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Public Act 102-0262


 

Public Act 0262 102ND GENERAL ASSEMBLY

  
  
  

 


 
Public Act 102-0262
 
HB0414 EnrolledLRB102 02644 SPS 12647 b

    AN ACT concerning finance.
 
    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
 
    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Water
and Sewer Financial Assistance Act.
 
    Section 5. Findings and intent.
    (a) The General Assembly finds that:
        (1) The health, welfare, and prosperity of the people
    of the State of Illinois require that water and sewer
    services are affordable and that all citizens receive
    essential levels of water and sewer services regardless of
    economic circumstance.
        (2) Water and sewer providers and other entities
    providing such services are entitled to receive proper
    payment for services actually rendered.
        (3) Unlike the electric and gas industry, water and
    sewer providers do not have existing statutory programs
    intended to assist low-income customers.
        (4) Existing financial assistance policies and
    programs in effect in Illinois for utility services have
    benefited all Illinois citizens, and should therefore be
    extended to the water and sewer industry.
        (5) Low-income households are unable to afford
    essential utility services and other necessities, such as
    food, shelter, and medical care; the health and safety of
    those who are unable to afford essential utility services
    suffer when monthly payments for these services exceed a
    reasonable percentage of the customer's household income.
    Costs of collecting past due bills and uncollectible
    balances are reflected in rates paid by all ratepayers.
    Society benefits if essential utility services are
    affordable and arrearages and disconnections are minimized
    for those most in need.
    (b) Consistent with its findings, the General Assembly
declares that it is the policy of the State that:
        (1) A low-income water and sewer assistance payment
    plan should be established that incorporates income
    assistance for citizens to have access to affordable water
    and sewer services.
        (2) The ability of public utilities and other entities
    to receive just compensation for providing services should
    not be jeopardized by this policy.
 
    Section 10. Definitions. As used in this Act, unless the
context otherwise requires:
    "Commission" means the Illinois Commerce Commission.
    "Department" means the Department of Commerce and Economic
Opportunity.
    "Water or sewer provider" means any public utility
providing water or sewer services under the jurisdiction of
the Illinois Commerce Commission; any other utility providing
water or sewer service owned by a municipality, township,
county, or other political subdivision of this State; or any
other entity that is not a public utility under the
jurisdiction of the Illinois Commerce Commission that
regularly provides water or sewer service.
 
    Section 15. Water and sewer assistance program.
    (a) The Department is authorized to institute a program
whereby a water or sewer provider may voluntarily participate
to ensure the availability and affordability of water and
sewer services to low-income citizens. The Department shall
implement the program by rule adopted pursuant to the Illinois
Administrative Procedure Act. The program shall be consistent
with the purposes and objectives of this Act and with all other
specific requirements provided in this Act. The Department may
enter into such contracts and other agreements with local
agencies as may be necessary for the purpose of administering
the water and sewer assistance program.
    (b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as altering or
limiting the authority conferred on the Commission by the
Public Utilities Act to regulate all aspects of the provision
of public utility service, including, but not limited to, the
authority to make rules and adjudicate disputes between
utilities and customers related to eligibility for utility
service, deposits, payment practices, and discontinuance of
service.
    (c) The Department is authorized to institute an outreach
program directed at low-income minority heads of households
and heads of households age 60 or older. The Department shall
implement the program through rules adopted pursuant to the
Illinois Administrative Procedure Act. The program shall be
consistent with the purposes and objectives of this Act and
with all other specific requirements set forth in this
subsection.
 
