ICYMI: CHAMBER INITIATIVES RELEASED
To view the Chamber's 2018 legislative initiatives for our policy councils, please click
THIS WEEK'S LEGISLATIVE SESSION RECAP
The House and Senate returned to town this week for legislative action both on the floor and in committees. The week's headlines were dominated by various proposals to curtail the use and access of firearms.
However, it was still a rather busy week with several issues of importance to the Illinois Chamber membership. For more, see below.
SB 3005 WOULD LITIGATE STATE TO HALT
A proposal that would would significantly hamper the existing Administrative Review Law proceedings at state agencies passed out of committee this week.
would allow any "persons" to appeal or intervene in lawsuits challenging decisions of state agencies. This means that any person, Illinois resident or not, can be listed as an interested party in a proceeding, a power currently afforded to the agencies and plaintiff party requesting the proceeding. The legislation currently has been refined to apply only to permitting decisions by the Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Transportation, Public Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
This would open the floodgates for interest groups to interject in administrative decisions before the State of Illinois, causing severe logjams, excessive litigation and further undermine the ability of businesses in Illinois to obtain the necessary approvals to operate in the state. Proponents of the legislation have stated in committee hearings they are seeking opportunities for more lawsuits to challenge state decisions. This not only impacts the activities of state government, but also the health and safety of the public, and the operation of our whole economy.
The permitting process for state agencies differs vastly. The central theme, however, is that there are opportunities for the public and third parties to engage in the process and the State is responsible for eliciting those comments and concerns and considering them when determining whether to grant a permit. This bill upends decades of carefully balanced negotiation designed to put the best interest of Illinois' citizens first. The existing permitting process engages public opinion and threads the desires of the public with the health, safety, security, and economic opportunity the State is obligated to provide its citizens.
This legislation has been amended twice and began much more broadly than it is now. The drafters included all state agencies in the underlying legislation, either not appreciating its impact or not caring. No matter how this legislation changes, or what industries or agencies may later be carved out, we oppose the concept and the precedent it sets. Efforts to layer on burdensome requirements to increase lawsuits in the state and bog economic activity down for our businesses, farmers, and citizens is just bad policy. Particularly when public protections are already in place. We encourage members to reach out to your elected officials in the Senate to voice your opposition to this bill.
CALL CENTER BILL PASSES COMMITTEE
This week, HB 4081 (Halpin) passed the House Economic Opportunity Committee 8-5-0. This bill would
as a destination for call centers. This bill would require businesses to notify the state Treasurer of their intention to move a call center or substantial operations out of the state. If you fail to notice, businesses would be subjected to a $10,000 per day for being in violation of the Act. It would also cost taxpayers millions of dollars by restricting state agencies' ability to strategically locate call centers throughout the country.
For obvious reasons, the Chamber opposes this bill as it would severely restrict Illinois' ability to attract and recruit corporate relocation efforts. The definition of "call center" is too broadly defined to potentially include customer service, technical troubleshooting, help desk, building maintenance, dispatch, order processing, hotlines, and sales.
THIS WEEK: OTHER LEGISLATION TO NOTE
A few other bills to mention that either passed out of committee or on the House and Senate floor include:
CHAMBER SUPPORTS IEPA'S VW SETTLEMENT PLAN
This week the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency released its Beneficiary Mitigation Plan on the Volkswagen settlement to the public. The Illinois EPA has been designated as the lead agency to administer funds allocated to Illinois from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. Illinois' initial allocation of funds is $108 million to be used to fund mobile source projects. The funds are to be used for projects that reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides in Illinois.
Beneficiaries may not request payout of more than one third of their allocation in the first year and no more than two thirds of their allocation within the first two years; eighty percent of the funds must be obligated within ten years. Illinois EPA anticipates a minimum of three application funding periods. The Settlement allows funds to be used for projects that repower or replace eligible engines or vehicles that fall into ten different categories, listed in the plan
Illinois headquarters many of our nation's top manufacturers that create vast amounts of jobs across the state. The Illinois Chamber supports the Illinois EPA's commitment to ensuring sufficient money in the plan goes to clean vehicles and clean locomotives while offering employers of all kinds the ability to access the plan. Investing in Illinois' heavy industry, infrastructure and business community is a chance to maximize our state's economic growth. Our state faces many economic and environmental challenges, but we support the balanced approach of policy that encourages business growth with smart environmental investment.
The current phase is allowing public comment for review and input. The first round application will being in May.