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Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

City Did Not Waive Claim to Cite Additional Exemptions in FOIA Lawsuit

It is rare that we see a FOIA challenge go to court in Illinois - most challenges or appeals of a FOIA decision by a public body make their way to the Attorney General's Public Access Counselor's office (PAC).  Recently, an Illinois Appellate Court issued an opinion in a FOIA challenge and ruled in favor of the public body. Hosey v. City of Joliet

A reporter filed a FOIA request with the City requesting copies of videotaped police interviews of several individuals. The City denied the request, citing various FOIA exemptions including personal privacy, interference with law enforcement proceedings and disclosure of confidential source or information. The reporter filed an appeal with the PAC office, and the PAC determined that the requester was entitled to the videotapes. When the City did not turn over those tapes, the requester filed a lawsuit, asking the circuit court to order the City to turn over the tapes and seeking civil penalties and attorney fees.

The circuit court ruled in favor of the City, and held that the tapes were not subject to disclosure. The court did not base its decision on the exemptions cited by the City in its denial, but instead held that the tapes were not subject to public inspection because the Illinois Criminal Code prohibits disclosure of the records relating to persons who are criminally accused. 

The reporter appealed, arguing that the Criminal Code provision did not apply in this situation and that the City waived or forfeited this argument because it did not cite this exemption in its denial letter.  The appellate court upheld the ruling in favor of the City and rejected the reporter's arguments. First, the appellate court determined that the City did not waive or forfeit the ability to raise additional exemptions to support its denial of the FOIA request. The appellate court cited two other appellate court decisions holding that a public body does not waive its claim to raise additional exemptions to support a denial in a FOIA challenge. Second, the appellate court agreed that the Criminal Code does apply to the requested records and prohibits release of electronic recordings of any statement made by an accused during a custodial investigation, even after the individual is no longer accused.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Written Orders Required by Supreme Court Rule 557

An important reminder to municipalities and municipal prosecutors. Under Supreme Court Rule 557 (which became effective March 1, 2019), courts must now enter written orders imposing any sentence and all fines, fees, and costs against a defendant at the time of sentencing in traffic, conservation cases, and ordinance violation cases. More importantly for municipalities, the municipal prosecutor is responsible for drafting the order and presenting it to the defendant or the defendant's attorney for review before submitting it to the court. 

Post Authored by Megan Mack, Ancel Glink

Monday, March 18, 2019

Time to Start Thinking About Compliance With New IRS Reporting Requirement on Fines

Section 13306 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act prohibits individuals from deducting from their income taxes certain fines and/or restitution paid to government entities. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a municipality will also be required to file a 1098-F form with the IRS reporting any fine or restitution paid to the municipality of $600.00 or more. The IRS website summarized this new requirement on its website as follows:
A government or governmental entity and certain nongovernmental entities that exercise self-regulatory powers must file a separate Form 1098-F, Fines, Penalties, and Other Amounts, with the IRS for each fine, penalty, or other amount in excess of an amount determined by the Secretary that is paid in relation to any violation of law or investigation into potential violation of law, pursuant to a court order or agreement.
Although many municipal fines will be fall under the threshold reporting amount, there will certainly be instances where a fine will trigger this new reporting requirement, meaning that municipalities should be ready to comply with this new requirement.

The regulation and form leave a lot of questions unanswered, particularly how municipalities can ensure that it can obtain the required information from the individual who paid the fine or restitution that is required for the form (i.e., social security number, etc). Maybe some of these will be answered when the IRS finalizes its regulations on this new requirement, although that may not be until the end of the year. Until then, municipalities should discuss and consider how they will collect, store, and protect the information required for these forms so they are ready to comply when the regulations are final.

You can get more information about the reporting requirement and view a draft of the 1098-F form on the IRS website here.

Post Authored by Megan Mack & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Short Term Rental Bill Introduced Again This Session

The Illinois General Assembly is considering another bill that would restrict local zoning authority. Yesterday, we reported on the bill that would restrict municipal zoning authority over "hoop houses" (temporary green houses for gardens). Today, we report on HB 2919 which, if passed, would restrict municipal zoning authority over short-term rentals (i.e., AirBNB, HomeAway, etc.)

If passed, the bill would prohibit municipalities from enacting any ordinance, regulation, or plan that would prohibit short-term rentals or even regulate them based on classification, use, or occupancy. There are a few exceptions to the ban that would allow the regulation of short-term rentals to protect the public health, safety, and other circumstances. That exception would seem to allow municipalities to exercise zoning authority to regulate or restrict short-term rentals so long as the primary purpose of the regulation is to protect fire and building codes, traffic control, or other health and safety concerns. 

We will keep you posted on this and other bills proposing to restrict municipal zoning authority this session.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

SB 1675 Would Prohibit Local Zoning Authority Over Certain Temporary Crop Protection Structures

Recently, a bill was introduced in the Illinois Senate that would significantly restrict local zoning authority. The Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association has prepared and sent out an “e-blast” about the proposed legislation encouraging APA members to oppose the bill. Below is some of the information sent out by the IL-APA about this bill:

APA Illinois Position on SB 1675

Summary:  Amends the Zoning Division of the Illinois Municipal Code, 65 ILCS 5/11-13-1 et seq. Provides that a municipality, including home rule municipalities, may not restrict residents from constructing a season extension or crop protection device from each October 1 through April 15. Provides that "season extension or crop protection device" means a temporary structure that meets the following specifications:

  • the structure is used for growing agricultural products for personal consumption on private property; 
  • the structure is wholly on the owner's property; 
  • it is a skeletal structure comprised of materials that are easily constructed and easily deconstructed; and 
  • the walls of the structure are comprised of plastic membranes or firm translucent material.
Analysis:  SB1675 is a significant prohibition on the exercise of otherwise broad municipal zoning power regarding a very specific type of temporary structure. Further, there is no legislative pronouncement explaining why the General Assembly has determined that residential crop protection structures warrant a special treatment and immunity from land use regulation, unlike other uses. In fact, the bill appears to be in response to some very specific situations. The home rule preemption is also a very unusual part of the proposed legislation. It is rare for the General Assembly to preempt home rule powers on unique local matters. Based on this, APA Illinois has determined that:

  • This bill is an unnecessary limitation on municipal zoning powers over a very specific temporary use that may be placed on any part of a property, including front yards. 
  • Each municipality should maintain its authority over temporary structures and determine the best zoning regulatory approach that is consistent with its land use policies and plans, and enables for the appropriate protections of its residentially zoned neighborhoods and commercially zoned areas.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Quorum Forum Podcast: Tiny Homes Edition

Ancel Glink's Quorum Forum Podcast recently released Episode 21: Tiny Homes

Tiny homes are a big trend, and Ancel Glink attorney Kurt Asprooth joins our regular meeting to discuss local regulations for these unique structures; but first John Reding and Ancel Glink's "In the Zone" land use newsletter bring us the latest on recreational cannabis proposals in Illinois. Email us at podcast@ancelglink.com to subscribe to In the Zone, and stay up to date on important land use news!

