    • Possible Action Item: If your municipality wishes to restrict where a dispensary is located, it should consider making dispensaries a special use and indicate in what zoning areas they would be allowed.
    • Possible Action Item: If the decision is to allow cannabis facilities, consider passing a Retailer Occupation Tax (sales tax) of up to 3% for dispensary sales.
  4. Expungement: Basically every municipality has to expunge all minor cannabis offenses from the past. Nothing has to be done before 2021 so this should not be the top priority, and uniform procedures will likely emerge in the next year to facilitate the process.
  5. Employee Policies: A municipality can:
    • Prohibit the use, possession, and being under the influence of cannabis at work or while working.
    • Prohibit the use while “on call” so long as the employee is scheduled with at least 24 hours’ notice to be on standby.
    • Maintain a zero tolerance policy and discipline or discharge employees if the municipality has a “good faith” basis to believe the employee is under the influence while at work, on-call or while performing job duties.
    • Administer drug tests so long as there is a “good faith” belief that the employee used or was under the influence of cannabis while working, on call, or performing job duties.  However, the employee must be allowed to contest the basis for the employer’s determination that the employee was under the influence. 

Please note that just like with alcohol which is a legal substance, you cannot prohibit an employee’s use of cannabis while off-duty (unless they are on call, as noted above).

Exceptions: There are some exceptions to this, based on whether federal law may regulate certain employees. An employee subject to federal law prohibiting use or possession of cannabis is potentially subject to discipline for off-duty use, including:

  • Employees with Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) requirements if the CDL is not issued, suspended or revoked for a cannabis-related reason.
    • Employees who work on public projects that are federally funded are typically subject to federal drug control laws, which include cannabis as a prohibited drug.
    • Employees subject to Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) may be contractually bound to not use cannabis.
  • Action Item: Review CBAs, job descriptions, and federal grant requirements to identify which employees may be subject to cannabis restrictions and review with legal counsel.
  • Action Item: Review drug testing policies to ensure that trace or residual amounts of THC are not a basis to disqualify an applicant or employee from employment unless the position is one that is subject to applicable federal requirements.
  • Possible Action Item: Consider mirroring your policy on cannabis possession at the work place with your policy on alcohol possession at the work place.

Again, this is intended to be a basic summary of what every municipality should know and what next steps should be considered. Some items, such as employee discipline, zoning amendments, and criminal record expungement are nuanced legal issues that should be reviewed with your attorney before taking conclusive action.

Brad Stewart

Author: Brad Stewart

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Ruth Schlossberg to Speak at 5th Annual Local Government Law Institute

Ruth Schlossberg will be speaking at the “5th Annual Local Government Law Institute” to be held Wednesday, December 13, 2017, at the One North Wacker Conference Center (second floor of UBS Tower) in Chicago. For the first time, there will also be a live simulcast in Springfield!

You can read about all the program details in this brochure.  Additionally, you can also view the agenda and register for the course online.


Ruth Alderman Schlossberg

Author: Ruth A. Schlossberg

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Live Podcast Recording at the IML Conference

The next episode of the Illinois Local Government Podcast will be recorded live at the Illinois Municipal League Annual Conference this Friday from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. The topic of the Podcast is Illinois’s Video Gaming laws and its impact on municipalities.

Discussion points will include gaming revenue distribution and the importance of revenue to local businesses and governments, methods to regulate video gaming locally, concerns with the proliferation of video gaming, and possible legislative changes to the video gaming laws. Panelists include State Representative Anna Moeller (43rd District); Kirkland Village President Ryan Block, and Lake in the Hills President Russ Ruzanski. The moderator will be ZRFM Attorney Brad Stewart.

For those attending the IML Conference, please stop by our booth (#610) to attend the Podcast recording and bring questions to ask the panelists.

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Introducing ZRFM’s Illinois Local Government Law Podcast

ZRFM is proud to announce its inaugural publication of the Illinois Local Government Law Podcast.

The Illinois Local Government Law Podcast seeks to provide an insightful discussion on topics concerning Illinois’s municipalities, counties and townships. For the inaugural episode, host Brad Stewart speaks with Illinois Senator Pam Althoff and North Barrington Village President Al Pino as they discuss Illinois’s Prevailing Wage Act.

You can find the podcast on iTunes or through the RSS feed. Subscribe today to ensure that you receive episodes when they are released.

