State bills and their possibilities


Yep, legislators are back at it in Springfield working on legislation that may or may not see the light of day. As usual they will be racing to get their bills filed by the filing deadline, then the speakers in both chambers will decide what does get assigned to committee, and what doesn’t (that’s known as killing the bill). Then chamber committees will hold hearings and meetings. And eventually those that pass muster will be brought to a vote in both chambers. After that the Governor either signs it or vetoes it, and if it is the latter an entire new process kicks in.

With an end of May adjournment deadline, and the State budget usually taking up the last week or so of discussions, there will be a flurry of bill activity over the next couple of months. Here’s a few I gleaned while nerding out and perusing the General Assembly website. Whether they pass or not, who knows!

HB 4708 Amends the Rivers, Lakes, and Streams Act. Provides that the public right to access and use navigable waters includes all rights recognized by state or federal law, including the rights set forth in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and the federal navigational servitude, and all rights arising under the public trust doctrine, which shall be understood and applied in a manner consistent with the spirit of the Act to maximize the full and free enjoyment of state waters by the public. Provides that any segment of a lake, river, or stream that is capable of supporting use by commercial or recreational watercraft for a substantial part of the year, or that is actually so used, shall be deemed navigable, and shall be open to public access and use, unless the contrary is proven in litigation by a preponderance of the evidence. Provides that public uses in such waters shall include boating, tubing, fishing, swimming, and wading. Requires the Department of Natural Resources to protect such public uses against interference or encroachment as provided in the Act. Provides that no action or inaction by the Department of Natural Resources shall create a presumption, in any civil or criminal litigation, against the navigability of any waterway segment. Provides that the public right to access and use navigable waters shall be subject to specified protections and limitations, a violation of which shall be punished as otherwise provided by law, and, if likely to continue, enjoined by a court of competent jurisdiction. Provides that nothing in the Act shall limit the right of any person to challenge the legality of alleged interference with the public right to access or use navigable waters in any appropriate civil or criminal litigation.

House Bill 4644, also known as the Illinois Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act, addresses emerging deepfake threats head on by requiring political messages to include clear disclosures of AI use. The legislation would bolster transparency regarding generative AI content in elections and bring an end to the current free-for-all on the use of deepfakes in the state.

HB 4627 amends the PFAS Reduction Act. Authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to participate in a safe chemical clearinghouse and to cooperate with the clearinghouse to take specified actions. Directs manufacturers of PFAS or products or product components containing intentionally-added PFAS to register the PFAS or the product or product component containing intentionally-added PFAS and to provide certain additional information through a data collection interface established cooperatively by the clearinghouse and the Agency. Establishes civil penalties for violations by manufacturers. It authorizes the agency to adopt rules and enter contracts to implement these provisions. Exempts certain products from these requirements.

HB 4600 & SB 2921 amend the Illinois Estate and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Act. Makes certain changes concerning estates that contain qualified farm property. Provides that, for the purposes of calculating the State Death Tax Credit, those estates are subject to an exemption of $6 million(rather than an exclusion amount of $4 million), which shall be deducted from the net estate value after the net estate value is computed in accordance with the Act. Provides that the exemption shall be adjusted each year according to the increase in the Consumer Price Index. Makes changes concerning the calculation of the deceased spousal unused exclusion amount for those estates. Provides for a special use valuation to provide that the value of the qualified farm property shall be calculated without regard to certain limitations under the Internal Revenue Code. Makes changes concerning the definition of "qualified heir" to provide that a decedent's brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, or first cousin is also included.

HB 4565 amends the Illinois Income Tax Act. Creates an income tax credit not to exceed 25% of the eligible costs incurred by the taxpayer during the taxable year in connection with the production of a biobased product. Provides that the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity shall award the credits. Provides that the total aggregate amount of credits awarded under those provisions shall not exceed $20 million in any state fiscal year. Effective immediately.

HB 2807 ceates the Ranked Choice Voting for Presidential Primaries Act. Provides that any state-administered primary election for the President of the United States shall be conducted using ranked choice voting. Sets forth provisions concerning form of ballot, tabulation, inactive ballots and undervotes, and ties for ranked choice voting. Provides that at least 150 days before the date of the presidential primary election, the State committee of each political party that intends to use the State-administered presidential primary in its nomination process shall inform the State Board of Elections in writing of its intention. Provides that the State committee's written notice shall indicate whether the party prefers tabulation to occur on a winner-take-all basis or on a proportional basis. Provides that if a party's notice fails to specify how to tabulate ballots, the State-administered presidential primary election for that party shall be tabulated on a statewide winner-take-all basis. Provides that the State Board of Elections shall adopt rules or guidance to facilitate the release of unofficial preliminary round-by-round results and unofficial preliminary cast vote records as soon as feasible after the polls close and at regular intervals thereafter until the counting of ballots is complete. Sets forth information that the State Board of Elections shall make public. Provides that the State Board of Elections shall have the authority to adopt any rules necessary to implement the provisions.

SB 1549 creates the Wind Turbine Stewardship and Takeback Program Act. Provides that on and after Jan. 1, 2025, a wind turbine manufacturer shall participate in a wind turbine stewardship and takeback program under which, where realistic, the wind turbine manufacturer shall recycle wind turbine components that are not toxic after their useful life instead of disposing them in landfills. Requires wind turbine manufacturers to file plans for the wind turbine stewardship and takeback program with the Environmental Protection Agency. Provides that the agency shall develop guidance for wind turbine stewardship and takeback programs established under the Act.

SB 0275 Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Provides that, beginning no later than Jan. 1, 2027, the Secretary of State shall offer to qualified applicants the option to be issued an eight-year driver's license at a cost of $60. Provides that the secretary shall submit proposed rules to implement the new provisions to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules no later than Dec. 31, 2024. Makes corresponding changes.

SB 2695 amends the Property Tax Code. Provides that, for assessment years following the next general assessment after the effective date of the amendatory Act, no increase in assessment may exceed 20 percent per year. Provides exceptions if: (1) the property is sold, transferred, or conveyed during the taxable year; (2) significant improvements were made to the property; (3) a homestead exemption or other preferential method of assessment was removed with respect to that property during the taxable year; or (4) the increase was due to an equalization factor imposed by the township, county, or Department of Revenue. Effective immediately.

“If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.” -Otto von Bismarck

Ron Kern is the manager of the Ogle County Farm Bureau.