You can listen to Episode 21 here.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Court Finds that Home Rule Units Are Not Bound by the Safe Roads Amendment

Do home rule units have to comply with the Illinois Constitution?  That question was raised in a recent decision by a Cook County circuit court in the case of Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association v. County ofCook. 

In 2016, Illinois voters approved the Safe Roads Amendment to the Illinois Constitution.  The Safe Roads Amendment requires that revenues derived from transportation taxes only be spent on transportation related expenses. The Safe Roads Amendment was added as Section 11 of Article IX of the Illinois Constitution.

Cook County, a home rule unit, has been diverting several taxes relating to transportation (gasoline tax, wheel tax, etc.) towards non-transportation related expenses. Instead of using those revenues for transportation purposes, as required by the Safe Roads Amendment, Cook County had been diverting those revenues to its Public Safety Fund.  Several road contractor associations filed suit, alleging that Cook County was violating the Safe Roads Amendment by diverting these revenues to its Public Safety Fund. The associations sought to enjoin the County from spending transportation revenues on any non-transportation related purpose.

The County moved to dismiss the lawsuit, alleging, among other arguments, that the Safe Roads Amendment did not limit its home rule powers, and therefore the County was not bound to follow the Amendment. The County relied on the language of Article VII, Section 6(a) of the Illinois Constitution which governs the powers of home rule units. Section 6(a) states as follows:

Except as limited by this Section, a home rule unit may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs, including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare, to license; to tax; and to incur debt.

The County claimed that because the Safe Roads Amendment did not specifically limit home rule powers under Section 6(a), the County was not bound to comply with the Safe Roads Amendment.

The Court agreed, noting that the language of Section 6(a) of Article VII specifically states that home rule powers can only be limited “by this Section.” The Court found that a provision contained in another section of the Constitution, such as the Safe Roads Amendment contained in Article IX, cannot limit home rule powers, as only Section 6(a) of Article VII can do so.  Following that logic, the Court noted that the drafters of the Safe Roads Amendment had “a ready, straightforward, specifically prescribed means” to limit home rule powers (i.e., under Section 6(a) of Article VII), but the drafters chose not to use those means. So, Cook County’s home rule powers are not constrained by the Safe Roads Amendment.  The Court also cited the fact that the ballot summary for the Safe Roads Amendment prepared by the Secretary of State specifically disclaimed any limitation or alteration of home rule powers.

While an appeal of this decision is almost certain, the central holding of the case could have significant implications for home rule units.  If the decision is upheld, there would be precedent for home rule units to enact policies that conflict with the Illinois Constitution, unless such powers are expressly limited in Article VII, Section 6. 

Post Authored by Kurt Asprooth, Ancel Glink

Thursday, March 7, 2019

How Far Can a Citizen Go in Criticizing Government Officials?

The First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to petition the government for redress of grievances including the right to complain about the decisions and actions of government officials. At what point, however, do complaints stop being legitimate criticisms and begin to intentionally inflict emotional distress or constitute harassment and defamation? That question and others may come before an Illinois court soon in a case filed by school district officials against a persistent critic. 

On December 27, 2018, the Waukegan Community School District No. 60 board president, superintendent, and attorney filed a lawsuit against an individual who, they claim, persistently criticized them at board meetings, in e-mails, by phone, on Facebook, and face-to-face in public places. According to the plaintiffs, the criticisms consisted of dozens of false statements, threats, and related conduct. They seek $2,000,000 in damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, interference with contract and business relations, harassment through electronic communication, fraud, defamation, false light, and invasion of privacy.

The defendant, a candidate for alderman in the City of Waukegan, claims the lawsuit is an “attempt to chill my speech based on my message” and that she has a First Amendment right to speak on matters as both a citizen and a taxpayer. 

Speech critical of the government has been the subject of numerous Supreme Court cases since 1900 especially during periods of heightened concern for public safety such as during war time and following 9/11. The use of Facebook and other social media sites to petition the government is a relatively new phenomenon, however, and this case may break new ground if it advances to trial.

You can read the complaint here.

Post Authored by David Warner, Ancel Glink

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Federal Court Limits Size of Required Warning Labels on Commercial Billboards

Government-required warning labels on billboards are a ubiquitous, and permissible, infringement on the First Amendment commercial speech rights of advertisers. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently found a local government’s ordinance went too far by requiring too much advertising space be dedicated to warnings against the harmful health effects of consuming drinks with added sugar. American Beverage Ass'n v. City and County of San Francisco (7th Cir. 1/31/19).

In 2015, the City and County of San Francisco adopted an ordinance requiring any advertisement for sugar sweetened beverages contain the following warning: 
WARNING:  Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco. City & Cty. of S.F., Cal., Health Code art. 42, div. I, § 4203(a) (2015).
The ordinance required the warning occupy at least 20% of the advertisement and be set off with a rectangular border. A broad array of advertising companies and industry groups sued to prevent enforcement of the ordinance on the grounds it exceeded the government’s authority to  compel speech as set forth by the Supreme Court in in its decision Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel of Supreme Court of Ohio.

In Zauderer, the U.S. Supreme Court found the government could require an advertiser to disclose certain information without violating the advertiser's First Amendment free speech rights as long as the disclosure requirements were reasonably related to the government’s interest in preventing the deception of consumers. However, in order to comply with Zauderer, the government’s regulation must not be more extensive than is necessary to serve that interest. 

In evaluating San Francisco's ordinance, the Ninth Circuit found the City’s own expert had cited studies showing warning signs half the size of those required by the ordinance would still accomplish the City’s stated goals. Because the difference was so significant, the court found the size requirement not justified and unduly burdensome. 

