Local Government Lowdown

Get insights and analysis on all the latest Illinois government legal news from Tressler’s local attorneys.

Is your Board of Fire and Police Commissioners in compliance with the law in regard to party affiliations? The Illinois Municipal Code 65 ILCS 5/10 2.1 3, states in part that “No more than two members of the board shall belong to the same political party existing in such municipality at the time of such appointments as defined in 10-2 of the Election Code. If only one or no political party exists in such municipality at the time of such appointments, then state or national political party affiliations shall be considered in making appointments. Party affiliation shall be determined by affidavit…
Election season is upon us again. Public entities should be aware of the legal restrictions on political signage: Electioneering outside the 100 foot campaign free zone is permitted “Electioneering” is conduct that urges a vote for or against a party, candidate, or issue or engaging in political discussion within 100 feet of a polling place. 10 ILCS 5/7-41(c), 5/17-29. Electioneering may take the form of either verbal communication or nonverbal communication – displaying signs, wearing campaign buttons, or distributing campaign literature. Sections 7-41 and 17-29 identify that the 100-foot zone runs from each entrance to the voting room itself, not the entire building.…
The First District Appellate Court recently affirmed a Cook County decision that reinforces the immunities granted to municipalities under the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act (EMS Act). Section 3.150(a) of the EMS Act provides immunity from civil liability for acts or omissions committed by any certified, licensed, or authorized person, agency, or governmental body who in good faith provides emergency or non-emergency medical services in the normal course of conducting its duties or in an emergency unless these acts or omissions constitute willful and wanton misconduct. Amanda Gary died 10 days after she received initial treatment from Calumet City…
On January 11, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provided the Federal Register with its final rules aimed at updating the conciliation process. Conciliation is a voluntary process aimed at resolving employment discrimination charges in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Currently, less than half of the charges where the EEOC determines claims of discrimination to be founded utilize conciliation.  Failure to participate in conciliation can lead to the EEOC pursuing litigation against the employer/respondent. The revisions to the conciliation procedures aim to create a more transparent process that will afford the respondent/employer with more information as to the EEOC determination. The…
Classification of an employee as an independent contractor can make employers liable for employment taxes.  https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/understanding-employee-vs-contractor-designation.  Generally, an employer must withhold income taxes, withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes and pay unemployment tax on wages paid to an employee. On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule clarifying the standard for employee versus independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The rule will take effect on March 8, 2021. This guidance to determine who is an independent contractor under the FLSA makes it easier to identify employees covered by…
Tressler attorneys are speaking at the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference. Please click here to register. We look forward to “seeing” you there! January 28-30, 2021 Virtual Conference Conference Website: http://www.ilparksconference.com/ Presentations: Time’s Up – Managing a Harassment-Free Workplace Date: 1/28/21 Time: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Speakers: Kathleen Gibbons and Elizabeth Wagman Coaches and Sexual Assault Claims: What You Need to Do to Protect Your Agency Date: 1/29/21 Time: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Speakers: Andrew Paine and Christine Walczak Home Grown Privacy Threats for Municipalities Date: 1/30/21 Time: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Speakers: Todd Rowe and…
The Illinois Public Access Counselor’s (PAC) Office recently issued a binding PAC opinion finding a public body in violation of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for improperly denying a FOIA request for records concerning a juvenile victim. This PAC opinion involved a request for a police report concerning the investigation of an alleged crime committed by an adult against a minor. Generally, the Juvenile Court Act protects the confidentiality of juvenile law enforcement records and prohibits them from being disclosed to the general public. In its analysis, the PAC found that the requested police report was not a…
Since the notion of a vaccine began to circulate, employers have anxiously wondered whether they will be allowed to mandate their employees be vaccinated. On December 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released formal guidance answering this question.  Yes, employers will be allowed to mandate employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  The EEOC guidance informs employers that while they may require vaccines, employees still maintain legal protections affiliated with religious beliefs or a disability.  Such protections may allow employees to be exempt from vaccination requirements. Employers will be expected to make exemption determinations on an individual, fact-specific basis. The…