    Section 20. Eligibility, conditions of participation, and
water and sewer assistance.
    (a) Any person who is a resident of the State of Illinois
and whose household income is not greater than an amount
determined annually by the Department may apply for assistance
pursuant to this Act in accordance with rules adopted by the
Department. In setting the annual eligibility level, the
Department shall consider the amount of available funding and
may not set a limit higher than the eligibility limit for
assistance under the Energy Assistance Act.
    (b) Applicants who qualify for assistance pursuant to
subsection (a) of this Section shall, subject to appropriation
from the General Assembly and subject to the availability of
funds to the Department, receive water and sewer assistance as
provided by this Act. The Department, upon receipt of moneys
authorized pursuant to this Act for water and sewer
assistance, shall commit funds for each qualified applicant in
an amount determined by the Department. In determining the
amounts of assistance to be provided to or on behalf of a
qualified applicant, the Department shall ensure that the
highest amounts of assistance go to households with the
greatest need for financial assistance in relation to
household income. The Department shall include factors such as
water and sewer costs, household size, household income, and
region of the State when determining individual household
benefits. In adopting rules for the administration of this
Section, the Department shall ensure that a minimum of
one-third of funds are available for benefits to eligible
households with the lowest incomes and that elderly households
and households with persons with disabilities are offered a
priority application period.
    (c) If the applicant is a customer of a water or sewer
provider, such applicant shall receive water or sewer
assistance in an amount established by the Department for all
such applicants under this Act.
    (d) The Department may, if sufficient funds are available,
provide additional benefits to certain qualified applicants:
        (i) for the reduction of past due amounts owed to
    water or sewer providers; and
        (ii) to assist the household in responding to
    excessively high usage costs. Households containing
    elderly members, children, or a person with a disability,
    shall receive priority for receipt of such benefits.
 
    Section 25. Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund.
    (a) For purposes of this Section:
        "Non-residential sewer service" means sewer utility
    service that is not residential sewer service.
        "Non-residential water service" means water utility
    service that is not residential water service.
        "Residential sewer service" means sewer utility
    service for household purposes delivered to a dwelling of
    2 or fewer units that is billed under a residential rate;
    or sewer service for household purposes delivered to a
    dwelling unit or units that is billed under a residential
    rate and is registered by a separate meter for each
    dwelling unit.
        "Residential water service" means water utility
    service for household purposes delivered to a dwelling of
    2 or fewer units that is billed under a residential rate;
    or water service for household purposes delivered to a
    dwelling unit or units that is billed under a residential
    rate and is registered by a separate meter for each
    dwelling unit.
    (b) The Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is
created as a special fund in the State Treasury. The Water and
Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is authorized to receive
moneys from voluntary donations from individuals, foundations,
corporations, and other sources; by statutory deposit; and by
authorized collections pursuant to this Section. The Water and
Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is also authorized to receive
moneys from the federal government, including, but not limited
to, any pass through moneys as a result of a public health
emergency. Subject to appropriation, the Department shall use
moneys from the Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund for
payments to water or sewer providers on behalf of their
customers who are participants in the program authorized under
this Act. The yearly administrative expenses of the Water and
Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund may not exceed 10% of the
amount collected during that year pursuant to this Section,
except when unspent funds from the Water and Sewer Low-Income
Assistance Fund are reallocated from a previous year; any
unspent balance of the 10% administrative allowance may be
utilized for administrative expenses in the year they are
reallocated.
    (c) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the
Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund is not subject to
sweeps, administrative chargebacks, or any other fiscal or
budgetary maneuver that would in any way transfer any amounts
from the Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund into any
other fund of the State.
    (d) Notwithstanding any provisions of the Public Utilities
Act, but subject to subsection (j) of this Section, each water
or sewer provider shall, effective January 1, 2022, assess
each of its customer accounts a monthly Water and Sewer
Assistance Charge for the Water and Sewer Low-Income
Assistance Fund. The monthly charge shall be as follows:
        (1) $0.10 per month for each account for residential
    water service;
        (2) $0.10 per month for each account for residential
    sewer service;
        (3) $5.00 per month for each account for
    non-residential water service; and
        (4) $5.00 per month for each account for
    non-residential sewer service.
    (e) The Water and Sewer Assistance Charge assessed by the
applicable water or sewer providers shall be considered a
charge for public utility service.
    (f) By the 20th day of the month following the month in
which the charges imposed by this Section were collected, each
water or sewer provider shall remit to the Department of
Revenue all moneys received as payment of the Water and Sewer
Assistance Charge on a return prescribed and furnished by the
Department of Revenue showing such information as the
Department of Revenue may reasonably require. If a customer
makes a partial payment, a water or sewer provider may elect
either: (i) to apply partial payments first to the amount owed
to the water or sewer provider for its services and then to
payment for the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge, or (ii) to
apply such partial payments on a pro rata basis between
amounts owed to the water or sewer provider for its services
and to payment for the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge.
    (g) The Department of Revenue shall deposit into the Water
and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund all moneys remitted to it
in accordance with subsection (f) of this Section; provided,
however, that the amounts remitted by each water or sewer
provider shall be used to provide assistance only to that
water or sewer provider's customers. The water or sewer
providers shall coordinate with the Department to establish an
equitable and practical methodology for implementing this
subsection beginning with the 2022 program year.
    (h) The Department of Revenue may establish such rules as
it deems necessary to implement this Section.
    (i) The Department may establish such rules as it deems
necessary to implement this Section, including, but not
limited to, rules requiring the Department to report the
amount of assessments remitted and expended by water or sewer
providers and a process to allow a water or sewer provider to
discontinue imposing the assessments due to lack of
participation or excess in available funds for that water or
sewer provider. The process to allow a water or sewer provider
to discontinue imposing assessments shall include review by
the Commission of any water or sewer provider subject to the
Public Utilities Act.
    (j) The charges imposed by this Section shall apply to
customers of a water or sewer provider only if the water or
sewer provider voluntarily makes an affirmative decision to
impose the charge. If a water or sewer provider makes an
affirmative decision to impose the charge provided by this
Section, the water or sewer provider shall inform the
Department of Revenue in writing of such decision when it
begins to impose the charge. If a water or sewer provider does
not assess this charge, the Department may not use funds from
the Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund to provide
benefits to its customers under the Program authorized by
Section 15 of this Act.
    In its use of federal funds under this Act, the Department
may not cause a disproportionate share of those federal funds
to benefit customers of water or sewer providers that do not
assess the Water and Sewer Assistance Charge.
    (k) This Section is repealed on January 1, 2030.
 
