Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Developments Around “Penny Per Push” Video Gaming Tax

The Village of Oak Lawn made recent headlines with a new concept to generate tax revenue from video gaming. Oak Lawn implemented a “penny per push” amusement tax which, as the name suggests, taxes a video game user one cent for every spin on a video gaming terminal. Oak Lawn, reported to have the 10th highest income from video gaming activity in the State, anticipates $500,000 in additional revenue from the penny per push tax in the first year.

Oak Lawn’s penny per push tax is written to be assessed to the player. However, the establishment bears the burden of collecting and remitting the tax on a monthly basis. The practical effect is that establishments do not need to charge the patrons directly for the penny per push tax, nor does the patron necessarily understand that the tax is in effect; rather, the establishment can just pay the monthly amount out of its video gaming income.

To date, no legal challenge has been made to Oak Lawn’s ordinance, although it must be noted that Oak Lawn did invoke its home rule power in passing the penny per push tax. There is a potential challenge to non home rule authority to implement a separate amusement tax on video gaming, because taxes for video gaming revenue are arguably already statutorily prescribed.

A new bill has been proposed that would:

  • preempt home rule authority on the subject of video gaming
  • prohibit any additional tax, such as the penny per push tax
  • limit annual terminal licensing fees to $100 for home rule communities, keeping non home rule terminal licensing fees at $25 per year, maximum.

The prevalent opinion is that the penny per push amusement tax is currently a valid exercise of home rule authority. Municipalities should consider the full consequences of implementing a similar penny per push tax in terms of financial impact, as well as potential unintended consequences on local businesses. Municipalities who wish to view the potential financial impact of the penny per push tax can reference the Illinois Gaming Board’s website and search engine to see historic wagering activity.

Brad Stewart

Author: Brad Stewart

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

City and ZRFM Prevail in Case Defining DUI Law

In a recent opinion issued in City of McHenry v. Kleven, the Second District Appellate Court held that a police officer’s failure to continuously observe the defendant prior to submission of a breathalyzer test did not require exclusion of the result from admission into evidence.

The defendant was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and transported to the police department for processing. During the 20-minute observation period, the defendant was seated on a stool facing a camera located in the corner of the processing room. The camera was facing down at the defendant and recorded, both visually and audibly, the defendant during the entire observation period. During the observation period, the officer left the booking room on two separate occasions for approximately 2½ minutes and 30 seconds. At the end of the observation period, the defendant provided a breathalyzer sample disclosing a breath alcohol concentration of .168. The trial court found that the officer failed to comply with the 20-minute observation requirement of the Illinois Administrate Code and granted the defendant’s motion to bar the introduction of the breathalyzer result into evidence.

On appeal, the Second District Appellate Court was asked to determine whether an officer’s failure to continuously observe a defendant during the observation period required that the breathalyzer result be barred from admission into evidence, where the booking room video showed that the defendant did not vomit or place a foreign substance into his mouth during the lapses in observation. The Court held that the audio and video recording of the defendant compensated for the officer’s lapses in following the observation requirement of the Illinois Administrative Code. This case is the first reported case in Illinois finding that the use of audio and visual recording was sufficient to substitute for an officer’s observation of a defendant during the mandatory observation period.

Kevin A. Chrzanowski

Author: Kevin A. Chrzanowski

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

We Hope to See You at the IML Conference!

Several ZRFM attorneys will be active at the IML Conference this Thursday-Saturday, September 19-21.

Please join us for “FOIA/OMA in the Internet Age” on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the Stevens Salon A-5. We will be presenting alongside Assistant Attorney General Leah Bartelt from the Public Access Bureau.

And please stop by to visit us at our informational booth in the Exhibitor Hall (Booth #701).

