This Week in Springfield:
This week, the Illinois House met Tuesday through Friday in Springfield for a full week of committees and votes. Many of the bills that previously passed committee required amendments, so we were busy in committee hearings to consider small amendments and changes.
The Adoption & Child Welfare Committee met this week to consider amendments to bills and will resume our subject matter hearings next week. We did advance some legislation to the Senate that will help with our child welfare system. A bill that I’ve co-sponsored passed out of the house (House Bill 439) requiring DCFS to develop a comprehensive plan to improve timely access to quality in-state residential treatment and specialized foster care for youth in care of DCFS who have significant emotional, behavioral, and medical needs.
As we continue voting on bills on the House floor please let me know if there are bills that concern you or proposals that you would like for me to support as a co-sponsor.
You can find a list of the current bills I have introduced here.
Hot Topic of the Week:
JCAR Win for Local Small Business Owners
One committee in Illinois Government that often receives little attention, but has a big impact on policy is the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules. This committee, otherwise known as JCAR, of which I am a member, is a bipartisan commission of lawmakers from the Illinois House and Senate that is tasked with overseeing rules and regulations implemented by state agencies. You may recall hearing of JCAR during the Governor’s pandemic response. From masking rules, to other state mandates, JCAR was the only commission of state government able to bring any kind of accountability or checks and balances to the process.
This week, we considered a rulemaking by the Office of the State Fire Marshal that would require all gas stations in Illinois to install double-walled pipes running from the underground tank to the pump within the next 15 years. This proposal would have been an unsustainable burden on many small business owners throughout the state. Casey’s, which owns a number of stores throughout the state, testified that complying with this new mandate would cost the industry anywhere from $300-$400 million over the next 15 years. The burden of this cost would fall disproportionately hard on small franchises who are often the only retail establishments in downstate communities.
Ultimately, we know that these costs would be passed along to consumers who are already suffering from inflation and the cost of living in Illinois.
We on JCAR were able to get the Fire Marshal to drop the 15-year time period and to agree to work with the General Assembly to craft legislation to resolve the issue and find a way to defray the cost with existing state funds. We all want better safety standards, but this issue should be addressed through legislation and the cost of a government-imposed mandate should not be borne by small business owners and consumers.
The Week Ahead:
Next week, the Illinois House is scheduled for legislative session Tuesday, March 28th through Thursday, March 30th.
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