News and Views for Monday, April 12, 2021

4/12/2021 Joe McCoy

This week's Illinois State Association of Counties (ISACo) News and Views e-newsletter includes our 2021 Spring Legislative Advocacy Toolkit and urges county officials to contact their state legislators about these key issues, shares an update about ISACo's efforts to address the delay in federal census data and how this will impact counties, requests opposition to legislation allowing the state to assume control over local health departments during declared statewide emergencies, summarizes new amendments filed last week that are of relevance to counties, provides a link to a recording of last week's National Association of Counties (NACo) national membership call discussing the State and Local Fiscal and Recovery Funds, includes a link to new ISACo resource pages about the State and Local Fiscal and Recovery Funds and COVID-19 vaccine, discusses Governor Pritzker's extension of the statewide disaster declaration and previously issued executive orders, announces a Virtual Local Government Workshop hosted by The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR), announces upcoming NACo webinars and an upcoming national membership call, shares information from GoRail about rail sustainability, spotlights ISACo corporate partner Christopher B. Burke Engineering and invites counties to join ISACo.

Senate Committee Deadline

The deadline to move Senate bills out of Senate Committees is Friday, April 16. This deadline represents an extension from the previous deadline of March 26. The House deadline to move bills out of committees has already passed, but several House bills were given deadline extensions allowing them to still be considered. Both the House and Senate will be busy for the next two weeks ahead of the April 23 deadline established by both the House and Senate to move bills out of their chamber of origin. 

ISACo 2021 Spring Legislative Advocacy Toolkit

There are only two months of scheduled session days remaining before the General Assembly adjourns until the fall Veto Session. While dozens of important issues remain on ISACo's radar, we need your help on a handful of issues of importance to counties. These issues have been included in our 2021 Spring Legislative Advocacy Toolkit. Please review the toolkit and contact your state legislators about these key issues. 

ISACo Advocating for Solution to Federal Census Data Delay as Counties Seek to Redraw County Board Districts

ISACo has communicated with the four legislative leaders, other legislators and key legislative staff about the statutory requirement for counties to redraw county board districts despite the delay in federal census data necessary for reapportionment. In our communications, ISACo has shared legislative language proposing that the 2022 General Primary Election be delayed until June to provide sufficient time for counties to redraw county board districts using federal census data. We have also conveyed that, if delaying the General Primary Election is not supported by the General Assembly, then ISACo stands ready to work with legislators on a viable solution that can pass the General Assembly and be enacted into law. ISACo will provide updates on this issue as we learn more.

Legislation Allowing State to Assume Control over Local Health Departments Posted for Committee Hearing - Action Requested!

SB 643 (Senator Murphy, D-Des Plaines) would amend the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act to provide that during the pendency of a proclamation by the Governor declaring that a statewide disaster impacting every county exists, all local health departments shall report to and be directed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). ISACo opposes this legislation and encourages counties to contact their state legislators to express opposition as well. You can also register your opposition to the bill on the General Assembly website via this link.

New Amendments Relevant to Counties Filed Last Week

To view amendments after opening the provided link, please click on "full text." Links to amendments are found at the top of the webpage that opens after clicking on "full text." 

House Bills

HB 1356 (HFA 0001) Amends the Property Tax Code. Provides that, in addition to any other requirements set forth by law, each member of the board of review in a county with 3,000,000 or more inhabitants must be an attorney licensed to practice law in Illinois. Limits the concurrent exercise of home rule powers.

HB 3590 (HFA 0001) Amends the Military Veterans Assistance Act. Provides that the county board of a county having a population of more than 3,000,000 may, but is not required to, fund a Veterans Assistance Commission or adhere to a specified funding provision under the Act. Provides that if a county having a population of more than 3,000,000 does not provide funding to a Veterans Assistance Commission in accordance with the Act's funding provision, then that county shall fund its own veterans' affairs department in lieu of funding a Veterans Assistance Commission.

Senate Bills

SB 272 (SCA 0001) Replaces everything after the enacting clause with the provisions of the introduced bill with the following changes. Refers to opportunistic waterborne pathogens (rather than opportunistic pathogens). Provides that after a health care facility has successfully completed any remediation necessary under the Act, the Department of Public Health or an agent health department has confirmed that there are no additional cases of disease or illness associated with an outbreak, and the Department or agent health department has concluded its investigation, the Department or agent health department shall provide the health care facility with a dated written certification that the health care facility is no longer under an active investigation associated with the cases of disease or illness and that remediation has been successfully completed. Provides that, following the written certification, in cases where the Department or an agent health department makes a statement to the public identifying a health care facility as being associated with one or more cases of disease or illness from an opportunistic waterborne pathogen, a statement shall be made by the Department or the agent health department that the remediation referenced has been completed and the Department or agent health department is not aware of any additional cases of disease or illness associated with the facility. Makes other changes. Effective January 1, 2021.

