On Thursday May 30, 2013 the Illinois Senate voted overwhelmingly to reject House Amendments to SB-1. Only 16 senators voted for the amendments. The amendments needed 30 votes to pass. The remaining pension reform bill is SB-2404. SB-2404 has passed the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the House. The legislative session ends today.
On May 22, 2013 the First District Appellate Court issued its Opinion in Lelis v. The Board of Trustees of the Cicero Police Pension Fund. The trial court affirmed the Pension Board’s decision denying the plaintiff’s application for a line of duty disability pension because it lacked jurisdiction to hear the application. The appellate court reversed and remanded the matter to the Pension Board to hold a hearing on the application.
In 2000 the Pension Board denied the plaintiff’s first application for a line of duty disability pension as a result of a back injury. In 2011 the plaintiff filed a second application for a line of duty disability pension as a result of (1) lupus and (2) back injuries in 1998 and 2010. The Pension Board did not hold a hearing on the merits of the plaintiff’s application but instead held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the application because of collateral estoppel and res judicata. The appellate court held that its standard of review with respect to jurisdictional questions is de novo.
The appellate court construed the plaintiff’s second application as a request based on an aggravation of her previous condition with the associated lupus diagnosis. The appellate court held that the Pension Board is required to hold a hearing, take evidence, and to decide the application on its merits.
The appellate court also held that res judicata and collateral estoppel did not bar the plaintiff’s application because the 1998 claim and the 2011 claims are premised on different facts.
On May 23, 2013 the Illinois Senate unanimously approved HB-1375. The Illinois House previously approved HB-1375. The bill increases the pension payable to the guardian of a minor child of a deceased firefighter who leaves no surviving spouse. Upon the Governor’s signature, the guardian will now be entitled to 20% of salary attached to rank instead of 12% of salary attached to rank. Guardians previously receiving 12% will be entitled to 20% prospectively.
On May 21, 2013 the Senate held the second reading of HB-1375 which would increase the benefit for the surviving dependent children of deceased firefighters who leave no surviving spouse. The guardian of such children would now be entitled to 20% of salary attached to rank rather than 12% of salary attached to rank. The bill passed the House with unanimous support. The third reading is scheduled for tomorrow.
The Chicago Civic Federation issued a report on May 21, 2013 indicating that the accrued unfunded liabilities for the Chicago pension funds increased by 16.7% fiscal year 2011. The cumulative percent funded for the systems has declined to 50.8%.
On Monday, May 20, 2013 Governor Quinn spoke to the City Club of Chicago. He urged legislators to pass legislation regarding same sex marriage, gun control, and pension reform before the end of the month.