Lawmakers closed out the spring session of the Illinois General Assembly on Saturday, providing REALTORS® with four critical wins.
Illinois REALTORS® lobbyists were on duty through much of the weekend, making sure that last-minute changes to legislation did not hurt the association’s members or their clients.
Watch the video above with our Springfield lobbying team, listen to a podcast (below) with session highlights and read the latest State Capitol Report for a snapshot of the status of all of the key bills during the 2019 session.
Rent Control: A failure to launch
Advocates did everything they could to make Rent Control a dominant issue in the General Assembly this spring, marshaling protests and campaigning to implement a repeal of a state-wide ban which had been in place since 1997.
The result: The bill seeking the act’s repeal never even made it out of a subcommittee following intense lobbying and a REALTOR® Call for Action.
In the run-up to the vote, the association created a separate website with reasons why Rent Control was bad policy and held a member forum at the annual Public Policy Meetings in Peoria. Later in the session, hundreds of REALTORS® swarmed the Capitol during Lobby Day to tell lawmakers why a repeal of a state ban was a bad idea and would make the affordability problem worse.
Although Rent Control legislation may re-emerge in other sessions, the decisive defeat showed the power REALTORS® have when it comes to countering bad public policy.
The debate allowed Illinois REALTORS® to show they are advocates for affordable housing, and that the association wants to be part of the solution when it comes to crafting meaningful policy initiatives addressing housing access.
License Law passes with improvements for next decade
Real estate license law rewrites, mandated every 10 years by statute, give REALTORS® and regulators an opportunity to sit down and adapt rules to the needs of a fast-changing industry.
This year, Illinois REALTORS® entered the process with a game plan shaped by input from several task forces where dozens of association members came up with suggestions to improve industry professionalism.
Illinois REALTORS® advocates took these suggestions and worked with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to come up with revisions to the Real Estate License Act which enhanced education, lowered the age at which someone can attain a license and introduced the definition of teams.
Also significant, an emphasis was added to the act which places a focus on new broker training.
The agreed-to bill between IDFPR and Illinois REALTORS® got overwhelming support from both the House and Senate, and now awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature.
“Illinois REALTORS® worked closely with IDFPR to come up with legislation which meets a shared goal of making the industry better for all,” said Ed Neaves, Illinois REALTORS® president-elect. “We’re excited about a rewrite that enhances education for agents and provides necessary consumer protections.”
Commercial assessment bill in Cook County stalled
Newly elected Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi backed a bill which would have radically altered how his office establishes values for commercial property.
Illinois REALTORS® lobbyists questioned various elements of the bill which sought annual financial information related to the income and expenses from those owning many types of income producing properties. The association had concerns over the impact of the legislation on the Cook County property tax system and in other counties that chose to opt-in to the provisions.
REALTOR® opposition in part resulted in the bill being sent into committee limbo in the final days of the session, although the assessor’s office has made clear it will try again to pass the bill as early as the fall session.
The legislation was of critical importance to REALTORS® because commercial property in the Cook County classification system has been targeted in the past, and property owners are already sensitive to any sudden valuation changes.
Late effort sinks proposal to add tripling of transfer tax in capital bill
As Illinois REALTORS® lobbyists will tell you, there’s always a last-minute surprise in every legislative session.
This session was no different.
Among language included in an over 700-page amendment for gaming expansion and revenue for a capital bill considered in the final hours of the session was a provision which would have tripled the real estate transfer tax on “nonresidential” property.
The measure had various revenue sources to fund a list of improvements for the state, but as Illinois REALTORS® pointed out the language was not only another property tax but “nonresidential property” was not clearly defined.
REALTORS® voiced their opposition to the transfer tax. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and his caucus asked that the language be stripped from the final version of the bill, which it later was.