SB 294 (SFA 0001) Replaces everything after the enacting clause with the provisions of the introduced bill with the following changes. Replaces references to municipalities and counties with references to jurisdictional wastewater authorities. Replaces the labeling requirements of the introduced bill with provisions requiring that, subject to specified exceptions, a covered product manufactured on or after July 1, 2022 shall be labeled clearly and conspicuously in adherence to specified labeling requirements. Provides that a covered entity may include on a covered product words or phrases in addition to those required for label notice if the words or phrases are consistent with the purposes of the provisions. Provides that jurisdictional wastewater authorities shall have the concurrent and exclusive authority (rather than only the authority) to enforce the Act and collect civil penalties for violation of the Act. Removes provisions regarding covered products registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Defines "jurisdictional wastewater authority". Makes other changes.

SB 481 (SCA 0003) Requires the clerk of the circuit court to submit specified assessment reports no later than March 1, 2022, and March 1 of every year thereafter. Repeals the Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act and the Section of the Clerks of Courts Act pertaining to court fees on January 1, 2024 (rather than January 1, 2026).

SB 0968 (SFA 0001) Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the Illinois Insurance Code. Provides that a group or individual policy of accident and health insurance or a managed care plan that is amended, delivered, issued, or renewed on or after the effective date of the amendatory Act shall provide coverage for pancreatic cancer screening. Makes conforming changes in the State Employees Group Insurance Act of 1971, the Counties Code, the Illinois Municipal Code, the School Code, the Health Maintenance Organization Act, the Limited Health Service Organization Act, the Voluntary Health Services Plans Act, and the Illinois Public Aid Code.

SB 2278 (SCA 0001) Provides that each county that imposes a special county occupation tax for public safety, public facilities, mental health, substance abuse, or transportation shall (in the introduced bill, may) establish a 7-member board to administer the tax. Provides that home rule units are exempt from the provisions of the amendatory Act but may adopt some or all of its provisions by ordinance. Sets forth the terms of the members of the Board. Provides for the removal of members of the board by the appointing authority. ISACo Opposes

SB 2520 (SCA 0001) Provides that the county board may petition the circuit court to appoint the Attorney General (rather than notify the Attorney General), or authorize the hiring of outside legal counsel (rather than hire outside legal counsel), to represent the county board while the conflict of interest remains. Makes conforming changes.

SB 2565 (SCA 0001) Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Reinserts the provisions of the bill as introduced with the following changes: Further amends the Drug Court Treatment Act. Defines "validated clinical assessment". Provides that a defendant may be ordered to complete mental health counseling, comply with physician recommendations regarding medications, and receive follow up treatment for a mental health diagnosis. Provides that the court shall prioritize the least restrictive treatment option when ordering mental health or substance use treatment for participants. Provides that jail-based custodial treatment may be utilized if it is found to be the least restrictive alternative. Provides that partnerships between the State of Illinois and community mental health or behavioral health centers shall be prioritized whenever possible. Further amends the Veterans and Servicemembers Court Treatment Act. Makes similar changes. Provides that peer recovery coaches should be individuals with lived experience and that they shall work to help facilitate participant experience. Further amends the Mental Health Court Treatment Act. Makes similar changes. Provides for education seminars currently offered for Drug Court Treatment Act prosecutors, judges, and public defenders for Veterans and Servicemembers Treatment Court and Mental Health Treatment Court prosecutors, judges, and public defenders. Makes other changes.

NACo National Membership Call Discussing State and Local Fiscal and Recovery Funds and American Jobs Plan

In case you missed it, a recording of NACo's April 5 National Membership Briefing about the State and Local Fiscal and Recovery Funds can be viewed via this link. The call featured Biden administration American Rescue Plan coordinator Gene Sperling and Jacob Leibenluft from the United States Treasury Department sharing information about the State and Local Fiscal and Recovery Funds. Biden administration senior advisor Lukas McGowan also participated to discuss the proposed American Jobs Plan. The link to this membership call is also available on ISACo's website at

ISACo Launches Resource Pages

For the benefit of our members, ISACo has created pages on our website for aggregating information about the State and Local Fiscal and Recovery Funds program as well as the COVID-19 vaccine. New information will be added to these pages as it becomes available. 

Governor Pritzker Extends Statewide Disaster Declaration

In case you missed it, on April 2 Governor JB Pritzker extended the statewide disaster declaration and executive orders (EO) that had been issued previously. EO 2021-6 is available via this link.

IDOR Hosting Virtual Local Government Workshop on June 16, 2021

The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) announced it will hold a virtual Local Government Workshop on Wednesday, June 16 (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.). During the workshop, IDOR will provide information about the allocation and distribution of taxes to local governments, annexations, business district taxes and new legislation that impacts local governments. Local officials and staff can register for this event by contacting IDOR's Local Tax Allocation Division by phone at 217-785-6518 or via e-mail at  

Upcoming NACo Webinars

NACo has announced the following upcoming webinar opportunities:

Prenatal to Three Rural Peer Learning Network: Creating Public-Private Partnerships with Local Foundations 

(Monday, April 12, 2021, 1pm-2pm CST)

Local philanthropic organizations can be important partners, advising on prenatal-to-three strategic efforts and policy priorities. County leaders can leverage public-private partnerships with philanthropic organizations to establish private funding sources for county-based efforts, address equity gaps and maximize local children’s services. Join this interactive discussion with county leaders to explore what your county can do to develop and strengthen public-private partnerships that put infants and toddlers at the top of the local policy agenda.

