Legal / Legislative
Legislative Year a Success||
by Peter M. Murphy
IAPD General Counsel
Without question 1995 was one of the
most successful legislative years in IAPD's
Our long struggle to return to park
districts and forest preserves the ability to
issue limited tax bonds, passed after more
than 31/2 years of work.
This measure restores common sense
to the tax cap and was a much needed clarification. In addition to this success, many
major pieces of legislation passed including those providing for early retirement
incentives, limiting the liability of local
governments, providing for a consolidated
Department of Natural Resources, and
funding Conservation 2000.
A short synopsis of major legislative
issues follows. If you have any questions
on specific pieces of legislation or would
like a copy of any bill, please do not hesitate to contact the IAPD offices.
MAJOR LEGISLATIVE ISSUES
Forest Preserve District Endowment
A Downstate district may establish an endowment fund, derived only from private
sources, to finance long-term maintenance
and improvements of its land and facilities, Any such fund must be annually audited by a certified public accountant (P.A.
89-119, enacted by S.B. 711).
A local government may self-insure and set up reserves for expected losses for
which it is allowed to buy insurance. The
reserves may not exceed 125% of an
actuary's or insurance underwriter's estimate of ultimate losses.
Open Meetings Act
If an open meeting is held and proper notice of it was given, a legally closed meeting may be held along with it without additional notice. The exception to the open
meetings act permitting discussion of the
buying or leasing of real property is explicitly stated to cover discussion of
whether or not to acquire a parcel (P.A.
89-86, enacted by S.B. 830).
The Illinois Police Training Act was expanded to require specified training of
persons appointed as part-time police officers (in addition to those permanently
appointed as full-time police officers as
under current law). Training for part-time
officers must have similar content and the
same number of hours as training of full-
time officers (P.A. 89-170, enacted by S.B.
State Mandates Reimbursement
The Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA) will review local
applications for reimbursement only if the
General Assembly appropriates funds for
reimbursement. If there is no appropriation, a local government may ask DCCA
to determine whether a Public Act is a
mandate, and if it is, the statewide cost to
implement it. If DCCA fails to respond
within 120 days after reimbursement application or mandate determination request, a local government may ask the
State Mandates Board of Review (formerly of "Appeals") to decide (P.A. 89-
304, enacted by H.B. 661).
A Conservation 2000 Fund and Conservation 2000 Projects Fund will be used to
10 Illinois Parks & Recreation November/December 1995
establish a comprehensive program to protect Illinois' natural resources. The first
fund will come from general revenues; the
other will get bond proceeds and any other
money provided by law. They can be appropriated to the Illinois EPA and departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources,
and Transportation for projects such as
protecting ecosystems through conservation easements and other incentives to
landowners, and monitoring natural resources and ecological conditions (P.A.
89-49. enacted by S.B. 300).
Extension Limitation Act
The Property Tax Extension Limitation
Act was expanded to include all non-home-rule units in Cook County. As in the
collar counties, tax extension increases are
limited to the lessor of (a) 5% or (b) the
percentage increase in the Consumer Price
Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U)
in the preceding year. The limits may be
exceeded with referendum approval and
do not apply to 1) home-rule units, 2) taxing districts that were covered by tax extension limits before February 12, 1995;
3) taxes to pay interest or principal on general obligation bonds or refunding bonds
approved by referendum or issued before
March 1995; 4) bond payments to pay off
public building commission leases entered
into before March 1,1995; or 5) bonds to
pay off Metropolitan Water Reclamation
District projects started before October
1995 (P.A. 89-1, enacted by H.B. 200).
Cook County (previously only downstate
counties) must, on request, assess land of
over 10 acres that has been open space for
the last three years at its fair value for use
as open-space land. As in downstate, this
can apply to a golf course (P.A. 89-137,
enacted by S.B. 133).
A new Hockey Facility Liability Act exempts ice hockey rinks from liability if a
spectator is hit by a stick or puck, unless
a) the person was behind a screen glass,
or other protective device that failed due
to negligence, or b) the injury was due to "willful and wanton" conduct by the
owner, operator, or a player or coach they
employ (P.A. 89-87, enacted by S.B. 857).
Rink Liability—Roller Skating
A new Roller Skating Rink Safety Act
declares duties of both rink operators and
skaters. Operators must meet safety standards of the Roller Skating Rink Operators Association; keep equipment in good
condition; and have at least one supervisor per 200 skaters, among other requirements. Skaters must maintain reasonable
control, heed signs and warnings, and take
other precautions. Suits by skaters are
barred unless an operator did not perform
a duty in the Act (P.A. 89-37, enacted by
A new act changed many provisions
of laws on civil suits for legal wrongs.
Some changes apply to suits filed on or
after March 9,1995; others apply only to
causes of action accruing on or after that
day. Examples of the changes include the
Joint or Several Liability
Joint liability (under which any solvent defendant can be required to pay up to the
entire amount of damages) is abolished in
suits for bodily harm or property damage
based on fault. A defendant will be liable
only for that defendant's proportionate
contribution to actual damages. But if the
$500,000 limit on noneconomic damages
(discussed later) is invalidated, defendants
in medical malpractice cases based on
wrongful death or negligence can again
be jointly and severally liable. Joint liability is also abolished for environmental
The care that an owner of land or a building owes to adult entrants does not include
a duty to warn of conditions that are obvious, that the entrant knows of or can reasonably be expected to discover, or that
are unknown to the owner—effectively overruling Ward v. Kmart Corp. (1990).
The only duty of a landowner to an adult
trespasser is avoiding willful and wanton
acts endangering the safety of a known
trespasser—effectively overruling Lee v.
Total noneconomic damages in suits for
physical harm are limited to $500,000 per
plaintiff (adjusted annually for inflation).
