AFFI Legislative Update
Both chambers of the General Assembly met from Tuesday to Thursday last week and the Governor presented an outline of his budget. Over two thousand more bills were introduced and the AFFI Legislative Committee analyzed all legislation affecting union firefighters and their families.
We have contacted a majority of the new legislators in both the Senate and House to introduce them to our organization and discuss the issues most important to our membership.. The conversations are going well. We have pledged to keep them informed about our legislative positions and work with them on issues that pertain to us.
Two more AFFI initiatives were introduced in the House last week and assigned a number. You will recall from the February 10 update that we were waiting for a handful of bills we are pursuing to be introduced.
HB 1576 (Rep. Dugan) Exam of Firefighter Applicants. This bill creates a fair and standard system for municipalities and districts to follow when hiring new firefighters. It also provides an option for local units of government to utilize a statewide hiring list under the direction of the Joint Labor Management Committee and Office of the State Fire Marshal. The AFFI has negotiated with the Illinois Fire Chiefs and the Illinois Municipal League on this bill for over a year.
HB 1605 (Rep. Moffitt) County/Municipal Charity Solicitation in Public Roadway. The bill would allow public safety personnel to solicit for charity in public roadways. We have been working with the MDA over the last couple of months in hopes of following laws that recently passed in Texas and California.
We plan to file a bill on Tuesday that will allow our brothers and sisters in Bedford Park to transfer their creditable service from IMRF to IMRF-SLEP as well as add occupational disability language from Article 4.
We were successful this week in carving firefighters OUT of HB 1325 that authorizes each pension fund and retirement system to establish and administer an optional retirement plan. The sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Harris, listened to our concerns and understood our position. Prior to leaving his office he informed us that firefighters would be excluded from the bill.
As you might imagine, there are several other bills we are monitoring. We have initiated discussions with legislators to determine the intent of those bills as well as the likelihood of pursuing the issue. As the session unfolds we will have a good grasp of bills that need our absolute and immediate attention. Until then we continue to talk to legislators and update our watch lists on a daily basis.
This week HB 1427, an AFFI initiative, is assigned to the Labor Committee in the House. The legislation increases the population threshold in the Worker Comp Act from 200,000 to 500,000. Currently, only firefighters and police officers that work in communities with a population less than 200,000 are eligible to receive full benefits under the Act. The City of Chicago does not participate in worker comp for firefighters except for injuries that result in serious and permanent disfigurement due to burns. Although the most recent census data did not result in any municipalities outside the City of Chicago obtaining a population over 200,000, we have a few that are very close. The AFFI is being proactive by increasing the population threshold in the Act to ensure all injured firefighters receive comprehensive worker comp protection- now and in the future.
We will continue to keep you up to date on a weekly basis. Shawn Gillis will also Facebook and Twitter any timely events.
As always, please contact your District Legislative Rep. if you have questions or concerns.
Eddy Crews, Chairman
Richard Martin, PAC Treasurer
Chuck Sullivan, Secretary
Pat Devaney, President
AFFI Legislative Update
Due to the severe winter storm last week, the General Assembly cancelled session. On Tuesday, February 8, both chambers opened session at noon and worked thru Thursday. As of this writing, 2,303 Senate Bills and 1,500 House Bills have been introduced in the General Assembly.
Ten AFFI initiatives have been introduced and assigned a bill number. We are still waiting on six others to be read into the record and assigned. A synopsis of our initiatives will be discussed below.
As is the case at the beginning of a new session, a tremendous number of bills are introduced and assigned. Please know that the AFFI Legislative Committee looks at every bill introduced and evaluates its impact on our membership.
The current economic condition of our state and local governments is being used to justify legislation to diminish public employee’s wages, rights and benefits. You can be assured that every piece of legislation that negatively affects our membership is being discussed with the sponsors and supporters of the bill. There are a handful of bills that don’t directly affect AFFI members, but do affect our brothers and sisters in other public employee unions affiliated with state government. We are working closely with the AFL-CIO affiliates to stand united as we know many of these issues will become local government initiatives.