On November 6, 2018, the day of the midterm elections, the plaintiff, Trista Oettle, reported to her assigned polling place in Clinton County to cast her vote. One of the defendants, the election judge on that date, was asked by the plaintiff whether she could take a photograph with her completed ballot—commonly referred to as a “ballot selfie.” The election judge responded that the plaintiff could “absolutely not” take the picture and if the plaintiff did so, she “would go to prison.” Based on these statements, the plaintiff did not take the photograph. On November 18, 2018, the plaintiff filed…
On November 17, 2020, the Governor announced a commitment to digital equity through an investment of $750,000 intended to lessen the digital divide throughout the state. This investment is part of the Governor’s $420 million Connect Illinois initiative to bring universal internet access to all Illinois households by 2024. The recent financial commitment will provide complementary grants available to various Illinois entities, including libraries. Such grants include the Illinois Connected Community Grant Program. In July, the first round of this program directed funds to 12 community-based organizations to assist with ensuring access, adoption and utilization of high-speed broadband. The second round will provide a…
The COVID-19 pandemic has created widespread budgeting woes for municipalities throughout the state, with fire protection and ambulance districts being hit particularly hard. In an effort to help ease these budgeting issues, the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) will award $3.3 million in grants to eligible fire departments and ambulance services during the application period. The OSFM has begun accepting applications for the grants, which will award up to $26,000 for the purchase of small firefighting and ambulance equipment. The funding can be used for small tools and equipment, firefighting personal protective equipment and personal infection control…
On November 17, 2020, the Governor announced, due to the surge in COVID cases, the entire State of Illinois will undergo Tier 3 Resurgence Mitigation Measures. The Tiered Resurgence Mitigation Plan first emerged in July 2020 to slow the spread of COVID in an effort to lessen the impact of COVID cases on hospitals. In July, each portion of the State of Illinois was divided into regions that would move along the various Tiers. Pursuant to the Tiered Resurgence Mitigation Plan, the Illinois Department of Public Health tracks the positivity rates and hospital capacity metrics in the identified regions over…
“Municipalities” that maintain and operate a website face an upcoming January 1, 2021 deadline to update their websites. The Illinois Pension Code was amended in 2019 when Governor Pritzker signed Public Act 1010-0504. The applicable section of the Illinois Pension Code defines a “municipality” as a city, village, incorporated town, county, township, a Financial Oversight Panel established pursuant to Article 1H of the School Code and any school, park, sanitary, road forest preserve, water, fire protection, public health, river conservancy, mosquito abatement, tuberculosis sanitarium, public community college district or other local districts with general continuous power to levy taxes…
A few days before the Thanksgiving holiday, the Public Access Counselor (PAC) issued its seventh binding opinion (PAC Opinion No. 20-007) in 2020 regarding the conduct of remote public meetings during a public health emergency. The PAC found that a village board was in violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act, 5 ILCS 120/1 et seq. (the “OMA”), because it muted a discussion of public business during its remotely held public meeting on September 8, 2020. At the September 8, 2020 meeting, the village muted the Zoom livestream for approximately sixty (60) seconds during a conversation between the village mayor…
In Policemen’s Benevolent Labor Committee v. City of Sparta, 2020 IL 125508 (November 19, 2020), the City’s “activity points system” required all full-time police officers to meet a monthly points minimum. The system was used to give an award for the most points attained but it was also used as a basis for discipline for low scoring officers. The police union filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a ruling that an activity-points policy used by the City to evaluate the performance of its police officers established an unlawful ticket quota in violation of Section 11-1-12 of Illinois Municipal Code.…
Election season is rapidly approaching. Candidates for the April 2021 election can start circulating nominating petitions on September 22, 2020.  Candidates should carefully check compliance with the rules and deadlines: Monday, December 14, 2020. The first day for candidates to file their nominating petitions, statement of candidacy and receipt of filing of Statement of Economic Interests. Monday, December 21, 2020. Last day for candidates to file. Names are placed on the ballot in the order in which the nominating papers are received.  However, for those who file within the first hour and last hour of the filing period, a lottery is held…