Senate Week in Review: April 8-12, 2024

Opposition Voiced Against Wetland Overregulation

SPRINGFIELD – Ignoring concerns from Illinois’ agriculture community, environmental activists are pushing legislation that would grant the state sweeping authority over private land.

The bill was proposed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Sackett v. EPA decision, which rolled back the scope of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and curtailed overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). WOTUS, a part of the Federal Clean Water Act, has been heavily criticized by farmers, homeowners, and landowners because of the broad authority it gave the government over private land.

Senate Bill 771 would give many of the powers the Sackett v. EPA decision took away from the EPA to the state. The legislation goes even further, creating a new regulatory system at the state level that puts the burden on landowners to hire costly specialists to identify wetlands. It also mandates permits for projects, even on private property, without specifying a timeline – allowing the state to effectively kill projects by not acting on a permit request. Additionally, it allows the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to issue hefty civil penalties of $10,000 per day for violations. 

The legislation has been met with opposition from a broad range of interests, including farmers, business groups, home builders, and energy producers. If passed, it could mean the end of numerous energy projects, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development. 

State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Cherry Valley), who strongly opposes the legislation, contends that it infringes on property rights and would create yet another burdensome and costly regulatory process for citizens that could potentially harm Illinois’ agriculture, construction, and energy sectors in the long term.

Legislation Advances for Better Access to Workforce Development Programs

Legislation advanced this week aims to boost workforce development efforts in Illinois by providing a comprehensive system for assessing the success of state-funded economic development programs and resources.

Senate Bill 2907, filed by Senator Syverson, creates the Illinois Job Training and Workforce Development Transparency Act. The Republican-sponsored legislation requires the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, in coordination with affected state agencies, to compile a detailed report encompassing all state-funded job training and workforce development programs in Illinois. 

The report would contain information regarding job training programs, including:

  • The name of the state agency that appropriated this funding.
  • The name of the job training program and funding source.
  • The name and location of organizations receiving funding.
  • Population and demographics served by the organization receiving funding.
  • Outcomes of the job training programs, including:
    • Number of participants enrolled.
    • Demographic breakdown of participants.
    • Types of training provided.
    • Duration of training programs.
    • Employment placement rates.
    • Wage growth and advancement for program participants.
    • Retention rates in the workforce.

Senate Bill 2907 was passed by the Senate on April 11 and will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

Senate Advances Legislation to Stop Governments from Charging Property Tax Penalties to Deceased Individuals

Senate Republican lawmakers have advanced legislation to alleviate the financial burdens placed on families dealing with unforeseen property tax penalties in the wake of a loved one’s passing. 

Currently, even when a person has passed away, governments may still be charging their estate with interest and penalties for property taxes, leaving grieving families with unexpected expenses.

Senate Bill 2832 would allow for the estate of a deceased individual to apply for a waiver with the county treasurer that would prevent interest and penalties from being charged on delinquent property taxes.

Passed the Senate on April 9, Senate Bill 2832 now awaits action in the House of Representatives.

Legislation to Combat Landfill Sludge and Debris Passes Senate

Republican lawmakers advanced legislation during the week to combat issues caused by trash and debris stuck to trucks leaving landfills.

Senate Bill 3566 would require a landfill in any county with a population over 250,000 to provide onsite facilities to clean the mud, gravel, waste, and other material from the wheels and undercarriages of trucks and other vehicles leaving the site.

Unanimously passed by the Senate on April 12, Senate Bill 3566 now heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Legislation Advances to Create New State Symbol

Thanks to the civic engagement of Mrs. Hemmer’s fifth-grade class at the Prairie School of DuPage, the giant puffball mushroom is on its way to becoming Illinois’s newest state symbol. 

Passed by the Senate on April 10, Senate Bill 3514 designates the Calvatia gigantea, more commonly known as the giant puffball, as the official state mushroom.

The original idea for a mushroom as a state symbol came from a class discussion on the different state symbols in Illinois. Students worked with Senator Lewis to introduce the legislation and traveled to Springfield to testify on the bill’s behalf when it came before the Senate State Government Committee earlier this year. 

Senate Bill 3514 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Dave Syverson

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