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Monday, June 21, 2021

Bill Would Amend Affordable Housing Laws

Since the Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act (Act) became effective in January 2004, housing affordability has inspired much debate in Illinois. 

The Act requires all non-exempt municipalities (those with less than 10% affordable housing units in their communities) to adopt an affordable housing plan that includes, at a minimum, (1) a report indicating how many affordable units would need to be constructed to make a local government exempt from the reporting requirements (i.e., how many units would be needed to make 10% of all year-round housing within the locality affordable); (2) information on plots of land and existing structures which are best suited for affordable housing development; (3) potential incentives that may be used to attract affordable housing development to a locality; and (4) the identification of a goal for increasing affordable housing according to the Act’s specified benchmarks. 

HB 2621 (which passed both houses and is now before the Governor) proposes various significant amendments to the Act, the Illinois Housing Development Act, and the Illinois Income Tax Act, as well as enacting the COVID-19 Affordable Housing Grant Program Act. The changes of most interest to municipalities are discussed below.

The amendments to the Act, if passed, would require non-exempt municipalities to provide notice and hold a public hearing on any new affordable housing plan or amendment to an existing plan.

The amendments also provide for remedies for non-compliance with the Act’s reporting requirements. The Attorney General is now authorized to enjoin noncompliance, mandate compliance, or enforce the Act “by means of other appropriate relief.”

The proposed legislation would also amend the Act to preempt home rule authority, providing that home-rule units of local government may not take action to regulate affordable housing development in a more restrictive manner than the state has under the Act. 

The COVID-19 Affordable Housing Grant Program Act, if signed into law by Governor Pritzker, would create a scheme by which the Illinois Housing Development Authority is required to administer special grant funding to sponsors of qualified affordable housing projects. This proposed legislation identifies several considerations which will be used to prioritize funding allocation, including whether an area has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic; whether local organized labor will be used in the development process; and whether the developments involve contracting with disadvantaged businesses or businesses that are owned by minority groups. With the availability of this new grant funding as a supplement to the Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, towns can expect renewed interest in developing affordable housing, placing even greater emphasis on having a plan in place.

Post authored by Adam Simon and Erin Monforti

Friday, June 18, 2021

Don't Forget to Check Out the The Workplace Report Blog

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Liquor Laws to Know for Phase 5 and Beyond

With the State moving to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan last week, municipalities should be aware of various changes affecting liquor sales and delivery.

State Guidance on Temporary Delivery and Off-Premises Sales Ends July 1, 2021

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) recently announced that many of its COVID-19 bulletins would be lifted July 1, 2021, including its “Guidance on Temporary Delivery of Alcoholic Liquor” and  “Guidance to Local Liquor Control Commissions for On-Premises Only Retailers.” The ILCC guidance allowed all licensed retailers, including on-premises only licensees, to make “to go” sales, curbside deliveries, and home residential deliveries, subject to conditions and local liquor commissioner approval. However, as of July 1, 2021 on-premises only licensed retailers may not sell alcoholic liquor for delivery. Only retail license holders with combined on/off premises consumption and off-premises with consumption only licenses may sell alcoholic liquor for delivery, subject to local ordinances.

ILCC’s COVID-19 Compliance FAQ for Phase 5 is available on its website.

New Liquor Delivery Law Effective January 1, 2022

Governor Pritzker also recently signed legislation preempting home rule and non-home rule units (except for Chicago) and allowing certain state-authorized liquor deliveries effective January 1, 2022. “Delivery” means the movement of alcoholic liquor purchased from a licensed retailer to a consumer through:

1.  delivery within the licensed retailer’s parking lot, including curbside, for pickup by the consumer;

2.  delivery by an owner, officer, director, shareholder, or employee of the licensed retailer; or

3.  delivery by a third-party contractor, independent contractor, or agent with whom the licensed retailer has contracted to make deliveries of alcoholic liquors.

