Show your OPPOSITION to Illinois House Bill 0305: Use of Local Government Funds to Pay for Local Government Officials’ Professional Development and Training Expenses. Fill out a Witness Slip!
In previous APA-IL Legislative Alerts, we talked about about three bills that presented a significant challenge to the continuing education of professional Illinois planners and the evolution of planning practice in Illinois. HB0305 is the latest effort by Rep. McSweeney to carve out some exceptions that partially address the concerns we raised last year. Please OPPOSE this bill by filing an online Witness Slip. Please complete your Witness Slip by the conclusion of the Cities & Villages Committee Hearing on February 13th which begins at 2:00 pm.
Sponsor: Rep. David McSweeney (R – 52nd Dist., Cook, McHenry, Lake Counties)
Co-sponsored by Rep. Jonathan Carroll (D – 57th Dist., Cook and Lake Counties)
Status: HB0305 was introduced on January 10, 2019 and was referred to Cities & Villages Committee on February 5, 2019. It is on the Committee's February 13th hearing agenda. Summary: Representative McSweeney has introduced a bill that prohibits or significantly curtails the use of local and state government money to pay for expenses related to employee or contractor attendance at conferences and conventions. In particular, the bill does the following:
A State agency may not expend public funds for expenses connected with the renting or of booths, hospitality suites, or other physical spaces at a convention or gathering of municipal personnel.
Generally, public funds may not be expended by a municipality for expenses connected with a convention or gathering of municipal personnel, subject to the following exceptions:
the appropriation is contained within a line item dedicated solely to convention expenses that includes the name and job title of each employee or contractor who may be reimbursed;
notice of the appropriation is posted on the municipality's website not less than 30 days prior to the meeting in which it will come up for a vote, and include a statement that the appropriation will use taxpayer funds to allow one or more of the municipality's employees or contractors to travel to a convention; and
the appropriation is approved by a three-fifths majority vote.
The bill does not apply to public funds expended:
at a convention or gathering of public safety personnel;
at a convention or gathering of municipal personnel relating to economic development and tourism promotion; or
pursuant to a contract entered into before the effective date when the bill becomes a public act, (approved by General Assembly, signed by the Governor).
If this sounds familiar, it should. Recall that Rep. McSweeney introduced three bills last year that would have significantly hampered the ability of local governments to spend money for any conference or convention. The APA-IL opposed those bills and we were very pleased all three died during the last General Assembly.
This latest effort by Rep. McSweeney attempts to carve out some exceptions that partially address the concerns we raised last year. However, the exceptions make the appropriation process to allocate funds for participation at conferences and conventions unnecessarily burdensome. In addition, it keeps in place a prohibition on the ability of state agencies to attend and have an appreciable presence at conferences and conventions with municipal officials. This is a hugely problematic issue we pointed out last year, since it significantly affects the ability of municipal officials to interact and engage with state officials on matters of common concern, as well as be up to date on emerging, evolving, or new state regulatory policies affecting local government operations. Why you should OPPOSE this bill: As with McSweeney’s three bills last year, HB0305 interferes with the continuing education of professional Illinois planners and evolution of planning practice in Illinois. It adds unnecessary appropriation burdens for public funds to be used for conferences and conventions. The current appropriations process provides plenty of transparency for local government taxpayers, and that transparency also provides taxpayers with necessary information to make local election decisions if they are unhappy with how their government is spending their tax money. Rep. McSweeney’s statewide rules on appropriations for conferences and conventions will have unequal impacts, particularly on communities with lesser means and administrative capacity. In addition:
Illinois planners attend planning conferences to learn from other planners and professionals. These educational and experiential opportunities are important to the professional development of our planning community, as well as gaining and maintaining certifications like AICP. These educational opportunities are also important to build awareness on latest “best practices” in planning being used around the country.
The bill will limit, though not outright prohibit, the ability of local governments to engage in important economic development activities typically conducted at conventions or gatherings of personnel like ICSC’s Deal Making Conferences.
Finally, the prohibition on state agencies serve as a major impediment on state and local officials engaging on matters of common concerns and learning about new regulations affecting local government operations.
Recommendation: File a Witness Slip to OPPOSE HB0305 Please note: Online witness slips can be submitted up to the conclusion of the committee hearing (hearing begins at 2:00 pm on February 13, 2019).
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