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E-Splash August 2012 - Legislative Report
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Illinois Section AWWA - E-Splash -  August 2012

Summer 2012 Legislative News
Terry Steczo and Maureen Mulhall


Pension Action on the Horizon?

When the legislature adjourned in May, there was an announcement that pension reform discussions would take place during the summer and that the General Assembly would be called back if/when an agreement was reached. Over the last two months pension reform meetings have taken place and have faltered over how to address pension payments by school districts outside of the City of Chicago. Despite what has been a summer-long stalemate, there is a need by legislators on the ballot this November to address pension reform or possibly suffer electoral consequences. And, of course, addressing pension reform certainly has it downside for many constituents as well - a classic "no win” situation. Now it appears that their hand has been called.

The House is scheduled to convene on August 17 to take up accusations regarding Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) who was indicted earlier this year for, allegedly, taking a bribe to write a grant letter for a constituent. Even though Smith has not yet been on trial or convicted by the courts, the House initiated a disciplinary process that is expected to end with Smith’s expulsion when it convenes. The Senate has no part in this expulsion process, but since the House will already be in Springfield, Governor Quinn announced that he is calling both Chambers back into special session on August 17 to consider comprehensive pension reform.

Just prior to adjournment, the Senate approved House Bill 1447, as amended, which includes State employee pension reform provisions that, for the most part, had been agreed to by legislative leaders and the Governor. HB 1447 does not include the controversial downstate school district provisions, but it does address the issue of compounded COLAs that put extreme pressure on the pension system. State employees and retirees would be given a choice to keep their current 3% compounded COLA and, in doing so, give up access to state health care; or choose a simple, non-compounded COLA and retain access to state health care. By providing those impacted with a choice, there is some opinion that the plan could withstand a constitutional challenge. "Access” to state health care was not defined; but, should SB 1313 (which is effective July 1, 2012 and rewrites the State employee & retiree insurance rules) be ruled constitutional, retirees may be required to pay for their health care based on their retirement income. The simple COLA would be 3% or ½ of CPI simple, whichever is less, delayed for five years, and a guarantee that future salary increases are pensionable.

To legislators, the provisions of House Bill 1447 are the low hanging fruit of pension reform.

Even though State employees, impacted retiree groups, labor unions and others will object strenuously and, most assuredly, will file a suit immediately if the plan is approved, many (a majority?) legislators feel that their constituents will understand and even approve of limiting these benefits. With school pensions it’s a different ball game altogether; because, no matter how justified it might seem to require non-Chicago school districts to pay a portion of the pension benefits for their own employees, the fear that the result may increase property taxes gives legislators heart palpitations. Coupled with that fear is the knowledge that Chicago receives a disproportionate share of State aid to schools, which is hard to justify.

The Governor has released figures to show that most districts could easily absorb those amounts from cash reserves, even though school districts throughout the State have relied on those reserves to cover them during this time of grossly delayed State payments. Essentially, he is arguing that school districts should delete their "rainy day” funds. Republicans have objected and want no part of anything that could, in any way, even remotely be looked upon as a tax increase. They insist that school districts be responsible for portions of pension decisions moving forward. The Governor’s job is going to get the "twain” to meet and cobble together some agreement by or on August 17. With the wide disparity in philosophy over how to resolve the school issue, he may be very disappointed, and might be better off taking what he can get now, and then focus on the school issue in the coming months. There may also be some direction from the courts by that time as to what is or is not permissible.

Don’t be surprised if all there is on August 17 is hot air to add to the pension reform drought.

Recent JCAR Filings

  • Drinking Water Analysis – EPA has proposed amendments to "Testing Fees for Analytical Services" (35 Ill Adm Code 691; 36 Ill Reg 10565) that implement provisions of Public Act 97-220 eliminating requirements that EPA determines drinking water program analysis fees in consultation with the Community Water Supply Testing Council. Instead, EPA must base its annual fee determination on actual and anticipated testing costs. The rulemaking further updates the Part regarding the program's notification and participation process. Small businesses or small municipalities that test or operate public drinking water supplies are affected by this rulemaking. Questions/requests for copies/comments through 9/4/12: Sara Terranova, EPA, 1021 N. Grand Ave. E., Springfield, IL 62794-9276, 217/782-5544;

  • Water Supplies – EPA has adopted amendments to "Maximum Setback Zones" (35 Ill Adm Code 618; 36 Ill Reg 4015), effective 6/27/12, concerning land use near wells that serve as public water supply sources. The rulemaking establishes a maximum setback zone for six wells operated by Fayette Water Company (FWC) in Fayette County in accordance with Section 14.3 of the Environmental Protection Act. Potential primary sources of groundwater contamination are prohibited from locating wholly or partially within this maximum setback zone. The rulemaking also provides that the same prohibition will apply to other maximum setback zones that may be created under this Part in order to protect particularly vulnerable groundwater supplies. (Formerly, this Part established a maximum setback zone only for the Village of Marquette Heights in Tazewell County.) A map showing the boundaries of the FWC existing minimum and proposed maximum setback zones is included in a new appendix. This rulemaking affects land owners and users within the maximum setback zone. Questions/requests for copies: Tim Fox, PCB, 100 W. Randolph St., Suite 11-500, Chicago IL 60601, 312/814-6085, Please reference docket R11-25.

