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IL Chamber Report: What's Happening in Springfield

IL Chamber Report: What's Happening in Springfield

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March 22nd, 2024

This Week in Illinois

Spring Session Update

The House and Senate both returned to Springfield on Wednesday for three days of session following Tuesday's primary election.

Please see the committee section below for a recap of tracked legislation that moved out of committee over the past few days. In place of today's Rail Report, please see the 'today's action" section below.

The House and Senate will both take next week off. The House will return to Springfield on Tuesday, April 2nd while the Senate will return on April 9th. Our next GAP call will take place on April 1st.

The House committee deadline is April 5th while the Senate's third reading deadline is April 12th. Click to view the House and Senate calendars

Illinois Chamber Joins US Chamber, State and Local Chamber Letter on LNG Export Reviews

In a letter sent to the Department of Energy, nearly 150 state and local chambers from 36 states, including the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to call on the Biden Administration to reverse its recent decision to indefinitely ban new LNG export licenses. A portion of the letter is provided below.

As state and local chambers representing thousands of businesses of all sizes, we have significant concerns with the administration’s recent moratorium on liquefied natural gas (LNG) export license reviews. Simply stated, the administration’s action undermines economic growth and environmental progress while betraying America’s commitment to bolster the security of our allies during a period of rising global instability.

Thanks to our abundance of domestic energy resources, America has surpassed Russia and Qatar, respectively, as the world’s leading natural gas producer and exporter. This historic transformation is a clear win-win-win—lowering prices for U.S. consumers, reducing emissions here and abroad, and delivering energy security to our closest allies. 

In the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Biden rightly promised our allies that America would be a reliable energy partner in their effort to eliminate dependence on Russian imports of natural gas, emphasizing that the effort could be implemented without undermining shared climate goals. U.S. LNG exports came to Europe’s rescue, staving off a global energy crisis and helping the continent meet its energy needs. Unfortunately, the freeze on new export approvals has left European and Asian allies wondering if the United States can be trusted as a reliable, long-term partner to provide the energy supplies necessary to underpin their own economic and national security. 

At the same time, America’s plentiful natural gas reserves provide a clear economic advantage for American families and businesses. For example, International Energy Agency data shows that in 2022, natural gas prices for U.S. manufacturers were 70 percent lower than competitors in Germany, while households paid 58 percent less. Meanwhile, the trade value of U.S. LNG exports in the last three years alone has exceeded $100 billion, supporting thousands of jobs. 

Moreover, thanks to natural gas, America continues to lead the world in emissions reductions. With innovation and ambitious commitments from U.S. energy producers to reduce methane emissions throughout the value chain, the environmental footprint of natural gas is getting cleaner still. We should export this environmental success story around the world, not block it. 

Creating uncertainty for new LNG exports sends the wrong signals to energy markets and will have a chilling effect on the financing, investment and business environment for the broader natural gas industry. This permitting freeze jeopardizes global energy security, the economy, and global climate progress, all of which are vital to our nation and our partners abroad. It’s in the public interest to reverse course, lift the moratorium, and again enable free enterprise to deliver for our citizens and the world.

View the full text and entire list of signees here.

Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee Holds Subject Matter Hearing on Low Carbon Fuel Standard

This morning, the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee held a subject matter hearing on SB 1556, legislation establishing a clean transportation standard in Illinois. While negotiation and changes to the legislation are still very much ongoing, the bill would establish a credit marketplace monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency in order to reduce carbon intensity from the transportation sector.

Testimony in committee was heard from a variety of proponents, opponents, and those taking a neutral position on the legislation. Proponents that offered testimony included Marquis Energy and Rivian while opponents included the Illinois Trucking Association, Mid-West Truckers, and the Illinois Fuel & Retail Association. The Illinois Corn Growers and Illinois Environmental Council offered testimony from their neutral position.

Among other things, proponents spoke of the potential benefit for the state's ethanol market and the potential favorable conditions that would be created for the sale and deployment of EVs and EV chargers. Opponents largely spoke to the concerns for increased gas and diesel cost and the lack of guidance from the CEJA-enacted carbon pricing commission.

Committee members provided numerous questions and comments. Based on today’s hearing, this conversation will likely continue through a great portion of the Spring session.

Today's Action:

The House and Senate were in session for this week's third day of session. Time on the floor was brief in the House and Senate action consisted of appointments and the movement of bills to third reading. Below is relevant committee business.

A subject matter hearing was held on SB 1556, low carbon fuel standard in Senate Energy and Public Utilities (mentioned above).

House Revenue held a subject matter hearing on three notable bills, HB 4766-Support, HB 5461, and HB 5598-Support.

SB 3173, Broadband passed out of Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee 14-0-0. This bill provides that a county may lease, license, or otherwise grant access to and use of infrastructure, including fiber optic cables, that the county owns or controls to public or private entities to facilitate the delivery of broadband services on the condition that the lease, license, access, or use: (1) be granted on a nondiscriminatory, nonexclusive, and competitively neutral basis; and (2) comply with all other State and federal laws, rules, and regulations, including, but not limited to, all applicable safety codes and requirements. The sponsor negotiated the bill with industry and there was no opposition.

