Update from Senator Bennett: April 12

Opposition Voiced Against Wetland Overregulation

Ignoring concerns from Illinois’ agriculture community, environmental activists are pushing legislation that would grant the state sweeping authority over private land.

The bill was proposed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Sackett v. EPA decision, which rolled back the scope of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and curtailed overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). WOTUS, a part of the Federal Clean Water Act, has been heavily criticized by farmers, homeowners, and landowners because of the broad authority it gave the government over private land.

Senate Bill 771 would give many of the powers the Sackett v. EPA decision took away from the EPA to the state. The legislation goes even further, creating a new regulatory system at the state level that puts the burden on landowners to hire costly specialists to identify wetlands. It also mandates permits for projects, even on private property, without specifying a timeline – allowing the state to effectively kill projects by not acting on a permit request. Additionally, it allows the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to issue hefty civil penalties of $10,000 per day for violations. 

The legislation has been met with opposition from a broad range of interests, including farmers, business groups, home builders, and energy producers. If passed, it could mean the end of numerous energy projects, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development.  Senator Bennett, who strongly opposes the legislation, contends that it infringes on property rights and would create yet another burdensome and costly regulatory process for citizens that could potentially harm Illinois’ agriculture, construction, and energy sectors in the long term.

Bennett Passes Legislation Benefiting the Sons of the American Legion

Last week Senator Bennett passed Senate Bill 2959 that creates a unique license plate logo to provide recognition for members in Sons of the American Legion.

The Sons of the American Legion was created in 1932 and is made up of boys and men of all ages who parents or grandparents served in the United States Military.

Displaying a distinct logo on license plates will increase awareness of Sons of the American Legion and their important role in the community. It gives members the opportunity to display their pride in their organization and its mission. In addition, SB 2959 supports the Sons of the American Legion and Veterans by raising funds through the sale of the plate. “By having their own logo on a license plate, Sons of the American Legion can further preserve the legacy of their parent organization and the sacrifices made by Veterans,” said Senator Bennett.

Bennett Hosts Youth Advisory Council in Springfield

Earlier last week, Senator Bennett welcomed high school students from the 53rd Senate District to the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield to learn more about the state’s legislative process as part of his Youth Advisory Council (YAC) program.

Sen. Bennett’s YAC program allows local high school students to learn more about government through two meetings held each school year. During the fall meeting, students heard from local leaders and had the opportunity to discuss issues important to them.

Last week, students got an up-close experience of the legislative process. Students were able to visit the Senate and House floor and meet with state leaders, hear from guest speakers, and hold a mock committee hearing on the bill they worked on during the fall meeting.

“I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to spark inspiration and offer guidance to the next generation!” said Sen. Bennett. The students also had the opportunity to view the solar eclipse outside the Capitol.

How much do we owe? As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,003,776,965.93 to  state vendors, including 29,627 pending vouchers. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $139 billion. At the same time last year, the state’s accounts payable stood at a little less than $2 billion.

Did You Know?

Thanks to the civic engagement of Mrs. Hemmer’s fifth-grade class at the Prairie School of DuPage, the giant puffball mushroom is on its way to becoming Illinois’s newest state symbol. 

Senate Bill 3514, filed by Senator Seth Lewis, designates the Calvatia gigantea, more commonly known as the giant puffball, as the official state mushroom.

The original idea for a mushroom as a state symbol came from a class discussion on the different state symbols in Illinois. Students worked with Senator Lewis to introduce the legislation and traveled to Springfield to testify on the bill’s behalf when it came before the Senate State Government Committee earlier this year.  Senate Bill 3514 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

2024 Solar Eclipse

Photo taken by Chris Young with Illinois Department of Natural Resources

This Week in the 53rd District

State Senator Tom Bennett – Working full-time to represent you

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