Deliveries must be made within 12 hours from the time the alcoholic liquor leaves the retailer’s licensed premises, and “delivery” does not include use of common carriers. Where the new law preempts the local power to determine the kind and classification of liquor licenses, “on-premises only” licensees and other licensed retailers could potentially make the liquor deliveries authorized by the new law. Further ILCC guidance may be forthcoming, but municipalities may wish to review their liquor regulations to prepare for these changes in the coming months.

State Issues New Guidance on Cocktails and Wine To-Go

After Governor Pritzker recently extended “to-go” sales of cocktails and single-servings of wine through January 3, 2024, the ILCC issued new guidance this week. The guidance only allows the authorized to-go sales by retailers with a combined license for on-premises/off-premises sales. The guidance also includes packaging and labeling requirements, and service requirements for employees. The to-go cocktail or single-serving wine may be delivered to the consumer over-the-counter inside the business, by curbside delivery by a retailer employee, or by home delivery by a retailer employee. Deliveries through a drive-through or by third party delivery companies are prohibited.

Local municipalities may prohibit or further restrict the sales and delivery of to-go cocktails and single servings of wine. Additionally, the guidance notes that off-premises and combined on-premises/off-premises licensees may deliver liquor in the original packaging subject to applicable local law or ordinance.

Post Authored by Dan Bolin & Adam Simon, Ancel Glink

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Illinois Municipal Handbook (2021) Just Released

The Illinois Municipal League (IML) just released the most recent edition of the Illinois Municipal Handbook (2021), the 19th edition  of this publication. The Municipal Handbook provides a complete overview of municipal government, home rule, elections, FOIA, Open Meetings, employment laws, zoning, property sale and purchase, ethics, and many other topics of interest to municipal officials and employees. The Municipal Handbook is published by the IML, and each chapter of the Handbook is authored by Ancel Glink attorneys who volunteer their time on this publication.

This release is great timing for newly elected officials who would like a comprehensive overview of laws and regulations that affect municipal governance. 

You can order a copy of the Handbook on the IML's website here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

PAC Issues 4th Binding Opinion of 2021 Interpreting the "Deliberative Process" FOIA Exemption

Thanks to a Municipal Minute reader who submitted a FOIA to the PAC asking for copies of any binding PAC opinions issued during the time that the Attorney General's website has been down, we have a copy of the fourth binding PAC opinion of 2021. 

In PAC Op. 21-004, the PAC found a municipality in violation of FOIA after it denied a FOIA request for communications between the city and an applicant for a zoning change. The city had denied the request arguing that the communications were part of the city's "deliberative process" on the zoning application and were exempt under 7(1)(f) of FOIA. The PAC determined that the deliberative process exemption is limited to internal documents and does not cover records or communications shared with third parties. Because the requested record were exchanged between the city and a third party (the zoning applicant), they did not fall within the type of "inter- and intra-agency predecisional or deliberative material" that would be covered by the section 7(1)(f) exemption and, as a result, the PAC said they should have been released to the FOIA requester.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Trailer Bill to SAFE-T Act Sent to Governor

One of the bills that many municipalities were carefully monitoring was the trailer bill that proposed certain amendments to P.A. 101-0652, the "SAFE-T Act."

HB 3443 is a follow-up bill to the SAFE-T Act which was passed during the January General Assembly legislative session. This bill would provide updated and clarifying information to the massive set of provisions related to criminal justice and law enforcement reform. While the bill represents many comprehensive changes to the previous legislation, those most relevant to municipalities include the delay of newly mandated officer training to January 1, 2022 (from July 1, 2021), clarifications regarding use-of-force provisions, and relaxing restrictions for officer review of body camera footage, among many other changes. 

Post Authored by Erin Monforti & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

Friday, June 11, 2021

Legislature Sends Finance-Related Bills to Governor

The Illinois General Assembly sent a few finance-related bills to the Governor that may be of interest to local governments.

