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




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1    AN ACT concerning finance.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
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 all citizens receive
10    essential levels of water and sewer services regardless of
11    economic circumstance.
12        (2) Water and sewer providers and other entities
13    providing such services are entitled to receive proper
14    payment for services actually rendered.
15        (3) Unlike the electric and gas industry, water and
16    sewer providers do not have existing statutory programs
17    intended to assist low-income customers.
18        (4) Existing financial assistance policies and
19    programs in effect in Illinois for utility services have
20    benefited all Illinois citizens, and should therefore be
21    extended to the water and sewer industry.
22        (5) Low-income households are unable to afford
23    essential utility services and other necessities, such as



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1    food, shelter, and medical care; the health and safety of
2    those who are unable to afford essential utility services
3    suffer when monthly payments for these services exceed a
4    reasonable percentage of the customer's household income.
5    Costs of collecting past due bills and uncollectible
6    balances are reflected in rates paid by all ratepayers.
7    Society benefits if essential utility services are
8    affordable and arrearages and disconnections are minimized
9    for those most in need.
10    (b) Consistent with its findings, the General Assembly
11declares that it is the policy of the State that:
12        (1) A low-income water and sewer assistance payment
13    plan should be established that incorporates income
14    assistance for citizens to have access to affordable water
15    and sewer services.
16        (2) The ability of public utilities and other entities
17    to receive just compensation for providing services should
18    not be jeopardized by this policy.
19    Section 10. Definitions. As used in this Act, unless the
20context otherwise requires:
21    "Commission" means the Illinois Commerce Commission.
22    "Department" means the Department of Commerce and Economic
24    "Water or sewer provider" means any public utility
25providing water or sewer services under the jurisdiction of



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1the Illinois Commerce Commission; any other utility providing
2water or sewer service owned by a municipality, township,
3county, or other political subdivision of this State; or any
4other entity that is not a public utility under the
5jurisdiction of the Illinois Commerce Commission that
6regularly provides water or sewer service.
7    Section 15. Water and sewer assistance program.
8    (a) The Department is authorized to institute a program
9whereby a water or sewer provider may voluntarily participate
10to ensure the availability and affordability of water and
11sewer services to low-income citizens. The Department shall
12implement the program by rule adopted pursuant to the Illinois
13Administrative Procedure Act. The program shall be consistent
14with the purposes and objectives of this Act and with all other
15specific requirements provided in this Act. The Department may
16enter into such contracts and other agreements with local
17agencies as may be necessary for the purpose of administering
18the water and sewer assistance program.
19    (b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as altering or
20limiting the authority conferred on the Commission by the
21Public Utilities Act to regulate all aspects of the provision
22of public utility service, including, but not limited to, the
23authority to make rules and adjudicate disputes between
24utilities and customers related to eligibility for utility
25service, deposits, payment practices, and discontinuance of



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2    (c) The Department is authorized to institute an outreach
3program directed at low-income minority heads of households
4and heads of households age 60 or older. The Department shall
5implement the program through rules adopted pursuant to the
6Illinois Administrative Procedure Act. The program shall be
7consistent with the purposes and objectives of this Act and
8with all other specific requirements set forth in this
10    Section 20. Eligibility, conditions of participation, and
11water and sewer assistance.
12    (a) Any person who is a resident of the State of Illinois
13and whose household income is not greater than an amount
14determined annually by the Department may apply for assistance
15pursuant to this Act in accordance with rules adopted by the
16Department. In setting the annual eligibility level, the
17Department shall consider the amount of available funding and
18may not set a limit higher than 150% of the poverty guidelines
19updated periodically in the Federal Register by the U.S.
20Department of Health and Human Services under the authority of
2142 U.S.C. 9902(2).
22    (b) Applicants who qualify for assistance pursuant to
23subsection (a) of this Section shall, subject to appropriation
24from the General Assembly and subject to the availability of
25funds to the Department, receive water and sewer assistance as



