Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HB0414
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Full Text of HB0414  102nd General Assembly

HB0414sam001 102ND GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Sen. Christopher Belt

Filed: 5/10/2021

 

 


 

 


 
10200HB0414sam001LRB102 02644 SPS 26142 a

1
AMENDMENT TO HOUSE BILL 414

2    AMENDMENT NO. ______. Amend House Bill 414 by replacing
3everything after the enacting clause with the following:
 
4    "Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Water
5and Sewer Financial Assistance Act.
 
6    Section 5. Findings and intent.
7    (a) The General Assembly finds that:
8        (1) The health, welfare, and prosperity of the people
9    of the State of Illinois require that water and sewer
10    services are affordable and that all citizens receive
11    essential levels of water and sewer services regardless of
12    economic circumstance.
13        (2) Water and sewer providers and other entities
14    providing such services are entitled to receive proper
15    payment for services actually rendered.
16        (3) Unlike the electric and gas industry, water and

 

 

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1    sewer providers do not have existing statutory programs
2    intended to assist low-income customers.
3        (4) Existing financial assistance policies and
4    programs in effect in Illinois for utility services have
5    benefited all Illinois citizens, and should therefore be
6    extended to the water and sewer industry.
7        (5) Low-income households are unable to afford
8    essential utility services and other necessities, such as
9    food, shelter, and medical care; the health and safety of
10    those who are unable to afford essential utility services
11    suffer when monthly payments for these services exceed a
12    reasonable percentage of the customer's household income.
13    Costs of collecting past due bills and uncollectible
14    balances are reflected in rates paid by all ratepayers.
15    Society benefits if essential utility services are
16    affordable and arrearages and disconnections are minimized
17    for those most in need.
18    (b) Consistent with its findings, the General Assembly
19declares that it is the policy of the State that:
20        (1) A low-income water and sewer assistance payment
21    plan should be established that incorporates income
22    assistance for citizens to have access to affordable water
23    and sewer services.
24        (2) The ability of public utilities and other entities
25    to receive just compensation for providing services should
26    not be jeopardized by this policy.
 

 

 

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1    Section 10. Definitions. As used in this Act, unless the
2context otherwise requires:
3    "Commission" means the Illinois Commerce Commission.
4    "Department" means the Department of Commerce and Economic
5Opportunity.
6    "Water or sewer provider" means any public utility
7providing water or sewer services under the jurisdiction of
8the Illinois Commerce Commission; any other utility providing
9water or sewer service owned by a municipality, township,
10county, or other political subdivision of this State; or any
11other entity that is not a public utility under the
12jurisdiction of the Illinois Commerce Commission that
13regularly provides water or sewer service.
 
14    Section 15. Water and sewer assistance program.
15    (a) The Department is authorized to institute a program
16whereby a water or sewer provider may voluntarily participate
17to ensure the availability and affordability of water and
18sewer services to low-income citizens. The Department shall
19implement the program by rule adopted pursuant to the Illinois
20Administrative Procedure Act. The program shall be consistent
21with the purposes and objectives of this Act and with all other
22specific requirements provided in this Act. The Department may
23enter into such contracts and other agreements with local
24agencies as may be necessary for the purpose of administering

 

 

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1the water and sewer assistance program.
2    (b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as altering or
3limiting the authority conferred on the Commission by the
4Public Utilities Act to regulate all aspects of the provision
5of public utility service, including, but not limited to, the
6authority to make rules and adjudicate disputes between
7utilities and customers related to eligibility for utility
8service, deposits, payment practices, and discontinuance of
9service.
10    (c) The Department is authorized to institute an outreach
11program directed at low-income minority heads of households
12and heads of households age 60 or older. The Department shall
13implement the program through rules adopted pursuant to the
14Illinois Administrative Procedure Act. The program shall be
15consistent with the purposes and objectives of this Act and
16with all other specific requirements set forth in this
17subsection.
 
18    Section 20. Eligibility, conditions of participation, and
19water and sewer assistance.
20    (a) Any person who is a resident of the State of Illinois
21and whose household income is not greater than an amount
22determined annually by the Department may apply for assistance
23pursuant to this Act in accordance with rules adopted by the
24Department. In setting the annual eligibility level, the
25Department shall consider the amount of available funding and

 

 