TIF Reporting Requirements

HB 0571 would amend the Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act to require municipalities to prepare an analysis for the Comptroller and relevant taxing districts indicating the (1) nature and term of the obligation; (2) the projected debt service including required reserves and debt coverage; and (3) the actual debt service. Starting in FY-2022, municipalities will also be required to submit to the Comptroller and taxing districts certain information about job growth, property tax increment, and any identified rate of return stemming from the project area in question.

Broadening Eligibility for Tourism Grants

SB 0317 would amend the Illinois Promotion Act to expand the eligibility for units of local government for certain tourism grants from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Rather than limiting the use of grants to municipalities or counties, this amendment allows for the provision of funds to all units of local government as defined in Article VII of the Illinois Constitution.

Publishing Vendor and Subcontractor Demographic Data

HB 0453 would require taxing districts with an aggregate property tax levy of more than $5 million to make a good faith effort to collect and publish data from all vendors and subcontractors doing business with the district. The data should reflect whether the vendor or subcontractor: (1) is minority-owned, women-owned, or veteran-owned; and (2) holds any certifications for those categories or self-certifies and qualifies as a small business under federal standards.

Permit Fee Relief in the Wake of COVID-19

HB 2454 would amend the Counties Code and the Illinois Municipal Code to allow county and municipality officials to pass resolutions to waive or reconsider the imposition of fees for certain licenses and fees, including business licenses, liquor licenses, construction permits, food service permits, and other activities that are normally regulated by the public bodies. The bill specifies that applicants must be able to demonstrate their need for these fees to be waived based on tangible hardships experienced during and because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Replacing Lead Service Lines

HB 3739 would create the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act to direct the Illinois EPA to create programs to assist community water suppliers in collecting water protection fees and the administration of programs and activities to replace and update service lines to eliminate the use of lead pipes for carrying drinking water. The Act would create the Lead Service Line Replacement Fund, which will be allocated as grant funding according to certain factors explicitly mentioned in the text, including the prevalence of low-income households, the presence of lead service lines, and the affordability of water services in a given community. 

Post Authored by Erin Monforti & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Court Dismisses Case Against PAC in FOIA Appeal

in 2017 and 2018, a FOIA requestor submitted seven FOIA requests to three different public bodies. After the public bodies denied each request based on applicable FOIA exemptions, the requestor appealed each denial to the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC). The PAC notified the requestor that no further action would be taken in response to his appeals. The requestor then filed a lawsuit against the PAC, alleging it violated FOIA by refusing to perform “a clear ministerial duty” by denying his requests for review.  

The trial court ruled in favor of the PAC and dismissed the requester's lawsuit holding that it lacked jurisdiction to review the PAC’s decision because the PAC did not issue a binding opinion in response to any of the requester's appeals. The requester appealed.

In Shehadeh v. Raoul, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s dismissal of the requestor’s complaint. The appellate court ruled that a courts cannot review a PAC decision to not issue a binding opinion, because a PAC decision to resolve a request for review by issuing an advisory rather than a binding opinion is entirely discretionary and, therefore, not subject to review by the courts.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Bills Would Amend Land Use and Other Regulatory Statutes

The Illinois General Assembly sent a couple of bills that deal with land use and other regulator issues to the Governor this legislative session.

Residential Gardens

HB 0633 would, if sinto law, establish the "Garden Act" to create a right to cultivate gardens on residential property for growing vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers, and other edible plants. The bill proposes to restrict the power of a home rule unit of local government to prohibit vegetable gardens but would not prevent public bodies from regulating the height, setbacks, water use, and similar elements of the gardens so long as the regulations do not preclude gardens.


HB 1443, if signed by the Governor, would amend the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act and the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act to, among other things, allow the relocation of medical cannabis dispensaries that were proposed for sites within areas that prohibit cannabis retail sites to sites within the same geographic district, subject to municipal approvals. These relocation plans would remain subject to local ordinances that prohibit or regulate adult-use cannabis establishments. The amendments also clarify procedures for the license allocation lotteries and create over 100 new conditional adult-use dispensary licenses to be allotted via two new lottery systems. The first lottery would be based solely on region, and the other lottery would be awarded according to state social justice and equity goals to provide opportunities for communities and individuals with economic difficulties.


