Under section 4 of the Attorney General Act (15 ILCS 205/4 (West 2008)), the Attorney General is authorized, upon request, to furnish written legal opinions to State officers and State’s Attorneys on matters relating to their official duties. The following is a summary of official opinion Nos. 09-003 through 09-006 and informal opinion Nos. I-09-012 through I-09-020 that may be of interest to the government bar.
Copies of an opinion may be requested by contacting the Opinions Bureau in the Attorney General’s Springfield office at (217) 782-9070. Copies of official opinions may also be found on the internet at <>.
Opinion No. 09-003
Issued December 17, 2009
Sale of the Thomson Correctional Center
The sale of the Thomson Correctional Center is subject to the State Property Control Act and the State Facilities Closure Act. 30 ILCS 605/7.1 (West 2008), as amended by Public Act 96-660, effective August 25, 2009; 30 ILCS 608/5-10 (West 2008).
Opinion No. 09-004
Issued December 21, 2009
Felony Forfeiture of Pension Benefits
The felony convictions of Matthew Robinson, an employee with the State of Illinois, for the offenses of official misconduct and possession of child pornography related to or arose out of or in connection with his employment as an emergency telecommunicator with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, thereby requiring the forfeiture of his pension benefits. 40 ILCS 5/14-149 (West 2008).
Opinion No. 09-005
Issued December 21, 2009
Felony Forfeiture of Pension Benefits
The felony convictions of Keith E. Chambers, an employee with the State of Illinois, for the offenses of possessing and distributing child pornography related to or arose out of or in connection with his employment as the Program Manager/Earthquake Coordinator for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, thereby requiring the forfeiture of his pension benefits. 40 ILCS 5/14-149 (West 2008).
Opinion No. 09-006
Issued December 30, 2009
Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation as a “State Agency” under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act
Electric utility, Commonwealth Edison, created the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (the Foundation) pursuant to the express authority granted under section 16-111.1 of the Public Utilities Act. Because the Foundation is a private, charitable organization that was not created by the State, operates independently of the State, and was not established to further the interests or welfare of the State, the Foundation is not a “corporate outgrowth of the State government” and, thus, is not a “State agency,” as that term is defined in section 1-5 of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. 5 ILCS 430/1-5 (West 2008); 30 ILCS 5/1-7 (West 2008); 220 ILCS 5/16-111.1 (West 2008).
Informal Opinion No. I-09-012
Issued August 13, 2009
Applicability of the Smoke Free Illinois Act to Unenclosed Outdoor Areas Adjacent to a Public Housing Unit
Section 30 of the Smoke Free Illinois Act authorizes any person in control of a public place to designate other non-enclosed areas, including outdoor areas, as places where smoking is prohibited. An unenclosed cement area located immediately adjacent to the front door of a family unit in a housing development owned and operated by a city housing authority generally constitutes a “public place” as that term is defined in the Smoke Free Illinois Act. 410 ILCS 82/10, 30 (West 2008).
Informal Opinion No. I-09-013
Issued August 14, 2009
Scope of Property Tax Abatement under Subsection 18-165(a)(1)(C) of the Property Tax Code
The plain language of subsection 18-165(a)(1)(C) of the Property Tax Code provides an abatement procedure for a commercial firm which expands its facility. When a commercial firm expands its facility by constructing new structures adjacent to its existing structures, the abatement that is authorized by this provision may include the value of the existing structures in addition to the value of the new structures, subject only to the limitation that the aggregate abatement for all taxing districts not exceed 10 years or $4,000,000. A non-home-rule unit may only abate its taxes pursuant to a statutory grant of authority. 35 ILCS 200/18-165(a)(1)(C) (West 2008).
Informal Opinion No. I-09-014
Issued September 3, 2009
Use of Proceeds from Regional Transportation Authority Taxes Paid Directly to Counties Other Than Cook
Proceeds of taxes paid directly to specified counties under section 4.03 of the Regional Transportation Authority Act (RTA Act) must be used exclusively for qualifying transportation or public safety purposes enumerated in subsection 4.03.3(e) of the RTA Act. Therefore, RTA tax proceeds paid directly to the specified counties may be used to fund qualifying transportation or public safety expenses of a county highway department, regardless of whether the costs were previously paid from other county funds. 70 ILCS 3615/4.03.3(e) (West 2008).
