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 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 passage in both the House and Senate, through signature into law by the Governor.
101st Illinois General Assembly, 2020 Spring Session
- Illinois State Budget: Budget News! Governor Pritzker presented his budget address to the Illinois General Assembly on February 19, 2020, and recommends appropriation of $15.128 million for our grant programs in his FY2021 budget. This is more than a 21% increase over FY2020 (current year) at $12.482 million for our equalization, per capita, and area grants in the Secretary of State's budget. This increase is a direct result of ILA's research indicating per capita grant rates for public and school libraries had not kept pace with the cost of living and the Secretary of State's work with the Governor's Office. Of course, this is only the first step, and the ball is now in the legislature’s hands, as appropriation hearings will begin on the Governor’s budget proposal in the near future.
Net Neutrality: For the past two years, following the FCC's lifting of regulations protecting net neutrality, legislation has been introduced in the Illinois General Assembly. First, in 2018, to prevent the state of Illinois from doing business with any internet service providers that engaged in activities that abridge net neutrality, such as throttling content or offering faster connectivity to sites based on content or content creator; then in 2019, to allow the state to do business with such providers, as long as the providers disclosed the practices. Neither advanced, pending resolution of a federal lawsuit brought by the ACLU, a number of coalition partners, and a number of state attorneys general (including Illinois') against the FCC. The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled in late summer 2019 that the lifting of regulations could stand, but a prohibition against states taking action was lifted. Therefore, this issue is before us again. ILA supports legislation that protects net neutrality for Illinoisans. HB 1582 was introduced in 2019, but has not yet been reassigned to a committee.
Refining language and making consistent for district and municipal libraries the current qualifications for serving as a library trustee: Public Act 100-0746/HB 2222, signed into law in September 2018, updated trustee eligibility to those who had lived in the district for at least one year, those who are not "in arrears in the payment of a tax or other indebtedness due to the library district," and those who have not been convicted of a crime. ILA seeks first to change "payment of a tax or other indebtedness due to the library district" to "payment of a property tax;" primarily over concerns about breaching patron privacy. Second, we seek to have this law also apply to elected trustees under the Local Library Act so that municipal libraries and district libraries are treated consistently. We believe this will enable easier merging of district and municipal libraries, if desired. HB 4328 has been introduced for this purpose. It has not yet been assigned to a committee.
Continue to work with our partner organization, the Association of Illinois School Library Educators (AISLE) on an eventual goal to have a licensed school librarian in all schools in the state. ILA and AISLE recognize this is a long-term goal with interim steps, strategic alliances, and other approaches to be developed. In addition:
-HJR 9 Media Literacy Task Force: ILA and AISLE support this legislation, introduced in spring 2019, and had advocated for the addition of a licensed school librarian as one of the appointees. No such explicit addition was made, although school librarians are certainly eligible to serve. ILA and AISLE support the creation of this task force and the inclusion of a school librarian. It has not yet been reassigned to a committee.
-HB 1559 Media Literacy: This legislation, which proposes a school may include media literacy in its curriculum, passed the House in 2019 but was not considered by the Senate committee deadline and was re-referred to the Senate Assignments Committee. ILA and AISLE support the inclusion of media literacy in school curricula. It has not yet been reassigned to a committee.
- Patron Privacy: Last year legislation was introduced seeking to regulate the process by which libraries make self-service hold pickups available. ILA and the Illinois State Library worked with legislators to refine this language. Draft language we currently support prohibits making available "personal identifiable information" and defines such information as "complete last and first name, address, IP address, social security number, complete telephone number, or email address that directly identifies an individual." Also, it allows a library to provide such information upon documented consent by the patron. ILA is not advocating for a change to the current law necessarily; however, if it does move it is important for us to have input to ensure our ability to serve patrons is adequately balanced with the need to protect privacy. SB 2523 has been introduced and assigned to the Local Government Committee.
Additional Illinois Legislation
- HB 4135 would enable library district boards to collect 1% tax on recreational cannabis sales from dispensaries located in their districts. This 1% would be carved out from the portion of recreational cannabis sales tax to be collected by counties. Of the 55 dispensaries currently licensed to sell medical cannabis, 37 have also been licensed for recreational sales; 17 of which are located in library districts. This represents approximately 5% of the state's district libraries, and 2% of all public libraries in Illinois, although of course the number of dispensaries is expected to increase. ILA supports efforts to enable libraries in Illinois to realize additive revenue sources, and supports this potential legislation as an option for districts to pursue, dependent on each community's needs and wishes as determined by individual district boards. ILA opposes the use of additional revenue sources as pretexts to cap or lower property taxes. This bill was introduced on 1/17/2020 and has been referred to the Sales, Amusement, and Other Taxes Subcommittee of the Revenue and Finance Committee on 2/5/2020.
- HB 4150 proposes to divert $25.8 million from personal property replacement tax (PPRT) funds to subsidize local health protection grants. It was introduced 1/17/2020 and referred to the Appropriations-Human Services Committee on 2/4/2020.
- HB 4494 addresses the use of taxes raised to support debt servicing following the repayment of the debt. It was introduced on 2/4/2020 and has not yet been referred to a committee.
- HB 4580 proposes to require all public meetings to be recorded by the public body. It was introduced on 2/5/2020 and has not yet been referred to a committee.
- HB 4762 would prohibit taxing districts from holding 150% or more of the previous year's property tax collections and would require excess amounts to be refunded to taxpayers. It was introduced on 2/10/2020 and has not yet been referred to a committee.
- HB 4943 proposes to require governmental entities to establish ethics training, harassment, and discrimination prevention programs and require employees to complete annual training on these subjects. It was introduced on 2/18/2020 and referred to the Executive Committee on 3/3/2020.
- HB 5622 addresses a municipal library's relationship to its municipality, but is drafted incorrectly. It was introduced on 2/14/2020 and has not yet been referred to a committee. If and when it is, amendments will be filed to clarify the sponsor's intent.
- SB 2339 would amend the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law so that taxing districts shall reduce their aggregate extension base upon referendum. ILA opposes efforts to limit property tax revenue for libraries. It was introduced on 1/8/2020 and has not yet been referred to a committee.
- SB 3177 would provide that nonresident fees shall not be charged to a nonresident student in an unincorporated area who meets poverty income guidelines. The bill also removes language in statute allowing libraries not to participate in nonresident card reciprocal borrowing programs of a regional library system. It was introduced on 2/11/2020 and was referred to the State Government Committee on 2/19/2020, where it has not yet had a hearing.
Support Libraries through Funded Appropriations
Fully fund fiscal year 2021 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. Increase the per capita and per student grant rates for public libraries and school libraries, respectively, to keep pace with increased expenses libraries will incur due to the mandated minimum wage increase. Support creation of a grant program to encourage development of Open Educational Resources (OER). Support statewide purchase of databases for shared use by academic, public, and school libraries.
Oppose Additional Unfunded Mandates
Hundreds of unfunded mandates have been imposed on units of local government. 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, exacerbating the strain that has been placed on our schools, parks, and other community organizations.