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1provided by this Act. The Department, upon receipt of moneys
2authorized pursuant to this Act for water and sewer
3assistance, shall commit funds for each qualified applicant in
4an amount determined by the Department. In determining the
5amounts of assistance to be provided to or on behalf of a
6qualified applicant, the Department shall ensure that the
7highest amounts of assistance go to households with the
8greatest need for financial assistance in relation to
9household income. The Department shall include factors such as
10water and sewer costs, household size, household income, and
11region of the State when determining individual household
12benefits. In adopting rules for the administration of this
13Section, the Department shall ensure that a minimum of
14one-third of funds are available for benefits to eligible
15households with the lowest incomes and that elderly households
16and households with persons with disabilities are offered a
17priority application period.
18    (c) If the applicant is not a customer of record of a water
19or sewer provider for water or sewer services or an applicant
20for such service, such applicant shall receive a direct water
21or sewer assistance payment in an amount established by the
22Department for all such applicants under this Act; provided,
23however, that such an applicant must have rental expenses for
24housing greater than 30% of household income.
25    (d) This subsection shall apply only in cases where: (1)
26the applicant is not a customer of record of a water or sewer



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1provider because water or sewer services are provided by the
2owner of the unit as a portion of the rent; (2) the applicant
3resides in housing subsidized or developed with funds provided
4under the Rental Housing Support Program Act or under a
5similar locally funded rent subsidy program, or is the voucher
6holder who resides in a rental unit within the State of
7Illinois and whose monthly rent is subsidized by the
8tenant-based Housing Choice Voucher Program under Section 8 of
9the U.S. Housing Act of 1937; and (3) the rental expenses for
10housing are no more than 30% of household income. In such
11cases, the household may apply for water or sewer assistance
12payment under this Act and the owner of the housing unit shall
13cooperate with the applicant by providing documentation of the
14water or sewer costs for that unit. Any compensation paid to
15the water or sewer provider who supplied water or sewer
16services to the household shall be paid on behalf of the owner
17of the housing unit providing water or sewer services to the
18household. The Department shall report annually to the General
19Assembly on the number of households receiving water or sewer
20assistance under this subsection and the cost of such
22    (e) If the applicant is a customer of a water or sewer
23provider, such applicant shall receive water or sewer
24assistance in an amount established by the Department for all
25such applicants under this Act.
26    (f) The Department may, if sufficient funds are available,



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



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



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1budgetary maneuver that would in any way transfer any amounts
2from the Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund into any
3other fund of the State.
4    (d) Notwithstanding any provisions of the Public Utilities
5Act, but subject to subsection (k) of this Section, each water
6or sewer provider shall, effective January 1, 2022, assess
7each of its customer accounts a monthly Water and Sewer
8Assistance Charge for the Water and Sewer Low-Income
9Assistance Fund. The monthly charge shall be as follows:
10        (1) $0.10 per month for each account for residential
11    water service;
12        (2) $0.10 per month for each account for residential
13    sewer service;
14        (3) $5.00 per month for each account for
15    non-residential water service; and
16        (4) $5.00 per month for each account for
17    non-residential sewer service.
18    (e) Within 30 days after the effective date of this Act,
19each public utility under the jurisdiction of the Commission
20engaged in providing water or sewer services shall file with
21the Commission tariffs incorporating the Water and Sewer
22Assistance Charge as set forth in subsection (d) of this
23Section in other charges stated in such tariffs, which shall
24become effective no later than the beginning of the first
25billing cycle following such filing. The incremental charge to
26such customers imposed by this Act shall not be used for any



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1purpose other than to directly assist customers.
2    (f) The Water and Sewer Assistance Charge assessed by the
3applicable water or sewer providers shall be considered a
4charge for public utility service.
5    (g) By the 20th day of the month following the month in
6which the charges imposed by this Section were collected, each
7water or sewer provider shall remit to the Department of
8Revenue all moneys received as payment of the Water and Sewer
9Assistance Charge on a return prescribed and furnished by the
10Department of Revenue showing such information as the
11Department of Revenue may reasonably require. If a customer
12makes a partial payment, a water or sewer provider may elect
13either: (i) to apply partial payments first to the amount owed
14to the water or sewer provider for its services and then to
15payment for the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge, or (ii) to
16apply such partial payments on a pro rata basis between
17amounts owed to the water or sewer provider for its services
18and to payment for the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge.
19    (h) The Department of Revenue shall deposit into the Water
20and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund all moneys remitted to it
21in accordance with subsection (g) of this Section; provided,
22however, that the amounts remitted by each water or sewer
23provider shall be used to provide assistance only to that
24water or sewer provider's customers. The water or sewer
25providers shall coordinate with the Department to establish an
26equitable and practical methodology for implementing this