We truly appreciate the fact that many members have shown an increased interest in the political process and follow issues closely on face book, twitter and the ILGA website. While at times it may be frustrating to discover a legislator has introduced legislation that seems detrimental to our profession, we must realize that thousands of bills get filed each year. Many of which are politically motivated or fruitless attempts to appeal to constituency. Regardless of the times, the AFFI will continue to do what it has done since 1935 - advocate in a professional and courteous manner and completely understand all the language in a bill prior to communicating (in any form) with legislators. Our organization has been very successful over the years and it’s not just because we are firefighters. It is due to the fact that our membership understands the political process, we are loyal to our friends, we NEVER fabricate what a bill may or may not do, and when the membership is called to action, legislators take notice.
HB 80 (Acevedo) Allows for Article 4 (Downstate Firefighters) and Article 6 (Chicago Firefighters) pension system reciprocity.
HB 182 (Lang) Defines very strictly how local governments may consolidate fire protection services and how cost savings shall be realized. This bill is a “shell” currently. Language will be added shortly.
HB 183 (Saviano) Requires the employer to pay for the cost of the review process after completion of a promotion test.
HB 296 (Phelps) If a public employer obtains a stay of an arbitration panel's order pending judicial review and the final decision of the court is adverse, then all reasonable costs of the proceedings in the reviewing courts including reasonable attorneys' fees, as determined by the court, shall be paid by the public employer.
HB 1201 (Lyons) Allows for annuitants/survivors who were catastrophically injured or killed regardless of date to qualify for the Public Employee Disability Act. This was not an AFFI initiative but we will obviously advocate for it.
HB 1427 (Bradley) Increases the city population floor (from 200,000 to 500,000) limiting the ability of police officers and fire fighters to be considered "employees" under the Worker Compensation Act.
SB 101 (Holmes) Adds Parkinson’s disease to the presumptive disability section of the Worker Occupational Disease Act.
SB 1251 (Frerichs) Allows a retired firefighter one opportunity to re-apply to municipal health insurance plan if the member opted not to remain on health plan when initially retiring.
SB 1278 (Harmon) Provides that any benefit to be received by or paid to a dependent beneficiary may be received by or paid to a trust established for such dependent beneficiary if the dependent beneficiary is living at the time such benefit would be received by or paid to such trust.
SB 2072 (Link) This is a “shell” bill currently. Language will be added to it shortly that meets the requirements of a convention resolution concerning secondary employment.
SB 2199 (Noland) This allows brothers and sisters in Barrington to transfer credible service from IMRF to Article 4.
The following initiatives have not yet been assigned a number. We anticipate these to be assigned next week:
HB xxxx(Dugan) Allows brothers and sisters in Bedford Park to transfer creditable service from IMRF to IMRF-SLEP
HBxxxx (Moffitt) Allows for public safety officers to solicit for charitable organizations in roadways.
HBxxxx (Dugan) Creates an option for municipalities/districts to hire firefighters from a statewide list maintained by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Further defines hiring process for local governments that choose to continue creating their own hire list.
HBxxxx (Moffitt) Creates language in the Foreign Fire Insurance statute dealing with fees.
HBxxxx (Moffitt) Senior Retiree Pension Compounding
Again, there are bills we are adamantly opposed to and discussions have taken place. The Sponsors know our position and they appreciated the fact that we came to speak with them. We have been asked to supply them with additional information. In next week’s update we will let you know which bills are listed in our opposed file.
Should any of you wish to have an AFFI Legislative Representative speak at one of your Local union meetings please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Eddy Crews, Northern Dist Leg Rep
Richard Martin, Southern Dist Leg Rep
Chuck Sullivan, Central Dist Leg Rep
Pat Devaney, President
AFFI Legislative Update 1-15-11