Legislative and Political Updates

By Kathryn Allen

In preparation for the next round of elections, the IL Sierra Club Political Committee is looking at voting records of incumbents, deliberating endorsements for candidates who are supportive of environmental legislation, and training volunteers on how to work most effectively on campaigns.

There are several bills before the House and Senate of the Illinois General Assembly that the IL Sierra Club Chapter is supporting, keeping a careful eye on, and urging IL Sierra Club members to contact their elected representatives. They are:

HB 4282: This bill restores funding for Illinois’ Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Illinois Department of Agriculture. While Illinois has some of the richest and most productive soil in the world, and abundant fresh water, the state is not investing adequately in this resource. Lack of funding means that many of Illinois’ will have to lay off staff and even close their doors. Funding has already been cut by 70% since 2002. Because of the budget impasse in the state, the ability to deliver critical natural resource conservation on private lands is threatened.

This bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Smiddy, please thank him; and please call or write Rep. Verschoore urging him to sign on.

HB 4282 has been referred to the Rules Committee.

HB 4104: Conservation Police: Provides that the Department of Natural Resources shall implement measures to ensure that the Office of Law Enforcement establishes and maintains a sworn police force of at least 175 personnel by July 1, 2020. Due to budget cutbacks IDNR (Illinois Department of Natural Resources) is unable to maintain an adequate number of Conservation Police Officers. There are currently fewer than one of these officers per county. This means that there are few officers to respond in cases of wildlife emergencies, and to help rescuing people from floods and other natural disasters.

Both Representatives Verschoore and Smiddy have signed on as co-sponsors. Please call or write to thank them.

HB 4104 is on its 3rd reading.

HB 2607/SB 1485: The Clean Jobs Bill is an important and ground-breaking proposal that would:

  1. Ramp up the state’s wind and solar industry by increasing the Illinois Renewable Energy Standard to 35% by 2030;
  2. Prioritize energy efficiency by increasing the Illinois Energy Efficiency Standard to 20% by 2025, and
  3. Establish limits on carbon emissions from coal fired power plants in the state.

Neither Representative Verschoore or Smiddy have signed on to this bill, nor has Senator Anderson. Please write or call them to urge their support.

HB 2607 – has been referred to Rules Committee

SB 1485 – has been placed on 3rd reading since last Earth Day, April 22, 2015

Here is contact information for Representatives Verschoore and Smiddy and Senator Anderson:
Rep. Patrick Verschoore (D) 72nd District: pverschoore@qconline.com 309-558-3612
Rep. Mike Smiddy (D) 71st District: RepSmiddy@gmail.com 309-848-9098
Sen. Neil Anderson (R) 36th District: neil@electneil.com 309-736-7084


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