Post Authored by David Warner, Ancel Glink

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Supreme Court Weighs in on Civil Forfeiture Practices

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a ruling in a case involving civil forfeiture of property used in the commission of a crime that will be of interest to municipal police departments. Timbs v. Indiana (USSCT Feb. 20, 2019).

The case involved a challenge to a State of Indiana's seizure of Timb's Land Rover SUV after Timbs plead guilty to dealing in a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit theft. He was sentenced to one year of home detention and five years of probation, and assessed fees and costs. In addition, the State brought a civil suit for forfeiture of Timb's SUV. The trial court denied the requested forfeiture, finding that the vehicle was recently purchased for $42,000, which was more than four times the maximum fine that could be imposed for the crime. The State appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed. The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of whether the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment and excessive bail) prohibited this particular forfeiture.

The U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the history of the "Excessive Fines Clause" of the 8th Amendment , and determined that the clause does apply to civil forfeiture actions such as Indiana's as the 8th Amendment is incorporated into the 14th Amendment. As a result, the majority of the Court remanded the case back to the Indiana Supreme Court to determine whether the state's seizure of Timb's SUV violated that clause.

The majority opinion (authored by Justice Ginsburg) is quite brief, but there were also a number of concurring opinions that went into greater detail about the 8th and 14th Amendments. Although the Justices gave different reasons for their opinions, they all agreed that the civil forfeiture procedure is subject to federal constitutional protections.

Monday, March 4, 2019

A New Quorum Forum Podcast on Land Use Just Released

Join Ancel Glink’s Quorum Forum podcast for a special meeting recorded at the live at Haymarket Pub & Brewery from the APA-CMS Bar Exam Planning Law Session, a realistic law school simulation for planners and land use professionals hosted by the American Planning Association’s Chicago Metro Section. Ancel Glink’s Greg Jones and Megan Mack discuss some of the audience’s favorite planning law topics, including annexation agreements, food trucks, dockless scooters, and more! 

You can access this podcast episode here.

What important land use issues are facing your community? Email us at podcast@ancelglink.com!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Illinois Minimum Wage Act Changes Signed by Governor

The Illinois Governor signed P.A. 101-001 (the first new law of this legislative session) amending the Illinois Minimum Wage Act. Although there has been a lot of news about the proposal to increase the Illinois minimum wage to $15.00/hour, it's important to note that the increases will take place gradually over the next six years, with the $15.00 wage taking effect in 2025. 

The law establishes the following minimum prevailing wages for covered employees:

Current through December 31, 2019: $8.25/hour
January 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020: $9.25/hour
July 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020: $10.00/hour
January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021: $11.00/hour
January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022: $12.00/hour
January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023: $13.00/hour
January 1, 2024 to December 31, 2024: $14.00/hour
On and after January 1, 2025: $15.00/hour

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Court Rejects Objection to Candidate's Dual Nomination Papers

In a recent Illinois Appellate Court decision, the court considered a challenge to a candidate's nomination papers where that candidate had withdrawn previously filed papers and submitted a second set prior to the filing deadline. McCaskill v. Harvey MOEB.

A candidate originally circulated, and then filed, nomination papers to run as a Democrat for the office of 6th ward alderman on the first day of filing for the February primary election. After filing, he learned that the City does not hold partisan primaries, so he filed a second set of papers designating himself as a nonpartisan candidate for the same office. At the same time, he filed a document withdrawing his first candidate filing.

An objection was filed to challenge the candidate's nomination papers on 2 grounds: (1) that he was prohibited from filing 2 petitions for the same office in the same election and (2) he violated the "dual circulation" prohibition because he circulated petitions for both a partisan and nonpartisan candidate in the same election. 

A hearing was held before the City's electoral board, which overruled the objections and upheld his candidacy. That decision was appealed to the circuit court, which reversed, ordering that the candidate's name be removed from the ballot. That decision was also appealed, this time by the candidate, to the appellate court.

The appellate court rejected the objector's argument that the candidate filed multiple petitions for the same office, finding that section 10-6.2 of the Election Code states that if a candidate files multiple sets of nominating papers for the same office, he or she will be given the option to cancel the prior set of petitions, so long as that is done within the filing period. Since the objection did not challenge whether the candidate complied with this section, the court found that the electoral board properly denied the first objection.

The court also rejected the objector's "dual circulation" argument finding that it "makes absolutely no senses" in a non-partisan election. The purpose of this prohibition is to thwart political gamesmanship in partisan elections, which is not relevant in a non-partisan election. 

In short, the appellate court denied the objection, and ordered that the candidate's name be placed on the ballot.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Bill Undercuts Municipal Annexation Authority

Currently, individuals that want to annex property into a community must file an application that is signed by the property owner and a majority of the voters residing on the property. If passed, HB 2157 would alter longstanding and settled annexation procedures by introducing additional mandates, including requiring annexation applicants to attest that:

  1. The annexation would solely benefit the property owner and any voters living on the property; and
  2. The annexation application was not filed to help a municipality involuntarily annex property in the future.
The bill also creates additional criteria that a municipality must satisfy before involuntarily annexing property, significantly upending municipal authority to annex property, control municipal boundaries, and promote economic development. 

As drafted, the bill creates a host of problems. First, annexation commonly benefits more than just a property’s owners and residents. Annexation also benefits the annexing municipality, which receives increased regulatory control and tax revenue; parties that wish to develop the property, but may not yet own it; prospective residents that do not have an ownership interest in the property; and neighboring property owners that, as a result of the annexation, may be able to receive city services by annexing their properties. The bill would apparently invalidate annexations that benefit any of these parties.

Second, its unclear how an annexation applicant could confirm that its application would not help a municipality involuntarily annex property in the future. Annexation applicants generally aren’t aware of a community’s annexation plans (if any such plans exist). A law requiring an annexation applicant to attest to a municipality’s unknown future plans seems designed only to chill otherwise valid efforts to annex and develop property.

This bill comes on the heels of an annexation lawsuit we previously reported on involving Bolingbrook, a village located in Will County. The Bolingbrook case featured unusual facts that prompted the court to invalidate a voluntary annexation that facilitated a subsequent involuntary annexation.  At first blush, this bill appears to respond to the Bolingbrook case, albeit in a way that may create serious unintended consequences.