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1may not set a limit higher than the eligibility limit for
2assistance under the Energy Assistance Act.
3    (b) Applicants who qualify for assistance pursuant to
4subsection (a) of this Section shall, subject to appropriation
5from the General Assembly and subject to the availability of
6funds to the Department, receive water and sewer assistance as
7provided by this Act. The Department, upon receipt of moneys
8authorized pursuant to this Act for water and sewer
9assistance, shall commit funds for each qualified applicant in
10an amount determined by the Department. In determining the
11amounts of assistance to be provided to or on behalf of a
12qualified applicant, the Department shall ensure that the
13highest amounts of assistance go to households with the
14greatest need for financial assistance in relation to
15household income. The Department shall include factors such as
16water and sewer costs, household size, household income, and
17region of the State when determining individual household
18benefits. In adopting rules for the administration of this
19Section, the Department shall ensure that a minimum of
20one-third of funds are available for benefits to eligible
21households with the lowest incomes and that elderly households
22and households with persons with disabilities are offered a
23priority application period.
24    (c) If the applicant is a customer of a water or sewer
25provider, such applicant shall receive water or sewer
26assistance in an amount established by the Department for all

 

 

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1such applicants under this Act.
2    (d) The Department may, if sufficient funds are available,
3provide additional benefits to certain qualified applicants:
4        (i) for the reduction of past due amounts owed to
5    water or sewer providers; and
6        (ii) to assist the household in responding to
7    excessively high usage costs. Households containing
8    elderly members, children, or a person with a disability,
9    shall receive priority for receipt of such benefits.
 
10    Section 25. Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund.
11    (a) For purposes of this Section:
12        "Non-residential sewer service" means sewer utility
13    service that is not residential sewer service.
14        "Non-residential water service" means water utility
15    service that is not residential water service.
16        "Residential sewer service" means sewer utility
17    service for household purposes delivered to a dwelling of
18    2 or fewer units that is billed under a residential rate;
19    or sewer service for household purposes delivered to a
20    dwelling unit or units that is billed under a residential
21    rate and is registered by a separate meter for each
22    dwelling unit.
23        "Residential water service" means water utility
24    service for household purposes delivered to a dwelling of
25    2 or fewer units that is billed under a residential rate;

 

 

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1    or water service for household purposes delivered to a
2    dwelling unit or units that is billed under a residential
3    rate and is registered by a separate meter for each
4    dwelling unit.
5    (b) The Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is
6created as a special fund in the State Treasury. The Water and
7Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is authorized to receive
8moneys from voluntary donations from individuals, foundations,
9corporations, and other sources; by statutory deposit; and by
10authorized collections pursuant to this Section. The Water and
11Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is also authorized to receive
12moneys from the federal government, including, but not limited
13to, any pass through moneys as a result of a public health
14emergency. Subject to appropriation, the Department shall use
15moneys from the Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund for
16payments to water or sewer providers on behalf of their
17customers who are participants in the program authorized under
18this Act. The yearly administrative expenses of the Water and
19Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund may not exceed 10% of the
20amount collected during that year pursuant to this Section,
21except when unspent funds from the Water and Sewer Low-Income
22Assistance Fund are reallocated from a previous year; any
23unspent balance of the 10% administrative allowance may be
24utilized for administrative expenses in the year they are
25reallocated.
26    (c) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the

 

 

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1Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is not subject to
2sweeps, administrative chargebacks, or any other fiscal or
3budgetary maneuver that would in any way transfer any amounts
4from the Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund into any
5other fund of the State.
6    (d) Notwithstanding any provisions of the Public Utilities
7Act, but subject to subsection (j) of this Section, each water
8or sewer provider shall, effective January 1, 2022, assess
9each of its customer accounts a monthly Water and Sewer
10Assistance Charge for the Water and Sewer Low-Income
11Assistance Fund. The monthly charge shall be as follows:
12        (1) $0.10 per month for each account for residential
13    water service;
14        (2) $0.10 per month for each account for residential
15    sewer service;
16        (3) $5.00 per month for each account for
17    non-residential water service; and
18        (4) $5.00 per month for each account for
19    non-residential sewer service.
20    (e) The Water and Sewer Assistance Charge assessed by the
21applicable water or sewer providers shall be considered a
22charge for public utility service.
23    (f) By the 20th day of the month following the month in
24which the charges imposed by this Section were collected, each
25water or sewer provider shall remit to the Department of
26Revenue all moneys received as payment of the Water and Sewer

 

 

