Friday, December 21st, 2012

Legislative Updates

capitol-columnsAuthor: Kelly A. Cahill

Effective Jan. 1, 2013

The following bills and amendments will go into effect at the beginning of the New Year, and we are taking this opportunity to apprise you of some of the more significant changes that may impact local governments. These updates are intended to provide concise summaries of new legislation and are not all-inclusive. Please contact us directly with specific questions if you intend to implement changes based on any of this material:

Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal (ITAP)

Municipalities, townships, and counties will be required to provide additional data for all employees to the Illinois Central Management Services (CMS) for inclusion in the searchable online informational database, ITAP.

The reportable data includes the names, titles, current pay rate, and year-to-date pay for municipal, township, and county employees and can be searched by the unit of local government and the position title.  Each unit of government will be responsible for the accuracy of the information submitted and must submit information in a manner consistent with CMS requirements.  We believe the information will need to be periodically updated in light of the year-to-date posting requirement. (Public Act 97-744)

Amendment to Open Meetings Act

The agenda provisions of the Open Meetings Act will increase local government’s obligation to describe agenda items and post notice.  The full article provides a summary of the new changes that go into effect.

1. Agenda Information: You will need to be sure that your agendas clearly state the general subject matter of any resolution or ordinance that is going to be a subject of final action at your meeting. You may comply with the law by simply reciting the name of the ordinance or resolution under consideration. This is a good practice, but be sure if you do this that the ordinance or resolution is properly and completely named. Thus, for example, if an ordinance authorizes two actions – such as a purchase of property and borrowing for that purpose – be sure the agenda clearly identifies both actions.

It is worth noting that originally the proposed law would have applied not just to final action, but also to items merely to be discussed and not acted on. This would have been a significant change in the law. The final bill, however, narrowed the scope of this requirement only to items that will be the subject of final action. Thus, you may continue to discuss new matters not specifically listed on your agenda. You just need to be sure that no final action is taken unless it has been clearly described.

2. Changed Posting Requirements: Under existing law, governments are required to post the agenda for a meeting at least 48 hours before that meeting. However because sometimes these are posted indoors, they are not technically available to the public during the time a public building is closed such as on nights and weekends. In response, the new law now requires that at least one copy of any requested notice and agenda for the meeting be continuously available for public review during the entire 48-hour period preceding the meeting. You can comply with the continuous notice requirement by posting your notice on your website. According to the Illinois Municipal League, other posting options that will be acceptable include posting the notices on the inside of a window that can be seen from the outside or installing an enclosed bulletin board outside of your city or village hall. The primary point is that there must be some sort of continuously available notice. It is also important to note that this new language does not appear to absolve public bodies of their existing obligation to post agendas and notices 48 hours in advance at their principal office and at the location where the meeting is held as required by existing Open Meetings Act law.

As before this amendment, inadequate notice or posting can result in a violation of the Open Meetings Act. The new Act makes clear, however, that if a notice or agenda is not continuously available for the full 48-hour period because of actions outside of the control of the public body, then that lack of availability will not render invalid the posted meeting or actions taken at the meeting. The IML offers examples of things outside municipal control including such things as a server crash or a power outage that might make it impossible to see an on-line notice or if weather or vandals destroy a properly posted notice. So if you otherwise properly post your notices online or outside in an enclosed case, then ideally actions outside your control will not render your postings inadequate. (Public Act 97-827).

Traffic & Vehicle Law Enforcement

Changes to the Illinois Vehicle Code will prohibit vehicles from using license plate covers. A number of changes will also impact the equipment requirements and operation of motorcycles.  Other changes include the use of a cell phone in a construction zone, expanded parking privileges for persons with disabilities, and rules permitting in-line skaters to use certain public streets. (Public Acts 97-743, 97-830, 97-845, 97-1023).

Prevailing Wage Act

The amendment now removes the burden of the government employer to notify contractors subject to Prevailing Wage of revisions to the Act. Employers may now indicate in the contract that revisions are accessible on the Illinois Department of Labor website.  (Public Act 97-964).

Employer Access to Social Media Passwords

Legislation prohibits any employer from requiring its employees to provide it with passwords or access to social media accounts. (Public Act 97-875).

Release of Juvenile Records

Permits a law enforcement agency or officer to have limited access of a minor’s law enforcement records if “the agency or officer believes that there is an imminent threat of physical harm to students, school personnel, or others who are present in the school or on school grounds.” (Public Act 97-1104).

Swimming Facility Licensing and Construction

Several provisions of the Swimming Facility Act have changed regarding alterations to a swimming facility, including the fee structure and requirements that many types of alteration must be coordinated by a State registered and qualified swimming facility contractor. (Public Act 97-957).

Special Service Area (SSA) Procedures

There are new requirements requiring notice and hearing procedures for SSAs. Please contact us directly with any questions regarding the changes to these requirements. (Public Act 97-1053).


Kelly A. Cahill
Author: Kelly A. Cahill