Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


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

Monday, November 22, 2021

Village's Assault Weapon Ban Upheld By Illinois Supreme Court

We previously reported on Municipal Minute about an Illinois appellate court decision involving a challenge to the Village of Deerfield, Illinois assault weapon ban. The appellate court had ruled in favor of the Village, upholding the Village's assault weapon ban ordinance. That decision was appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, which issued its ruling last week. As a result of a divided Illinois Supreme Court, the appellate court's ruling in favor of the Village was affirmed. 

The Illinois Supreme Court opinion is set out in full below:

In this case, one Justice of this court has recused himself, and the remaining members of the court are divided so that it is not possible to secure the constitutionally required concurrence of four judges for a decision (see Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 3). Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed. The effect of this dismissal is the same as an affirmance by an equally divided court of the decision under review but is of no precedential value. See Perlman v. First National Bank of Chicago, 60 Ill. 2d 529, 530 (1975). 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Court Rules in Favor of Federal Agencies in Federal FOIA Lawsuit

Over several years, a prisoner submitted hundreds of FOIA requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The prisoner's FOIA requests centered around a conspiracy theory that a movement he had joined that had white supremacy ties was an elaborate governmental sting operation. After the agencies either provided responsive redacted records, withheld exempt records, or highlighted that their searches failed to identify responsive records, the prisoner filed a lawsuit alleging that the agencies conducted inadequate searches. The district court ruled in favor of the government agencies, finding that each agency submitted an affidavit from agency personnel detailing the FOIA process and how their searches were reasonably calculated to locate responsive records.

On appeal, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in White v. United States Department of Justice also ruled in favor of the government agencies. The Court of Appeals found that the agency affidavits had a presumption of good faith, and in order to overcome this presumption of good faith, the requester had to to provide evidence that the agencies unreasonably overlooked records that would have been responsive to his FOIA requests. Here, the Court of Appeals determined that White’s speculative, conspiracy-based claims of bad faith searches failed to overcome that presumption because FOIA requires more than just speculation that additional documents exist to overcome the good faith presumption in the agency affidavits.

Although this case discusses the obligations of federal agencies to conduct reasonably diligent searches under the federal FOIA statute and the presumption of good faith given to detailed affidavits from agency officials, this case is relevant for Illinois public bodies, because the Illinois FOIA statute is modeled after its federal counterpart, so Illinois courts often look to federal cases as persuasive authority.

Post Authored by Eugene Bolotnikov, Ancel Glink

Monday, November 15, 2021

Court Rules in Favor of County Board in Case Challenging Appointment Authority

Recently, an Illinois Appellate Court ruled in favor of a County Board in a case deciding who has the authority to appoint officials to fill County elected office vacancies. Kloeppel v. Champaign County.

After the voters approved a change in the government structure of Champaign County, the voters elected the County's first County Executive. When the new County Executive took office, there were vacancies on the County Board and in other election positions that needed to be filled. Consistent with past practice, the County Chairman and County Board took action to fill these vacancies. Shortly thereafter, the County Executive filed suit against the County Board claiming that the County Executive and not the County Board had the authority to fill these elected office vacancies.

The case involved an interpretation of two different statutes regarding appointments in County government. The County Executive argued that the Counties Code gave the Executive the authority to appoint all County officers. The County Board argued that the Election Code gave the County Board the authority to fill vacancies in elected positions such as on the County Board. The trial court ruled in the County Executive's favor and the County Board appealed.

The Appellate Court reviewed the two statutes and ruled in favor of the County Board, reversing the trial court. While the Appellate Court acknowledged that the County Executive has the authority under the Counties Code to make appointments in certain County offices (i.e., boards and commissions), that authority does not extend to appointments to elected office, which the Appellate Court determined was reserved to the County Board Chairman and Board under the Election Code. In sum, the Appellate Court found that the Chairman of the County Board, with the advice and consent of the County Board, has the authority to fill vacancies in County elected offices, not the County Executive.

Disclaimer: Ancel Glink represented the Champaign County Board in this appeal.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Two More Veto Session Bills Sent to the Governor

We reported on a few veto session bills yesterday, and today we report on a bill that, if signed by the Governor, could provide relief to businesses in tax increment financing (TIF) districts that were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and also provides for an exemption from the State’s parking excise tax for parking facilities operated or owned by municipalities. 