Informal Opinion No. I-09-015
Issued September 17, 2009
Expenditure of Emergency Telephone System Funds
Under subsection 15.4(c)(7) of the Emergency Telephone System Act, emergency telephone system funds may only be expended for costs specifically associated with the communications equipment required to produce a response by a public safety agency as a result of an emergency call being placed to 9-1-1. Emergency telephone system funds may not be expended for access to computerized criminal history databases such as LEADS or Offender Trak whether for emergency or non-emergency purposes; nor may such funds be expended for the installation, maintenance, and operation of electronic information management systems such as NetRMS or Firehouse. 50 ILCS 750/15.4(c)(7) (West 2008).
Informal Opinion No. I-09-016
Issued September 24, 2009
Teachers’ Retirement System’s Payment of Survivors’ and Health Insurance Benefits to the Surviving Spouse of a Teacher who Underwent Sex Reassignment Surgery
Absent a declaration of invalidity by a court of competent jurisdiction, the Teachers’ Retirement System must provide survivors’ and health insurance benefits to the surviving spouse of a retired teacher who was lawfully married but subsequently underwent male-to-female sex reassignment surgery. 40 ILCS 5/16-142 (West 2008); 750 ILCS 5/302 (West 2008).
Informal Opinion No. I-09-017
Issued October 1, 2009
Operation of All-Terrain Vehicles on County Roads
Under the current language of section 11-1426 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, a county board may not adopt an ordinance that generally permits the operation of all-terrain vehicles on county roads. Pursuant to subsection 11-1426(d) of the Code, counties may only authorize the operation of all-terrain vehicles on county roads where necessary to cross a bridge or culvert or if it is impracticable to gain immediate access to an area adjacent to a highway where an all-terrain vehicle is to be operated. 625 ILCS 5/11-1426 (West 2008); Public Act 96-279, effective January 1, 2010.
Informal Opinion No. I-09-018
Issued October 8, 2009
Composition of a Forest Preserve District’s Board of Commissioners; Disconnection of a Township from a Forest Preserve District
Under the Downstate Forest Preserve District Act, if the boundaries of a forest preserve district are coextensive with the boundaries of a county, the county board serves as the board of commissioners for the forest preserve district. Townships may petition to disconnect from a forest preserve district if the county in which the district lies has a population of less than 125,000. If a township successfully disconnects from a forest preserve district that previously had boundaries that were coextensive with the boundaries of the county, the boundaries of the county and the forest preserve district cease to be coextensive. As a result, the county board chairman will appoint a board of five commissioners for the forest preserve district with the advice and consent of the county board. 70 ILCS 805/3a (West 2008), as amended by Public Act 96-239, effective August 11, 2009; 70 ILCS 805/14.1 (West 2008).
Informal Opinion No. I-09-019
Issued October 29, 2009
Compatibility of Offices – Assistant State’s Attorney and Township Supervisor in Same County
Because of a potential conflict in duties, the offices of Assistant State’s Attorney and township supervisor in the same county are incompatible. 55 ILCS 5/3-9005 (West 2008), as amended by Public Act 96-431, effective August 13, 2009; 55 ILCS 5/3-9006 (West 2008).
Informal Opinion No. I-09-020
Issued November 5, 2009
Temporary Transfer of County Landfill Fee Funds
Because the monies generated pursuant to subsection 22.15(j) of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and section 5-1047 of the Counties Code are not derived from a special levy, a county board may authorize the temporary transfer of idle monies collected pursuant to either of those sections to another county fund for the purpose of providing a down payment for the purchase or construction of a new courthouse, provided the borrowing fund has sufficient income to repay the amount borrowed, and the borrowed monies are returned within the same fiscal year. With regard to the procedures to be followed to effectuate a temporary transfer of monies, there are generally no additional formalities or procedures, other than county board approval and compliance with the Open Meetings Act, that must be satisfied to effectuate the temporary transfer of monies between county funds. 55 ILCS 5/5-1047 (West 2008); 415 ILCS 5/22.15(j) (West 2008). ■