Legislative Update -- June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021

Springfield Update
The Illinois General Assembly spring session has concluded! Legislators passed a $42 billion budget on Tuesday, working past the midnight, May 31, deadline. We'll report in more detail as it becomes available, but part of the good news is that the per capita grant increases we sought for school and public libraries and were included in the FY2021 budget, are also included in FY2022. In addition, the state law authorizing these grants has been updated with the new levels and passed both chambers, and is now on its way to Governor Pritzker's desk for signature! The higher levels are flat with FY2021 at $1.475 for public libraries and $.885 for school libraries. SB 101, a bill to address textbook affordability that ILA supported in partnership with Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), did not pass.

Governor Pritzker's Executive Order 2021-11 and OMA
Last week, we reported on the Open Meetings Act and the re-opening of the state. On May 28, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2021-11, extending the ability for boards of public bodies to continue to use a virtual quorum, and other emergency measures, through June 26. 

American Rescue Plan Act Funding Sources
As more state agencies formulate plans for disseminating the $1.9 trillion in ARPA funding, ILA is pleased to offer one place to look for an index of opportunities: a new ARPA Funding for Illinois Libraries page on the ILA website.

ILA Executive Director Diane Foote participated in the quarterly SWAN directors' and administrators' meeting this morning, and will also speak briefly at an upcoming webinar sponsored by Illinois Humanities, "Illinois Humanities 2021 COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Recovery Grants Information Session" on Wednesday 6/9/2021, 1:00-2:15 p.m. (also listed in "News," below). IHC is the first state agency to publish detailed guidelines and eligibility criteria, and libraries are eligible!

We reported on May 13 that "library districts are eligible for fund transfers." But what does that mean, exactly? According to the FAQ dated May 27 on the U.S. Treasury website: "Special-purpose units of local government will not receive funding allocations; however, a state, territory, local, or Tribal government may transfer funds to a special-purpose unit of government. Special-purpose districts perform specific functions in the community, such as fire, water, sewer or mosquito abatement districts." Even though library districts aren't named in the "such as" clause, that list isn't exhaustive. It appears that library districts, depending on how the state agency (likely DCEO) structures its rules, may be able to apply to the state or their county; OR like their municipal counterparts, work with their local municipalities to access funds.

Stories Wanted! Build America's Libraries Act Advocacy
You've heard from us before about the Build America's Libraries Act, which would provide $5 billion to renovate or construct public library facilities. ALA is seeking examples and stories about challenges with accessibility for people with disabilities in library buildings. If you have such an example or patron story (we can redact names!), please reach out to ILA Executive Director Diane Foote at dfoote@ila.org. We know there is a need, based on the state report: “$7.7 million is needed to address accessibility in 92 library buildings.” Legislation has been introduced to address accessibility in public transit settings and there is reason to believe Congress would respond to a similar push for libraries.

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