We’ll update our readers as the bill progresses.

Post Authored by Greg Jones, Ancel Glink

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Upcoming Webinar on Cannabis and Land Use

The APA Planning and Law Division is hosting an upcoming webinar that will be of interest to planners and land use professionals. Information about the webcast and registration are below.

Webcast — How Land Use and Natural Resource Regulations are Shaping the Legal Cannabis Industry

Thursday, March 21, 2019 | 2:00–3:30 p.m. ET (1:00 - 2:30 p.m. central)

CM | 1.50 | LawCLE through Illinois State Bar
This webinar will explore how various land use and natural resource regulations shape the development of the legal cannabis industry. The scope of the conversation will range from regulatory options municipalities may consider as the legal cannabis industry develops to how individual businesses are fostered or stifled as a result of certain regulations. One goal of this webinar is to help practitioners identify key cannabis industry issues they should consider in working with either government officials or business owners.
Speakers include Erin Lapeyrolerie, PLD’s 2018-19 Curtin Fellow, Karla Chaffee, Esq., Counsel for Robinson & Cole LLP in Boston, Sunshine Lencho, Esq., Senior Associate at Hinman & Carmichael LLP in San Francisco, Joanna Hossack, Esq., Associate at Clark Neubert LLP in Sacramento and San Francisco, and Christina Sava, Managing Attorney at Anthony Law Group in Oakland.

Monday, February 25, 2019

PAC Finds Public Body in Violation of FOIA For Not Responding to Request

The Public Access Counselor of the Illinois Attorney General's office released its 3rd binding opinion for 2019 last week. In PAC Op. 19-003, the PAC found a public body in violation for FOIA for failing to respond to a FOIA request. As we have learned from a number of similar binding opinions, it is a violation of FOIA to not respond to a FOIA request within the statutory time-frame (5 business days unless the request is for commercial purposes).

Friday, February 22, 2019

Seventh Circuit Upholds Ordinance Enforcement Against Union Rat

From Ancel Glink's labor and employment law blog, The Workplace Report: The Rat Got Ticketed

While labor disputes often result in litigation, rarely, if ever before, has the ubiquitous rat itself become the subject of a lawsuit.

Employers are all aware of the rat. Unions often inflate a balloon type rat to stir emotion against an employer and to signify to the passing public that workers are embroiled in a labor dispute with a particular employer in hopes that the employer will feel pressured to capitulate to the union’s demands in order to avoid general association with the generally disliked rat. Simple concept. Some employers dread its appearance; some dig their heels in further when they see it.

In Grand Chute, Wisconsin, a town outside of Appleton, the rat itself became the subject of an ordinance violation. The union, feeling frustrated with the course of labor relations, inflated a 12-foot balloon rat in protest of the company, tethering the rate to the ground with stakes. It turns out that the rat was on the public way and violated the municipality’s sign ordinance which prohibited signs which are secured to the ground on the public way because they not only present a hazard but can create a disturbance to passersby. The police issued an ordinance violation to the rat (really to the union) and ordered its removal.

Nearly five years of litigation ensued over whether the union had the right to keep the rat in its location. While the municipality argued that the rat was being treated as any other sign and was subject to the sign ordinance, the union argued that the rat was an expression of free speech. Last week the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the municipality’s ordinance. Construction and General Laborers Union No. 300 v. Town of Grand Chute.

The court noted that “a municipality is entitled to implement a nondiscriminatory ban of all private signs from the public roads and rights-of-way” but that “even a neutral ordinance can violate the First Amendment if it is enforced selectively, permitting messages of which [the Town] approves while enforcing the ordinance against unions and other unpopular speakers.” The court concluded that there was no evidence before it to show that the sign ordinance was enforced selectively, and therefore ruled against the union.

Employers should note that if vexed with an appearance of the rat, do not ignore the simple solution of investigating whether its location violates local ordinances.

Original Post Authored by Margaret Kostopulos, Ancel Glink

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Chicago's Ordinance Restricting Contact Near Abortion Clinics Upheld

In 2009, the City of Chicago adopted an ordinance that prohibits any person from approaching within 8 feet of another person in the vicinity of an abortion clinic if their purpose is to engage in counseling, education, protest, or similar activities. Pro-life sidewalk counselors sued the City of Chicago to challenge the "bubble zone" ordinance, claiming that the ordinance violates their freedom of speech. The district court upheld the ordinance, citing a U.S. Supreme Court case from 2000 (Hill v. Colorado) that upheld a nearly identical law. 

Plaintiffs appealed to the Seventh Circuit, relying on subsequent Supreme Court cases to argue that the Seventh Circuit should not rely on Hill v. Colorado. The Seventh Circuit disagreed, finding that the Hill case was still valid and had not been overruled in the subsequent cases. Price v. City of Chicago.  Since the City of Chicago's "bubble zone" ordinance was narrower than the Colorado regulation (Colorado restricted contact within 100 feet of the clinic entrance, Chicago restricts contact within a 50 foot radius), the Court upheld the ruling in favor of the City that the ordinance was not unconstitutional.

It is important to note that the Seventh Circuit acknowledged that other cases have struck down contact restrictions at abortion clinics, including a state-wide restriction adopted by Massachusetts. However, the Court determined that the restriction at issue in this case (Chicago's bubble zone ordinance) was similar to, and more narrow, than the restriction upheld in the Hill v. Colorado case, which the Court noted had not been overruled.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Short-Term Rentals Ordinance Challenge May Host New Parties

A challenge to Chicago’s short-term rental regulations could continue after the Seventh Circuit held the plaintiffs may need new parties to establish standing.

In 2016, the City of Chicago passed a “Shared Housing Ordinance” in June 2016 to regulate short-term housing arrangements like those offered through sites such as Airbnb. The Ordinance requires interested hosts to register with the City and acquire a business license before listing units for rent online.

Six individuals and “Keep Chicago Livable,” an Illinois non-profit with the goal of educating Chicago hosts about local home-sharing laws, challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance. The case made its way to the Seventh Circuit, which vacated the rulings.