    Section 30. Application of Retailers' Occupation Tax
provisions. All the provisions of Sections 4, 5, 5a, 5b, 5c,
5d, 5e, 5f, 5g, 5i, 5j, 6, 6a, 6b, 6c, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 11a,
12, and 13 of the Retailers' Occupation Tax Act that are not
inconsistent with this Act apply, as far as practicable, to
the surcharge imposed by this Act to the same extent as if
those provisions were included in this Act. References in the
incorporated Sections of the Retailers' Occupation Tax Act to
retailers, to sellers, or to persons engaged in the business
of selling tangible personal property mean persons required to
remit the charge imposed under this Act.
 
    Section 35. The State Finance Act is amended by adding
Section 5.935 as follows:
 
    (30 ILCS 105/5.935 new)
    Sec. 5.935. The Water and Sewer Low-Income Assistance
Fund.
 
    Section 40. The Public Utilities Act is amended by adding
Section 9-211.7 as follows:
 
    (220 ILCS 5/9-211.7 new)
    Sec. 9-211.7. Financial assistance; water and sewer
utilities.
    (a) On and after the effective date of this amendatory Act
of the 102nd General Assembly, notwithstanding any other
provision of this Act, a water or sewer utility subject to the
jurisdiction of the Commission, after receiving approval from
the Commission, shall be allowed to offer a financial
assistance program designed for bill payment assistance for
low-income customers in accordance with the Water and Sewer
Financial Assistance Act. A water or sewer utility subject to
the jurisdiction of the Commission shall petition the
Commission for such approval, and the Commission shall render
its decision within 90 days after receiving such petition. If
no decision is rendered by the Commission within 90 days, then
the petition shall be deemed to be approved.
    (b) The costs of a financial assistance program offered by
a water or sewer utility subject to the jurisdiction of the
Commission, excluding such costs deemed by the Commission to
be not reimbursable, shall be reimbursed from the Water and
Sewer Low-Income Assistance Fund established pursuant to the
Water and Sewer Financial Assistance Act. The utility shall
submit a bill to the Department of Commerce and Economic
Opportunity, which shall be promptly paid out of such funds or
may net such costs against moneys it would otherwise remit to
the Fund. The water or sewer utility shall provide a report to
the Commission on a quarterly basis accounting for moneys
reimbursed or netted through the Fund.
    (c) A water or sewer utility subject to the jurisdiction
of the Commission providing a financial assistance program
pursuant to the Water and Sewer Financial Assistance Act in
this State shall be permitted to recover costs of those
assessments through a tariff filed with and approved by the
Commission. The tariff shall be established outside the
context of a general rate case and shall be applicable to the
utility's customers.
 
    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
becoming law.

Effective Date: 8/6/2021