The Illinois legislature has one week left in the regular session for the 2017 General Assembly. Here are some highlights of what happened this week:
As a whole, the budget does contain sufficient funding for IEPA, IDNR – including some important appropriations of federal pass through funds, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the other agency programs that we care about. It also appropriates $50 million from the Renewable Energy Resource Fund to the Illinois Power Agency to kickstart the Illinois Solar for All Program, which has been one of our key asks for the session. The fate of this budget in the House and in front of the Governor is uncertain.
Natural Areas Stewardship
Natural Areas Stewardship Act passes committee in the Illinois House! Rep. Tom Bennett moved SB1029 unanimously out of House committee on Wednesday. This is a critical bill for land trusts in Illinois. Be sure to take action here!
We are still working to oppose HB2880, which would loosen regulations on quarries in Illinois. Many quarries act as unlined landfills and have taken materials that is far from clean.
Industrial Hemp Act passes committee in the Illinois House
SB1294 to allow industrial hemp in Illinois moved out of the Illinois House. This bill has opposition and we are working to negotiate a regulatory scheme that will allow Illinois farmers to grow hemp that can be manufactured into all legal hemp products in Illinois, including food.
Mahomet Aquifer Protection moves forward
Rep. Carol Ammons moved SB611, creating a task force to protect the Mahomet Aquifer out of House Environment.
Lead Painted Windows
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 passed unanimously out of House Human Services committee on Wednesday.
Tax Free Transit Benefit
HB2802 Theresa Mah/Martin Sandoval – The federal government offers a FREE program for employers to allow their employees to set aside pre-tax funds for public transit usage. This will give employees more funding to use public transit, encouraging public transit usage. While this bill moved out of committee, it is being amended to meet concerns from business interests in Illinois. It moved out of committee on Thursday evening, but will be back in committee next week.