The Seventh Circuit sent the case back to the district court because there was no clear indication that any of the named plaintiffs have standing to challenge the Ordinance. In order to establish standing, a plaintiff must demonstrate (1) an injury in-fact; (2) that is fairly traceable to the defendant’s action; and (3) capable of being redressed by a favorable decision from the court.

The Seventh Circuit concluded that under this three-pronged test, it is unable to say with confidence that any of the named individual plaintiffs have standing due to changes in circumstances for each of the six individual plaintiffs. From the time of the filing of their most recent complaint to the case on appeal, each of the plaintiffs had either sold their property in Chicago or stopped using home sharing sites like Airbnb to rent out their properties. As a result, the Court found that since plaintiffs either no longer own property in the City, no longer use home-sharing sites, or allege how out-of-town renters are inhibited from visiting Chicago, none of the plaintiffs currently have standing to sue the City and challenge the Ordinance.

Similarly, the Seventh Circuit found that Keep Chicago Livable had not alleged a sufficient injury to the organization itself that could be addressed by the Court. The Court further concluded that even if Keep Chicago Livable brought suit on behalf of its members in a representative capacity, the organization had not identified an individual plaintiff with standing to bring any claim.

The Seventh Circuit indicated that the lower court has substantial discretion to move forward with the proceedings, including allowing new parties to sue that might have standing and by allowing those plaintiffs to file an amended complaint. Finally, the Seventh Circuit observed that if the district court determines a plaintiff does have standing, the court should allow the plaintiff the opportunity to move forward with the case and a request that the Court issue a preliminary injunction against the City's enforcement of the Ordinance. As a result, this challenge to Chicago’s short-term rental regulations might continue with the addition of new parties.

The Seventh Circuit’s opinion in Keep Chicago Livable v. City of Chicago is available here.

Post authored by John Reding and Daniel J. Bolin

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Court Upholds Electoral Board's Decision in Challenge to Nomination Papers That Exceed Maximum Signatures

A recent Illinois Appellate Court decision provides some insight on how electoral boards can address objections to candidate nominating petitions that exceed the maximum number of signatures under state law. Ghiles v. MOEB, 2019 IL App (1st) 190117.

Section 10-3 of the Illinois Election Code sets out the signature requirements for certain types of candidates for local office. That section requires a candidate to file nomination papers signed by not less than 5%, nor more than 8% (or 50 more than the minimum, whichever is greater) of voters in the last election who voted for local elected officers. 

A candidate for mayor filed nomination papers containing 736 signatures. The minimum number of signatures required for that office was 139, and the maximum number was 221, based on the above-statute. An objection was filed to challenge the candidate's nomination papers on various grounds, which was heard by the local electoral board. In reviewing the nomination papers to determine whether the objection was valid, the electoral board only reviewed challenges to 221 signatures (the statutory maximum), and disregarded all of the remaining signatures. In deciding which of the 221 signatures to review, the electoral board started at the bottom of the 81 pages of nomination petition, counting from the last signature on the last page and working backwards. After the electoral board struck invalid signatures from the 221 it reviewed, the board concluded that the candidate did not have enough signatures to remain on the ballot. As a result, the electoral board ordered the candidate's name to be struck from the ballot.

The candidate sued, challenging the electoral board's decision. Specifically, the candidate argued that the electoral board should have started its review of the first 221 signatures filed, and not the last signatures. 

The case made its way to the Illinois Appellate Court, which upheld the electoral board's decision, finding no error in the board disregarding the excess signatures and drawing from the bottom of the stack of petitions. The Court did note that an electoral board should not strike all of the nomination papers solely because the petitions exceed the statutory maximum number of signatures, but that it was fair and reasonable for the electoral board to disregard the excess signatures.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Bill Would Amend FOIA to Increase Burden on Public Bodies

Every year or so, someone introduces legislation to amend FOIA to increase the penalties on public bodies for violations. This session is no exception. Last week, SB 1216 was introduced to modify the FOIA statute as follows:

1. To require a public body that denies a record under one of the FOIA exemptions to prove that release of the record would harm an interest protected by the asserted exemption. This is in addition to the current requirement that a public body prove by clear and convincing evidence that the record is exempt.

2.  To mandate that a court impose a civil penalty against a public body for any violation of FOIA (not just for willful and intentional violations as provided in the current statute). 

We'll keep our readers posted on this bill as it moves forward.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Federal Court Finds Child Sex Offender Residency Restrictions Unconstitutional

Last year we reported that the Illinois Supreme Court upheld a state statute making it unlawful for a sexual predator or a child sex offender to knowingly be present in any public park or on real property comprising any public park. Illinois law also makes it unlawful for a child sex offender to reside within 500 feet of a school, playground, or any facility providing programs or services exclusively directed toward people under age 18.  Recently, however, a federal district court case found unconstitutional a municipality’s attempt to impose stricter residency restrictions on child sex offenders.  While the case is not directly applicable in Illinois, the decision is instructive for those local governments seeking to impose similar restrictions.

In 2016, the Village of Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin adopted an ordinance prohibiting child sex offenders from residing within 3,000 feet of schools, day care centers, parks, trails, playgrounds, places of worship, athletic fields used by minors, or any other place minors were known to congregate.  The ordinance also prohibited offenders from moving into the Village unless they were already domiciled there, restricted offenders from living within 500 feet of one another, and prohibited offenders from leasing property.  The effect of the ordinance made more than 90% of the Village off-limits to child sex offenders with most of the available property in rural locations.

In Hoffman v. Village of Pleasant Prairie, a federal district court found these restrictions retroactively punished offenders and violated equal protection.  The prohibition on leasing property to offenders and the 90% ban on available locations effectively banished offenders from the Village.  Without making any individualized assessment of a particular offender’s conduct or undertaking any objective studies, the court found the Village’s laws had a criminal rather than civil purpose effectively punishing the offenders a second time for the same offense.

The court also found the ordinance treated the same class of offenders differently, allowing those domiciled in the Village to stay while banning others.  Even though the offenders were not a protected class, and the Village only had to provide a reasonable basis for the distinction, because the Village could provide no evidence to justify the distinction the court found it had violated plaintiffs’ right to equal protection under the law.

The case does not establish bright-line limits regarding what types of residency restrictions a municipality may impose.  Instead, it holds that even ordinances having a clear public purpose, in this case protecting children against the risks of recidivism by convicted child sex offenders, must still be supported by evidence in the record supporting restrictions that infringe on constitutional rights.

