Today, the 102nd General Assembly was sworn in, starting the 2021 legislative session. We congratulate the members of the General Assembly, and look forward to working with new members to continue growing our list of elected environmental champions.
Throughout the last week, legislators took significant action in Springfield. IEC expressed our support for the Legislative Black Caucus and their efforts in passing comprehensive legislation to address systemic racism. We worked with Senator Belt and Representative Harper in hopes that the lead service line replacement provisions would be taken up by the General Assembly during the lame duck session. Though we ultimately decided to continue working on this legislation into the new session with our legislative champions and stakeholders, the passage of the Legislative Black Caucus agenda is historic and worthy of celebration.
Today, the Illinois House of Representatives held a historic vote to elect Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch as the first Black speaker of the House. This key leadership position has remained largely unchanged for nearly 40 years. It is monumental to have Speaker Welch, a champion for environmental justice and co-sponsor of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, who has earned a lifetime score of 98% on our Environmental Scorecard, holding the gavel. You can read IEC’s full statement here.
As we look ahead to the spring session, we will be working with the new General Assembly on key environmental priorities, while protecting environmental programs from budget cuts against a challenging fiscal environment. Below you’ll find a snapshot of some of the exciting items we’ll be working on.
Clean, Affordable Energy
Transforming how our state creates and procures its electricity is one of the most impactful ways we can reduce air pollution, protect clean water, and address climate change. Add to that the economic crisis and the unique dangers of air pollution posed by the COVID pandemic, and it is more clear than ever that the General Assembly must act to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act this session. Delayed action on climate at the state level is simply not an option and we will hold decision makers accountable should they fail on this critical front.
Clean, Safe Drinking Water
IEC will continue to advocate for the Lead Service Line Replacement Act– guaranteeing a comprehensive replacement of all lead service lines in Illinois and prioritizes high-risk communities, protecting the 350,000 children at risk of lead poisoning throughout our state. Click here to let your lawmakers know that you strongly support legislation protecting your friends and neighbors from toxic, lead-contaminated drinking water.
We are also working on legislation to address the threat of water shutoffs that too many Illinoisans’ continue to face. While this crisis was highlighted by the pandemic, it is one that has persisted for too long.
Local, Sustainable Food
In our efforts to guarantee healthy, sustainable, local food for all Illinoisans, we are working with partners like Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Chicago Food Policy Action Council to pass legislation this spring that would support local food producers by removing barriers and encouraging the state to purchase locally.
As we work with our legislative partners to finalize bill drafts and filing dates for the various items we’re working on this session, stay tuned for the release of our full 2021 legislative agenda in the coming weeks!