No plaintiff may recover for hedonic damages (loss of enjoyment of life).
Damaging Public Property
Criminal damage to property supported by
any government (now only state or federal property) becomes a felony, of Class
4 to Class 1 depending on damage (P.A.
89-30, enacted by S.B. 111).
Structural Work Act
The Structural Work Act ("Scaffold Act")
has been repealed. It allowed workers hurt
on scaffolds, ladders, or other vertical
structures to sue employer for damages in
addition to workers' compensation (P.A.
89-2. enacted by H.B. 201).
H.B. 901 would make numerous changes
in the Leaking Underground Storage Tank
Program and would require most motor
fuel importers, refiners, and distributors
to pay $60 per 7,500 gallons of fuel sold
or used in Illinois. Proceeds would go to
the Underground Storage Tank Fund.
H.B. 974 provides a number of changes
to the Park District Code that will be addressed during the spring session of me
1996 General Assembly. These include:
permitting the enforcement of park district
ordinances in property owned outside a
district's boundaries; and requiring annexation ordinances to be filed only in the
county where the annexation takes place.
Illinois Parks & Recreation • November/December 1995 • 11
$3.1 Million in Bike Path Grants Awarded
Governor Jim Edgar awarded $3.1
million to develop 83 miles of bicycle
paths in 34 community projects that will
provide expanded recreational opportunities and important transportation links
More than 385 miles of trails have
been funded since the inception of the bicycle path grant program six years ago.
The Department of Natural Resources, which administers the program,
received 42 applications requesting $3.9
The grants are available to any local
government having statutory authority to
acquire and develop land for public recreation. Grants are funded from a percentage of motor vehicle title transfer fees and
provide up to 50 percent of an approved
project's total cost. Grants to develop
projects are limited to $200,000. There is
no cap for acquisition projects.
Applications for the next cycle of
grants will be accepted January 1 through
March 1, 1996.
The following park districts and forest preserves were awarded grants. The Bicycle Path Grant Program is a direct result of IAPD's lobbying efforts.
Chicago Park District - $200,000 to realign a heavily used 1/2-mile portion of
lakefront trail in Lincoln Park. This realignment will resolve a serious safety
problem by eliminating several 90-degree
turns and mid-street crossings.
Cook County Forest Preserve District -
$200,000 to construct a 2-mile section of
bicycle trail within the Tinley Creek Bicycle Trail system, a significant regional
greenway in southwest Cook County. A
parking lot and bridge over Tinley Creek
are also included in the project.
Crete Park District - $43,200 to construct
about 2 miles of 8-foot-wide asphalt trail
utilizing city utility easements and an
abandoned railroad right-of-way purchased in 1993 by the park district with a bike path grant. The trail will be the first
in this rapidly growing community, and
the project involves a significant amount
of donated earthwork by a local developer.
Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District - $41,500 to acquire land and easements for the development of 3.7 miles of
paved recreation/bike path in Rochelle.
The bike path will link four public parks,
four schools, five churches, residential
areas, a child care center, the area's little
league complex and me neighboring village of Hillcrest.
Highland Park Park District - $104,500
to construct 1.7 miles of asphalt path
through Centennial Park. The trail will link
directly into the pathways in adjacent
Sleepy Hollow Park on the south and to a
residential sidewalk system on the northwest.
Lockport Township Park District, Will
County - $97,600 to construct the Village
of Romeoville's first bicycle trail. The 2.5-
mile trail will connect the existing Sunset
Park with Romeoville High School and the
township's new water park development.
Pekin Park District - $45,500 to develop
4.2 miles of 10-foot-wide asphalt trail from
Allentown Road on the east side of Pekin
to the Illinois River. The trail will utilize
abandoned railroad right-of-way, park district property and city street right-of-way.
The trail will connect Coal Miner's Park,
Mineral Springs Park and the high school
campuses to the downtown riverfront.
Peoria Park District/City of Peoria -
$200,000 to construct an 0.8-mile trail
which is a critical link to connect the existing Pimiteoui Trail to the Robert Michel
Bridge bicycle lane. This trail will provide
the residents of Peoria convenient access
to 14.5 miles of bike trails on both sides
of the Illinois River.
Rockford Park District - $187300 to
construct 1.25 miles of 12-foot-wide
paved trail that will provide a critical underpass of U.S. 20/1-39 and allow bike/
pedestrian access from the Southeast Community Park and Cherry Valley Mall area
to the Village of Cherry Valley.
Springfield Park District - $55,000 for
the development of 2.8 miles of the first
bicycle path in Springfield. This path will
run northwest from Douglas Park to Stuart
Park and allow individuals to commute to
government offices and businesses near
the heart of the city.
Washington Park District - $58,000 to
construct a 2.3-mile, 10-foot-wide recreational trail which will link residential and
business areas, two elementary schools,
one high school and a large city park.
Will County Forest Preserve District -
$200,000 to construct 2.25 miles of 10-
foot-wide asphalt trail through two sections of scenic Hickory Creek Preserve
which will link residential areas in Mokena
to the planned 20-mile Old Plank Road
Trail and to the Frankfort Township swimming pool.
Zion Park District - $38,000 to construct
a one-mile bicycle trail in Shiloh Park.
This new trail will establish a vital link
from Shiloh Park to the existing 7-mile
trail system. Shiloh Park, with its extensive boulevard systems, is the major and
central focus of the Zion Park District.
For more information about the program, contact IAPD at 217/523-4554 or the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Grant Administration, 524 S.Second St., Springfield, IL 62701-1787, or call 217/782-7481 or 217/782-9175 (TDD)
12 * Illinois Parks & Recreation • November/December 1995