Post Authored by David Warner, Ancel Glink

Monday, February 11, 2019

Quorum Forum New Episode: Silver Tsunami!

A new Quorum Forum podcast episode has been released! The "Silver Tsunami" has arrived for employers and local governments, so management of increasing numbers of older employees is on the agenda. Ancel Glink attorney Matt DiCianni joins us from Ancel Glink's Workplace Report to discuss the latest age discrimination cases. Then, Ancel Glink attorney Jim Rock talks retirement, IMRF, and his time at the 2019 IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference. 

You can access this new episode (and past podcast episodes) on the Quorum Forum website here.

How is your organization helping its most experienced employees? Tell us about it at podcast@ancelglink.com

This podcast is provided as a service to our public and private sector clients and friends. It is intended to provide timely general information of interest, but should not be considered a substitute for legal advice. Read our full disclaimer: ancelglink.com/disclaimers

Friday, February 8, 2019

Release of Complaint Registry Under FOIA Renders Appeal Moot

In Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Chicago and Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Police Department (CPD), notified the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) that, in respond to FOIA request by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times,  it intended to release lists of complaint registry (known as CR) files against all CPD officers since January 1, 1967. The FOP then filed a motion for preliminary injunction and a complaint asking a court to enjoin the release of the registry files on the basis that release of the records would violate Section 8 of the Illinois Personnel Records Review Act, which prohibits release of personnel records or disciplinary action over 4 years old.  The FOP also argued that release would violate the collective bargaining agreement, the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, and Section 6 of the Personnel Records Review Act.

The trial court ruled in the FOPs favor, barring the release of the registry files. That ruling was appealed by defendants. The Appellate Court vacated the trial court orders barring release of the CR records, finding that Section 8 of the Personnel Records Review Act did not categorically exempt CR files from disclosure under FOIA because they did not relate to disciplinary or personnel files.  The Court also found that the collective bargaining agreement’s provisions regarding destruction of files was against public policy and unenforceable.  After the Court’s decision, CPD released the CR files pursuant to the original FOIA requests.

The proceedings continued as the trial court addressed the amended complaint, ultimately dismissing the amended complaint because the Appellate Court previously found that no FOIA exemptions applied to the registry files.  On appeal to the Appellate Court, the case was dismissed as moot, as the documents had already been released under FOIA.

Post Authored by Erin Pell, Ancel Glink

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Court Finds That City Conducted Reasonable Search for Records

In Sonya Blackman and Oily Thomas v. City of Chicago,  Requesters filed a FOIA request with the City of Chicago, seeking police records for an investigation of a homicide for which plaintiff Thomas was convicted.  The Chicago Police Department released the homicide file to plaintiffs in response.  Upon receipt, plaintiffs noticed that certain documents were missing based on the inventory ledge in the file.  Plaintiffs then requested the City provide an index under Section 11(e) of FOIA, and locate the missing document or provide blank forms if the originals could not be found.  The FOIA Officer attempted to locate the missing documents, but then informed plaintiffs that the documents could not be found.  The FOIA Officer provided plaintiffs with an index listing the documents provided and explaining any redactions.  Plaintiffs then filed a lawsuit, alleging that the City did not comply with FOIA by failing to provide an adequate index, failing to provide blank copies of missing forms, and failing to look for documents in good faith.  The trial court ruled in favor of the City, finding (1) that the allegations under 11(e) were moot as the City had responded with an index and (2) that the plaintiffs did not sufficiently challenge an affidavit by the City’s FOIA Officer certifying that she conducted a diligent search.

On appeal, the Appellate Court also ruled in the City's favor, noting that the City supported its argument with the affidavit of the FOIA Officer, but that plaintiff failed to file any counter-affidavit in response. Further, plaintiffs failed to show that a more diligent search would have yielded the missing records.  The Court noted that a public body is not required to recreate or reacquire a document no longer within its possession.

Post Authored by Erin Pell, Ancel Glink

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

FOIA Requires Release of Records Not in Possession of Public Body

A recent Illinois Appellate Court case reiterated the need for a public body to obtain records from agencies with which it contracts to perform governmental duties under FOIA. 

In Rushton v. Department of Corrections, Rushton and the Illinois Times filed a FOIA request with the Department of Corrections asking for a copy of a settlement agreement regarding a prisoner who allegedly died from inadequate medical care.  Wexford, a company that provides health services to prisoners in the Department, had entered into a confidential settlement agreement with the estate of the prisoner. Upon receipt of the FOIA request, the DOC asked Wexford for an unredacted copy of the Agreement, but Wexford refused to release it. Wexford later provided a redacted copy of the settlement agreement to the FOIA requesters and the DOC.  The requesters then filed a complaint against the DOC asking that it release a copy of the unredacted settlement agreement.  Wexford then intervened in the lawsuit and argued that the DOC did not have an unredacted version of the settlement agreement and that the agreement was not a public record under FOIA.  The trial court agreed with Wexford, finding that the settlement agreement did not “directly relate” to a governmental function.

On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed, finding that the settlement agreement “directly related” to a governmental function. The Court cited Section 7(2) of FOIA, which provides as follows: 
A public record that is not in the possession of a public body but is in the possession of a party with whom the agency has contracted to perform a governmental function on behalf of the public body, and that directly relates to the governmental function and is not otherwise exempt under this Act, shall be considered a public record of the public body, for purposes of this Act.   
The Court found that the agreement “directly related” to a governmental function because Wexford performed a governmental function when it contracted with the DOC to perform medical services.  The Court reasoned that the agreement involved a governmental function because it involved a claim arising out of the DOC's rendering of medical care.  The Court remanded the case to the trial court to consider whether any partial redactions would be appropriate.

Post Authored by Erin Pell, Ancel Glink

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

More New Bills Introduced That Would Affect Local Governments

The Illinois General Assembly is busy introducing hundreds of new bills, a few of which we have already reported on.  A few more that may be of interest to local governments are summarized below:

Gardening and Zoning

HB 1612 would amend the Municipal Code and Counties Code to expressly ban municipalities from prohibiting a private homeowner from gardening on his or her own property. The bill includes a home-rule preemption. The bill does not provide any guidance as to what constitutes "gardening" so presumably municipalities and counties can still regulate gardening on residential properties, including establishing restrictions on the scope and location of gardening activities so long as the regulation does not constitute an outright prohibition.

