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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

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Cannabis Act Amendments Signed by Governor


As pretty much everyone in Illinois knows, January 1, 2020 is the first day that recreational cannabis will be legal in the state. Since the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act was passed on June 25, 2019, a variety of concerns have been raised by municipalities, businesses, employers, and others regarding certain provisions of the Act, resulting in legislative discussions of a "trailer bill" to address some of these issues. We reported on this a couple of weeks ago here after both houses had approved it and it was sent to the Governor for his signature. 

Last week, the Governor signed P.A. 101-0593 approving changes to the Cannabis Act. While certainly not an exhaustive list of the extensive changes to the Act, we have summarized some of the amendments that affect local governments below:

Municipal and County Taxes

As amended, the Act will now allow municipalities and counties that enact a local sales tax on cannabis dispensaries to file their ordinance or resolution with the Department of Revenue by April 1, 2020 to begin collecting taxes as early as July 1, 2020. The initial Act wouldn't have allowed tax collection until September 1, 2020.  

Advertising

The amended Act clarifies that the locational restrictions placed on the advertising of cannabis business establishments near certain sensitive uses do not apply to the exterior business signs of a cannabis business establishment that display only the name of the business.

On-Premises Consumption

As amended, the Act will clarify that on-site consumption of cannabis can only take place in a licensed dispensary or a retail tobacco store. Local governments are not authorized to expand on-site consumption beyond these two types of businesses but can establish restrictions or ban on-site consumption.

Public Safety Employees

The amended Act now states that the Act does not prevent public employers from prohibiting or taking disciplinary action against law enforcement officers or firefighters for consumption, possession, sales, purchase, or delivery of cannabis while on or off duty, unless otherwise provided by local policy or collective bargaining agreement.  

Employer Drug Policies

As amended, the Act clarifies that an employer may subject an employee to "reasonable and nondiscriminatory random drug tests" and can withdraw a job offer due to a failure of a drug test.

Cannabis Paraphernalia

As amended, the Act provides that the possession and use of cannabis paraphernalia is legal in connection with lawful cannabis use.

Expungement

The trailer bill also makes certain changes to the expungement provisions of the Act, requiring courts to provide certificates of disposition to individuals after automatic expungement, among other changes.

Monday, December 9, 2019

FOIA Case Moot Because Records Provided to Requester


We don't see a lot of FOIA court cases - most of our guidance on FOIA comes from PAC opinions, both binding and advisory. Recently, however, an Illinois appellate court addressed a FOIA dispute in MAP v. City of Crystal Lake (unreported opinion).

In this case, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police (MAP) had filed a FOIA request with the City requesting attorney billing records and meeting minutes relating to a lawsuit involving the termination and subsequent reinstatement of police officers. The City provided the meeting minutes but denied the request for the attorney invoices and closed session meeting minutes. MAP filed a lawsuit challenging the City's denial of its FOIA request. While the lawsuit was ongoing, the City provided 136 pages of redacted attorney billing records to MAP. Both parties then filed motions for summary judgment. The circuit court ruled in favor of the City, and MAP appealed.

The appellate court did not rule on the merits of the FOIA request or response, instead finding the case moot because the City had already provided the requested records to MAP, which ended the dispute in this case. The appellate court also ruled that MAP forfeited any challenge to the City's redaction of the records or for the award of attorneys fees as a prevailing party because MAP failed to raise these issues in its motion for summary judgment. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Quorum Forum Podcast Episode 32: Holiday Special! New Laws for 2020


We have a new Quorum Forum Podcast episode for your listening pleasure: Quorum Forum Episode 32 - Holiday Special! New Laws for 2020


It's a Quorum Forum podcast holiday special! Ancel Glink attorneys are telling Santa what local governments need to know for the holidays and beyond. Christy Michaelson discusses maintaining city sidewalks, busy sidewalks, while Aaron Bitterman talks recent tort immunity cases. Finally, Mark Heinle reviews new laws affecting local governments and employers in the new year, on topics ranging from sexual harassment to the minimum wage. 

What do you think local governments need to know for the new year? Email us 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

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Court Finds PSEBA Recipients Only Eligible For "Basic" Health Coverage


From Ancel Glink's labor and employment law blog The Workplace Report with Ancel Glink:



Last week the 3rd District Appellate Court affirmed the practice of a number of municipalities who limit their PSEBA recipients to only their “basic,” or lowest level, health insurance plan.