This Week's Committee Action of Note:

HB 1837 HFA 1, Tree Waste Burning was adopted in House Energy & Environment Committee. This bill, as amended, specifies that the burning of landscape waste by a person that is engaged in the business of tree removal shall be considered the burning of landscape waste for agricultural purposes under an exemption from the Act's prohibition on the open burning of waste. The sponsor stated that the bill is seeking to address a need to dispose of a mass amount of tree branches and waste following severe west central Illinois storms. The bill will return to the committee with an additional amendment.

HB 4196, Fleet Electrification Incentives passed out of House Energy & Environment 15-9-0. This bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a Fleet Electrification Incentive Program to provide fleet owners and operators in the State grants to promote the use of eligible electric vehicles. Provides that the Program shall offer qualifying purchasers a grant up to specified base amounts toward the purchase of eligible electric vehicles based on the Class of vehicle. Requires the Agency to award grants under the Program on a competitive basis according to the availability of funding. Provides that to be eligible to receive a grant under the Program a purchaser must satisfy all of the required criteria. Provides that the Agency shall give weight to an application based upon the potential impact of the geographic location and route of the purchaser's fleet on pollution affecting an equity investment eligible community. Requires the Agency to ensure that resale of a vehicle serving a public school or located within an equity investment eligible community shall result in the vehicle servicing a similarly situated community. Provides that grants under the Program may be combined with other public incentives but the total of governmental incentives shall not exceed a maximum of 80% of the purchase price of the vehicle. Requires the Agency to set aside 20% of the appropriated funds under the Program for grants to the purchaser of electric school buses.

HB 4562, Genetic Testing Coverage passed out of House Insurance Committee 9-4-0 on partisan roll call with a promise to held the bill on second reading and an agreed amendment is brought back. This bill provides that a group policy of accident and health insurance that provides coverage for hospital or medical treatment or services for illness on an expense-incurred basis and that is amended, delivered, issued, or renewed after January 1, 2025 shall provide coverage, without imposing any cost-sharing requirement, for clinical genetic testing for an inherited gene mutation for individuals with a personal or family history of cancer that is recommended by a health care professional; and evidence-based cancer imaging for individuals with an increased risk of cancer as recommended by National Comprehensive Cancer Network clinical practice guidelines.

HB 4566, Business Diversity passed out of House Economic Opportunity & Equity Committee 8-0-0. This bill creates the Diversity and Inclusion in Business Organization and Nonprofit Organization Leadership Task Force. Directs the task force to identify ways to increase diversity in business organization and nonprofit organization leadership.

HB 4715, Drone Regulation passed out of House Executive 10-0-0. This bill amends the Illinois Aeronautics Act. In provisions concerning the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems, provides that nothing in those provisions shall be construed to deny a unit of local government the right to adopt reasonable rules related to the use by a private party of airspace that is above ground level of public property owned or controlled by that unit of local government. Provides that the provisions apply to publicly owned or controlled property that is intended or permitted to be used for recreational or conservation purposes, including, but not limited to, parks, playgrounds, aquatic facilities, wildlife areas, or other recreational facilities. Provides that reasonable rules adopted pursuant to the provisions do not supersede any administrative rules adopted by the Department of Transportation or any federal laws, rules, or regulations.

HB 4768, Landlord Retaliation passed out of House Housing Committee 12-5-0. This bill creates the Landlord Retaliation Act. Declares that it is against the public policy of the State for a landlord to take retaliatory action against a tenant. Prohibits a landlord from knowingly terminating a tenancy, increasing rent, decreasing services, bringing or threatening to bring a lawsuit against a tenant for possessing or refusing to renew a lease or tenancy because the tenant has in good faith has taken certain actions, including but not limited to (i) complaining of code violations applicable to the premises to the relevant governmental agency responsible for enforcement of a building, housing, health, or similar code; (ii) complaining of a building, housing, health, or similar code violation, or an illegal landlord practice to a community organization or the news media; or (iii) complaining or requesting the landlord to make repairs to the premises as required by a building code, health ordinance, other regulation, or the residential rental agreement. Creates remedies for violation by a landlord including damages, punitive damages, or recovering possession of the premises.

HB 4959, Creative Economy Taskforce passed out of Economic Opportunity & Equity Committee. This bill creates the Creative Economy Task Force within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to create a strategic plan to improve the creative economy in the State. Provides that, within 2 years after the effective date of the amendatory Act, the task force shall collect and analyze data on the current state of the creative economy in the State and develop a strategic plan to improve the State's creative economy that can be rolled out in incremental phases to reach identified economic, social justice, and business development goals.