Open Meetings Act

SB 196 would amend the Open Meetings Act to allow public bodies to go into closed session to discuss the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific independent contractors or volunteers. Currently, that exception is limited to the discussion of employees or legal counsel of the public body.

Employee Expenses

HB 1621 would prohibit municipalities and counties from using funds received from the LGDF for travel, lodging, or dining expenses. This bill is similar to a number of bills that were introduced last session but were not approved.

Electronic Publication of Notices

SB 189 would amend various provisions of state law to allow municipalities and other units of local government to publish notice on their own websites rather than in local newspapers. Similar bills have been introduced over the past few years but have not been enacted.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Grand Jury Records Not Releasable Under FOIA

We have a lot of FOIA cases to report on this week, starting with this one decided by the Illinois Supreme Court:

The Illinois Supreme Court recently found that grand jury documents were exempt from disclosure under FOIA and once again stated that protective orders take precedence over disclosure under FOIA.

In In Re Appointment of Special Prosecutor, the Better Government Association (BGA) sent a FOIA request to the City of Chicago and the Office of Special Prosecutor, asking for grand jury documents regarding a 2004 death and allegations of whether employees of the City suppressed and concealed evidence. The FOIA request asked for: 1) documents to show the names of everyone interviewed by the special prosecutor, 2) statements and communications between Mayor Daley’s family members, their attorney, and the City’s corporate counsel at the time, and 3) invoices and billing records.  The City and the OSP denied the FOIA request under Section 7(1)(a) of FOIA, stating that disclosure was prohibited by state law. Specifically, they argued that disclosure was prohibited by Section 112-6 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which prohibits release of grand jury matters. The City further argued they could not release the grand jury records as they were placed under seal by a protective order.

The Illinois Supreme Court reviewed the denial and noted that the rule of secrecy around grand jury proceedings is a fundamental part of criminal procedural law.  The Court reviewed the policy reasons for maintaining grand jury secrecy, including preventing the flight of persons under investigation, protecting grand jurors from undue influence or intimidation, preventing subornation of perjury, encouraging witnesses to testify, and protecting the innocent from exposure. 

In short, the Illinois Supreme Court concluded that the requested information was prohibited from disclosure under the Code of Criminal Procedure and FOIA because release of the documents would disclose matters occurring before the grand jury. In ruling in favor of the City, the Court rejected the BGA’s argument that protective orders from the criminal court were not a basis to withhold documents under FOIA. The BGA had argued that withholding the documents was improper as it did not fall within the narrow list of exemptions in FOIA. But, the Court disagreed, ruling that a court order must be obeyed and that protective orders take precedence over the disclosure requirements of FOIA.

Post Authored by Erin Pell, Ancel Glink

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

New Finance-Related Bills Introduced Last Week Could Benefit Municipalities

HB 824 was introduced last week to amend the Non-Home Rule Municipal Sales Tax Act. If passed, it would eliminate the referendum requirement for non-home rule municipalities who want to adopt the non-home rule municipal sales tax. This would allow non-home rule municipalities to adopt and impose a sales tax without having to bring the question to the voters similar to the authority that home rule municipalities have under state law. The amendment would not change the maximum rate of 1% or the requirement that the tax be imposed in 1/4% increments.

HB 825, if passed would expressly authorize municipalities to impose storm water utility fees or charges to offset the cost of owning, maintaining, and improving local storm water infrastructure.

HB 826, if passed, would create the "Municipal Gas Use Tax Law" that would authorize municipalities to impose a tax on the purchase price of out-of-state gas that is used in the municipality. The bill contains various registration requirements that require purchasers and suppliers to self-report these out-of-state purchases and submit returns and pay the tax on the purchase.

We will keep you posted on the progress of these bills.

Monday, January 28, 2019

PAC Again Addresses Text Messages on Personal Devices

The question of whether texts or emails sent to or received by a public official or employee on his or her personal device are subject to FOIA has been the subject of a number of PAC opinions as well as court decisions, including one from the Illinois Appellate Court. Unfortunately for public bodies, the opinions on this issue have not been consistent, creating more confusion than guidance. A recent advisory opinion on this issue has not cleared anything up for public bodies.

An attorney submitted a request to a municipality asking for a variety of records, including correspondence between city council members about a personnel matter. The city provided certain records to the requester, some of which were redacted. The city also denied that part of the request that asked for text messages between aldermen and the mayor on the basis that the records were contained on private devices and, pursuant to the Illinois Appellate Court's ruling in Champaign v. Madigan, were not public records subject to FOIA.

The requester appealed to the PAC on a number of grounds, including challenging the city's withholding of texts sent/received on private devices. 

The PAC ruled in the requester's favor, finding the city in violation for withholding the text messages on the private devices of the city council members. Although the PAC did cite to the Champaign case, it did not appear to apply its holding to this request. Instead, the PAC again seemed to broadly hold that all communications that relate to public business, whether sent on a personal or government device, are public records subject to FOIA. As we have reported in the past, however, the Illinois Appellate Court rejected the PAC's broad position in the Champaign case and established particular standards for when a communication sent/received on a private device might be subject to FOIA. A message sent on a private device to/from a city council member is subject to FOIA in 3 circumstances:  (1) if forwarded to a city account; (2) if sent/received by a quorum of the city council; or (3) if sent/received during a city council meeting. We also reported on a recent circuit court decision that ruled consistently with the Champaign case, holding that an alderman's texts on his personal device were not subject to FOIA. 

In this case, the messages that the city withheld were texts between a city council member and the mayor. Applying the Champaign case to that situation, none of the three circumstances established by the Champaign case that would require release would seem to apply since the texts were not sent during a meeting or between a majority of the council, nor were they forwarded to a city account or device. Instead of following the Champaign case reasoning, the PAC cited to out-of-state rulings that hold that any communication relating to public business even if stored on a private account is a public record, as well as a previous PAC opinion relating to police department officers' text messages. 