Brad Stewart

Author: Brad Stewart

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

What Every Municipality Really Needs to Know (and Do) About Recreational Cannabis

If you feel inundated with the flurry of updates about the legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois, we hope this provides you a practical summary of what you really need to know and what actions can be taken:

  1. The law is not effective until 2020, so do not panic. There are a few things to contemplate before then, but the sky will not fall if it takes a couple of weeks to understand and identify what actions your municipality wishes to take.
  2. Use/Possession: A municipality may not outlaw possession or use of legally obtained cannabis by persons 21 or greater if the amount is within the prescribed limits allowed.
    • Action Item: Update your cannabis ordinance. Almost every municipality has a general prohibition on use and possession of cannabis and cannabis related devices. You will probably want to keep the ordinance because you will potentially still enforce it against persons under 21 and anyone who does not meet the statutory requirements, but you should amend the ordinance to make sure there is an exception for legal use.
    • Possible Action Item: Consider mirroring your existing ordinance on public possession or consumption of alcohol in certain public areas, such as parks, to similarly prohibit possession or consumption of cannabis.
  3. Zoning: A municipality may opt out of allowing production centers and/or dispensaries if it chooses, or a municipality may otherwise limit or restrict locations through zoning—all of this subject to the law governing ordinances and zoning requirements.
    • Possible Action Item: If your municipality chooses to not allow cannabis facilities, then it should pass an ordinance before the end of the year stating that.
    • Possible Action Item: If your municipality wishes to restrict where a dispensary is located, it should consider making dispensaries a special use and indicate in what zoning areas they would be allowed.
    • Possible Action Item: If the decision is to allow cannabis facilities, consider passing a Retailer Occupation Tax (sales tax) of up to 3% for dispensary sales.
  4. Expungement: Basically every municipality has to expunge all minor cannabis offenses from the past. Nothing has to be done before 2021 so this should not be the top priority, and uniform procedures will likely emerge in the next year to facilitate the process.
  5. Employee Policies: A municipality can:
    • Prohibit the use, possession, and being under the influence of cannabis at work or while working.
    • Prohibit the use while “on call” so long as the employee is scheduled with at least 24 hours’ notice to be on standby.
    • Maintain a zero tolerance policy and discipline or discharge employees if the municipality has a “good faith” basis to believe the employee is under the influence while at work, on-call or while performing job duties.
    • Administer drug tests so long as there is a “good faith” belief that the employee used or was under the influence of cannabis while working, on call, or performing job duties.  However, the employee must be allowed to contest the basis for the employer’s determination that the employee was under the influence. 

Please note that just like with alcohol which is a legal substance, you cannot prohibit an employee’s use of cannabis while off-duty (unless they are on call, as noted above).

Exceptions: There are some exceptions to this, based on whether federal law may regulate certain employees. An employee subject to federal law prohibiting use or possession of cannabis is potentially subject to discipline for off-duty use, including:

  • Employees with Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) requirements if the CDL is not issued, suspended or revoked for a cannabis-related reason.
    • Employees who work on public projects that are federally funded are typically subject to federal drug control laws, which include cannabis as a prohibited drug.
    • Employees subject to Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) may be contractually bound to not use cannabis.
  • Action Item: Review CBAs, job descriptions, and federal grant requirements to identify which employees may be subject to cannabis restrictions and review with legal counsel.
  • Action Item: Review drug testing policies to ensure that trace or residual amounts of THC are not a basis to disqualify an applicant or employee from employment unless the position is one that is subject to applicable federal requirements.
  • Possible Action Item: Consider mirroring your policy on cannabis possession at the work place with your policy on alcohol possession at the work place.

Again, this is intended to be a basic summary of what every municipality should know and what next steps should be considered. Some items, such as employee discipline, zoning amendments, and criminal record expungement are nuanced legal issues that should be reviewed with your attorney before taking conclusive action.

Brad Stewart

Author: Brad Stewart

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Ruth Schlossberg to Speak at 5th Annual Local Government Law Institute

Ruth Schlossberg will be speaking at the “5th Annual Local Government Law Institute” to be held Wednesday, December 13, 2017, at the One North Wacker Conference Center (second floor of UBS Tower) in Chicago. For the first time, there will also be a live simulcast in Springfield!

You can read about all the program details in this brochure.  Additionally, you can also view the agenda and register for the course online.

Ruth Alderman Schlossberg

Author: Ruth A. Schlossberg

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Live Podcast Recording at the IML Conference

The next episode of the Illinois Local Government Podcast will be recorded live at the Illinois Municipal League Annual Conference this Friday from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. The topic of the Podcast is Illinois’s Video Gaming laws and its impact on municipalities.

Discussion points will include gaming revenue distribution and the importance of revenue to local businesses and governments, methods to regulate video gaming locally, concerns with the proliferation of video gaming, and possible legislative changes to the video gaming laws. Panelists include State Representative Anna Moeller (43rd District); Kirkland Village President Ryan Block, and Lake in the Hills President Russ Ruzanski. The moderator will be ZRFM Attorney Brad Stewart.

