Representative Pritchard reviews some of the legislation that passed the General Assembly this spring that may be of interest to you. Further details about each new law can be found at the legislative website www.ilga.gov under the bill number. Following are new laws pertaining to Agriculture, Firefighters, Funeral Directors, Municipalities, Professional Counseling and Real Estate.
· C-FAR Reorganization – HB4447 provides that appropriations, grants and donations for food and agricultural research will be kept in a special fund at the Department of Agriculture. The Council for Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR) will make awards to public and non-public institutions of higher education and issue an annual report on how those funds were used.
· Slow Moving Vehicle Emblems – The triangular slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblems may only be displayed on farm tractors, implements of husbandry, special mobile equipment, and animal drawn vehicles. HB4598 increases the fine for improperly displaying the SMV emblem to $75 for the first offense.
· Nuisance Permits – HB5115 allows the Department of Natural Resources to issue nuisance permits for wildlife that damage cattle pastures.
· Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) – HB5539 increases fertilizer fees, creates the NREC, and directs it to use the fees to establish and implement nutrient research, education and water quality projects.
· National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) – HB5642 establishes a fee for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) so the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency can meet current requirements under the federal Clean Water Act.
· Convention Center Rates (HB5893) – Encourages the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to help negotiate lower rates for farmers’ markets when they are held indoors rather than the usual outdoor location due to bad weather conditions.
· Livestock Trailers – SB2579 excludes trailers hauling livestock from road regulations regarding the maximum length of trailers.
· The State Fire Marshall supported House Bill 4479 that imposes stiffer disciplinary actions and fines for violations under the Fire Equipment Distributor and Employee Regulation Act. The bill also eliminates the Fire Equipment Distributor and Employee Advisory Board which was deemed too costly and unnecessary.
· Firefighter Applicant Exams – This test to measure an applicant’s physical ability may be based on industry standards currently in use or approved by the Joint Labor-Management Committee of the State Fire Marshall. Passing score on the exam will be at or above the median rather than the mean score.
· Fill the Boot Campaign – Ensures that counties and municipalities cannot prohibit firefighters from soliciting for charitable donations on public roadways. The Associated Firefighters of Illinois fought for this initiative to safeguard their efforts in raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
· State Fire Museum – Removes limits on the use of funds to make emergency repairs to the Illinois Fire Fighters’ Museum. The State Fire Marshall can exceed the 10 percent limit on repairs upon a majority approval from the Illinois Fire Fighters’ Memorial Foundation.
· Licensing – SB38 extends the licensing code governing Funeral Directors and Embalmers and makes a number of changes to standardize this code with other professional acts. Changes include continuing education requirements, family permission, and physical limitations of the embalmer.
· Enterprise Zone Reform – SB3616 continues the enterprise zone program which was about to end and requires proof of effectiveness. The bill extends the program for 25 years, creates 5 more zones, and sets new criteria to become a zone. There are also increased reporting requirements for tax incentives, capital investment and job creation.
· Vehicle Immobilization Program – HB4988 permits any municipality that has a vehicle registration tax to immobilize the vehicle (wheel booting) for unpaid vehicle registration taxes.
· Use of Tax Proceeds – HB5362 extends until 2020 the ability for non-home rule municipalities to use sales tax revenue for any municipal operation.
· Fundraising – Counties and municipalities cannot prohibit law enforcement officials or firefighters from soliciting for charitable purposes on public roadways.
· Licensing – House Bill 4520 allows licensed career counselors and mediators to provide services within their scope of practice without supervision of a medical doctor. In addition, the legislation allows licensed professional counselors not engaged in the practice of professional counseling to operate independently.
· Continuing Education – House Bill 5359 strengthens the real estate broker profession in a number of ways. It allows the Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (DFPR) to develop a continuing education course for single broker management and lengthens the time to report a judgment resulting in a collection from the Real Estate Recovery Fund.
· Disability Housing – House Bill 5450 encourages local administering agencies and developers to use grant funding to develop integrated housing opportunities for persons with disabilities.