Centralia Lab Funds Vetoed

Since the announcement by the Governor that Centralia Lab would be shuttered there has been a concerted effort to convince the Legislature and the Governor of the need to keep it open. The arguments apparently worked on the General Assembly which added $1.6 million for operations of the lab in the FY 2013 appropriations that were sent to Governor Quinn for his consideration. The initial budget had no funds included for the lab.

In the brouhaha that followed the Governor vetoing funds for other State prisons and mental health facilities, the fact that he also vetoed funding for the Centralia lab was lost in the shuffle.

Area legislators have indicated a willingness to see the funds restored, but the earliest that could happen would be during the legislative veto session that begins the last week in November, well after the August 31 scheduled closure of the lab.

Why can’t the issue be raised on August 17 when the Legislature returns? It possibly can, but only if the General Assembly decides to go beyond the special session call.

Bills of Interest

The legislature has 30 days from passage to send a bill to the Governor, and he has 60 days from the day a bill is sent to him to approve or veto it. The very last day the Governor will have to act on bills is August 30.

HB 4496 – Rep. Sente/ Sen. Garrett - Provides that by January 1, 2013, the Plumbing Code Advisory Council shall recommend amendments to the existing minimum code of standards for plumbing and the fixtures, materials, design, and installation methods of plumbing systems. Provides that the Department of Public Health shall submit the amendments to the existing minimum code of standards to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules by May 31, 2013. (Current Status: Approved – PA 97-852)

HB 5319 – Rep. Winters/Sen. Koehler - Amends the Sanitary District Act of 1917. Authorizes the board of trustees of a sanitary district to enter into an agreement to sell, convey, or disburse treated wastewater with any public or private entity located within or outside of the boundaries of the sanitary district. Further provides that any use of treated wastewater by any public or private entity shall be subject to the orders of the Pollution Control Board. (Current Status: Sent To Governor)

HB 5642 – Rep. Tryon/Sen. Frerichs - Amends the Environmental Protection Act. Establishes NPDES permit fees for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). (Current Status: Sent To Governor)

SB 3280 – Sen. Frerichs/Rep. Jakobsson - Creates a new provision concerning the extraction of hydrocarbons from shale using hydraulic fracturing. Provides the Department of Natural Resources shall, by rule, require an operator of a well on which a hydraulic fracturing treatment is performed to (i) complete specified forms that includes the total volume of water used and each chemical ingredient, subject to certain Federal requirements; (ii) post the form on a specified website; (iii) submit the form to the Department; and (iv) provide the Department a list of all other chemical ingredients not previously listed. Provides that the Department, shall, by rule, require a service company that performs hydraulic fracturing treatments to (i) provide the operator of the well certain information; (ii) prescribe a process by which an entity may withhold and declare certain information as a trade secret but still comply with the disclosure requirements; (iii) require a person challenging a claim of entitlement to a trade secret to file the challenge by a specified date; (iv) limit the persons who may challenge a claim of entitlement to a trade secret; (vi) require, when a trade secret challenge occurs, that the Department promptly notify the service company performing the hydraulic fracturing treatment on the relevant well; (v) prescribe a process, consistent with Federal rules, that permits a health professional or emergency responder to obtain trade secret information; (vi) require, prior to such hydraulic fracturing, the owner or operator to perform a suitable mechanical integrity test of the casing or of the casing-tubing annulus or other mechanical integrity test methods; and (vii) require, during the well stimulation operation, that the owner or operator monitor and record the annulus pressure. Provides that the owner or operator shall provide information to the Director as to the amounts, handling, and, if necessary, disposal at an identified appropriate disposal facility, or reuse of the well stimulation fluid load recovered during flow back, swabbing, or recovery from production facility vessels. Provides that the protection and challenge of trade secrets under the provision is also governed by the State's Freedom of Information Act. Provides that the Department shall adopt any other rules necessary to regulate hydraulic fracturing and corollary issues related to hydraulic fracturing. (Current Status: Passed Senate; House – 2nd Reading)

HB 3282 – Sen. Clayborne/Rep. Beiser - Requires the Environmental Protection Agency to provide each applicant who has sought expedited permit review with an invoice setting forth the total fee paid for the expedited review, as well as the number of overtime hours that were expended by Agency staff to conduct the expedited review. (Current Status: Passed Senate; House Environment and Energy Committee)

Legislative Reports

More InfoHide Info ]
The Water Utility Council and our legislative representatives present reports on a regular basis of the status of legislation in Illinois and on a National scale.
Item Name Posted By Date Posted
043017_Legislative Report PDF (189.02 KB) Administration 5/1/2017
Clean Water Initiative Fact Sheet PDF (315.51 KB) Administration 10/31/2012


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