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 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.
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, 2019 Spring Session
State Budget and Capital Bill
The fiscal year 2020 state budget, SB 262, was signed by Governor Pritzker on June 28. It contains appropriations and re-appropriations of $66,141,234 for libraries, including $875 from the Capital Development Fund and $2,892,634 from the Build Illinois Bond Fund. There is good news on the Federal level too; the House Appropriations Committee approved fiscal year 2020 recommendations, including a $25 million increase for IMLS for a total of $267 million (including $6 million for Illinois via LSTA's Grants to States program, included in the state budget noted above; this is a dramatic increase over 2019's $4.2 million). The state budget also includes a $29 million appropriation for the Illinois Department of Human Services for Census 2020 outreach; efforts will be in addition to the work of the Complete Count Commission, which is housed in the Secretary of State's office.
In addition to the approved budget for 2020, during the final days of the session the Illinois General Assembly passed, and the Governor signed on July 5, a $45 billion capital bill, HB 62, which relies on new revenue sources to be funded, primarily an expansion of gaming, legalized recreational cannabis, and increased motor fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees.
Contained within HB 62 and SB 262 are numerous and specific appropriations to various units of local governments, not-for-profits, and state institutions. There are also general appropriation funding opportunities for which our member libraries will be able to apply. This is a six-year capital bill. Some libraries and library districts are designated capital fund recipients. However, there is not yet an articulated timeline against which capital dollars must be awarded to intended recipients, nor a process in place for accessing such dollars, so at this point libraries are cautioned against including capital fund appropriations in future budgets. ILA is monitoring developments and will share information as it becomes available.
Illinois Library Association Initiatives
Refining language and making consistent for district and municipal libraries the current qualifications for serving as a library trustee: Public Act 100-1476/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. SB 1149 has been introduced for this purpose. As of the close of the spring session, the bill passed the Senate unanimously and an amendment was added in the House to exclude the Chicago Public Library. The bill will likely be heard during the fall 2019 veto session.
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. ILA will continue to work with AISLE to outline a strategy. Currently, there are several pieces of legislation in the Illinois General Assembly:
-HJR 9 Media Literacy Task Force: ILA and AISLE support this legislation, 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. As of the close of the spring session, it was on the Calendar Order of Resolutions and expired on July 2. We will seek to have this move in the veto session. At that time ILA and AISLE will submit a nomination to the appointing official.
-HR 10 No EDTPA: This legislation, which proposes eliminating the EDTPA test as a requirement for professional educator licensure in Illinois, was adopted and is a non-binding recommendation to the Illinois State Board of Education.
-HB 256 No Videotaping: This legislation, which proposes no longer requiring a videotape of a student teacher in the classroom as a requirement for professional educator licensure in Illinois, passed the House but did not pass the Senate. It was re-referred to the Senate Assignments Committee.
-HB 1559 Media Literacy: This legislation, which proposes a school may include media literacy in its curriculum, passed the House but was not considered by the Senate committee deadline and was re-referred to the Senate Assignments Committee.
Additional Illinois Legislation
Signed Into Law
- HB 252 Human Rights Act--Employer Definition: This amends the Human Rights Act to provide that "employer" includes any person employing one (instead of 15) or more employees within Illinois during 20 more more calendar weeks within the calendar year of or preceding the alleged violation. Libraries as employers should be aware of this, signed into law August 20 as Public Act 101-0430.
- HB 303 Disclosable Payment--Sick Leave: This amends the Local Government Wage Increase Transparency Act to provide that "disclosable payment" also include accumulated sick leave. Libraries as employers should be aware of this, signed into law August 9 as Public Act 101-0228.
- HB 814 Open Meetings--Training: This amends the Open Meetings Act to provide that an elected or appointed member of a public body of a municipality may satisfy the training requirements under OMA by participating in a course of training sponsored or conducted by an organization that represents municipalities. This refers to the elected body of the municipality, not the board of a municipal library or library district boards, which, like park district boards, already had flexibility in the source of training; it's included here as FYI.
