With 3 weeks remaining in the spring legislative session, IEC remains focused on a few important measures, and the ongoing budget negotiations.
VW Settlement and a Clean Transportation Sector
Thank you to all who took action on the VW settlement public comment period! Nearly 700 supporters took action through IEC’s online form to criticize the IEPA for the lack of public input and preference of fossil fuels in its draft plan. In response, the IEPA will have three public outreach sessions, which are coming up very quickly. Please RSVP for these outreach sessions below:
Preventing Federal Rollbacks of Environmental Regulations
Last week, SB2213 passed out of the Senate on a vote of 32-21-1.
This bill aims to preserve the status quo of Illinois’ current safeguards as the federal administration continues to rollback environmental standards. The Illinois Baseline Protection Act would prevent the weakening of any current Illinois standard below the federal standard already in place. This bill will be heard next Tuesday in House Environment Committee, and is being sponsored by Representative Juliana Stratton.
Sustainable Agriculture Through Industrial Hemp
SB2298 has passed out of the Senate as well as House Agriculture Committee. This bill would allow farmers in Illinois to grow industrial hemp. We are working with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and the Farm Bureau to support this legislation.
Supporting Renewable Energy Growth
IEC continues to work with our partners at ELPC and ISEA on several clean energy bills:
- SB3214 would encourage pollinator friendly solar fields. The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate and has broad bipartisan support in the House.
- SB2273 enhances the PACE financing program by allowing the Illinois Finance Authority to help communities access funds for clean energy and energy efficiency projects.This bill passed unanimously out of the Senate, and will be heard in House Revenue Committee next week.
- SB486 provides a standardized property tax value for commercial solar energy systems. This legislation will help provide millions of dollars in new tax revenue to rural communities, and passed unanimously out of the Senate.
Promoting Urban Agriculture
IEC partnered with Representative Sonya Harper and Senator Mattie Hunter on HB3418 and HB4234. Respectively, these bills would remove barriers for urban farmers, and expand incentives and benefits, while providing education on existing programs. Both measures have passed out of the House, and will be heard on the Senate floor next week.
As budget talks progress, IEC is advocating for adequate funding of several programs, including:
- Soil and Water Conservation Districts
- Open Space Land and Acquisition Fund
- Natural Areas Acquisition Fund
- Renewable Energy Resources Trust Fund
- Adequate staffing of agencies, especially IDNR, IEPA, and IDOA