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

ZRFM Invites You to a Seminar for Local Government Officials

ZRFM invites you to join other newly elected officials, as well as administrators, managers, and long-standing elected officials at a seminar on May 6, 2017, dealing with the ABCs of local government. Get a jump start on:

  • The fundamentals of local government and procedures
  • Meeting procedures
  • Illinois Sunshine laws
  • Ethics and conflicts of interest
  • Finance and budget
  • Economic development
  • Tax caps

This program is also ideal for existing elected and appointed officials looking for a refresher course or a deeper understanding of the complex regulatory structure in which they operate.

All attendees will receive a complimentary copy of “Congratulations! You’ve Been Elected: Now What Do You Do?” This book, now in its third edition and published by the Illinois Municipal League and the attorneys at ZRFM, serves as a useful resource for new and experienced officials.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS — MAY 6, 2017

8 a.m. — Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 a.m. — Presentations by Attorneys from ZRFM

11:30 a.m. — Open Question Period

noon — Complimentary Luncheon

LOCATION

Holiday Inn, 800 South Illinois Route 31, Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014

RSVP by May 3, 2017, to Marty Davis at (815) 459-2050 or mdavis@zrfmlaw.com.

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Crystal Lake Chamber Honors ZRFM’s 40-Year Membership

From left: Brad Stewart, Martin Davis, David McArdle, E. Regan Daniels Shepley, Ryan Farrell and Melissa Cooney

From left: Brad Stewart, Martin Davis, David McArdle, E. Regan Daniels Shepley, Ryan Farrell and Melissa Cooney

 

The Crystal Lake-based law firm of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle — the largest law firm in McHenry County — recently received an award from the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce recognizing its 40 years as a member of the organization.

Located at 50 N. Virginia Street in Crystal Lake, Illinois, Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle was founded in 1957.

The law firm’s 20 attorneys practice in a variety of fields of law that include local government law; business law and transactions; financial institutions; estate, trust and tax; real estate and land use; personal injury law; civil litigation and appellate law; construction law; divorce and family law; and employment law; and healthcare law.

plaqueSeveral longtime ZRFM lawyers not present in the award photograph, provided courtesy of Sharon Repplinger, are Kelly Cahill, Rich Flood and Michael Smoron.

To learn more about the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce, please view the Chamber’s website.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Melissa Cooney Appointed to Illinois Supreme Court Committee

Melissa CooneyEffective Jan. 1, 2016, ZRFM Attorney Melissa J. Cooney has been appointed to a three-year term on the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Character and Fitness.

Cooney is one of six appointees representing the Second District of Illinois, which encompasses most of the state’s far northern counties with the exception of Cook County to the east and Whiteside County to the west.

Under Article VI of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, the Committee on Character and Fitness is one of five bodies through which the Illinois Supreme Court exercises the authority to govern the practice of law in the state. The committee determines whether or not prospective attorneys are suitable to practice law in Illinois and whether their applications for legal certification include relevant issues bearing on their moral character.

Cooney, who entered the practice of law in 1991, focuses primarily on estate planning, land use and family law. She was the subject of a March 2015 article in Leading Lawyers Magazine titled “Delivering the Law From the Bottom of Her Heart.” In May 2015, Prairie State Legal Services honored Cooney and three other local attorneys at the McHenry County Legal Aid Awards for their commendable work in rendering outstanding pro bono service.

To learn more about her practice and the many achievements of her career, please view Melissa Cooney’s professional credentials.

Crystal Lake-based Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, the largest law firm in McHenry County, Illinois, serves families, individuals, units of local government and businesses throughout the near and far suburbs of northern Illinois.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

ZRFM Welcomes New Attorney

Jacob-D.-Caudill

Jacob D. Caudill has entered practice at Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle after receiving his juris doctor in 2015 magna cum laude from Northern Illinois University College of Law. Before coming to ZRFM he clerked both for ZRFM and for another law firm in Peru, Illinois. He currently works in a variety of disciplines at ZRFM including local government law. Caudill’s responsibilities include editing and publishing the firm’s bi-weekly Local Government Law Bulletin.

In 2013 Caudill was a judicial intern for Justice Susan F. Hutchinson of the Illinois Appellate Court — Second District in Woodstock, Illinois. His work involved drafting oral argument memorandums and Rule 23 orders, assisting in editing and developing orders and memorandums, and performing legal research.

