IEC Legislative Update

4/15/11 Legislative Update

First Chamber Deadline

The deadline for moving bills out of their first chamber is today.  The 2011 session has been mostly positive, with many good pieces of environmental policy moving forward.  IEC and our member organizations have been kept busy fighting unacceptable proposals as well.

Two bills – with language introduced only this week – have been of high concern to IEC and our advocates.

HB390 is a bill that would “de-park” an area around Pyramid State Park in Southern Illinois.   Representative Dan Reitz has introduced HB390 and the bill passed today with 73 voting YES, 36 voting NO. Rep. Reitz worked diligently to make environmental groups a part of the negotiation, but no agreement could be made.  Under federal law, a strip mine cannot be located near a state park.  A mining company wants to strip mine under and adjacent to Pyramid State Park.  The legislation would allow the lease of approximately 120 acres of IDNR land, which was bought with Open Land Trust funds.   We are concerned that House Bill 390 sets a dangerous precedent – that we are willing to entertain offers for mining and other non-park uses on our precious conservation lands.

SB863 Amendment 1 was introduced by Sen. Link.  This bill clears the way for the placement of a confined disposal facility in Waukegan Harbor.  IEC and many affiliates have concerns about the language of the bill and the lack of public comment.  Fortunately, this bill was given an extension as the Senate was unable to get to it in the time allowed and will not be up for a vote until May 3 or 4.

DNR budget
The Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing which included the IDNR budget on  Wednesday, April 13.  Fortunately, after years of cuts, the IDNR does not seem likely to sustain direct budget cuts this year.
However, the Governor just announced that 2011 OSLAD grants will be eliminated for 2011; no organization will receive the funds for important land acquisition projects.  OSLAD is not supported by the General Revenue Fund, but is instead support by the real estate transfer tax.

Environmental Justice
SB2193 – a bill creating Illinois’ first Environmental Justice Act – passed the Senate today.  This bill creates a commission to look at environmental justice in Illinois.  We hope that this commission will work to introduce legislation that makes an impact on environmental justice in Illinois.  Protestants for the Common Good worked to pass this legislation.

Electronic Recycling
An important bill which expands electronic recycling passed out of the senate this week.  SB2106 passed the Senate with 37 voting YES and 16 voting NO.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
HB3055, HB1422, HB1913, and HB1943 were moved out of the House Public Utilities Committee and House Energy and Environment Committee this week.  These bills encompass the environmental community’s package of energy efficiency and renewable energy bills.  Each was agreed to be held on second reading.  ComEd’s HB14 also moved out of the House Public Utilities Committee.  Advocates are working to make sure that energy efficiency and renewable energy are a part of any energy discussion.

Clean Water
HB3372, County Green Stormwater Infrastructure, passed the House.

SB664 – hydraulic fracturing regulation – passed through the Illinois Senate.

A critical bill to regulate factory farming in Illinois has not yet moved forward, but is expected to receive the necessary extensions to continue discussions and come to a vote in the Illinois House.  State Representative Tryon is working to pass HB3504, a bill which would require the largest Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Illinois to pay a fee for a permit.

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