- HB 834 Equal Pay Act--Wage History: This amends the Equal Pay Act of 2003 to prohibit an employer from screening job applicants based on wage/salary history, requiring that an applicant's prior wage satisfy minimum or maximum criteria, or requesting or requiring as a condition of being interviewed or continuing to be considered for an offer that an applicant disclose prior wages/salary. Libraries as employers should be aware of this, signed into law July 31 as Public Act 101-0177.
- HB 910 Library Elect-Appointed Board: ILA opposed this legislation, which seeks to allow a referendum for the city of Aurora to make its library board elected rather than appointed. ILA supports the rights of Aurora city residents to determine how their library board should be composed; there is already provision in state law for voters to convert a city library (which has an appointed board) to a district library (which has an elected board). As of the close of the spring session, after the City of Aurora declined to vigorously oppose, the bill had passed both chambers and was signed into law by the Governor on July 26 as Public Act 101-0126.
- HB 1438 Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act: Included here because revenues from sales of recreational cannabis underpin a great deal of the budget assumptions, but details remain to be worked out. ILA will continue to monitor, but cautions libraries about relying on this as a reliable source of library funding. Signed into law on June 25 as Public Act 101-0027.
- HB 1637 Immigration Status: ILA supported this legislation, which keeps the responsibility for federal immigration status enforcement under its appropriate jurisdiction, not local schools or libraries, to ensure that these facilities remain safe and accessible to all Illinois residents. As of the close of the spring session, this bill had passed both chambers and was signed into law by the Governor as Public Act 101-0019.
- HB 2124 Open Meetings Act Exceptions: This amends the Open Meetings Act to further define the conditions under which a public body may hold a closed meeting (previously to discuss "specific employees") to include discussions of independent contractors, volunteers, and legal counsel for the public body. Its final version explicitly lists "a park, recreational or educational setting," but library districts and municipal libraries are covered under the "public body" language. Signed into law on August 26 as Public Ac 101-0459.
- HB 2460: Sustainability Investing Act: This provides that any public agency or governmental unit should develop, publish, and implement sustainable investment policies applicable to the management of all public funds under its control. Signed into law on August 23 as Public Act 101-0473. Per discussion in ILA's Public Policy Committee meeting on September 9, IMRF will not be affected.
- HB 2993 Libraries-Territory Annexation: ILA opposed this legislation that would require a front-door referendum for annexing currently-unserved areas into a library district, on the grounds that library service is a public good and the burden should be on those who seek to limit it, rather than on those who seek to expand it. However, a provision to enable disconnecting annexed territory, which had appeared in previous versions of the bill, was eliminated by amendment. As of the close of the spring session, the bill passed both chambers and was signed into law by the Governor on July 19 as Public Act 101-0099.
- HB 3501 Public Officers--Hiring Self: This amends the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act to provide that an elected or appointed official of a unit of local government may not hire or appoint himself or herself to a second position in the unit if the second position is a salaried or hourly position. Signed into law on July 29 as Public Act 101-0169.
- HB 3606 Student Online Protection: This creates the Student Online Personal Protection Act, which provides for protections and prohibitions regarding electronic storage of student data and records, not anything having to do with students' ability to access online resources. Signed into law on August 23 as Public Act 101-0516.
- HB 3711 Equitable Restrooms Act--Baby Changing: This amends the Equitable Restrooms Act to require every public building with restrooms open and accessible to the public to have at least one safe, sanitary, convenient, and public accessible baby diaper changing station in a restroom designated for use by women and in a restroom designated for use by men, or in a restroom designated for use by women and men. Libraries should be aware of this as "public buildings." Signed into law on August 9 as Public Act 101-0293.
- SB 196 Open Meetings Act--Exceptions: Please see HB 2124, above.
- SB 556 Equitable Restrooms--All Gender: Amends the Equitable Restrooms Act to provide that every single-occupancy restroom in a place of public accommodation or a public building shall not indicate on it signage any specific gender; such restrooms should simply be identified as a "restroom." Libraries are included in the definition of "place of public accommodation" under the Human Rights Act. Signed into law on July 26 as Public Act 101-0165.