For those attending the IML Conference, please stop by our booth (#610) to attend the Podcast recording and bring questions to ask the panelists.

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Introducing ZRFM’s Illinois Local Government Law Podcast

ZRFM is proud to announce its inaugural publication of the Illinois Local Government Law Podcast.

The Illinois Local Government Law Podcast seeks to provide an insightful discussion on topics concerning Illinois’s municipalities, counties and townships. For the inaugural episode, host Brad Stewart speaks with Illinois Senator Pam Althoff and North Barrington Village President Al Pino as they discuss Illinois’s Prevailing Wage Act.

You can find the podcast on iTunes or through the RSS feed. Subscribe today to ensure that you receive episodes when they are released.

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

ZRFM Invites You to a Seminar for Local Government Officials

ZRFM invites you to join other newly elected officials, as well as administrators, managers, and long-standing elected officials at a seminar on May 6, 2017, dealing with the ABCs of local government. Get a jump start on:

  • The fundamentals of local government and procedures
  • Meeting procedures
  • Illinois Sunshine laws
  • Ethics and conflicts of interest
  • Finance and budget
  • Economic development
  • Tax caps

This program is also ideal for existing elected and appointed officials looking for a refresher course or a deeper understanding of the complex regulatory structure in which they operate.

All attendees will receive a complimentary copy of “Congratulations! You’ve Been Elected: Now What Do You Do?” This book, now in its third edition and published by the Illinois Municipal League and the attorneys at ZRFM, serves as a useful resource for new and experienced officials.


8 a.m. — Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 a.m. — Presentations by Attorneys from ZRFM

11:30 a.m. — Open Question Period

noon — Complimentary Luncheon


Holiday Inn, 800 South Illinois Route 31, Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014

RSVP by May 3, 2017, to Marty Davis at (815) 459-2050 or

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Crystal Lake Chamber Honors ZRFM’s 40-Year Membership

From left: Brad Stewart, Martin Davis, David McArdle, E. Regan Daniels Shepley, Ryan Farrell and Melissa Cooney

From left: Brad Stewart, Martin Davis, David McArdle, E. Regan Daniels Shepley, Ryan Farrell and Melissa Cooney


The Crystal Lake-based law firm of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle — the largest law firm in McHenry County — recently received an award from the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce recognizing its 40 years as a member of the organization.

Located at 50 N. Virginia Street in Crystal Lake, Illinois, Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle was founded in 1957.

The law firm’s 20 attorneys practice in a variety of fields of law that include local government law; business law and transactions; financial institutions; estate, trust and tax; real estate and land use; personal injury law; civil litigation and appellate law; construction law; divorce and family law; and employment law; and healthcare law.

plaqueSeveral longtime ZRFM lawyers not present in the award photograph, provided courtesy of Sharon Repplinger, are Kelly Cahill, Rich Flood and Michael Smoron.

To learn more about the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce, please view the Chamber’s website.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Melissa Cooney Appointed to Illinois Supreme Court Committee

Melissa CooneyEffective Jan. 1, 2016, ZRFM Attorney Melissa J. Cooney has been appointed to a three-year term on the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Character and Fitness.

Cooney is one of six appointees representing the Second District of Illinois, which encompasses most of the state’s far northern counties with the exception of Cook County to the east and Whiteside County to the west.

Under Article VI of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, the Committee on Character and Fitness is one of five bodies through which the Illinois Supreme Court exercises the authority to govern the practice of law in the state. The committee determines whether or not prospective attorneys are suitable to practice law in Illinois and whether their applications for legal certification include relevant issues bearing on their moral character.

Cooney, who entered the practice of law in 1991, focuses primarily on estate planning, land use and family law. She was the subject of a March 2015 article in Leading Lawyers Magazine titled “Delivering the Law From the Bottom of Her Heart.” In May 2015, Prairie State Legal Services honored Cooney and three other local attorneys at the McHenry County Legal Aid Awards for their commendable work in rendering outstanding pro bono service.

To learn more about her practice and the many achievements of her career, please view Melissa Cooney’s professional credentials.

Crystal Lake-based Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, the largest law firm in McHenry County, Illinois, serves families, individuals, units of local government and businesses throughout the near and far suburbs of northern Illinois.