Illinois’ new Governor outlined his spending plan for the coming year, and a controversial minimum-wage measure has been signed into law.
Also in recent days, two environmentally-minded legislative packages, which have gained bipartisan support, would offer communities greater protections from ethylene oxide, and help protect the primary water source for Central Illinois.
Curran & Bush unveil legislative package offering greater protections from Ethylene Oxide
State Senators John Curran and Melinda Bush, joined by Willowbrook residents, unveiled a package of legislation on Tuesday that seeks to address the public health crisis caused by Sterigenics and their release of ethylene oxide into surrounding communities. Curran’s announcement comes after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (ILEPA) issued a seal order against Sterigenics last week, which forced them to cease operations.
While praising the ILEPA’s decision as an important first step, Curran reiterated that lawmakers now need to ensure the proper policies and protections are in place to safeguard Willowbrook and all Illinois communities from the impact of this public health hazard.
“The legislation I’m filing in the Illinois Senate is an important step in providing greater safeguards to protect residents from the dangers of ethylene oxide, while at the same time giving residents a greater voice regarding the public health in their communities,” said Curran. “I want to thank the residents of Willowbrook who have helped lead this charge, and I look forward to working with them in advancing these measures in the state legislature.”
“We deserve to know if the air we breathe is safe. This legislation will not only protect the Willowbrook community, it will help protect residents who live near the two facilities in Lake County that are emitting ethylene oxide,” said Senator Melinda Bush. “I’ve called on the US EPA to take action and test emission levels in Lake County, and it’s well past time for them to do so.”
As introduced, Curran’s legislation would:
Senate Bill 1852 requires:
A facility to notify all affected property owners and local governments within 2,500 feet when an ethylene oxide leak has occurred.
Senate Bill 1853 provides that:
The EPA shall reevaluate the current CAAPP (Clean Air Act Permit Program) permit of any facility emitting ethylene oxide, and conduct a 90-day public hearing process on such permits.
No permit shall be renewed if the facility is in violation of any federal or state standards or current studies pertaining to ethylene oxide.
A facility emitting ethylene oxide at levels higher than federal or state standards must cease operations until the level of emissions are reduced below the federal and state standards.
Senate Bill 1854 provides that:
No facility shall have fugitive emissions of ethylene oxide above zero.
Each facility is subject to regular and frequent inspections and testing to ensure that no fugitive emissions of ethylene oxide exist. Inspections shall be unannounced and conducted by a third party chosen by the municipality in which the facility operates.
Each facility is subject to fence line ambient air testing, at random, once within every 90-120 days for a duration of 24-hr samples of no less than six consecutive days. Testing is done by a third party chosen by the municipality.
“Ensuring our residents have safe communities is my top priority and I will continue to stand up on their behalf in the Illinois Senate,” said Curran.
On Friday, Senator Curran attended an E-Notary Task Forces meeting for a presentation from U.S. H.U.D. Office of the Inspector General regarding the growing epidemic of Mortgage Fraud.
Senator Curran joined with Senator Glowiak to present a proclamation of recognition to Jeff Pohl, a Western Springs resident who saved two high school girls from an oncoming train.
Senator Curran recently took part in DuPage County State's Attorney Bob Berlin's forum, "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids". A discussion with area stakeholders on the importance of early education and the challenges of funding the needs in this area.
Gov. J. B. Pritzker delivered his first Budget Address Feb. 20 to a joint session of legislators in the House of Representatives Chamber.
The Governor’s proposed budget represents a starting point for further negotiations; however, there are concerns about references to more spending, more tax increases and budgeting gimmicks that tried and failed in the past. Although lawmakers will have time to analyze the fiscal details, many have already expressed their concerns about proposals to address the pension system, the Governor’s calls for a graduated income tax and other revenues from such actions as legalizing medical marijuana and sports gambling.
“While appreciate the Governor’s stated commitment to provide funding for schools, universities, and infrastructure projects, much of his plan seems to rely on many of the same budgetary gimmicks that got us into the dire financial circumstances that we are in today. I believe Illinois needs to live within its means, and practice responsible budgeting. We should be looking to trim expenses to match revenue instead of missing pension payments and raising taxes," said Senator Schimpf. "The budget address is, however, the first major step in the budget making process, and nothing is set in stone yet. I am hopeful that negotiations can lead us to a responsible, fair, balanced budget, if all sides are at the table.”
Fiscal Year 2020 runs from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.
Governor signs controversial minimum wage hike
Less than a week after Democrat legislative leaders forced through a minimum wage hike, Gov. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1 into law on Feb. 19. The controversial legislation was advanced by the Senate and House on party-line votes, despite economic concerns from employers and public groups.
The plan would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour over six years, and to $13 per hour during the same period for those employees younger than 18.
Opponents of the plan noted the vast differences in the cost of living across Illinois. They also raised concerns that the incremental increase could have far-reaching implications for employers across the board, including an increase in annual costs for state agencies, local school districts, human service providers and hospitals.