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 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
17    sewer providers do not have existing statutory programs
18    intended to assist low-income customers.
19        (4) Existing financial assistance policies and
20    programs in effect in Illinois for utility services have
21    benefited all Illinois citizens, and should therefore be
22    extended to the water and sewer industry.
23        (5) Low-income households are unable to afford



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



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



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1service, deposits, payment practices, and discontinuance of
3    (c) The Department is authorized to institute an outreach
4program directed at low-income minority heads of households
5and heads of households age 60 or older. The Department shall
6implement the program through rules adopted pursuant to the
7Illinois Administrative Procedure Act. The program shall be
8consistent with the purposes and objectives of this Act and
9with all other specific requirements set forth in this
11    Section 20. Eligibility, conditions of participation, and
12water and sewer assistance.
13    (a) Any person who is a resident of the State of Illinois
14and whose household income is not greater than an amount
15determined annually by the Department may apply for assistance
16pursuant to this Act in accordance with rules adopted by the
17Department. In setting the annual eligibility level, the
18Department shall consider the amount of available funding and
19may not set a limit higher than the eligibility limit for
20assistance under the Energy Assistance Act.
21    (b) Applicants who qualify for assistance pursuant to
22subsection (a) of this Section shall, subject to appropriation
23from the General Assembly and subject to the availability of
24funds to the Department, receive water and sewer assistance as
25provided by this Act. The Department, upon receipt of moneys



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1authorized pursuant to this Act for water and sewer
2assistance, shall commit funds for each qualified applicant in
3an amount determined by the Department. In determining the
4amounts of assistance to be provided to or on behalf of a
5qualified applicant, the Department shall ensure that the
6highest amounts of assistance go to households with the
7greatest need for financial assistance in relation to
8household income. The Department shall include factors such as
9water and sewer costs, household size, household income, and
10region of the State when determining individual household
11benefits. In adopting rules for the administration of this
12Section, the Department shall ensure that a minimum of
13one-third of funds are available for benefits to eligible
14households with the lowest incomes and that elderly households
15and households with persons with disabilities are offered a
16priority application period.
17    (c) If the applicant is a customer of a water or sewer
18provider, such applicant shall receive water or sewer
19assistance in an amount established by the Department for all
20such applicants under this Act.
21    (d) The Department may, if sufficient funds are available,
22provide additional benefits to certain qualified applicants:
23        (i) for the reduction of past due amounts owed to
24    water or sewer providers; and
25        (ii) to assist the household in responding to
26    excessively high usage costs. Households containing



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1    elderly members, children, or a person with a disability,
2    shall receive priority for receipt of such benefits.
3    Section 25. Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund.
4    (a) For purposes of this Section:
5        "Non-residential sewer service" means sewer utility
6    service that is not residential sewer service.
7        "Non-residential water service" means water utility
8    service that is not residential water service.
9        "Residential sewer service" means sewer utility
10    service for household purposes delivered to a dwelling of
11    2 or fewer units that is billed under a residential rate;
12    or sewer service for household purposes delivered to a
13    dwelling unit or units that is billed under a residential
14    rate and is registered by a separate meter for each
15    dwelling unit.
16        "Residential water service" means water 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 water 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    (b) The Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is
24created as a special fund in the State Treasury. The Water and
25Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is authorized to receive



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1moneys from voluntary donations from individuals, foundations,
2corporations, and other sources; by statutory deposit; and by
3authorized collections pursuant to this Section. The Water and
4Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is also authorized to receive
5moneys from the federal government, including, but not limited
6to, any pass through moneys as a result of a public health
7emergency. Subject to appropriation, the Department shall use
8moneys from the Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund for
9payments to water or sewer providers on behalf of their
10customers who are participants in the program authorized under
11this Act. The yearly administrative expenses of the Water and
12Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund may not exceed 10% of the
13amount collected during that year pursuant to this Section,
14except when unspent funds from the Water and Sewer Low-Income
15Assistance Fund are reallocated from a previous year; any
16unspent balance of the 10% administrative allowance may be
17utilized for administrative expenses in the year they are
19    (c) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the
20Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is not subject to
21sweeps, administrative chargebacks, or any other fiscal or
22budgetary maneuver that would in any way transfer any amounts
23from the Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund into any
24other fund of the State.
25    (d) Notwithstanding any provisions of the Public Utilities
26Act, but subject to subsection (j) of this Section, each water



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1or sewer provider shall, effective January 1, 2022, assess
2each of its customer accounts a monthly Water and Sewer
3Assistance Charge for the Water and Sewer Low-Income
4Assistance Fund. The monthly charge shall be as follows:
5        (1) $0.10 per month for each account for residential
6    water service;
7        (2) $0.10 per month for each account for residential
8    sewer service;
9        (3) $5.00 per month for each account for
10    non-residential water service; and
11        (4) $5.00 per month for each account for
12    non-residential sewer service.
13    (e) The Water and Sewer Assistance Charge assessed by the
14applicable water or sewer providers shall be considered a
15charge for public utility service.
16    (f) By the 20th day of the month following the month in
17which the charges imposed by this Section were collected, each
18water or sewer provider shall remit to the Department of
19Revenue all moneys received as payment of the Water and Sewer
20Assistance Charge on a return prescribed and furnished by the
21Department of Revenue showing such information as the
22Department of Revenue may reasonably require. If a customer
23makes a partial payment, a water or sewer provider may elect
24either: (i) to apply partial payments first to the amount owed
25to the water or sewer provider for its services and then to
26payment for the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge, or (ii) to



