2019 Illinois General Assembly Highlights — Part II
Bill Ward, Executive Vice President
Last week I reported on the major issues that were considered by the Illinois General Assembly. There were three omissions to the state budget report that I want to add now. First, the Illinois State Motor Fuel Tax was doubled from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents per gallon. This road fund increase is the cornerstone for financing the Capital Plan to build and repair Illinois State Highways and Mass Transportation Systems. The second, license plate renewals are going up from $101 to $151 annually. Plus, there is an extra $248 fee on electric cars, up from $35. The third, the Governor and the House & Senate agreed once again to take a “Pension Payment Holiday,” a move that puts Illinois into further debt with the various pension systems operated by the State of Illinois.
Part II of my End of Session Report provides a briefing on issues considered at the Illinois Statehouse that affect housing affordability, residential development, home construction, home remodeling, and business regulation.
- Contractors Liable for Subcontractor’s Employee Wages
HB2838 (Gong-Gershowitz/Fine) would have made primary contractors jointly liable for the payment of wages & benefits to employees of their subcontractors in situations where the sub fails to make full payment of earned wages & benefits. HBAI led a strong business coalition in stopping this bill from passing this spring. HB2838 was the initiative of the St. Louis/Kansas City Carpenters Union, the Chicagoland Regional Carpenters Union, and the Illinois AFL-CIO.
- Home Builder LLC Protections Under Attack
HB3499 (Manley) would have held persons operating an LLC to be held personally liable for any outside home warranties in effect that were constructed by the LLC, even after the LLC is dissolved. This bill ignores the separate identity that properly formed and operated business entities are provided under U.S. and Illinois law. It unfairly singled out the home construction industry from all other business groups in limiting the protections of an LLC. HB3499 was held in the House Civil Law Committee at the request of HBAI.
- Repeal of Rent Control Preemption
HB255 (Guzzardi) would have repealed a state law prohibiting units of local government from establishing rent control ordinances. The Illinois Realtors led a coalition of opponents including HBAI in the defeat of this bill in the House Civil Law Committee.
- Statewide Rent Control Act
HB2152 (Flowers) would have established a statewide rent control law implementing six geographical rent control zones in Illinois. This bill was opposed by the same coalition opposing HB255 and was held from consideration in the House Civil Law Committee.
- Statute of Repose Repealed for Job Site Diseases
SB1596 (Sims/Hoffman) repeals the time limitation for workers to sue employers for contracting a work-related disease, like mesothelioma. This bill was proposed by the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, has passed both Houses and was signed by Governor Pritzker early this year. HBAI and many other business and industrial groups opposed the measure, which is now P.A. 101-006.
- Solar Panel-Ready Homes
HB2652 (Stuart, Halpin/Belt) would have required all new housing to be “solar panel-ready” meaning that all the infrastructure must be in the home to allow homeowners to place solar panels on their roofs. This is not a requirement of the Energy Conservation Code but is an appendix item that could be mandated by the state either by administrative rule or state statute. Cost estimates on a single-family home were at $3500. HBAI and the Illinois Architects opposed the language but negotiated an amendment with the Illinois Environmental Council to allow for consideration of all appendix items at future meetings of the Illinois Energy Code Advisory Council. HBAI was neutral with the passage of the amendment onto HB2652.
- 15-Day Right of Cancellation on Home Repair/Remodeling
HB2643 (Mason/Bush) would have established a 15-day right to cancel a contract for senior citizens for remodeling & repair work on their owner-occupied homes. Bill sponsors worked with HBAI to limit the provisions of the bill to only those who come to the home uninvited (door-to-door salespersons). With the amendment, HBAI supported the passage of HB2643.
- Repeal of the Kyoto Protocol Act
HB3481 (Gabel/Ellman) repeals an Act passed in 1998 that prohibits Illinois State Agencies from enacting by administrative rule, regulations addressing the emission of greenhouse gases. This Act reflects federal law passed by the U.S. Congress in the late 1990s. HBAI and several other business and construction groups opposed the measure that has passed both Houses and is expected to be signed by the Governor. For the past 20 years, global warming regulations have to be considered by the Illinois General Assembly through the passage of state legislation. With the signing of HB3481, the Ill-EPA and the Pollution Control Board can establish regulatory standards by administrative rule, by-passing full legislative consideration.
- Expansion of the Vacant Lot Act
HB3600 (Yingling) would have expanded the benefits of the Vacant Lot Act to home builders. Currently, property taxes are held at the same assessed value on land being developed for home construction while the developer owns that property. Once sold, the property can be re-assessed. HB3600 would provide that same benefit to home builders purchasing lots from the developers. This HBAI initiative received the support of the Illinois Realtors and the Community Bankers Association but was held from consideration in the House Revenue Committee.
