There is less than two weeks left until the end of the regular 2017 legislative session. Many of the environmental community’s priorities for the year are wrapping up as they are heard on the floor and head to the Governor.
A budget passed the Senate this week, but without the budget implementation plan or the revenue needed to fully fund it. Proposals considered by the Senate this week are likely not final, but include items we support and oppose. For example, the budget implementation bill that did not pass would have severely cut Soil and Water Conservation Districts. It also would have used former solar rebate money for lead abatement.
On the other hand, the budget that passed included appropriations for the Renewable Energy Resource Fund, which is critical to the Illinois Solar for All program created by the Future Energy Jobs Act. IEC will continue to monitor, analyse, and share any movements on these measures.
The following proposals moved forward this week:
Senator Don Harmon has been working to curtail the ability of IDNR to open the entire state to bobcat hunting. He has introduced an amendment to SB1981, which would reduce the hunting area for bobcats in Illinois to include only counties where bobcats were hunted during the 2016/2017 season. It also permanently bans bobcat hunting in the collar counties of Illinois – Cook, Lake, DuPage, McHenry, Kane, and Will. This effectively pauses the program and does not allow it to expand into additional counties.
Legislators Visit the Farmers Market
IEC and the Illinois Stewardship Alliance hosted legislators at the opening day of the Old Capitol Farmers Market to discuss local food and business, sustainable agriculture, cottage foods, and the importance of farmers markets. We were joined by Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and several state representatives. Click to check out some pictures!
PACE Renewable Energy Financing Passes Both Chambers!
HB2831 has passed both chambers and will be passed on to the Governor. Congratulations to Rep. Lou Lang, Sen. Karen McConnaughay, and Environmental Law and Policy Center for their many years of work on this important initiative. This financing bill for local governments will be a new tool for renewable energy and energy financing. This has been extremely successful program in other states to improve housing stock, reduce utility bills, and save consumers money.
Cooking Oil Recycling Passes Both Chambers!
Rep. Peter Breen and Sen. Chris Nybo worked to pass SB1420 to remove restrictions on non profits that collect cooking oil recycling from the public. This was an initiative of SCARCE in DuPage County. This bill has passed both chambers and will move to the Governor.
Wind Energy Fix Passes IL House Committee!
Senate Bill 71, introduced by Senator Don Harmon and Rep. Lou Lang, removes provisions concerning wind projects in the Future Energy Jobs Act and now allows the wind industry to significantly invest in Illinois. The bill helps Illinois remain a leader in renewables by moving forward $2.2 billion in wind farm construction, involving about 650 new wind turbines and 1 million hours of construction work. SB71 passed unanimously out of the House Energy committee and now awaits consideration on the house floor. Click here to read more!
Port Debt Forgiveness
IEC has been tracking HB1797 which allows loan forgiveness for the land contract between the Capital Development Board and the regional port district. The regional port district did not reach the required profit amount and the bill would allow the port district to not pay back the appropriations for the land. Community groups are eager to utilize the land around Lake Calumet and the Calumet Area Reserve for open space and recreation. HB1797 passed the Senate State Government committee 4-3. Community organizations testified in support of creating important community open space area on the property.
Lead Window Replacement
SB1774 Marcus Evans/ Don Harmon CLEAR- WIN – This bill will re-establish the lead-painted window replacement program (CLEAR-Win), which studies show had a very positive impact upon reducing lead levels in children residing in low-income residences. This bill has passed the Senate and is being considered by the House.
Designation of Milkweed as the State Wildflower