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1apply such partial payments on a pro rata basis between
2amounts owed to the water or sewer provider for its services
3and to payment for the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge.
4    (g) The Department of Revenue shall deposit into the Water
5and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund all moneys remitted to it
6in accordance with subsection (f) of this Section; provided,
7however, that the amounts remitted by each water or sewer
8provider shall be used to provide assistance only to that
9water or sewer provider's customers. The water or sewer
10providers shall coordinate with the Department to establish an
11equitable and practical methodology for implementing this
12subsection beginning with the 2022 program year.
13    (h) The Department of Revenue may establish such rules as
14it deems necessary to implement this Section.
15    (i) The Department may establish such rules as it deems
16necessary to implement this Section, including, but not
17limited to, rules requiring the Department to report the
18amount of assessments remitted and expended by water or sewer
19providers and a process to allow a water or sewer provider to
20discontinue imposing the assessments due to lack of
21participation or excess in available funds for that water or
22sewer provider. The process to allow a water or sewer provider
23to discontinue imposing assessments shall include review by
24the Commission of any water or sewer provider subject to the
25Public Utilities Act.
26    (j) The charges imposed by this Section shall apply to



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1customers of a water or sewer provider only if the water or
2sewer provider voluntarily makes an affirmative decision to
3impose the charge. If a water or sewer provider makes an
4affirmative decision to impose the charge provided by this
5Section, the water or sewer provider shall inform the
6Department of Revenue in writing of such decision when it
7begins to impose the charge. If a water or sewer provider does
8not assess this charge, the Department may not use funds from
9the Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund to provide
10benefits to its customers under the Program authorized by
11Section 15 of this Act.
12    In its use of federal funds under this Act, the Department
13may not cause a disproportionate share of those federal funds
14to benefit customers of water or sewer providers that do not
15assess the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge.
16    (k) This Section is repealed on January 1, 2030.
17    Section 30. Application of Retailers' Occupation Tax
18provisions. All the provisions of Sections 4, 5, 5a, 5b, 5c,
195d, 5e, 5f, 5g, 5i, 5j, 6, 6a, 6b, 6c, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 11a,
2012, and 13 of the Retailers' Occupation Tax Act that are not
21inconsistent with this Act apply, as far as practicable, to
22the surcharge imposed by this Act to the same extent as if
23those provisions were included in this Act. References in the
24incorporated Sections of the Retailers' Occupation Tax Act to
25retailers, to sellers, or to persons engaged in the business



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1of selling tangible personal property mean persons required to
2remit the charge imposed under this Act.
3    Section 35. The State Finance Act is amended by adding
4Section 5.935 as follows:
5    (30 ILCS 105/5.935 new)
6    Sec. 5.935. The Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance
8    Section 40. The Public Utilities Act is amended by adding
9Section 9-211.7 as follows:
10    (220 ILCS 5/9-211.7 new)
11    Sec. 9-211.7. Financial assistance; water and sewer
13    (a) On and after the effective date of this amendatory Act
14of the 102nd General Assembly, notwithstanding any other
15provision of this Act, a water or sewer utility subject to the
16jurisdiction of the Commission, after receiving approval from
17the Commission, shall be allowed to offer a financial
18assistance program designed for bill payment assistance for
19low-income customers in accordance with the Water and Sewer
20Financial Assistance Act. A water or sewer utility subject to
21the jurisdiction of the Commission shall petition the
22Commission for such approval, and the Commission shall render



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1its decision within 90 days after receiving such petition. If
2no decision is rendered by the Commission within 90 days, then
3the petition shall be deemed to be approved.
4    (b) The costs of a financial assistance program offered by
5a water or sewer utility subject to the jurisdiction of the
6Commission, excluding such costs deemed by the Commission to
7be not reimbursable, shall be reimbursed from the Water and
8Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund established pursuant to the
9Water and Sewer Financial Assistance Act. The utility shall
10submit a bill to the Department of Commerce and Economic
11Opportunity, which shall be promptly paid out of such funds or
12may net such costs against moneys it would otherwise remit to
13the Fund. The water or sewer utility shall provide a report to
14the Commission on a quarterly basis accounting for moneys
15reimbursed or netted through the Fund.
16    (c) A water or sewer utility subject to the jurisdiction
17of the Commission providing a financial assistance program
18pursuant to the Water and Sewer Financial Assistance Act in
19this State shall be permitted to recover costs of those
20assessments through a tariff filed with and approved by the
21Commission. The tariff shall be established outside the
22context of a general rate case and shall be applicable to the
23utility's customers.
24    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
25becoming law.