News and Views for Monday, March 15, 2021

3/15/2021 Joe McCoy

This week's Illinois State Association of Counties (ISACo) "News and Views" e-newsletter announces the signing of the American Rescue Plan Act with a provision to grant billions in direct and flexible federal funding to counties, provides the Illinois House and Senate Schedule for the week, offers an updated list of ISACo testimony on county issues, conveys what occurred with select legislation of interest to counties considered in Illinois House and Senate committee hearings last week (March 8-12), reports on the second of six $250 million Rebuild Illinois grants to counties, municipalities and townships to address local transportation needs, includes information on upcoming National Association of Counties (NACo) webinar opportunities and a NACo national membership call with White House officials, highlights ISACo corporate partner 2im Group and invites counties to join ISACo.

American Rescue Plan Act with Billions for Counties Signed into Law

The House and Senate finalized and approved the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act and President Biden signed the Act into law on Thursday, March 11, 2021.

The plan includes $65.1 billion in direct, flexible funding for counties as part of the State and Local Fiscal and Recovery Funds. For Illinois, this would mean an estimated allocation for counties of $2.5 billion. This is a substantial amount of money for counties and it can be used to make up for tax revenues lost due to the pandemic along with other allowable uses. NACo has provided information about allowable uses and this information is available via this link. 

ISACo advocated in support of this federal funding for counties with Illinois’ Congressional delegation. Estimates about how much each Illinois county would receive are available via this link. The money will be released in two tranches, with the first 50% of the funding getting to counties within 60 days of enactment and the remaining 50% no earlier than 12 months following the first tranche.

ISACo will continue to provide updates to counties as information becomes available. We will dedicate a page on our website for resources that provide guidance about how the funds can be expended as we learn more. Much of this guidance is anticipated to come from the U.S. Treasury Department. 

Illinois House and Senate Schedule for the Week

The House cancelled all but one session day for the week of March 15-20. The Chamber will convene in Springfield on Thursday, March 18, but will hold virtual committee hearings throughout the week. As of this writing, the Senate is poised to hold session days in Springfield from March 16-18.

ISACo Provides Testimony on County Issues

ISACo filed witness slips with positions, both in support and opposition, on more than a dozen bills last week. We submitted written testimony on the following bills that were posted for committees. The bills and written testimony are linked to below:

HB 267 - Local Government Residential Inspection Limitation Act (Written Testimony in Opposition)

         Held in House Counties and Townships Committee

HB 372 - Solar Power Energy System Restrictions (Written Testimony in Opposition)

         Held in House Environment and Energy Committee

HB 454 - Increased Liability for Local Governments and Employees (Written Testimony in Opposition)

         Held in House Judiciary - Civil Law Committee

HB 633 - Vegetable Garden Protection Act (Written Testimony in Opposition

         Held in House Agriculture and Conservation Committee

HB 812 - Local Accessory Dwelling Unit Act (Written Testimony in Opposition)

         Held in House Cities and Villages Committee

SB 178 - Public Construction Bond Act - Retainage (Written Testimony in Opposition

         Held in Senate Judiciary Committee

SB 482 - Remote Meeting Option Under Open Meetings Act (Written Testimony in Support)

         Held in Senate Executive Committee

We urge county officials to forward our written testimony to your state legislators to assist us with our advocacy on behalf of counties.

Bills of Interest Approved by Committees Last Week

HB 350 - Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act (Under Review)

         Passed House Judiciary - Criminal Committee

HB 396 - Overweight Vehicle Permits (No Position)

         Passed House Transportation: Vehicles and Safety Committee

HB 412 - GATA Applicability (Support)

         Passed House Executive Committee

HB 453 - Property Tax Vendor Report (Neutral)

         Passed House Economic Opportunity and Equity Committee

HB 828 - Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act (Under Review)

         Passed House Judiciary - Criminal Committee

SB 135 - Sheriff Commencement of Duties (No Position)

         Passed Senate Local Government Committee

SB 140 - Treasurer Accessing Clerk and Record Fees (Under Review)

         Passed Senate Local Government Committee

Transportation Infrastructure Grants Announced for Illinois Local Governments

Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced the second of six $250 million grants to counties, municipalities and townships to address local transportation needs. These grants are part of the bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan. 

This announcement is part of $1.5 billion being distributed over three years to advance county, municipal and township projects statewide. Eligible projects include road and bridge improvements, traffic signal upgrades, new storm sewers and bike paths, sidewalk replacement and other long-term maintenance needs. Projects will be selected and managed locally with IDOT oversight.

A complete list of local agencies and awards can be viewed here.

Additional information is available via this link.

Upcoming NACo Webinars

NACo has announced the following upcoming webinar opportunities:

State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) Supreme Court Midterm Webinar

(Thursday, March 18, 2021, 12-1pm CST)

The Supreme Court’s 2021 docket is set for the 2020-2021 term. Many new cases of interest to states and local governments have been added, ranging from a takings case to a case involving college athlete pay. The webinar will consist of a discussion about the most interesting cases for states and local governments to be decided this term, featuring Dan Geyser, Alexander Dubose and Jefferson’s Supreme Court chair, who will argue a case about appellate costs for the City of San Antonio; Matthew Littleton, Donahue, Goldberg, Weaver and Littleton, who wrote the SLLC’s amicus brief in the takings case; and Sarah Harris, a partner in Williams and Connolly’s Supreme Court and Appellate practice, who represents a school district in a case involving student off-campus speech and the First Amendment.   

Click on this link to register for this event.

NACo National Membership Call with White House Officials 

(Thursday, March 18, 2021, 1-1:30pm CST)

Click on this link to register for this event.

Corporate Sponsor Spotlight

This week's corporate partner spotlight highlights ISACo's partnership with 2im Group. 

2im Group, LLC is a multi-disciplined civil engineering and environmental services firm, specializing in water resource management. Their experience includes working with transportation agencies and private sector clients. 2im Group, LLC strives to recognize their clients’ priorities to ensure project success!

The project scopes include: Phase I studies, reports, and investigations; Phase II detailed plans, specifications, and engineer’s cost estimates; and Phase III construction engineering services.

2im Group was established in July 2005 and has a combined personnel experience of over 100 years. Major clients include the Illinois Tollway and Illinois Department of Transportation.

More information about the services provided by 2im Group, LLC 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.