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Legislation aims to make grant process more transparent

2 Barickman bills signed into law

State Sen. Jason Barickman said he hopes a new law that changes the state’s grant process will restore taxpayers’ trust in government spending decisions by creating more accountability for tax dollars.

On Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation that alters the grant process for nonprofit organizations. The Senate bill’s goal is to increase government transparency in dealing with grant funds, according to a news release from Barickman’s office.

Among new requirements introduced in the legislation is grant dollars must be spent or distributed during the fiscal year for which they are appropriated.

The legislation makes additional changes to the existing grant process, including:

u Restricting governors from transferring money into other state funds to be used for purposes other than what the Legislature intended.

u Creating a mechanism to allow the comptroller to stop payments in cases where there are issues or concerns about a grant program or recipient.

u Creating a blackout period before elections when state officials are not allowed to make grant announcements.

“State grants help fund non-profit organizations and others that undertake important work in communities around our state,” said Barickman, R-Bloomington. “It’s our duty to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. This law helps preserve the integrity of state grant recipients who’re making a difference in their community.”

Barickman served as chief sponsor of the legislation, according to the news release. The law was inspired by his work on the Legislative Audit Commission, a bipartisan panel tasked with reviewing state government audits and spending.

“I believe this will protect these good programs and allow taxpayers to have faith in the integrity of the grant system,” Barickman said.

The new law takes effect immediately.

Tax bidding legislation

Another bill sponsored by Barickman was signed into law Monday.

Beginning Jan. 1, county collectors will be able to eject tax bidders who intentionally disrupt a tax sale to change the outcome of an auction, or who use illegal bid practices to monopolize the bidding process.

“We want to ensure our bidding process on tax sales is competitive, but also that they are conducted appropriately and within the boundaries of the law,” Barickman said.

An initiative of the Illinois County Treasurers’ Association, the new law also provides uniformity to the various fees collected on tax sales and clarifies fees to be charged for subsequent taxes.

Specifically, the new law clarifies each person purchasing property will pay an automation fee of no more than $10 — the same as current law — to the county collector, with that fee to be charged for subsequent taxes as well. Additionally, an indemnity fee of no more than $20 for each item purchased also is established in the new law.

The measure clarifies the fee for payment of interests and costs set by the county is to be imposed on each person, for each item purchased at a tax sale.

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