Lobby Day Harvests Housing Victories
Bill Ward, Executive Vice President
Victory for the home building industry came on the heals of last week’s HBAI Lobby Day. HBAI has defeated legislation that would cost developers millions of dollars in increased insurance costs. A bill to delete an exemption to the Fire Sprinkler Contractors Licensure Act has also been sacked for this session.
Public Construction Bond Act
HB4531, sponsored by Rep. Marty Moylan (D-Des Plaines) would have reversed the option of three current Acts that provides developers with the choice of using a cash bond, letter of credit, or surety bond, when making public infrastructure improvements that are deeded to a unit of local government. The bonds insure completion of a project should the developer fail to complete the project, as committed.
Prior to 1996, the bond option was with the authority of municipalities and counties. But, there were many instances where cities were holding cash bonds months, and even years, after the completion of a project. I’ve referred to this activity as a “Cash Bond Cow” for cities who used this type of thievery to skim interest off the dollars they were holding back from the developers.
The Home Builders passed legislation three different times between 1996 and 2001 that took the bond option away from local government and gave it to the developers. For the past 20 years, developers (not cities) choose the insurance tool to guarantee completion of work.
HB4531 would have reversed our work from 20 years ago and sent us back to the days of city managers holding bonds beyond completion dates to pad municipal GRFs.
Thanks to a lot of work on HBAI Lobby Day, and a coalition of building and real estate groups that contacted a lot of legislators over the past couple weeks, HB4531 came up short from receiving the 60 votes needed for passage in the Illinois House.
Rep. Moylan called HB4531 on Monday, April 23rd, at around 5:30 pm. House Republicans were ready with testimony opposing the bill, and did an excellent job articulating our position on this very important matter. All but one Republican voted No. House Republican Leader, Jim Durkin, committed to HBAI on Lobby Day that the Republican Caucus would oppose the bill, and he lived up to his commitment, getting 47 out of 48 Republican on the House floor to Vote No.
But defeating a bill in the House takes Democrat votes too and we managed to get 19 Democrats to Vote No or just Not Vote on the bill. In the end, Marty Moylan struck out for the second time in two years trying to reverse the decision-making authority within the Public Construction Bond Act. The final tally was 45 Yeas, 62 Neas, 0 Present, and 4 Not Voting.
Proponents of the bill, the Illinois Municipal League, will now wait until 2019 to try this bill again, if they introduce it again, at all.
If you attended Lobby Day or if you sent a VoterVoice letter last week opposing HB4531, then you should feel good in knowing you have just saved developers in Illinois, millions of dollars, which ultimately keeps new home prices down. Thank You for your participation in the Legislative process. Because of you, the Home Builders Association of Illinois was Victorious!
Fire Sprinkler Contractors Bill Killed by Sponsor
At the request of HBAI, a bill to delete an exemption Home Builders have in the Fire Sprinkler Contractors Licensure Act, has been sent back to Senate Assignments Committee where it will not be heard this session.
In 2002, HBAI opposed legislation creating licensure of Fire Sprinkler Contractors, a license that goes beyond being a licensed Plumbing Contractor. Realizing we had the bill stopped, the proponents asked us to write our own exemption to the Act so that it did not affect residential construction.
The HBAI Board of Directors held an emergency meeting and agreed to add language to the bill exempting the need for a Fire Sprinkler Contractors on residential construction. Our language states: No license is required for aperson or business that is engaged in the installation of fire sprinkler systems only in single family residential or multiple family residential dwellings up to and including 8 family units that do not exceed 2 ½ stories in height from the lowest grade level.
This language was accepted and has been in State Statute for 15 years.
Now, two large Fire Sprinkler Contracting Companies want to delete our exemption and placed the deletion within SB2596, sponsored by Senator Marty Sandoval (D-Chicago).
HBAI met with Sandoval last week and asked for the bill not to be heard in committee. Sandoval agreed that the exemption should stay and requested that his own bill be placed back in Senate Assignments Committee where it not be heard this session.
HBAI wants to thank Senator Sandoval for listening to our concerns that the need for Fire Sprinkler Contractors is an unnecessary mandate that would only raise the cost of home construction in Illinois.