(SPRINGFIELD) The Illinois General Assembly will convene this week in Springfield as the Land of Lincoln’s third century with historic numbers of Democrats running the show and apparently ready for action. While the Democrats have not surrendered control of either chamber of the State Legislature for more than 15 years, any progress made has been overshadowed by scandals that sent two successive Governors to federal prison, backed-up bills, and a long-overdue pension debt. However, the past four years has given the state an ideological stalemate with a Republican Governor, stalling out even a basic annual spending plan for two years running. Now a new Democratic Governor promises to revamped and fairer income tax structure, a capital construction plan to bolster roads and bridges, and a boost in minimum wage, among much more. While the lame-duck 100th Assembly will meet today and tomorrow, the 101st Assembly will be sworn in on Wednesday. The Democrats will have a 74 to 44 edge in the State House of Representatives and a 40 to 19 edge in the State Senate. The Governor’s inauguration date is January 14th.
(SPRINGFIELD) Governor Bruce Rauner has approved plans for enhanced safety at underground natural gas storage facilities by signing legislation this past Friday authorizing the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to implement federal regulations for minimum safety standards. The State DNR will work with IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) and the ICC (Illinois Commerce Commission) to monitor tank safety throughout the state. While the bill specifically protects the Mahomet Aquifer in east-central Illinois, supplying drinking water to some 500,000 residents, it also beefs up the enforcement statewide.