Caudill was an associate editor of the Northern Illinois University Law Review and served as a tutor in the school’s Academic Success Program where he taught and assisted first year law students in a classroom setting. Caudill, a Peoria native, holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Cooney Lauded by Prairie State for Pro Bono Service

From left: Steve Greeley, Peter Carroll, Carlos Arévalo, Michelle Gehris and ZRFM's Melissa Cooney

From left: Steve Greeley, Peter Carroll, Carlos Arévalo, Michelle Gehris and ZRFM’s Melissa Cooney

 

 

 

Melissa A. Cooney of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, and three other McHenry County attorneys have been honored for their commendable and professional work.

The four were praised for their efforts at the McHenry County Legal Aid Awards on May 26, 2015. All of the honorees rendered outstanding pro bono service to clients of Prairie State Legal Services.

At the luncheon event, the Illinois Commission of Professionalism Executive Director Jayne Reardon gave the keynote address titled “Service: The Cornerstone of the Profession.” McHenry County Bar Association President Carlos Arévalo offered welcoming remarks and Associate Judge Robert A. Wilbrandt, Jr. of the 22nd Judicial Circuit presented the awards with Reardon and offered remarks.

Melissa Cooney was recognized for her admirable work in taking a pro bono divorce case that already was in progress.

The program for the event included comments by Cooney about why she devotes time to pro bono service, despite her busy practice.

“Making time for volunteering is not that difficult. I handle a pro bono case just like any other. When something needs to be filed or responded to, you do it in a timely fashion. You can’t put the pro bono case off to the side and get to it when you have extra time.

Melissa J. Cooney“I think it is everyone’s responsibility to take a legal aid client or other pro bono client and to have one such client at least once a year,” she says. “It takes time, but it reflects well on us all. We are helping someone out, and there is always enough time to take one on.”

Also acknowledged were Steve Greeley for outstanding support of Prairie State Legal Services, Peter Carroll for longtime volunteer service as a solo practitioner and Michelle Gehris for handing multiple cases in a year as a solo practitioner.

To learn more about Melissa A. Cooney, please view her professional credentials or read a recent profile of her in Leading Lawyers Magazine.

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Three ZRFM Attorneys Newly Recognized by Leading Lawyers

Ryan P. Farrell

Ryan P. Farrell

Jennifer J. Gibson

Jennifer J. Gibson

Michael J. Smoron

Michael J. Smoron

Michael J. Smoron and Jennifer J. Gibson have been honored by Law Bulletin Publishing Company and its Leading Lawyers division for being among the most accomplished attorneys in private practice in Illinois. The designation is reserved for less than 5 percent of registered Illinois lawyers.

Smoron was named a Leading Lawyer in two broad areas of law: Governmental, Municipal, Lobbying & Administrative Law; and Land Use, Zoning & Condemnation Law. Leading Lawyers recognized Gibson, who boasts a long list of appellate litigation experience, in the field of Civil Appellate Law.

Also, Leading Lawyers named Ryan P. Farrell to its inaugural class of Emerging Lawyers. In creating the list, Law Bulletin Publishing Company asked the top attorneys in the state to name the talented up-and-coming lawyers who will lead the profession in the coming years. The designation is reserved for lawyers who have not surpassed age 40 or who have practiced law for no more than 10 years. They account for less than 2 percent of registered attorneys in Illinois.

In building its Leading Lawyers list, the company conducted extensive statewide surveys asking: “If you couldn’t take a case in your area of law, to whom would you refer a family member or friend?” Lawyers could not nominate themselves or any lawyers at their own firm. All recommendations were approved by the Leading Lawyers Advisory Board, eliminating the possibility of lawyers being selected through a popularity contest.

Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, the largest law firm in McHenry County, Illinois, now has six Leading Lawyers among its ranks. In addition to Smoron and Gibson, Richard G. Flood, David W. McArdle, David J. Loughnane and Melissa J. Cooney received the recognition previously. Additionally, both Flood and McArdle have been included on Leading Lawyers’ lists of the Top 10 Suburban Chicago Real Estate-Related Lawyers.

To learn more about Michael Smoron, Jennifer Gibson or Ryan Farrell, please view their professional credentials.