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1Assistance Charge on a return prescribed and furnished by the
2Department of Revenue showing such information as the
3Department of Revenue may reasonably require. If a customer
4makes a partial payment, a water or sewer provider may elect
5either: (i) to apply partial payments first to the amount owed
6to the water or sewer provider for its services and then to
7payment for the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge, or (ii) to
8apply such partial payments on a pro rata basis between
9amounts owed to the water or sewer provider for its services
10and to payment for the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge.
11    (g) The Department of Revenue shall deposit into the Water
12and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund all moneys remitted to it
13in accordance with subsection (f) of this Section; provided,
14however, that the amounts remitted by each water or sewer
15provider shall be used to provide assistance only to that
16water or sewer provider's customers. The water or sewer
17providers shall coordinate with the Department to establish an
18equitable and practical methodology for implementing this
19subsection beginning with the 2022 program year.
20    (h) The Department of Revenue may establish such rules as
21it deems necessary to implement this Section.
22    (i) The Department may establish such rules as it deems
23necessary to implement this Section, including, but not
24limited to, rules requiring the Department to report the
25amount of assessments remitted and expended by water or sewer
26providers and a process to allow a water or sewer provider to

 

 

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1discontinue imposing the assessments due to lack of
2participation or excess in available funds for that water or
3sewer provider. The process to allow a water or sewer provider
4to discontinue imposing assessments shall include review by
5the Commission of any water or sewer provider subject to the
6Public Utilities Act.
7    (j) The charges imposed by this Section shall apply to
8customers of a water or sewer provider only if the water or
9sewer provider voluntarily makes an affirmative decision to
10impose the charge. If a water or sewer provider makes an
11affirmative decision to impose the charge provided by this
12Section, the water or sewer provider shall inform the
13Department of Revenue in writing of such decision when it
14begins to impose the charge. If a water or sewer provider does
15not assess this charge, the Department may not use funds from
16the Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund to provide
17benefits to its customers under the Program authorized by
18Section 15 of this Act.
19    In its use of federal funds under this Act, the Department
20may not cause a disproportionate share of those federal funds
21to benefit customers of water or sewer providers that do not
22assess the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge.
23    (k) This Section is repealed on January 1, 2030.
 
24    Section 30. Application of Retailers' Occupation Tax
25provisions. All the provisions of Sections 4, 5, 5a, 5b, 5c,

 

 

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15d, 5e, 5f, 5g, 5i, 5j, 6, 6a, 6b, 6c, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 11a,
212, and 13 of the Retailers' Occupation Tax Act that are not
3inconsistent with this Act apply, as far as practicable, to
4the surcharge imposed by this Act to the same extent as if
5those provisions were included in this Act. References in the
6incorporated Sections of the Retailers' Occupation Tax Act to
7retailers, to sellers, or to persons engaged in the business
8of selling tangible personal property mean persons required to
9remit the charge imposed under this Act.
 
10    Section 35. The State Finance Act is amended by adding
11Section 5.935 as follows:
 
12    (30 ILCS 105/5.935 new)
13    Sec. 5.935. The Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance
14Fund.
 
15    Section 40. The Public Utilities Act is amended by adding
16Section 9-211.7 as follows:
 
17    (220 ILCS 5/9-211.7 new)
18    Sec. 9-211.7. Financial assistance; water and sewer
19utilities.
20    (a) On and after the effective date of this amendatory Act
21of the 102nd General Assembly, notwithstanding any other
22provision of this Act, a water or sewer utility subject to the

 

 

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1jurisdiction of the Commission, after receiving approval from
2the Commission, shall be allowed to offer a financial
3assistance program designed for bill payment assistance for
4low-income customers in accordance with the Water and Sewer
5Financial Assistance Act. A water or sewer utility subject to
6the jurisdiction of the Commission shall petition the
7Commission for such approval, and the Commission shall render
8its decision within 90 days after receiving such petition. If
9no decision is rendered by the Commission within 90 days, then
10the petition shall be deemed to be approved.
11    (b) The costs of a financial assistance program offered by
12a water or sewer utility subject to the jurisdiction of the
13Commission, excluding such costs deemed by the Commission to
14be not reimbursable, shall be reimbursed from the Water and
15Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund established pursuant to the
16Water and Sewer Financial Assistance Act. The utility shall
17submit a bill to the Department of Commerce and Economic
18Opportunity, which shall be promptly paid out of such funds or
19may net such costs against moneys it would otherwise remit to
20the Fund. The water or sewer utility shall provide a report to
21the Commission on a quarterly basis accounting for moneys
22reimbursed or netted through the Fund.
23    (c) A water or sewer utility subject to the jurisdiction
24of the Commission providing a financial assistance program
25pursuant to the Water and Sewer Financial Assistance Act in
26this State shall be permitted to recover costs of those

 

 

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1assessments through a tariff filed with and approved by the
2Commission. The tariff shall be established outside the
3context of a general rate case and shall be applicable to the
4utility's customers.
 
5    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
6becoming law.".