- SB 1090 Attorney General--Accessibility Violate: This requires the attorney general to post data about public buildings that are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act each year, including the total number of open compliance investigations, the total number of complaints received and the 10 most frequent complaints. Libraries should be aware of this as public buildings. Signed into law on August 23 as Public Act 101-0537.
- SB 1264 Unclaimed Property--Pensions: This amends the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act to require public retirement systems to report to the state treasurer about presumably abandoned property in an annuity, pension, or benefit fund, but not to pay or deliver such property to the state treasurer’s office. IMRF is included among these public retirement systems. Signed into law on August 23 as Public Act 101-0546.
- SB 1778 ANCRA--Mandated Reporters: This amends the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act to revise the list of personnel who are considered mandated reporters. Librarians and library staff are not explicitly named, but we will need to confirm if public librarians might be considered to be included among some of the groups articulated, such as "education personnel." Certainly school and academic librarians are "education personnel." Signed into law August 23 as Public Act 101-0564.
- SB 1932 State Treasurer--Real Property: Among other things, this creates the Property Tax Relief Task Force, which is convened in the context of the consideration of a Fair Tax revision of the state income tax structure in 2020. The Task Force will make recommendations by December 2019 and contains several subcommittees, including a TIF Subcommittee and a PTELL Subcommittee. Signed into law on August 2 as Public Act 101-0181. ILA will ensure library voices are heard, starting with the hearing of the PTELL Subcommittee on Monday, September 16.
Did Not Advance
- HB 305 Municipal Convention Expenses (identical to HB 2075): ILA opposed this legislation, which would preclude the use of public funds for participation in continuing education events by librarians, library staff, and trustees.
- HB 307 Citizens Empowerment Act: ILA opposed this legislation, which would enable referenda to dissolve units of local government, on the grounds that library service is a public good and it is our goal to increase access to information and resources, not decrease it.
- HB 317, HB 320, HB 821, HB 924, HB 2320, HB 2630, HB 2835, HB 3281, SB 81, SB 1553, SB 1632 Property Tax Freezes: ILA opposes tax-freeze legislation, which preempts local control. Local library trustees’ and school boards' 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.
- HB 933 Libraries--Securities & Assets and HB 3135 Local Accumulation of Funds: ILA opposed this legislation for the same reason we oppose property tax freezes; it pre-empts local control by boards and governing bodies.
- HB 1582 Broadband Procurement and Disclosure: ILA supported this legislation, which protects net neutrality and would require any service providers doing business with the state to disclose any activity that abridges that principal, such as "throttling," or creating "fast lanes" for internet content. This bill did not advance primarily due to the fact that there is pending litigation on the Federal level regarding net neutrality protections. Illinois is one of 22 states plus the District of Columbia whose attorney general has joined in a suit against the FCC to restore the protections.
- HB 2207 Public Office-Prohibited Acts: ILA opposed this on intellectual freedom grounds; this bill would prohibit units of government from opposing unit consolidation and elimination bills.
- HB 2283 Open Meetings Posting Records: ILA opposed this legislation because it would require public expenditure to gather public information already available currently.
- HB 3147 Open Meetings Act-Notice: ILA opposed this legislation because it would establish unreasonable public notice requirements.
- HB 3599 FOIA Government Associations and HB 3603 FOIA Government Associations: ILA opposed these identical bills, which would make "membership associations" as defined in the acts subject to FOIA. We oppose on the grounds that non-governmental members of such associations would be deterred from participation in such groups due to concern about being subject to FOIA requests. Note: ILA itself would not be subject to this law in any case, according to the current definition of "membership associations."
- SB 585, Senate Amendment 1: ILA is working with the State Library and the legislature to revise this proposed legislation, which would have imposed a fine on librarians using any part of a patron's last name as an identifier for self-hold pickups.
- SB 1216 FOIA-Fail to Disclose-Penalty: ILA opposed this legislation, which transfers the burden of proof of the need for a FOIA request from the requestor, to proof of a FOIA request's grounds for denial by the unit of government.
Support Libraries through Funded Appropriations
Fully fund fiscal year 2020 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. 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.