SB 217 amends the Illinois Municipal Code to authorize local governments to provide relief to businesses located within redevelopment areas that have experienced business interruptions or other adverse conditions directly or indirectly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic and experienced during a statewide disaster declaration regarding COVID-19. These costs can be reimbursed in the form of grants, subsidies, or loans distributed prior to December 31, 2022. 

Municipalities can also establish, by ordinance or resolution, procedures for the payment of the funds, including application procedures, grants or loan agreements, certifications, payment methods and other accountability measures that may be imposed upon participating businesses. 

The bill defines eligible costs of business interruption as decreases in revenue caused by closing or limiting access to the business establishment to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or decreases in revenue caused by decreased customer demand as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

In addition, the bill also includes an exemption from the State’s parking excise tax for parking garages and areas operated or owned by units of local government – the exemption does not apply if the parking facility is operated by a third party. This amendment will address concerns that were raised by municipalities when the parking excise tax was enacted by the State as to whether this tax applied to commuter lots and other public parking lots owned and operated by government entities. The bill also exempts the purchase of a parking space by a unit of local government for use by its employees, provided that the purchase price is paid directly by the municipality. 

Post authored by Rain Montero, Ancel Glink

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Update on Veto Session Bills Sent to the Governor

After a much-needed vacation, Municipal Minute is back. We have a few recent bills to report on today and tomorrow.

General Assembly Passes Several Bills During Fall Veto Session

The Illinois General Assembly met for its annual Fall Veto Session last month. Despite its name, there were no vetoed bills for the General Assembly to attempt to override—instead, members considered and passed several new bills which will be sent to Governor Pritzker for consideration.

SB 1169 Would Amend the Health Care Right of Conscience Act

SB 1169, which started as a bill to provide a technical amendment to the Pyrotechnic Use Act, was passed by both houses of the General Assembly as a completely different bill. The bill passed both houses on October 28th as an amendment to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act (HCRCA), which generally protects an individual’s right to refuse to obtain, receive, or accept medical treatment without facing discrimination based on their medical decisions. The amendment provides an explicit exception to the Act by stating that any person, public official, employer, institution, or other entity may impose requirements that are intended to prevent the contraction or transmission of COVID-19 or “its subsequent iterations." The bill has been formulated as a “declaration of existing law."

HB 3136 Would Create Gaming Omnibus Law

The General Assembly passed HB 3136, the omnibus gaming legislation, on October 28th. While the bill is long and incorporates several different changes to the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975, the Illinois Gambling Act, the Raffles and Poker Runs Act, and the Video Gaming Act, we want to provide an update of the legislative changes to video gaming that most greatly impact local government and municipalities’ regulatory authority.

The bill allows non-home-rule units of local government to impose an annual video gaming terminal fee of $250 (previous cap was $25). The bill does not restrict the authority of home rule municipalities to charge terminal fees in excess of the statutory cap, which was previously upheld by an Illinois Appellate Court. The fees imposed by home-rule and non-home-rule units of local government must be shared equally between the gaming terminal operator and the licensed establishment where the terminal is being operated. The bill also curtails the taxing power of units of local government with regard to video gaming—municipalities may not impose taxes on the following entities or persons:

  • manufacturers, distributors, terminal operators, licensed technicians, licensed terminal handlers, licensed establishments, licensed veterans establishments, licensed truck stop establishments, licensed fraternal establishments, or their authorized activities under the Video Gaming Act; 
  • video gaming terminals;
  • users or players of video gaming terminals; or
  • other uses, play, or operations of video gaming terminals by any person or entity.

Municipalities that have already adopted an ordinance to impose an amusement tax on any of the above entities can continue to impose those taxes, so long as the ordinance was adopted prior to November 1, 2021. However, a municipality that has adopted that type of tax cannot increase, expand, or extend the tax or enact a new tax on persons participating in video gaming.

Post Authored by Erin Monforti & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

Friday, November 5, 2021

Quorum Forum - New Episode 58: Taxes

Ancel Glink's Quorum Forum Podcast has just released a new episode - Episode 58: Taxes 

There is nothing certain in this life but Quorum Forum podcast and taxes! Ancel Glink’s Keri-Lyn Krafthefer, Adam Simon, and Jim Rock join us to discuss budget and levy process, tax objections, tax assessment appeals, and more! 

Email your questions to podcast@ancelglink.com!