ISACo News and Views for January 30, 2023

1/30/2023 Joe McCoy

This week's Illinois State Association of Counties (ISACo) News and Views e-newsletter invites county officials and staff to utilize ISACo's bill tracking service, makes counties aware that the Governor signed a preemption of zoning authority into law, highlights several bills of interest to counties, provides an update on a proposed railway merger between the Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP), shares information about the state repayment of its Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund debt, provides updates on litigation relevant for the assault weapons ban and SAFE-T Act, reminds county officials to file their Statement of Economic Interests form, provides another opportunity for county officials and staff to register for the National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference (February 11-14), shares upcoming NACo webinar opportunities, highlights ISACo corporate partner Nationwide and invites counties to join ISACo.

Newly-Introduced Legislation Viewable in ISACo's Bill Tracker

As of January 27, over 1,700 bills, proposed constitutional amendments and resolutions have been introduced in the House and Senate. Hundreds of additional bills will be introduced prior to the February 10 (Senate) and February 17 (House) bill introduction deadlines. 

County officials and staff are invited to use ISACo's bill tracking service to stay on top of these bill filings. ISACo staff reviews every introduced bill, proposed constitutional amendment and resolution and creates a user file for all legislation that affects or is on interest to counties. These bills are viewable in numeric order or searchable by number, policy category, ISACo position and whether the legislation would create an unfunded state mandate, preempt county authority or result in a loss of revenue for counties. 

The policy categories are as follows:

Cannabis Elections ISACo Member County Initiatives Local Government Consolidation  Revenue
County Authority Environment Juvenile Justice Miscellaneous Substance Abuse and Recovery
County Officials Firearms Labor and Personnel Public Health, Hospital Facilities and Nursing Homes Transportation and Infrastructure
Courts FOIA, OMA and Public Notices Land Use and Zoning Public Safety and Law Enforcement ISACo Initiatives
Economic Development Forest Preserves Liability Resolutions  

ISACo staff has begun the process of building our 2023 user file and will be adding additional legislation and value-added content to our digital bill pages over the next several weeks. ISACo recommends that every county designate at least one person to look through our tracked bills once or twice a week so the county is aware of issues that may affect operations and policy. 

Learn more about how to use our bill tracking service via this link.

Governor Signs County Zoning Preemption into Law 

On January 27, Governor JB Pritzker signed HB 4412 into law as P.A. 102-1123. As reported on previously in our January 10 News and Views e-newsletter, the new law imposes limitations on county authority to site wind and solar facilities. The law includes statewide standards for siting the facilities as well as unrealistic timetables for public hearings (45 days) and rendering a final siting decision following the public hearing (30 days). 

ISACo's Issue Brief summarizing the many Counties Code provisions within the new law is available via this link.

ISACo opposed the legislation in both chambers based upon the preemption of county zoning authority. Executive Director Joe McCoy sent a letter to the Governor on January 17 requesting that he veto the bill based upon the county zoning preemption.

The new law was an initiative of the Illinois Environmental Council (IEC).

Weekly Bills of Interest 

HB 1116 - Increases Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF) Transfers to Local Governments (Support)

HB 1255 - Prohibition on Local Government Business Incentives to Companies Located in Illinois (Oppose)

HB 1271 - Prohibition on Increasing Levied Taxes Without Going to Referendum (Oppose)

SB 47 - Public Entities Not-Liable for Injury Caused by Unauthorized Access to Government Data (Support)

SB 103 - Local Authority to Hold Remote Meetings (Support)

Environmental Impact Statement Released for Proposed Railway Merger 

The Surface Transportation Board’s (Board) Office of Environmental Analysis announced that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) for the Proposed Acquisition of Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS) by Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) is available. The Final EIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the Proposed Acquisition and addresses public and agency comments received on the Draft EIS.  Please click this link for the Board-sponsored project website, which provides a copy of the Final EIS. 

On April 19, 2022, ISACo Executive Director Joe McCoy sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to communicate concerns about the Canadian Pacific Railway's pending acquisition of the Kansas City Southern. The letter urges the STB to either deny the merger or require mitigations to reduce harmful impacts for affected Illinois counties. 

The Board will issue a final decision that will take into consideration the transportation merits of the Proposed Acquisition and the entire environmental record, including the Draft EIS, Final EIS, and all public and agency comments received.  In its final decision, the Board will decide whether the Proposed Acquisition should be authorized and, if so, what conditions, including environmental mitigating conditions, to impose.

Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Debt Repaid

On January 25, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced that the state has officially repaid the remaining $1.36 billion Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund debt. The payment was made possible after an historic agreement was reached between the state, and representatives from business, labor, and bipartisan members of the General Assembly. It was then signed into law by the Governor. 

Additional information is available via this link.

Downstate Transit Investment Announced

On January 24, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced that $113.8 million has been awarded to downstate transit providers as part of the historic, bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital program. The funding brings the total investment in downstate transit via competitive grants to $337.8 million, supporting the Governor's mission to create economic opportunity by improving all modes of transportation while boosting safety and efficiency.