In sum, the PAC continues to  rely on the argument it made in the Champaign case (that all communications about public business are subject to FOIA regardless of the nature of the device or account used to send them) even though that position was expressly rejected by the Illinois Appellate Court in the Champaign case. The PAC relies on the definition of "public record" to support its position, but seems to reject or ignore the analysis in the Champaign case that the record must also be in the possession of or under the control of a public body. Individual city council members are not  acting as a "public body" when they send communications on their personal devices except in the three circumstances discussed above, so communications on these personal devices are not "public records" subject to FOIA based on the analysis in Champaign. Yet, the PAC continues to rely on its broader opinion, arguing that public officials should not be able to withhold communications about public business simply because they are on personal devices. But, the Champaign court addressed that very issue in its opinion, stating as follows:
If the General Assembly intends for communications pertaining to city business to and from an individual city council member’s personal electronic device to be subject to FOIA in every case, it should expressly so state. It is not this court’s function to legislate. Indeed, such issues are legislative matters best left to resolution by the General Assembly.
The PAC's position in this and other opinions makes it difficult for public bodies because even if the government follows the Illinois Appellate Court ruling, the PAC may still find a public body in violation of FOIA based on its own reasoning that appears inconsistent with the court's ruling.

You can read the advisory opinion here.

Disclosure: Ancel Glink represented the city in this PAC appeal.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Church's RLUIPA Claims Against City Back to District Court

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in a case involving a challenge by a church to a municipality's interpretation and application of its zoning ordinance in The Church of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ v. City of Markham.

The church has been operating out of a single family residence for over 15 years. When the City learned of the church's use of the property, the City filed a lawsuit asking the court to enjoin the church's operation until it obtained a conditional use permit. The church applied, and was denied, a permit, which lead to the current lawsuit against the City for alleged violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) as well as the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  The church argues that the City treats religious uses on unequal terms with secular uses and unreasonably limits where religious uses can operate in the City, creating a substantial burden on religious exercise.

In defense, the City argued that the church's lawsuit was not "ripe" because it did not apply for variances from applicable parking regulations. The City ultimately awarded the variances to the church, as well as a conditional use permit. The district court then ruled in favor of the City on the basis that the church's claims were not ripe when they were filed. 

The church appealed, and the Seventh Circuit overturned the ruling in favor of the City. The Seventh Circuit determined that the key question in the case is whether operating a church on the property was a permitted or conditional use. Although the church had been issued a conditional use permit, it continued to argue that it didn't need one because it interpreted the City's zoning ordinance to allow churches by-right on the property. The City responded that churches are conditional uses in the residential districts and because the church received a conditional use permit, its case was moot as the district court ruled. The Seventh Circuit determined that the case was not moot, and remanded it back to the district court to address whether operating a church on the property is a permitted or conditional use under the City's zoning ordinance. The court also rejected the City's argument that the church failed to establish any right to damages, noting that nominal damages may be appropriate. 

So, this case will go back to the district court for more proceedings.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Important Changes to the Prevailing Wage Act

Each June, Illinois local governments have routinely adopted prevailing wage ordinances "ascertaining" the applicable prevailing wages that the government must pay for public works projects. That requirement is contained in the Prevailing Wage Act, which also includes requirements for filing the ordinance with the state, publishing/posting the rates, and certain record-keeping requirements. This will all change with the enactment of P.A. 100-1177 last week, which becomes effective on June 1, 2019.

The new law did not eliminate the requirement that local governments pay prevailing wages. It did, however, eliminate certain obligations local governments have under the Act and modified others, including the following:
  • Local governments no longer need to approve an annual prevailing wage ordinance each June. Instead, the prevailing wage schedule published on the Illinois Department of Labor's website will automatically set the applicable wage rates for each local government.
  • Local governments no longer need to publish or file an ordinance since one is no longer required.
  • The IDOL will be required to maintain an electronic database of certified payrolls which must be in place by April 1, 2020. Once in place, contractors will submit certified payrolls directly online rather than filing them with the local government.
  • The law did not modify existing requirements that local governments include language in a call for bids, contract, or notice about prevailing wages where applicable.
In short, the new law will eliminate certain administrative and record-keeping obligations of local governments but does not change the underlying requirement of paying prevailing wages for projects subject to the Prevailing Wage Act.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

New Year, New Bills

The Illinois General Assembly has been busy introducing hundreds of new bills - 62 bills introduced in the Illinois Senate and 812 introduced in the Illinois House as of the end of last week. While many of these are "shell bills" waiting for substantive language to be added later in the session, some are substantive and of interest to local governments.

A few of the bills introduced this year (note that none have been voted on) are summarized below:

SB 21 and HB 345 would amend the tobacco statute to prohibit the sale and distribution of tobacco throughout the state to persons under 21. 

SB 30 would enact the Workplace Transparency Act that would prohibit employers from requiring employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement that would limit or restrict the disclosure of sexual misconduct.

HB 152 would declare any provision in a collective bargaining agreement that limits the ability of a government employer to investigate the conduct of an employee to be against public policy and unenforceable.

HB 155 would increase the maximum sales tax a non-home rule municipality is authorized to impose pursuant to the Non-Home Rule Municipal Sales Tax Act from 1% to 2%, subject to restrictions on how the additional revenue can be spent.

HB 305 reintroduces the bill introduced last year that would prohibit local governments from spending public funds on expenses relating to a municipal convention or gathering.

HB 307 would create the Citizens Empowerment Act that would allow voters to petition for a referendum to dissolve a unit of local government. 

HB 317 and HB 320 would extend the PTELL (commonly known as the tax cap) to all taxing districts, including home rule units.

HB 814 would amend the Open Meetings Act to allow municipal officers to complete the required OMA training through a program hosted by an organization that represents municipalities. Currently, the only training authorized for municipal officials is offered through the Attorney General's office.

It's not clear how many of these (if any) will move forward but if they do, we will keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Quorum Forum Podcast Episode 18: Workers Compensation

Ancel Glink's Podcast Quorum Forum recently released Episode 18 - Workers CompensationA summary of the episode is below:

Nearly all employers have worker’s compensation claims, but how are they different for local governments? Experienced attorneys Britt Isaly and Greg Rode join us for a special meeting to discuss things local officials and staff might not know about worker’s compensation, including common defense strategies, the advantages and disadvantages of settlement, and a recent law providing new benefits to paramedics. We also discuss the Illinois Attorney General’s recent guidance on immigration issues in the workplace. Email your worker’s compensation questions to podcast@ancelglink.com!