Legislative Issues

Illinois Legislation

100th Illinois General Assembly
2018 Spring Session

Illinois Library Association Initiatives

Extend to city, village, and township libraries the same budget flexibility allowed for public library districts

Through a supermajority vote by its boards of trustees, public library districts have the statutory authority to transfer previously appropriated funds between budget line-items to allow its governing body to responsibility manage district finances. However, the Illinois Local Library Act does not give this same authority to many city, village, and township libraries within our state. We expect a Senate bill to propose granting libraries organized under the Illinois Local Library Act the same flexibility that public library districts enjoy to appropriately manage their fiscal affairs. We are supporting SB 2450 on this issue. As of the close of the spring 2018 session, the bill is still in progress due to concerns from other groups that passage may result in positions being cut midyear. ILA is continuing to work with these groups and our legislators on a solution.

Allow libraries to choose their preferred accounting method

Last year, the Illinois Comptroller notified units of local government that it would no longer permit government entities to file its annual audit statements prepared on the cash basis accounting method. Libraries have prepared and filed annual audit reports using the cash basis of accounting for decades. The requirement that governments must utilize the accrual method of accounting will result in additional costs for libraries and all units of local government. We anticipate a House bill to propose allowing libraries to file their audit statements using either the accrual or cash basis method of accounting. We are supporting Amendment 1 to HB 4104 on this issue, which states if a library's audits have been performed on the cash basis of accounting, the library can continue to do so in the future. As of the close of the spring 2018 session, the bill passed as SB 2630, and is expected to be signed by the Governor.

Support Libraries through Funded Appropriations

Fully fund fiscal year 2019 state appropriations for the Illinois Secretary of State’s grant programs, equalization grants, and per capita grants for public libraries, school libraries, and library systems. Approve appropriations for the Illinois State Library and higher education institutions including state university and community college academic libraries for the benefit of students, their families, and our communities.

Oppose Additional Unfunded Mandates

Hundreds of unfunded mandates have been imposed on units of local government. Although libraries are among the smallest property tax recipients, opportunities to raise other sources of revenue to address mandate imposition are virtually non-existent. Consequently, additional unfunded mandates must often result in library service reductions, exacerbating the strain that has been placed on our schools, parks, and other community organizations. The Illinois Library Association encourages the legislature to support constructive mandate relief by permitting internet homepage postings to fulfill formal notice and publication requirements, permit electronic government record retention, and other cost saving proposals that are supported through technology.

Oppose Property Tax Freezes

A statewide property tax freeze preempts local control. Local library trustees' primary duty is to manage local revenues and expenditures. A freeze nullifies this most basic responsibility. A freeze is especially harmful when accompanied by unfunded mandates.

Additional Key Illinois Library Legislation

  • Access to broadband and net neutrality are vital to the free flow of information and the ability of libraries to provide Illinois residents with unfettered access to all legal content. ILA is actively advocating on the federal level to restore net neutrality protections. Here in Illinois, we are supporting  SB 2975 and HB 4819 on the issue of net neutrality, and HB 5752 to create a Broadband Advisory Panel, which will include "a representative from an Illinois library association."
  • Under current state law, when a library district seeks to annex an area currently unserved by a library district, notice must be given about such annexations (typically, but not necessarily, via postings in local newspapers), and residents who object may file petitions (a "back-door" referendum) to block them. HB 4519 seeks to require a "front-door" referendum in which districts wishing to do this must first get voter approval in both areas. We oppose HB 4519 because: 1) Adding barriers to annexing areas precludes the expansion of valuable library services to previously unserved residents; 2) There is already a process in place if residents object to the annexation; 3) Residents in areas to be annexed who are interested in becoming part of the library district should not have additional burdens placed on them to do so; and 4) A better solution would be to find a better way to communicate/disseminate information about the annexation via channels other than local papers, if the problem is that there is uneven local paper coverage in the areas in question. As of the close of the spring 2018 session, this bill will not advance.
  • We are monitoring HB 2222, which seeks to address requirements for residents serving as library trustees. One potential requirement is that trustees need to have lived in the municipality/district for a period of at least one year in order to be eligible to serve; the other has to do with trustees not being "in debt" to the municipality in order to be eligible to serve. 
  • Two bills, which would restrict the use of public funds for professional development, have been introduced in the Illinois General Assembly. The ILA Public Policy Committee (PPC) is monitoring the situation closely and will take appropriate action as needed. It's early to determine if these bills are going to move through the legislative process. Bills similar to these are introduced every year, usually as a response to a media story about expenditures that a person or entity that seeks reimbursement has made. We will provide updates on this legislation.

Federal Legislation

115th U.S. Congress
Second Session

Support the Museum and Library Services Act of 2017

The Museum and Library Services Act of 2017 (S. 2271) has been introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The 2017 MLSA reauthorizes the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), showing congressional support for the federal agency and the funding it administers, including the Library Services Technology Act, the only federal program that exclusively covers services and funding for libraries. The LSTA provides more than $183 million for libraries through the Grants to States program, the National Leadership Grants for Libraries, the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, and Native American Library Services. While the current, approved 2018 appropriations bill, H.R. 1625 includes funding for IMLS at increased levels, including a $5.7 million increase for LSTA, the White House's proposed budget for 2019 eliminates IMLS. We urge elected officials to support IMLS and library funding throughout the 2018 and 2019 appropriations cycles to avoid rescission this year or elimination next year.

Support Restoration and Preservation of Net Neutrality

The FCC recently voted to gut the net neutrality protections that limit the power of Internet Service Providers to slow websites, block mobile apps, or in any way control the information we access. Modern libraries rely on the Internet to collect, create and disseminate essential online information and services to the public. Strong, enforceable net neutrality rules are critical to keeping the Internet working the way it does now. The Congressional Review Act gives Congress the ability and authority to nullify the FCC’s actions by adopting a Resolution of Disapproval. In May 2018, the Senate voted 52-47 in favor of the CRA Resolution of Disapproval; it will now move to the House and would need a simple majority there plus the signature of the President to become law.  Access ILA's Net Neutrality resources.

Support Strengthening Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants

H.R. 4508 proposes to eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which allows librarians and others who work in low-income and disadvantaged communities (including rural, urban, and suburban) to have some of their student loans erased after making loan payments for 10 years. This program has encouraged many early-career librarians with MLIS degrees to choose communities that truly need qualified librarians; places that especially need literacy services, jobs skills training programs, and community building expertise, all of which librarians do. Instead, support S. 1412, the Strengthening Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants Act, S. 1412 in the Senate and H.R. 3206 in the House. The approved 2018 appropriations bill, H.R. 1625 includes $350 million for the public service loan forgiveness program.

Protect the Right to Research

H.R. 3427, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), would ensure that scientific research paid for by tax dollars can be freely accessed by taxpayers. Every federal agency that significantly funds research would have to adopt a policy to provide for free online public access to research articles resulting from that public funding. Access to this research would help all libraries to provide their patrons with access to cutting-edge scientific information. 

Support the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act

On March 15, 2018, bipartisan leadership of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees, introduced the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, S. 2559. The Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act amends the U.S. Copyright Act to ensure compliance with the Marrakesh Treaty. Adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2013, the Marrakesh Treaty requires countries to enact copyright exceptions that allow the creation and distribution of accessible format copies such as braille, audiobooks or digital files.

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