Click on this link to register for this event.

This webinar is also being offered with a suburban focus on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, from 1pm-2pm (CST). Click on this link to register for that date and time. For an urban focus, this webinar is being offered on Thursday, April 15, from 1pm-2pm (CST). Click on this link to register for that date and time. 

Emergency Rental Assistance Programs: Understanding ERAP I and ERAP II

(Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 12:00pm-1pm CST)

Join NACo and Witt O’Brien’s to learn about similarities and differences between the Consolidated Appropriations Act and American Rescue Plan emergency rental assistance programs, including spend deadlines, use of funds and other critical factors such as best practices and avoiding pitfalls.

Click on this link to register for this event.

Educating For American Democracy 

(Wednesday, April 14, 2021, 1pm-2pm CST)

Join NACo and Adam Seagrave of the Arizona State University Center for Political Thought and Leadership for a session on civic education and civil discourse in American Constitutional democracy today. Learn more about ASU's Educating for American Democracy project and learn how county leaders can advance civic education and discourse at the local level.

Click on this link to register for this event.

The Rising Cost of Jails 

(Thursday, April 15, 2021, 12pm-1pm CST)

Since 1977, jail and other local corrections costs have risen sixfold, with local jail expenditures reaching $25 billion. Newly released data indicates that U.S. jail populations dropped 25 percent from June 2019 to June 2020, driven mostly by COVID-19. At an average annual cost of $34,000 per incarcerated person, finding ways to reduce the use of jails represents significant cost savings for counties.

This webinar features new research from the Pew Charitable Trusts that shows jail costs are rising even as crime and new jail admissions are falling. County leaders will share their perspective on the rising cost of jails and practical solutions for reducing local expenses and preserving public safety.

Click on this link to register for this event.

NACo National Membership Call 

(Thursday, April 15, 2021, 1pm-1:30pm CST)

Click on this link to register for this event. 

Five Amazing Rail Sustainability Facts

Submitted to ISACo by GoRail

Some trivia: What weighs 4,000 tons, carries the load of several hundred trucks, and is still the greenest way to move freight over land? A freight train, of course.

Given rail’s scale of movement and the size of the U.S., it makes sense that trains would be the most efficient choice to haul freight from sea to shining sea. Every year, hauling freight by rail rather than highway saves 12.5 million tons of greenhouse gases in Illinois alone!

Highlighting this environmental edge, a new report from the Association of American Railroads calls on policymakers in Congress to harness the full potential of rail in combatting climate change. That means “promoting policies that enable the rail industry to move more goods, more efficiently.” For example, says AAR, policymakers should work toward modal equity by restoring the Highway Trust Fund to a true user-pays system and in the incorporation of new and emerging technologies.

After all, railroads don’t just rely on physics for efficiency – they’re constantly deploying tech that enables trains to move more for less (less fuel, less pollution, less time). Fuel management systems, advanced routing software, idling reduction tech, and more efficient locomotives have vastly improved efficiency. Case in point: while freight railroads today move nearly twice as much as they did in 1980, fuel consumption is actually down.

Here are five more stats that showcase rail’s environmental credentials:

  1. Trains are four times more efficient than trucks – meaning greenhouse gases fall by 75% when freight is moved by rail rather than trucks.
  2. Today’s freight trains can move one ton of goods 479 miles on a single gallon of fuel, up from 396 miles in 2000.
  3. If just 10% of the freight moved by the largest trucks moved by rail instead, greenhouse gas emissions would fall by over 17 million tons. That’s the equivalent of removing 3.35 million cars from our highways or planting 260 million trees.
  4. While freight railroads haul 40% of intercity freight and one-third of U.S. exports, they account for just 2% of greenhouse gases from the transportation sector. 
  5. Thanks to redesigned railcars and operational improvements, the average freight train in 2019 could haul 25% more tonnage than it could in 2000 (3,667 tons today versus 2,923 in 2000). 

As our representatives in Congress tackle climate change, freight railroads should be a key part of the solution. Every ton of freight moved by rail strengthens the economy, supports jobs, mitigates pollution and saves taxpayers money.

More information on rail sustainability is available at

Corporate Sponsor Spotlight

This week's corporate partner spotlight highlights ISACo's partnership with Christopher B. Burke Engineering.

Started in 1986, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, LTD. is a full-service consulting engineering and surveying firm specializing in civil, transportation/highway, municipal, traffic, water resources, environmental, structural and mechanical engineering. The company provides not only design services, but also planning, preliminary engineering, permitting, and construction observation. Christopher B. Burke Engineering, LTD. successfully completed the design, permitting and construction of numerous major transportation projects, flood control reservoirs, pump stations, embankments, water mains and water systems, storm sewers, and large open channels. 

More information about the services provided by Christopher B. Burke Engineering, LTD. 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 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.