Committed to serving as an advocate for Illinois libraries
ILA monitors all bills in the Illinois General Assembly that affect libraries. ILA's Public Policy Committee (PPC) carefully reviews issues and recommends action: support, oppose, or monitor. We seek to indicate "monitor" status only as we are gathering information about a bill; the goal is to ultimately support or oppose laws that will affect libraries. In rare cases, the impact on libraries remains unclear, or there is not a consensus among librarians whether to support or oppose, but in general, we try to avoid not taking a position. ILA's Quick Response Team addresses legislative issues that arise in between PPC meetings. Contact the PPC Chair, or read PPC meeting minutes, agendas, and reports to the ILA Executive Board here.
In addition to monitoring bills, ILA proactively proposes and advocates for legislation favorable to libraries; drafting changes to existing law or new law, finding sponsors for bills we wish to bring forward, and then garnering support and following the process through its passage in both the House and Senate, through signature into law by the Governor.
102nd Illinois General Assembly, Spring 2021 Session
Please note that the calendars can change frequently.
In addition to the list linked above, ILA is focusing on the following:
The referendum on the ballot to allow the state of Illinois to implement a graduated income tax rather than a flat tax failed in the 2020 general election. The 2021 budget was predicated on its passage, so we can expect budget repercussions across the state, the details of which are as yet unknown. ILA is focusing our message more strongly than ever on the benefits libraries bring to our communities, schools, universities, and businesses. On September 15, Governor Pritzker asked state agencies to prepare for 5% budget cuts in the current fiscal year (2021) and to look ahead to 10% cuts for the following fiscal year.
The FY2020-21 budget (Public Act 101-0638) does include increases in the per capita grant rate for both school and public libraries, from $0.75 per student to $0.885; and from $1.25 per resident to $1.475; to date, they have NOT been cut. These statutory amounts had not been raised since 1995. This success is a direct result of long-term advocacy on the part of all of our members to make the case for libraries' value to our elected officials, and a specific proposal from ILA this year.
As of February, the Governor's proposed fiscal year 2022 budget does include full funding at these levels for the Secretary of State's budget. It remains to be codified in state statute, which ILA is pursuing in the 102nd General Assembly.
Black Caucus Legislative Agenda, Education Platform
During the final session of the 101st Illinois General Assembly 1/8-12/2021, three of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus's four pillars were passed: Education, Criminal Justice Reform, and Economic Equity (the fourth pillar is Health Equity).
The education legislation creates an Inclusive American History Commission, which would include "a representative from a statewide organization representing school librarians." Out of these three, to date, the Governor has signed only the Criminal Justice Reform legislation into law. ILA is working with the Association of Illinois School Library Educators (AISLE) to keep up-to-date and identify a nominee.
The Broadband Advisory Council (BAC), created in 2019, includes an ILA representative to provide two-way communication with this group and the Illinois library community, raising awareness in the BAC of libraries' potential to help achieve its goals, and informing libraries about opportunities. The BAC works with the Illinois Office of Broadband, housed in the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The office is responsible for administering the Connect Illinois broadband infrastructure grant program and develops related programming such as in the areas of community planning and capacity building and digital literacy, adoption, and inclusion.
- Libraries are explicitly eligible for the Illinois Connected Communities grant program (up to $150,000); see the Notice of Funding Opportunity, p.4.
- The BAC recently released an affordability study of universal broadband; libraries have a role to play in several of the report's recommendations (see p.9-10), particularly those relating to partnerships with community organizations that provide digital skills training (like libraries!), increasing public awareness of affordability programs, and improving the pipeline of computing devices.
ILA Legislative Agenda
Fully fund current fiscal year 2021 appropriations for the Illinois Secretary of State’s grant programs, equalization grants, and per capita grants for public libraries, school libraries, and library systems. Maintain funding at this level in the fiscal year 2022 budget, to enable libraries to keep pace with increased expenses they will incur due to the minimum wage increase. Preserve public libraries' primary source of revenue: local property taxes. 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.
COVID-19 RELATED LEGISLATION
Ensure that public libraries, both district and local, are eligible for any COVID-19 relief funding measures that are enacted, such as the Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (CURE) Support Program for units of local government. If and when considering legislation or guidelines that affect libraries regarding COVID-19 mitigation measures, please work with the library community to craft the most effective and appropriate language.
OPPOSE ADDITIONAL UNFUNDED MANDATES
Hundreds of unfunded mandates have been imposed on units of local government, only one of which is the minimum wage increase. Libraries are among the smallest property tax recipients, and opportunities to raise other sources of revenue to address mandate imposition are virtually non-existent. Consequently, unfunded mandates often result in library service reductions.