HB 5322, Algorithmic Impact Assessment passed out of House Executive Committee 11-0-0. This bill requires that by January 1, 2026 and annually thereafter, a deployer of an automated decision tool must complete and document an assessment that summarizes the nature and extent of that tool, how it is used, and assessment of its risks among other things. Requires on or after January 1, 2026 and annually thereafter, developers of an automated decision tool must complete and document a similar assessment. Provides that upon the request of the Attorney General, a developer or deployer must provide that Office any impact assessment performed that is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Requires that a developer must provide a deployer with a statement regarding the intended uses of the automated decision tool and documentation regarding all of the following: (i) the known limitations of the automated decision tool, including any reasonably foreseeable risks of algorithmic discrimination arising from its intended use; (ii) a description of the types of data used to program or train the automated decision tool; and (iii) a description of how the automated decision tool was evaluated for validity and the ability to be explained before sale or licensing. Exempts a deployer with fewer than 50 employees unless, as of the end of the prior calendar year, the deployer deployed an automated decision tool that affected more than 999 people per year.

HB 5395, Network Adequacy Standards passed out of House Human Services Committee 6-3-0. This bill provides that the amendatory Act may be referred to as the Health Care Consumer Access and Protection Act. Provides that, unless prohibited under federal law, for plan year 2026 and thereafter, for each insurer proposing to offer a qualified health plan issued in the individual market through the Illinois Health Benefits Exchange, the insurer's rate filing must apply a cost-sharing reduction defunding adjustment factor within a range that is uniform across all insurers; is consistent with the total adjustment expected to be needed to cover actual cost-sharing reduction costs across all silver plans on the Illinois Health Benefits Exchange statewide; and makes certain assumptions. Provides that the rate filing must apply an induced demand factor based on a specified formula. Provides that certain provisions concerning filing of premium rates for group accident and health insurance for approval by the Department of Insurance do not apply to group policies issued to large employers. Provides that for large employer group policies issued, delivered, amended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2026, the premium rates and risk classifications must be filed with the Department annually for approval. Provides that no company shall issue, deliver, amend, or renew short-term, limited-duration insurance. Provides that the Department may adopt rules as deemed necessary that prescribe specific standards for or restrictions on policy provisions, benefit design, disclosures, and sales and marketing practices for excepted benefits. Repeals the Short-Term, Limited-Duration Health Insurance Coverage Act. Provides that no later than July 1, 2025, insurance companies that use a drug formulary shall post the formulary on their websites. Makes changes concerning utilization reviews and step therapy requirements. Provides that beginning January 1, 2026, coverage for inpatient mental health treatment at participating hospitals or other licensed facilities shall comply with specified requirements concerning prior authorization, coverage, and concurrent review. Makes other changes. Further amends the Managed Care Reform and Patient Rights Act. Provides that only a clinical peer may make an adverse determination. Sets forth certain requirements for utilization review programs. Provides that no utilization review program or any policy, contract, certificate, evidence of coverage, or formulary shall impose step therapy requirements for any health care service, including prescription drugs. Requires a health insurance issuer to publish on its public website a list of services for which prior authorization is required. Effective January 1, 2025. This bill received heavy debate but stakeholders are looking to continue to make the bill more agreeable before it moves to the Senate.

HB 5572, 'Employee Freedom of Speech'-Opposed passed out of House Labor 18-6-0. This bill provides that an employer or the employer's agent, representative, or designee may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize, threaten to discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize, or take any adverse employment action against an employee: (1) because the employee declines to attend or participate in an employer-sponsored meeting or declines to receive or listen to communications from the employer or the agent, representative, or designee of the employer if the meeting or communication is to communicate the opinion of the employer about religious or political matters; (2) as a means of inducing an employee to attend or participate in meetings or receive or listen to communications; or (3) because the employee, or a person acting on behalf of the employee, makes a good faith report, orally or in writing, of a violation or a suspected violation of the Act. Provides for a private right of action to enforce the provisions of the Act.

HB 5293, Battery Storage Sites passed out of House Energy & Environment Committee 20-1-0. This bill provides that battery storage sites at which 5,000 kilograms or more of used batteries are stored must register with the Environmental Protection Agency prior to February 2026 or prior to commencing operation if not in operation in February 2026 and maintain records related to the weight or volume of batteries stored.

HB 5348, Battery Stewardship passed out of House Energy & Environment 20-2-0. This bill creates the Portable and Medium-Format Battery Stewardship Act. Requires those who sell, offer for sale, or distribute covered batteries or battery-containing products containing one or more covered batteries in or into the State to implement and participate in a battery stewardship plan. Makes changes to provisions regarding timelines for covered batteries, as well as timelines for battery stewardship organizations to submit plans to the Agency for approval. Provides that the Illinois Pollution Control Board may adopt rules regarding certain labeling requirements.

HB 5643, Pregnancy Test Coverage passed out of House Insurance 13-0-0 with a floor amendment forthcoming. This bill provides that a group or individual policy of accident and health insurance or a managed care plan that is amended, delivered, issued, or renewed on or after the effective date of the amendatory Act shall provide coverage for at-home, urine-based pregnancy tests that are prescribed to the covered person, regardless of whether the tests are otherwise available over-the-counter.

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