In Esser v. City of Peoria, the plaintiff, a former police officer, had suffered a catastrophic injury as defined under the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act (“PSEBA”). He received a duty disability and applied for and was ultimately found eligible for benefits under PSEBA, which states in pertinent part, that an employer is required to pay the entire premium amount for “basic” health coverage for public safety employees who qualify under the Act.

The City had two health insurance plans from which employees could choose – a low deductible, and more expensive plan, and a high deductible, less costly plan. Previous to the plaintiff’s injury and a subsequent application for benefits under the Act, the City had approved an ordinance identifying its high deductible health insurance plan as its “basic” plan for purposes of the Act.

After the plaintiff was determined to be eligible for benefits pursuant to the Act, the City sent him a letter, notifying him that he was eligible for the high deductible plan at no cost per the Act, or he could choose the low deductible plan and pay the difference in premium between the two. He filed suit for declaratory judgment, asking the court to determine that he was eligible for the low deductible plan pursuant to the Act.

The appeals court held that the language of the act clearly states that the City’s (and any public employer’s) obligation is to pay the entire premium amount for “basic” health insurance, not the health insurance of the employee’s choice, or the most expensive health insurance, or any plan with more favorable coverage as might become available. Also, the City had previously identified the high deductible plan as being the “basic” plan for the City, and the one that was available at no cost to PSEBA recipients. Rules of statutory interpretation, the court concluded, required that the plain meaning of the language applied and that the plaintiff would be eligible for the designated high deductible plan identified by the City as its “basic” plan.

Public employers who have not yet passed ordinances identifying their “basic” health insurance plan for PSEBA recipients should consider doing so now, consistent with the decision in this case. Additionally, public employers should note that PSEBA recipients are not automatically eligible at no cost for the most expensive health insurance plan, or even the plan that they were on previously. In fact, it appears that the court in Esser has confirmed the practice of switching PSEBA recipients to an employer’s “basic” plan once the employee is determined to be eligible for benefits.

Post Originally Authored by Margaret Kostopulos, Ancel Glink


 

Monday, December 2, 2019

New Government Employer Requirements


It's December, which means there's less than a month until the New Year and compliance with any new laws taking effective in 2020. We'll be reporting on a few of these over the next few weeks, starting with changes to employment laws that affect local government employers.

P.A. 101-0221 was signed by the Governor on August 9, 2019. The Act made numerous changes to various employment laws. We have summarized two of these changes that affect local governments below, both of which require affirmative action by July 1, 2020. 

Elected Official Allegations of Sexual Harassment Against Another Elected Official

The Act amended the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act to require local governments to adopt an ordinance or resolution to amend their sexual harassment policies to provide a mechanism for reporting and independent review of allegations of sexual harassment made by an elected official against another elected official. Local governments have six months from the effective date of the Act to amend their sexual harassment policies (so, the amendment should be adopted by July 1, 2020). 

Employer Disclosure of Adverse Harassment or Discrimination Judgments or Rulings

The Act establishes new reporting disclosure requirements for employers. Government employers are expressly included in this statute. Beginning July 1, 2020, and annually thereafter, an employer that has had an adverse judgment or administrative ruling in the previous calendar year must disclose the following to the Department of Human Rights:
  1. the total number of adverse judgments or administrative rulings during the previous year;
  2. whether any equitable relief was ordered against the employer in that judgment or ruling;
  3. how many judgments or rulings fall into the following categories: (a) sexual harassment; (b) discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex; (c) discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, or national origin; (d) discrimination or harassment on the basis of religion; (e) discrimination or harassment on the basis of age; (f) discrimination or harassment on the basis of disability; (g) discrimination or harassment on the basis of military status or unfavorable discharge;  (h) discrimination or harassment on the basis of gender identity; (i) discrimination or harassment on the basis of any other characteristic protected under the Act.
If DHS is investigating a charge, it can also request information about settlements that relate to any category listed above. 

The disclosures should not include the victim's name, and any annual reporting by DHS based on the information provided by employers will not disclose individual employers' reports.