We are in what I like to consider the “home stretch” of the legislative session. We have until May 31st, when the legislature is scheduled to adjourn (assuming they don’t go into a lengthy summer session), to pass our bills out of both chambers and get them to the governor’s desk. This is the time of year when things start to look promising for the issues we care about, or it begins to dawn on us that this just might not be our year.

So with that in mind, we wanted to share with you two bills that have seen victories in the past week and are likely to see continued success in the next few weeks!

HB 5278 – Sex Trafficking Prosecution: This legislation passed the House and just last week passed out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee with a unanimous vote. We are hopeful that it will be passed quickly out of the Senate with bi-partisan support and sent to the Governor’s desk! The legislation amends Illinois’ Criminal Code to ensure that our anti-trafficking laws are applicable to the methods used by sex traffickers today, allowing for state’s attorneys to better prosecute offenders. The bill also clears up language that will allow for the collection of fees to cover the costs of services for victims of the sex trade. If passed, this law will allow Illinois to successfully prosecute those individuals who traffic innocent women and girls.

SB3280 – Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations: After months of negotiations, this legislation passed unanimously out of the Senate Environment Committee and passed the Senate with a vote of 54-0 last week. It creates specific regulation for the method of extracting natural gas from the ground, known as “fracking”. The passage of this bill is extremely important as land is being leased out throughout southern Illinois to start fracking as early as this summer. The legislation sets forth clear guidelines for well-casing standards, to prevent leaks into our ground water; waste-water disposal requirements to avoid contamination; and strong disclosure language to ensure that residents of Illinois know what chemicals are being used and, in case contamination does occur, can trace that back to a specific company. PCG worked closely with our ally, Faith in Place, as well as other environmental groups and industry representatives to come to this agreement. The bill now moves to the House.

We are excited to share these victories with you, and given many of the deep concerns we have related to the Illinois’ budget, and cuts to human services and Meidcaid, it’s nice to have good news to celebrate from time to time. There are four scheduled weeks left in this legislative session and we are hopeful that we will have more good news to share.

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