One bill that has already been signed into legislation is SB 0104 (now known as P.A. 102-008) which amended the Liquor Control Act of 1934 to extend the provisions passed last year allowing retail liquor licensees to sell cocktails, mixed drinks, and single servings of wine via curbside pickup or delivery to customers of the licensee’s establishment. These provisions apply only to the sale or delivery of to-go alcoholic drinks by employees of the liquor license holder and does not regulate the delivery of these drinks by third-party services such as UberEats or GrubHub. Under this bill, between June 10 and July 10, 2021, an establishment with a liquor license cam offer a free drink to a customer who shows proof of their participation in a vaccination program from 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM. The new law restricts the amount of alcohol provided at no charge through these promotions, allowing only for one drink of alcohol with standard volumes explicitly provided for in the text. This law is scheduled for repeal in January 2024. 

Post Authored by Erin Monforti & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Bills Propose Changes to Employee-Related Legislation

Today, we are providing updates to employee-related bills that passed both houses of the General Assembly and are now awaiting Governor action.

If signed by the Governor, SB 539 would make changes to the Illinois Government Ethics Act and related ethics statutes. 

First, the legislation would modify the economic interests that certain government officers are required to disclose annually when they file their economic interest statement under the Act. For example, an individual required to file a statement of economic interest must also include certain interests of spouses and minor children. The Secretary of State would be required to publish guidance for completing and filing the disclosure statements given the changes made by this legislation. Also, so long as a filer reasonably relies in good faith on the Secretary of State's guidance, the filing will not constitute a willful false or incomplete statement. 

In addition, the proposed amendments would prohibit certain county, municipal, and township officials from being compensated for any activity by a lobbyist or lobbying entity, and amend the requirements for lobbyist registration. 

The bill also preempts municipal regulation of lobbyists that would conflict with the statutory regulations, except for the City of Chicago.

SB 2486 would amend the Personnel Records Review Act, which restricts the release of disciplinary records of employees in Illinois and requires notice be provided to an employee when their records are set to be released. If the amendment is signed by the Governor, employees who wish to file a complaint with the Department of Labor or in court based on a perceived violation of the Act may do so within three years of the disclosure of the disciplinary record in question. 

Post Authored by Erin Monforti & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

Monday, June 7, 2021

Governor Extends Remote Meetings Through June 26

Last week, we reported that two bills that would have amended the Open Meetings Act to expand the remote meeting procedures adopted during the pandemic were not approved in this legislative session. Since then, we have received some questions about when public bodies are required to go back to in-person meetings and the traditional procedures for remote meeting attendance. While only the Governor knows how long the COVID-19 disaster declaration will stay in place, we did see that Executive Order 2021-11 (issued on May 28, 2021) extended EO 2020-07 until June 26, 2021 - that was the EO that temporarily suspended the in-person meeting requirements of the OMA. 

So, unless something changes before then, public bodies can continue to follow the new remote meeting requirements in the OMA for meetings that take place in June - at least until June 26th (unless the EO is further extended). Although the state is expected to enter Phase 5 this week, that does not necessarily mean that all restrictions will be lifted throughout the state, based on the Phase 5 guidance that has been circulated in advance of June 11th. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Quorum Forum Podcast Episode 53: Property Brothers Park Edition

Ancel Glink just released Episode 53 of its Quorum Forum Podcast, Property Brothers: Park Edition. Information about this episode is below:

Put in your earbuds, take a walk in the park, and join the “Property Brothers” to learn the ins and outs of the purchase, sale, and lease of park property. This popular session from the 2021 IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Virtual conference covers what park agencies need to know to evaluate property-related proposals from private and public sector entities alike, and how property transfers can help advance your organization’s mission. 

What’s happening in your parks this summer? Email us at podcast@ancelglink.com!