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1subsection beginning with the 2022 program year.
2    (i) The Department of Revenue may establish such rules as
3it deems necessary to implement this Section.
4    (j) The Department may establish such rules as it deems
5necessary to implement this Section, including, but not
6limited to, rules requiring the Department to report the
7amount of assessments remitted and expended by water or sewer
8providers and a process to allow a water or sewer provider to
9discontinue imposing the assessments due to lack of
10participation or excess in available funds for that water or
11sewer provider.
12    (k) The charges imposed by this Section shall only apply
13to customers of a water or sewer provider only if the water or
14sewer provider voluntarily makes an affirmative decision to
15impose the charge. If a water or sewer provider makes an
16affirmative decision to impose the charge provided by this
17Section, the water or sewer provider shall inform the
18Department of Revenue in writing of such decision when it
19begins to impose the charge. If a water or sewer provider does
20not assess this charge, the Department may not use funds from
21the Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund to provide
22benefits to its customers under the Program authorized by
23Section 15 of this Act.
24    In its use of federal funds under this Act, the Department
25may not cause a disproportionate share of those federal funds
26to benefit customers of water or sewer providers that do not



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1assess the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge.
2    (l) This Section is repealed on January 1, 2030.
3    Section 30. Application of Retailers' Occupation Tax
4provisions. All the provisions of Sections 4, 5, 5a, 5b, 5c,
55d, 5e, 5f, 5g, 5i, 5j, 6, 6a, 6b, 6c, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 11a,
612, and 13 of the Retailers' Occupation Tax Act that are not
7inconsistent with this Act apply, as far as practicable, to
8the surcharge imposed by this Act to the same extent as if
9those provisions were included in this Act. References in the
10incorporated Sections of the Retailers' Occupation Tax Act to
11retailers, to sellers, or to persons engaged in the business
12of selling tangible personal property mean persons required to
13remit the charge imposed under this Act.
14    Section 35. The State Finance Act is amended by adding
15Section 5.935 as follows:
16    (30 ILCS 105/5.935 new)
17    Sec. 5.935. The Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance
19    Section 40. The Public Utilities Act is amended by adding
20Section 9-211.7 as follows:
21    (220 ILCS 5/9-211.7 new)



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1    Sec. 9-211.7. Financial assistance; water and sewer
3    (a) On and after the effective date of this amendatory Act
4of the 102nd General Assembly, notwithstanding any other
5provision of this Act, a water or sewer utility subject to the
6jurisdiction of the Commission, after receiving approval from
7the Commission, shall be allowed to offer a financial
8assistance program designed for bill payment assistance for
9low-income customers in accordance with the Water and Sewer
10Financial Assistance Act. A water or sewer utility subject to
11the jurisdiction of the Commission shall petition the
12Commission for such approval, and the Commission shall render
13its decision within 60 days after receiving such petition. If
14no decision is rendered by the Commission within 60 days, then
15the petition shall be deemed to be approved.
16    (b) The costs of a financial assistance program offered by
17a water or sewer utility subject to the jurisdiction of the
18Commission, excluding such costs deemed by the Commission to
19be not reimbursable, shall be reimbursed from the Water and
20Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund established pursuant to the
21Water and Sewer Financial Assistance Act. The utility shall
22submit a bill to the Department of Commerce and Economic
23Opportunity, which shall be promptly paid out of such funds or
24may net such costs against moneys it would otherwise remit to
25the Fund. The water or sewer utility shall provide a report to
26the Commission on a quarterly basis accounting for moneys



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1reimbursed or netted through the Fund.
2    (c) A water or sewer utility, subject to the jurisdiction
3of the Commission, providing a financial assistance program
4pursuant to the Water and sewer Financial Assistance Act in
5this State shall be permitted to recover costs of those
6assessments through an automatic adjustment clause tariff
7filed with and approved by the Commission. The tariff shall be
8established outside the context of a general rate case and
9shall be applicable to the utility's customers. Each year the
10Commission shall initiate a review to reconcile any amounts
11collected with the actual costs and to determine the required
12adjustment to the annual tariff factor to match annual
14    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
15becoming law.