Additional information is available via this link.

Assault Weapons Ban Lawsuit Update

An Effingham County judge temporarily blocked Illinois’ new assault weapons ban, stating that it did not “follow the procedural requirement” for passage of the legislation. The temporary restraining order (TRO) applies to only the 866 defendants in the case. Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a petition asking the court to vacate the TRO. 

Additional lawsuits were filed last week. A lawsuit filed in White County has more than 1,600 plaintiffs, including Senator Darren Bailey (who ran unsuccessfully for Governor) and State Representatives Adam Niemerg (R-Dieterich) and Blaine Wilhour (R-Louisville). That lawsuit is available via this link.

Members of the Illinois Gun Rights Alliance (ILGRA) filed a federal lawsuit challenging the recently adopted Protect Illinois Communities Act, alleging it to be an infringement on the constitutionally protected activity of Illinois sportsmen, firearms retailers, distributors, manufacturers and lawful users of firearms.  Two individual gun owners are lead plaintiffs in a filing before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. They are joined by two southern Illinois gun dealers and shooting range operators, as well as a Connecticut-based shooting sports trade association. While not officially a plaintiff in the case, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is assisting this lawsuit similar to what they did in a New York suit that was ultimately brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

ISACo did not take a position on the assault weapons ban, but is monitoring developments on behalf of Illinois counties.

Attorney General Raoul Files SAFE-T Act Appeal

On January 26, Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court in defense of the cash bail provisions within the SAFE-T Act. The appeal is available via this link.

Statement of Economic Interest Forms

Elected and appointed officials are reminded of the requirement to file a Statement of Economic Interests form with the county clerk. The disclosure provisions within the filing requirement were expanded by P.A. 102-0664 and became effective on January 1, 2022. 

ISACo published a Policy Brief with the changes in October 2021. The Policy Brief is available via this link.

Registration Open for NACo Legislative Conference

The National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference will be held from February 11-14, 2023, in Washington, D.C. The conference brings together nearly 2,000 elected and appointed county officials to focus on federal policy issues that impact counties and our residents.

Attendees have the opportunity to engage in second-to-none policy sessions, meet the members of the 118th Congress and interact with federal agency officials.

This is a one-of-a-kind advocacy opportunity to strengthen our intergovernmental partnerships for years to come.

Registration information is available via this link.

Upcoming NACo Webinars 

NACo has announced the following upcoming webinar opportunities. ISACo is a proud partner with NACo and encourages counties to participate in NACo membership and activities.

Understanding How Proposed Changes to The Land-In-Trust Process Could Impact Counties

(Monday, January 30, 2023, 2:00pm-3:00pm CDT)

On December 5, 2022, the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) published a proposed rule to update the regulations that dictate the process in which Tribes place land in trust of the federal government (25 CFR 151). When land is placed into trust, ownership is transferred to the federal government and held in trust for the benefit of tribal community and tribal members. Join NACo for an educational webinar featuring tribal law experts Jena MacLean and Odin Smith of Perkins Coie LLP to learn how the proposed rule could impact counties with tribal lands in their boundaries. To learn more, click here.

Click on this link to register for the webinar.

Reducing Jail Populations: Revisiting Technical Violations of Community Supervision to Decrease Jail

(Thursday, February 2, 2023, 1:00pm-2:00pm CDT)

Reducing the number of people in jail for technical violations can help decrease jail populations and improve outcomes and compliance with supervision conditions. Counties can reduce this kind of incarceration by reducing case processing times and implementing specialized caseloads. 

Click on this link to register for the webinar.


This week's corporate partner spotlight highlights ISACo's partnership with Nationwide.

Over the past 85 years, focusing on customers and valuing people have helped Nationwide become one of the largest insurance and financial services companies in the world.

Even though Nationwide has dozens of affiliated companies, people are its biggest resource – and its greatest asset in providing excellent customer service to its customers. That's why its Supply Management Services group makes sure agents and associates get the best quality products and services, at the best possible cost. It's also why Nationwide has an Office of Customer Advocacy. 

More information about the services provided by Nationwide is available via this link.

Click on this link to learn more about the benefits and opportunities available through ISACo's Corporate Partner Program.

Become an ISACo Member!

Is your county a member of ISACo? If not, why not?

ISACo is a statewide association whose mission is to empower county officials to provide excellent service to their residents.

ISACo member counties are comprised of forward-thinking public servants who recognize that the challenges confronting county governments require new and innovative ideas, collaborative solutions and collective advocacy at the state and federal levels of government.

Members of the association will benefit from education and training opportunities, peer-to-peer networking, shared resources and robust representation before policymakers at various levels of government. ISACo creates and connects county officials to these opportunities and successfully equips them to make counties ideal places to live, work and play.

If your county is interested in discussing membership in ISACo, please contact Executive Director Joe McCoy at (217) 679-3368 or ISACo member counties are listed here. Thank you for your consideration.