ACEC-IL 2016 Legislative Report by David Kennedy
The General Assembly did not pass a budget for the current fiscal year (now in its 12th month) nor the next fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016 by its May 31 deadline. A budget for the current and next fiscal year can still be passed in the month of June in time for the new fiscal year, but passage will require an extra majority vote of 3/5ths of the members of the House and Senate. It is expected that Governor and Legislature will work on a compromise partial year budget that will provide limited funds for half the fiscal year.
There were approximately 3,300 bills introduced this year. All of these bills and corresponding amendments were reviewed for impact on consulting engineers. In many cases action was taken to influence the outcome of these bills by supporting or opposing certain bills, or amending the bills to reduce or eliminate problem areas.
The following outlines action taken on your behalf during 2016:
ACEC-IL worked through the Transportation for Illinois Coalition (TFIC) to advocate for a capitol program. Lobbyists for Coalition members were assigned Legislators to educate them on the current state of funding, road and bridge conditions, projected needs and ideas on funding sources. While many legislators support additional funding for infrastructure it became apparent that a capitol program was not going to be considered absent a state budget to fund education, human services and other programs. The anticipation and hope was that a resolution on the budget impasse would finally allow movement on a large, multi-year capitol improvement program funded with motor fuel, sales and registration fees that included a “pay as you go” and bond program that would support state and local roads/bridges, transit and aeronautics programs.
Road fund diversions
The voters will get a chance this fall to amend the Illinois Constitution to prohibit diversion of road funds for uses other than transportation. House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 36 sponsored by Representative Phelps and Senator Haines was approved on nearly unanimous roll calls by the House and Senate. While the idea to Constitutionally protect Road Funds has had wide-spread support from Legislators for many years, this is the first year in a decade that the Amendment was posted for a legislative hearing and vote. Recognition should be accorded the Illinois Chamber who led the effort to pass a resolution this year and TFIC for long advocating for this issue. TFIC will be leading an effort to inform the public about the importance of voting in support of this Constitutional Amendment.
IDOT and the Illinois Tollway may finally achieve passage of a statute authorizing the use of design/build. SB 3020 sponsored by Senator Sandoval passed the Senate on a nearly unanimous roll call. The bill is in the House but has not been assigned to committee for a hearing and vote.
For 11 years ACEC-IL and ISPE has opposed design/build legislation promoted by IDOT because it did not recognize Qualification Based Selection and Best Value. The Department has advocated a low bid selection process for design/build. During that time, ACEC-IL and ISPE has been directly involved in passing 5 design/build laws for other agencies that included QBS and Best Value. These same design/build provisions were also part of 2 Public/Private Partnership laws, for a total of 7 laws passed that recognized QBS and Best Value.
ACEC-IL and ISPE worked with the Department in a cooperative manner in order to drop its long standing opposition. The Department has made changes to the proposal. The current bill does not require a low bid selection process nor require QBS and Best Value. The Department and IL Tollway will be in position to formulate a final selection process if the bill becomes law.
The Governor requested major changes to the Procurement Code that is purported to save millions of dollars. The Illinois Chamber has been advocating changes helpful to business. The Chief Procurement Officers have been recommending changes to help them oversee and administer the Code. Legislators interested in being helpful while at the same time protecting “reforms” adopted due to past scandals have been trying to balance all these demands. SB 584 may be that balance and is in position to be passed by the Senate.
Of significance for consulting engineers is a major change in communication reporting requirements that has hindered discussions with state employees. If this bill passes, expectations are that communications can be enhanced.
Vehicle Mileage Tax
SB 3267 sponsored by Senate President Cullerton and SB 3279 by Senator Steans, authorized a Vehicle Mileage Tax as a funding source for transportation infrastructure. While many transportation experts see this form of user fees as the future of transportation funding over current motor fuel taxes and registration fees, the idea and technology are still in development and promotional phases. The legislation received widespread news coverage and generated considerable anti-tax response. The bills were not advanced but remain on the radar of all transportation advocates.
Representatives of Interior Designers are advocating legislation to license interior designers, place them among the professional ranks of Licensed Design Professionals of Architects, Engineers and Land Surveyors and allow them to own architect and engineering companies. SB 463 sponsored by Senator Harmon was amended to accomplish this and other things. However, the bill did not advance and is opposed by the design professional groups, home builders and other organizations. We can expect more discussions on this legislation.
Energy Performance Contracts
SB 241 sponsored by Senator Haines was amended and passed out of the Senate to place restrictions on the use of energy performance contracts by school districts. AIA-IL led the effort to address recurring problems wherein some of these contracts have resulted in unlicensed persons designing energy systems for public schools, inadequate paybacks from energy performance, lack of audits assuring contractors are delivering as promised and a lack of competition for this work. The bill has generated significant opposition from energy performance contractors and the IL Association of School Boards. The House has not acted upon the bill, sponsored by Representative Hoffman, and further talks among interested parties are expected.
IL Building Commission
HB 4529 sponsored by Representative Sandack and Senator Syverson was passed by the General Assembly abolishing the Illinois Building Commission and transferring its responsibilities to track local building codes to the Capitol Development Board. The Building Commission was an agency created several years ago and advocated by AIA-IL to coordinate information and issues pertaining to local building codes.
Threat to Qualification Based Selection
HB 5595 sponsored by Representative McDermed amended the Local Government Professional Services Selection Act (QBS law) to exempt contracts of $150,000 and less (now $25k) from the competitive selection requirements of the law. The bill was promoted by the IL Municipal League, an organization that has long opposed the QBS law despite the years of proof as to its public benefits. When considering that many communities only have small contracts, especially downstate, this bill would have removed too many projects from open competition. The design professional groups opposed the bill. The bill was not posted for a hearing.
Local control of highway projects
HB 6226, sponsored by Representative Hoffman and Senator Sandoval, was passed by the General Assembly, authorizing local governments to use other Highway manuals in designing their road improvements.
Energy performance audits
SB 2932, sponsored by Senator Hastings, passed the Senate authorizing the Department of Central Management Services to conduct energy performance audits on state owned facilities. The contents of the bill were removed by the House and remains a “vehicle” bill for later amendment to the Green Buildings Act.
Public water supply
HB 4688, sponsored by Representative Tryon and Senator Syverson, passed the General Assembly, requiring certain fluoridation standards.
SB 2956, sponsored by Senator Holmes and Representative Williams, passed the General Assembly making various changes to the Environmental Barriers Act and requiring the Capitol Development Board to update requirements based upon federal changes.