Update from Rep. Ives

Greetings from Wheaton in the heart of DuPage County! I hope this note finds you and your family well. I would like to take this opportunity to update you on what I am working on now that the Illinois House of Representatives has concluded its Session calendar for 2017.

As we look ahead to 2018, I wanted to share following important dates with you: 

Key Upcoming Dates – Illinois House of Representatives:

First Day of 2018 Session – Tuesday, January 23
Governor’s “State of the State” address – Wednesday, January 31
Last Day to File New Bills – Friday, February 16

If you have any ideas or suggestions for new legislation or reforms to existing state laws, please e-mail me at ives@ilhousegop.org. Some of the best ideas for legislation come from constituents like you.

I am planning to re-file bills from last session that were blocked by Speaker Madigan’s majority, especially with regard to pension reform. One initiative in particular I want to highlight: SSA reform. Many of you are familiar with or live within a Special Service Areas, or SSA. Special Service Areas are designated by municipalities to fund development projects that only affect a specific area.  Some examples are downtown beautification, roads or drainage/sewer projects, etc.  If your property is in a special service area, you will pay the tax related to the project costs.

SSAs are currently formed by the request of one individual property owner or by the corporate authorities. A public hearing is convened and after closure of the hearing, those OPPOSED to the tax, both property owners and voters of record, must organize and file petitions in opposition within 60 days. This entails tracking down records at the Recorder of Deeds office and finding guardians to elderly property owners.

In my hometown of Wheaton, an SSA bill required the city to track down nearly 100 voters, 25% of whom were no longer residents of the municipality. In this case (2011) and one other (2009), a gentleman named Conrad Frederick twice voted in favor of an SSA in Wheaton. He wasn’t a registered voter and failed to sign a petition opposing it, therefore his vote defaulted to a ‘Yes’ in favor of the tax. In actuality, Mr. Frederick could not have signed a petition. He died in 2008. Yes, you read that right. This being Illinois, as a dead person his vote counted because he was still on the voter rolls and couldn’t be removed under federal law for two election cycles.

Illinois deserves better. The current law is flawed needs to be reversed. We absolutely must protect taxpayers from taxes put in place through such an unsound process.

This coming January, for the sixth consecutive year, I will file my SSA reform bill that would simplify the process and ensure that those who want to impose a property tax on others must have that request positively affirmed through the petitioning of the owners alone in favor of the additional tax. The first year I filed this bill, people were shocked and amazed by what they learned from a local attorney who came down to the Capitol to testify. The House of Representatives passed a half-measure to address some of these issues last year. Now, we need to finish the job.

The four substantial changes my bill would make are as follows:
1.       Removes voters of records, who are often transient renters, from the determination of a SSA since this is a property tax. It makes property owners of record the only petitioners for imposing such tax.
2.        It insures you must affirm through petition your desire for the additional tax, rather than relying on those opposed to the tax to organize and petition in a 60 day period to defeat the tax.
3.       Provides that municipalities must provide names and addresses of the individuals and entities to which the notice will be sent by mail, that this list shall be published at the time the notice is given and made available at the public hearing.
4.       Finally, to prevent the dilution of parcels vote by multiple owners of other parcels, each parcel would receive only one vote.

For other state news of interest, please read below. Thank you, as always, for the privilege of serving as your voice in Springfield. – Jeanne.

Rep. Ives: Keeping You Informed

Vicious cycle: Large pension debts making it more expensive to borrow funds” Illinois News Network: Post-recession America’s states and cities are paying for their negligence in funding their public employee pensions, according to a new study. The study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimated a cost to states and local governments when they borrow money but have a high amount of unfunded pension debt… read the full story here

Rising property taxes and stagnant incomes: A lethal combinations for Illinoisans” Wirepoints Illinois News: A lethal combination of rising property taxes and stagnant incomes has forced many Illinoisans to rethink their relationship with their state. More than a million net residents have already fled the state since 2000 – and you can’t blame others for thinking about joining them… read the full story here  

For the doughboys: How to preserve World War I memorials in Illinois” Chicago Tribune editorial: One November day in 1926, locals gathered in Highland Park to dedicate a statue in honor of the 363 residents who served in World War I. A band played patriotic songs and schoolchildren marched. Then life went on. Before long, there would be more wars to commemorate…read the full story here

Illinois trivia: Test your knowledge” Chicago Tribune: Illinois celebrates 200 years of statehood Dec. 3, 2018. Throughout the year, there will be special events and activities leading up to the big day. Here’s your chance to see how much you know about our nearly two-centuries-old state…read the full story here

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