- Illinois Structural Work Act Returns
HB3418 (Andrade) would have created the Construction Safety Act, like the old Structural Work Act that was repealed in 1995. This Act provided a harvest of litigation for tort lawyers to the consternation of the construction and insurance industries. The Structural Work Act (aka Scaffold Act) provided an extra element of liability in state statute for workers to sue for damages even when protected by worker compensation insurance. The sponsor held the bill from consideration at the request of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. HBAI and many other construction and insurance groups were opposed to HB3418.
- Income Producing Property Rate Assessments
SB1379 (Hutchinson/Davis) would have required property owners in Cook County to report income derived from property owned to the Assessors Office. This data would be used to reassess the property using the additional element of income received from the property. While the bill would have made this added assessment to be mandatory in Cook County, it was made permissible in all other counties. HBAI opposed to the bill which failed final passage in the House.
- No Arbitration with Employees
HB2975 (Evans/Villivalam) provides that employers and labor unions may agree to arbitration clauses in grievance resolution procedures, but that the existence of an arbitration clause does not waive an employee’s right to file an action with an agency or court. It also requires that an arbitration agreement must be presented to an employee with a statement across the top of the document stating that the agreement is not a precondition of employment. HB2975 did not receive final passage in the House, HBAI and many other business groups opposed the measure.
- Healthy Workplace Act
SB471 (Hutchinson/Gordon-Booth) would have provided 40 hours of paid sick time for employees during a 12-month period or a pro rata number of hours of paid sick time under the provisions of the Act. There were several medical leave bills introduced this session, SB471 was probably the bill with the best chance of passage. HBAI opposed the measure with many other business groups; the bill was held in the House Labor & Commerce Committee.
- Illinois Wetlands Act
SB1352 (Fine) would have created the Illinois Wetlands Act. The bill would protect “waters of the state” but there was no definition of what that means. Changes being made at the federal level by the Trump administration to the Waters of the U.S. “WOTUS” would have been lost in Illinois. Mitigation standards for the replacement of a wetland is 1.5 to 1 at the federal level. SB1352 starts at 1.5 and goes up 5 to 1. HBAI, the Illinois Farm Bureau, and the Illinois Realtors opposed the bill which was held from consideration by its sponsor.
- Landscape Architects Practice Act
SB1899 (Link/Hoffman) would have moved licensure of Landscape Architects from a Title Act to a Practice Act. Landscape Contractors were opposed to SB1899. While they received an exemption from the Act, there were no definitions as to what a landscape contractor could do. Home construction, remodeling and development were exempt from the bill, at the request of HBAI. The Practice Act was deleted from SB1899 and the bill was used as a vehicle for other legislation.
- Township Dissolution
HB348 (McSweeney/Link) will allow voters in McHenry County to dissolve the township form of government. HBAI supported the measure which passed both chambers. HB360 (Wehrli) allowed the same provisions for DuPage County but it failed passage in the House.
- Drainage District Dissolution
SB90 (McConchie/Didech) allow municipalities to dissolve drainage districts under certain conditions. The has passed both chambers.
- 100% increase in State Transfer Tax
A portion of the State Capital Plan would have increased the state transfer tax from $1 per $1000 valuation of property to $2 per valuation of property, paid at the time of closing. The increase in funds was to be used for local parks land acquisition and development. The Illinois Realtors and HBAI opposed the measure that was taken out of the final bill at the request of House Republican Leadership.
- Carpet Stewardship Act
SB557 (Bush/Zalewski) would have placed a 4 to 6 cent per sq. foot assessment fee on the sale of new carpeting. These funds would be used to create a clearinghouse plan for the reduction of carpets being placed in landfills and to increase the recycling of carpeting for other reusable purposes. The bill was promoted by Circular Polymers and environmental groups. HBAI, the Carpet Industry, Retail Merchants, and Waste Management opposed the bill. Illinois EPA stated that carpet is NOT a big waste problem in Illinois and want minimum involvement in the program. SB557 passed the Senate but was held from consideration in the House by the bill’s sponsor.
- Home Rule Limitations on Condominium Properties
HB29 (Thapedi/Collins) would have prohibited home-rule units of government from regulating condominium property in manners inconsistent with state law. HBAI supported this bill that passed the House but failed passage in the Senate.
The HBAI Government Affairs Committee monitored and acted on 80 bills this session; the above bills are the top 20 issues they worked on each week since January. I want to thank them and everyone who called in on our Tuesday morning conference calls to provide me with Association policy and direction that promotes and protects the home building industry.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding these issues feel free to contact me at email@example.com, or at 217-753-3963.