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Springfield Highlights

Springfield Highlights – Nov. 29, 2018

Fall Veto Session Concludes; Lawmakers Return in January

After six days of session spread over two weeks, Illinois lawmakers concluded the Fall Veto Session with plans to return to Springfield in early January before the new legislature is inaugurated.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed more than six hundreds bills, the vast majority of which were signed into law.  However, eighty-three bills were vetoed in whole or part by Governor Rauner leaving lawmakers with the decision to try and override his action during the Veto Session that requires a supermajority vote in each chamber.  With Governor Rauner’s influence waning on his way out of office, the General Assembly easily overrode his vetoes on nearly three dozen measures that will now become law.

Before adjourning, the Speaker and Senate President announced that legislators will return to the Capitol for two additional days on January 7-8 prior to the inauguration of the 101st General Assembly.

 

2019 Legislative Schedule Released

The House and Senate released their respective calendars for the 2019 Spring Legislative Session this week and it is similar to previous years.  Some key dates to keep in mind include:

January 9 – General Assembly Inauguration

January 14 – Executive Branch Inauguration

February 20 – Governor’s Budget Address

February 26 – Consolidated Primary Election

April 2 – Consolidated Election

April 15 – 27 – Spring Recess

May 31 – Scheduled Adjournment

The IMA’s Business Day at the Capitol is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, May 1 so please mark your calendars and plan to attend.

 

Governor-Elect JB Pritzker Transition Committees Announced

Democrat Governor-elect JB Pritzker continued announcing his transition committees dealing with key issues such as education and energy.  He previously announced a five-member transition team led by Lt. Governor-elect Juliana Stratton that also includes former Governor Jim Edgar and AFL-CIO president Mike Carrigan.

The thirty-member “Powering Illinois’ Future” Committee was the sixth working group announced and is co-chaired by Exelon Utilities CEO Anne Pramaggiore along with representatives from the IBEW labor union and the Illinois environmental council.  While the committee includes representatives from utilities, labor unions, government agencies, and environmental organizations, it fails to include any representatives of large industrial energy users. During the campaign, Pritzker ran on a platform of moving toward 100 percent clean and renewable energy, expanding energy efficiency, and joining the U.S. Climate Alliance.

The seventh transition committee is deemed the “Educational Success Committee.” The thirty-five person committee is led by Senator Andy Manar and Rep. Chris Welch along with representatives of the Illinois Education Association and Chicago Public Schools.  The IMA is pleased that Dr. Ken Ender, president of Harper College and an IMA Board member, will be serving on the transition committee.  Education and workforce development will continue to be a critical issue for manufacturers who struggle to find qualified workers.

Pritzker previously announced the “Growing Our Agricultural Economy Committee” chaired by former Senator John Sullivan and USDA Rural Development director Colleen Callahan.  The committee will “focus on policies that help our agriculture and rural communities thrive.”  Two IMA members, Archer Daniels Midland and the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur & Macon County, are represented on the committee.

Additional transition committees will be named in coming days along with other members of the incoming Administration.

 

USEPA Study Flawed, Plan to Regulate Ethylene Oxide Stalls

In a bombshell announcement released late on the afternoon before Thanksgiving, the United States Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged that their emission testing of ethylene oxide (EtO) was fundamentally flawed. Despite trying to bury this startling revelation on a holiday, the USEPA’s notice validated the testimony of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and Chemical Industry Council of Illinois that these assessments were scientifically flawed.

According to the USEPA’s release, they recently discovered an issue with the way they measured ethylene oxide and that “as a result of the issue, monitors may have reported higher ambient levels of ethylene oxide than actually exist.”  Additionally, their testing incorrectly tested another chemical, Trans-2-butene, and identified it as ethylene oxide.

As a result of this flawed testing and a previous assessment, the USEPA set a nonsensical “safe” limit for EtO at one part per ten trillion and then used that standard to model supposed cancer clusters creating a scare in Willowbrook near a medical sterilization facility.  By comparison, the human body emits the same chemical at a rate of 1.8 parts per billion, in excess of the USEPA standard.  Emissions from cars, cooking oil, and plant decay all emit levels of EtO far in excess of the new USEPA standard.

The USEPA’s egregious study caused members of the Willowbrook community and lawmakers to seek a total ban or strict regulation of EtO.  Lawmakers held a number of hearings over the last four weeks seeking input from various stakeholders with the IMA and CICI trying to focus on the science and prevent a knee-jerk reaction that would lead to plant shutdowns and potentially jeopardize the ability to sterilize and supply medical instruments.  It would also impact industrial uses of the chemical.

House Environment Committee Chairwoman Carol Sente made several attempts to pass legislation aimed at putting new restrictions on the use of ethylene oxide.  She introduced a slew of amendments to SB 3101 that did everything from calling for an outright ban of the use of EO, to putting new emission restrictions on companies that use EO as a sterilizer.  However, as the week came to a close, the Representative acknowledged that she did not have enough support to move legislation at this time and that the issue would likely be addressed by the new 101st General Assembly next year.

 

Attempt to Raise Tobacco Age Fails

During the first week of the veto session, the Senate overrode Governor Rauner’s veto of SB 2332, which sought to raise the age for the legal purchase of tobacco products from 18 to 21.  It passed with no votes to spare before moving to the House of Representatives.

This week, the House took up the legislation in an effort to override the Governor’s veto despite the fact that it originally passed with only 61 votes, well short of the supermajority 71 vote total that is needed to override a veto.  Despite this challenge, Representative Camille Lilly called for a vote to override the Governor’s veto and it failed after receiving only 62 votes. Many opponents noted in debate that while the bill raises the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, it also decriminalizes the possession of tobacco for teenagers and young adults.  Therefore it would be illegal for persons between the ages of 18-21 to buy tobacco but there would be no penalties for possessing or using it.

Senate President John Cullerton and proponents have pledged to bring similar legislation back in the new General Assembly.

 

Bill Passes to Allow Support and Upgrades to Aging Water Utility Systems

Several months ago, the General Assembly approved legislation on a bipartisan vote that allows municipalities to receive fair market value when selling their water or wastewater assets.  Signed into law as Public Act 100-751, the new law simply extended a successful Act that has been on the books for years.

When the new law went into effect, it was discovered that there was a technical flaw and that a trailer bill was necessary to correct an implementation date because the old law expired before the new law was signed to extend it.  With this fix, communities that cannot afford important upgrades to maintain the water systems can now sell their assets to support the upgrades.

SB 3051 passed the House on a vote of 60-45-2 followed by Senate approval of 40-5-1 and now heads to the Governor’s Desk where he is expected to sign it.

 

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