On Thursday, April 26th, nearly 300 advocates joined us in Springfield for Environmental Lobby Day. The strength of our community was clearly on display as attendees from all over Illinois met with their state legislators regarding our priority legislation for the session, and rallied in front of the Capitol.
The presence of hundreds of advocates, combined with the dedicated lobbying efforts of IEC and our partners, led to the defeat of 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 great victory for conservation would not have been possible without the efforts of everyone at lobby day and those of you who took action in other ways – thank you!
Today is the third reading deadline for bills to move out of their chamber of origin. In the House, this means that a bill that has not been heard is unlikely to move this session. In the Senate, many bills will still receive extensions. So far, we have successfully passed several important measures, and worked to defeat several others. Read more about these priorities below:
SB2213- Protecting Illinois’ Environmental Protections From Federal Rollbacks
This bill aims to preserve the status quo for Illinois’ current safeguards at this time of great uncertainty at the federal level. The Illinois Baseline Protection Act would prevent the weakening of any current Illinois standard below the federal standard already in place. Sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss, this bill had a favorable debate on the floor, but due to a procedural issue will need to be called next week. We expect it will pass out of the Senate.
SB3214 – Pollinator-friendly Solar Fields
Sponsored by Senator Jason Barickman, SB3214 would encourage pollinator-friendly solar fields, which will incentivize habitat conservation. IEC worked with ELPC to pass this bill unanimously out of the Senate.
HB3418- Urban Agricultural Areas
Working with Openlands, Advocates for Urban Agriculture, Chicago Food Policy Action Council, and Representative Sonya Harper, this bill creates urban agriculture areas in municipalities throughout the state and provides incentives for urban farmers, reducing food deserts and improving local economies. It passed 86-22.
HB3101– Volkswagen Settlement Taskforce
As a result of a nationwide settlement against Volkswagen, Illinois is the beneficiary of $108 million through the VW Settlement Mitigation Trust. SB3101 will create a taskforce to help oversee this process and ensure public hearings and participation. This bill passed out of the Senate yesterday on a vote of 31-21.
HB5741 – Emerging Chemicals of Concerns
Sponsored by Representative Robyn Gabel, HB5741 would assess treatment technologies for reducing and removing certain pollutants from wastewater treatment facilities. This legislation passed unanimously out of the House, and is important for clean water statewide.
SB3174- Transparency in Fracking
IEC has worked with Senator Koehler, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Illinois People’s Action to increase transparency in hydraulic fracturing operations. SB3174 would require greater reporting for wells, and successfully passed out of the Senate on a vote of 32-17.
HB4790 – Use of Compost in Transportation Projects
This legislation, sponsored by Representative Carol Sente, is an initiative to increase the use of compost in transportation projects at the state. The bill requires IDOT to conduct a pilot program using compost-amended soil. The measure passed unanimously out of the House.
HB4236- “Clean Coal” Subsidy
HB4236 requires electricity ratepayers statewide to subsidize an unbuilt, unnecessary plant near Mattoon. This legislation mandates that the Illinois Power Agency purchase power for “clean coal facilities.” This project is unnecessary and would cause a rate hike but fortunately, HB4236 did not get called for a vote.
SB2298– Industrial Hemp in Illinois
This bill would allow farmers in Illinois to grow industrial hemp. This sustainable crop would bring new business to Illinois and new opportunities for Illinois farmers. This bill is supported by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and the Illinois Farm Bureau, sponsored by Senator Toi Hutchinson, and passed out of the Senate unanimously.
HB5198 – Conversion of Plastics to Fuel
IEC opposes this legislation, which would give a permit exemption to facilities that convert waste plastics to fuel, despite the fact that burning plastics can release dioxins and other contaminants. In addition, this turns a recyclable product into a waste that can never be used again. This bill unfortunately passed out of House Environment Committee and on the House Floor by a vote of 81-20.