2018 Session in Review

The Illinois General Assembly adjourned on May 31st after passing a budget, which was signed by Governor Rauner the morning of June 4th. Read our budget update to learn more about the benefits to environmental programs of the fiscal year 2019 budget.

The General Assembly likely will not meet again until after the election for veto session. Read on to learn more about progress made on environmental priorities this session:

Conservation and Protecting Wildlife
HB5293 Endangered Species Protection Rollback –  IEC and our partners successfully defeated HB5293, a bill that would have weakened the Endangered Species Protection Board (ESPB). This bad proposal would have altered the composition of the ESPB and removed all state authority to oversee the conservation of federally endangered species. Fortunately, HB5293 was not called and will not move forward. This is a great victory for conservation! Was not called for a vote.

SB3214Solar Pollinator Certification (Sen. Jason Barickman/Rep. Tom Bennett) SB3214 would encourage pollinator-friendly solar fields, which will incentivize habitat conservation. Passed both chambers.

Clean Energy Growth
SB2773Renewable Financing (Rep. Lou Lang/ Sen. Pam Althoff) Enhances the pace program by allowing the illinois finance authority to help communities access funds for clean energy and energy efficiency projects. Passed both chambers.

SB486Solar Property Tax Standardization (Sen. Don Harmon/ Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie) Provides a standardized assessment value and depreciation schedule for ground-mounted commercial solar energy systems. This legislation will help provide millions of dollars in new tax revenue to rural communities. Passed both chambers.

HB4236Clean Coal   IEC and our partners successfully prevented a “clean coal” bill from passing this session.  This bill would have required ratepayers statewide to subsidize an unbuilt, unnecessary coal plant near Mattoon.  Was not called for a vote.

Local Food
SB2606Food Donation Policy (Sen. John Curran/Rep. Carol Sente) This legislation would provide that state agencies have a policy in place to donate leftover food, and possible organizations and pantries where leftover food can be donated. We want to thank freshman Senator John Curran for carrying this as his first piece of legislation, and Representative Carol Sente for continuing to advocate on these issues.  Passed both chambers.

HB3418Urban Agricultural Areas  (Rep. Sonya Harper/Sen. Mattie Hunter) Working with Representative Sonya Harper, Openlands, Advocates for Urban Agriculture, and the Chicago Food Policy Action Council, IEC passed this important legislation to break down barriers for urban growers. The bill identifies incentives that local governments may extend to farmers – such as reduced water rates, reduced utilities fees, and property tax abatements – through creation of urban agricultural areas. Passed both chambers.

SB2298Industrial Hemp (Sen. Toi Hutchinson/Rep. Tim Butler) IEC and our partners at Illinois Stewardship Alliance have worked on this legislation for several years, and is an important initiative for sustainable agriculture. With bipartisan sponsorship and support from the Illinois Farm Bureau, this bill will bring new opportunities to Illinois farmers, and can help provide benefits to soil. Passed both chambers.

HB4234Socially Disadvantaged Farmers (Rep. Sonya Harper/Sen. Mattie Hunter) This measure would help socially disadvantaged farmers by having the Department of Agriculture provide information on programs and opportunities that could benefit these farmers and break down the challenges they face. Passed both chambers.

SB457Cottage Food Expansion (Rep. Will Guzzardi/Sen. Dave Koehler) Our continued work on cottage food laws led to an expansion of the Food Freedom Act this year. Working with Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Senator Dave Koehler, and Representative Will Guzzardi, this bill will clarify rules around home canning of tomatoes. Passed both chambers.

HB4568Healthy Local Food Incentives (Rep. Tim Butler/Sen. Don Harmon) This bill extends the current “farmers’ market SNAP match” program, which promotes and helps expands the local economy and food system but it also encourages healthier lifestyles for all. Passed both chambers.

HB4790Increase Compost Use (Rep. Carol Sente/Sen. Dave Koehler) This legislation increases the use of compost in transportation projects at the state, and helps create a market for the use of compost in Illinois.  Thank you to our partners at the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County and the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition for working on this bill. Passed both chambers.

HB5198Plastic Burning This bill would have given a permit exemption to facilities that convert waste plastics to fuel, despite the fact that burning plastics can release dioxins and other contaminants.  This bill passed narrowly in the House, but our advocacy helped stop this bill from passing this year. Was not called for a vote.

Water Quality
HB5741Emerging Chemicals of Concern (Sen. Julie Morrisson/Rep. Robyn Gabel) An initiative sponsored by Green Caucus Chairwoman Representative Robyn Gabel, this bill would assess treatment technologies for reducing and removing certain pollutants from wastewater treatment facilities. Passed both chambers.

SR1600Foxconn Opposition (Senator Melinda Bush) This resolution expresses significant concerns over the environmental waivers granted by the State of Wisconsin and the U.S. EPA for the Foxconn facility. It also states that Illinois would not waive similar protections simply to incite business. Resolution Adopted.

Environmental Enforcement
SB3156Compliance Agreements (Sen. Omar Aquino/Rep. Christian Mitchell) This bill would help increase transparency around violators of environmental regulation, by requiring IEPA to publicly post Compliance Commitment Agreements. An important measure for public awareness of enforcement actions. Passed both chambers.