Author Archive

FY17 Executive Budget Recommendation

On Thursday, October 13, President Preckwinkle announced her FY17 executive budget recommendation and departmental budget hearings are currently underway. I invite you to review the FY17 budget recommendationstream the department hearings and attend any of the FY17 Public Hearings in Skokie, Markham, Downtown and Maywood.


Mandated Sick Leave Overview

Last week the Cook County Board passed a bill mandating employer paid sick leave.  I opposed this onerous legislation, but as it passed overwhelmingly by the Board, your members will want to be aware of the implications for local businesses.

It will require employers within Cook County to provide mandated sick leave for employees that work 80 hours within a 120 day period, effective July 1, 2017. I’ve included synopsis of opinions from the State’s Attorney with this letter.

Note that as this is not a statewide requirement, it is possible for municipalities to draft their own legislation that would take precedence over County authority, in effect to opt out of this requirement. Businesses in unincorporated Cook County will still be impacted.

Here are the specifics of this legislation:

An Employer is any person/business employing one or more employees if:

  • The principle place of business is within Cook County
  • Or the Employer does business with Cook County.

 A covered employee is any employee who:

  • Within a two-week period, performs at least two hours of work, while physically present within the geographic boundaries of Cook County – this includes time spent traveling in Cook County that is compensated such as deliveries, sales calls & travel related business.
  • And, is employed for at least 80 hours within a 120-day period.


  • For every 40 hours worked an employee will accrue one hour of Paid Sick Leave with a cap of 40 hours per 12-month period
  • Employees can carry over half of their unused accrued sick leave – up to a maximum of 20 hours – into the next year.

Paid Sick Leave Use:

  • Covered employees can begin to use Paid Sick Leave on the 180th calendar day of employment, approximately 6 months after their start date.
  • If an Employee is subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act, they can carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave – in addition to the allowable 20 hours – for Family and Medical Leave purposes.


The Cook County State’s Attorney rendered four separate legal opinions in response to inquiries from Cook County Commissioners:

Aug. 7, 2015 – The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Civil Division was asked to give advice with regard to the County’s home rule authority as it applies to mandating employee sick leave:

The SA concluded that the enactment of an ordinance requiring employers to provide paid leave to their employees likely does not fall within home rule authority based on the Illinois Supreme Court, which in identifying similar laws regarding State labor regulations, concluded that the State has a far more vital interest in regulating labor conditions than local entities.

July 22, 2016

On whether Cook County has the legal authority to enact a paid leave mandate for private employers in both unincorporated and incorporated areas of Cook County:

The SA’s legal conclusion is that Cook County lacks the home rule authority to enact a paid leave mandate for employers whether countywide or within unincorporated Cook County.

On whether countywide paid sick leave mandate would include home rule municipalities:

The SA concluded that such an ordinance would be applicable countywide except to the extent that it conflicted with the ordinance of a municipality, home rule or the Illinois based on Article VII 6(c) of the Illinois Constitution that “if a home rule county ordinance conflicts with an ordinance of a municipality, the municipal ordinance shall prevail within its jurisdiction.”


October 5, 2016

On whether the County has the ability to implement a paid sick leave mandate:

The SA reiterated its conclusion from August 7, 2015 – this ordinance likely does not fall within home rule authority.


Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions. 



Lake Cook Road Reconstruction

Lake Cook Road reconstruction, from Raupp Boulevard to Hastings Lane, is slated for construction 2018-2019 and has a total program cost of $52 million. hwyCnstrctnHorseA few of the improvements will include widening the street from 2 to 3 lanes, dual left turn lanes, and installation of bike paths, sidewalks and noise abatement walls.

View the entire presentation from the TMA Annual Highway Construction Meeting here.


Sign Up to be Poll Worker

The Cook County Clerk’s office is in need of poll workers to serve voters in the community for the March 15th Presidential Primary!Poll Worker Having a broad spectrum of community members working together to serve voters in local polling places is a critical part of the democratic process.

There are two positions available: Election Judge or Equipment Manager. Both assist voters and ensure the polling place is running smoothly. Equipment Managers have greater responsibility for setting up and maintaining the voting equipment. Due to the additional responsibility, Equipment Managers receive more training and higher pay.  Election Judges earn $175. Equipment Managers earn $325. 

You can learn more and apply online at or call 312.603.0970. There is also a video on our website outlining the positions. Bilingual judges are always needed and there are also positions available for college and high school students.


Disabled Veterans Exemption Expansion

UPDATE 1/19/2016: Per the Cook County Asessor’s Office, applications for the Disabled Veterans Homeowner Exemption will be available at beginning January 27th as well as by mail. Veterans completely exempt from property taxes (those at least 70% disabled) might received a bill in February with a balance due in March. For the group that is completely exempt but still receives a bill, the overpayment will be refunded in full this summer.


Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed into a law a bill that would expand property tax breaks to severely wounded military veterans. Senate Bill 107 expands the existing multi-tiered set of exemptions from local property taxes for homeowners who have a service-connected injury, with a disability of at least 30 percent. Veterans with a disability of 30 to 49 percent, as certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, would receive a $2,500 annual exemption. Those with disabilities of between 50 to 69 percent would qualify for a $5,000 yearly exemption. And qualified homes of wounded veterans with a service-connected disability of at least 70 percent would be exempted from all property tax payments.

The law mandates that taxpayers granted an exemption under the new law must re-apply on an annual basis. The assessors or chief assessment officers for the Illinois counties where applicants live will determine the eligibility of residential property to receive the levels of tax relief implemented under the new law. [Click here to read the remainder of this news article]

While the Disabled Veterans Exemption is not a new exemption, this recent legislation increases the amount of Disabled Veterans Exemption savings and expands eligibility for the Exemption. Although the new law has an immediate effective date, the changes to the Disabled Veterans Exemption will not go into effect until the next tax year (Tax Year 2015, which begins on January 1, 2016).– The Cook County Assessor’s Office (CCAO) will have application forms ready for taxpayers beginning on January 1, 2016. These application forms will be made available on the CCAO website –