Friday, April 15, 2005

Illinois Lawmaker Update from Illinois Environmental Council

I received this update of the activity in the Illinois capitol regarding environmental issues from the Illinois Environmental Council today. As a true outsider to Illinois political machinations, I'm glad to have this lay of the environmental land.

3rd Reading Deadlines Today

Today is the deadline for bills to pass out of their original chamber.
Both the House and Senate have taken votes on several bills this week to try to beat the deadline- and are still meeting as this update is being written.

So far this week there has been action on several key Illinois Environmental Council issues. As we reported last week, House Bill 2347, a bill to limit idling time of diesel vehicles, was called for a vote but then postponed when there were not enough votes in favor to pass the bill. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nekritz, was called again for a vote on Tuesday and passed the House 65-50-1. The bill will move to the Senate with Sen. Schoenberg as the chief sponsor. A similar bill, HB 3685 sponsored by Rep. Winters, would require school districts to adopt a policy concerning school bus idling but did not receive enough votes to pass (56-60).
Yesterday the House Environmental Health Committee met and approved an amendment to HB 2572, legislation that would ban the use of toxic chemicals used for flame retardants (commonly known as PBDE’s). Today that bill passed the House 106-0-1. The Mercury Free Vehicles Act (HB 1628) was also assigned to the Environmental Health Committee but was held in that committee yesterday.

Another piece of legislation sponsored by Rep. Nekritz passed the House today. HB 2390 would address the Illinois Supreme Court “Boub” decision by restoring some liability protection for bicyclists riding on roads.

The protection of isolated wetlands has been a long standing issue for the IEC. Two Senate bills to address the issue were introduced this year. SB 761 (Sen. Clayborne) is an industry friendly bill that would weaken existing county wetlands programs in northeastern Illinois. This legislation passed the Senate late last night 34-17. Sen. Link also introduced SB 1695 which is the Wetlands Protection Act supported by the IEC and other environmental groups- however, the Senate failed to act on this legislation. Watch the Illinois EnviroBulletin for ways you can help defeat SB 761 when it is considered by the House in the coming weeks.

In related news, an initiative to provide authority to counties wishing to develop their own stormwater management plan was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 41-8-1 (SB 1910). This bill moves on to the House where Rep. Holbrook will be the chief sponsor.

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