Here’s where 5 bills stand as the Illinois General Assembly wraps up its spring session – NBC Chicago

As the Illinois General Assembly wrapped up its spring session after Friday, several pieces of legislation have moved closer to becoming law in recent days as lawmakers make final pushes before the session ends.

From a potential south suburban airport to free meals for Illinois college students, here’s the latest state preview of several bills as lawmakers prepare to leave Springfield.

Creation of a southern suburban airport in Peotone

In what has been one of the most contentious topics in Illinois politics over the past 40 years, the Illinois General Assembly has shown strong support for a third airport in the Chicago area that will would serve both commercial and cargo aircraft.

The new legislation, sponsored by State Sens. Napoleon Harris III, Michael E. Hastings and Patrick Joyce in the Senate, passed by a vote of 33 to 20 on Wednesday after being passed by the House of Representatives in late March.

The wording of the bill requires the Department of Transportation to enter into public-private agreements and establish a prequalification process for suppliers to participate in the development, financing, construction, management and operation of the new airport.

This process must be offered within the next six months, according to the bill.

“The South Suburban Airport will promote development and investment in the State of Illinois and serve as an essential transportation hub in the region,” according to the wording of the bill.

The proposed airport site is just north of Peotone and would be centered around Bult Field, a private airport that IDOT purchased in 2014. Other land has also been purchased around the airport in the idea of further development.

Airport critics have argued that other airports in Rockford and Gary already handle enough cargo to make it unnecessary.

Other environmental groups also argue that the airport could have a devastating impact on the Midewin National Tallgras Prairie, with a wide variety of native prairie grasses home to its 20,000 acres. The site is also home to a herd of reintroduced bison.

“Despite widespread resistance, the idea doesn’t seem to be dying,” the Environmental Law and Policy Center said of the airport. “Politicians assumed that O’Hare and Midway couldn’t expand, so they proposed spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build a third airport in eastern Will County, just north of the small town of Peotone, on land largely given over to agriculture.”

Other critics cited the potential for negative impacts on agriculture and traffic congestion in the area, with millions of dollars needed to connect the airport to Interstate 57, the nearest major thoroughfare.

Yet other political leaders argue that the airport would create jobs in disadvantaged communities and help alleviate congestion problems at Chicago airports.

As the bill now heads to Governor JB Pritzker’s desk, there is no guarantee that the legislation will be signed into law.

According to WTTW’s Amanda Vinicky, Pritzker has previously expressed hesitation about the project, saying he would wait for cargo companies to indicate they would use the airport before seeking funding to complete the project.

“What you don’t want is if you build it, they’ll come,” he said. “You just build the thing and hope people show up to basically pay to build the airport.”

Enable businesses to create multi-occupancy bathrooms for all genders

An amendment to an existing bill would allow businesses to create multi-occupancy bathrooms for all genders, one of several Democrat-led measures that have faced stiff opposition from the Republican minority from the room.

According to a Daily Herald report, House Bill 1286 would change current state law, which states that while single-occupancy bathrooms are automatically designated for all genders, multiple-occupancy bathrooms must be designated as male or female.

HB1286 would change that and allow companies to create multi-occupant bathrooms open to all genders. While the measure had already passed the Illinois House earlier this year, state senators debated Thursday whether to add an amendment, which would, among other things, require such bathrooms to have cubicles “of the floor to ceiling” with working locks and toilets instead of urinals.

The amended version of the bill was finally approved by the Senate Thursday 35 to 20. It now returns to the Illinois House.

Free school meals for all Illinois students

Legislation that would make school lunches free for all Illinois students passed both the House and the Senate, paving the way for the bill’s likely passage.

The “Healthy School Meals For All” legislation would provide state funding to Illinois schools to improve their healthy meal offerings, while maximizing use of an existing federal program.

Supporters say expanding free meals for all students combats hunger and helps reduce the stigma often faced by students when they qualify for free or reduced meal programs.

Minnesota, Colorado, Maine, New Mexico and California have all passed similar legislation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to guarantee free school meals for all students.

Lawmakers say the bill is expected to cost $115 million in the first year, with estimated annual costs of $194 million in future years, depending on the number of opt-in schools.

The bill is now heading to Governor JB Pritzker’s office.

Legislation to facilitate new Bears stadium in Arlington Heights

While several bills made their way through the Illinois General Assembly before the conclusion of the spring session, work to facilitate a new stadium for the Chicago Bears in Arlington Heights will remain on the sidelines.

Lawmakers say the proposals, which included a ticket surcharge and a freeze on property tax assessments at the stadium site, will continue to be negotiated and that they pledged to build consensus around the massive Arlington Heights project.

“That would give us time over the summer to build consensus with our members, the Chicago Bears, local officials and union leaders,” said State Rep. Martin Moylan, who was one of the sponsors of legislation. “We have to do it right.”

The team released a brief statement this week, saying it agreed with the decision and would continue to negotiate with state-level lawmakers.

House Bill 0610 would allow a $3 tax to be levied on each ticket sold for events at the new stadium.

Those funds would help repay bonds used to renovate Soldier Field in 2002, and a portion of the proceeds would also go to communities around the new stadium for infrastructure costs, officials said.

The House Executive Committee debated the bill on Wednesday, but there was no word on further debates in the coming weeks when the chamber reconvenes.

The subject of property taxes was controversial, as the team sought to reduce the assessed value of the site as they worked to begin demolition. Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s office valued the property at $197 million, just below the amount the bears paid for the site.

That valuation would equate to a $16.2 million-a-year tax bill on the property, with the Bears balking at the price. They are currently in negotiations with area school districts and the assessor’s office to get a lower tax bill.

The suburbs are also concerned that the proposed stadium will cause traffic problems and strains on existing infrastructure, and say the team has not fully fleshed out its plans to address those concerns.

The Bears’ lease with Soldier Field runs through 2033, although the lease can be terminated sooner as long as the team pays a penalty.

Gun industry could face more legal risks under Bill Pritzker signaled he would sign

The gun industry, including gun dealers, could be sued for alleged violations of Illinois law, including marketing to young people under legislation approved by senators on Thursday. the state of Illinois.

The House previously approved the bill and it is now up to Gov. JB Pritzker, also a Democrat, who has said he will sign it. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, a Democrat, led the proposal.

“Gun violence is a public health epidemic, and those who promote the illegal use of a firearm or target the sale of firearms to minors are worsening the scourge of gun violence in our communities,” said Pritzker said in a statement. gun industry stocks.

Republican lawmakers opposed the proposal in Thursday’s Senate vote, saying it was too broad and would lead to legal challenges.

The federal Protection of the Legal Arms Trade Act, approved in 2005, largely exempts gun manufacturers from prosecution for injuries caused by criminal use of their products. But it provides exceptions, including an allegation that the manufacturer or seller violated state or federal law on the sale or marketing of firearms.

Senate Speaker Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, said the proposal makes it clear the industry must comply with Illinois law, including a ban on marketing weapons to anyone from under 18 years old. Ahead of Thursday’s vote, Harmon referenced ad campaigns for a “JR-15.” who dubbed the weapon “smaller, safer and lighter”.

The bill’s eventual signing comes as legal challenges to the state’s assault weapons ban continue.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court said it would not block the law from taking effect as long as challenges to the legislation continue in court.

NBC Chicago

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