2/15/2007 12:44:00 PM Guest column 1,000 bills filed in House so far as session starts
By Rep. ROGER EDDY For the Daily News
The first week of session for the 95th General Assembly is over. The renovation of the Capitol delayed the start of session for a few weeks. However, the renovation did not slow down the filing of potential legislation. So far, almost 1,000 bills have been filed in the House and more than 600 have been filed in the Senate. Last week, some of those House bills began to filter through the committee system and made it to the House floor. When the House started meeting again today, we faced dozens of bills on the House calendar for possible action to be taken. The pace will be fast and furious until the April 27 deadline for the third reading of House bills. House members have until Feb 27 to introduce legislation. With almost 1,000 bills introduced at this point, we can only imagine the total number that will be introduced by the deadline.
Once the House and Senate deadlines have passed, successful bills will switch chambers and the committee process will start over. By the middle of May, attention will officially turn to the budget. The Governor will deliver his Budget Address combined with the State of The State Address on March 7. All of the legislation can be tracked online at www.ilga.gov.
It is important to note that although there are all these deadlines and appearances that legislation must be successful in the Senate or House by a certain date to be enacted, that is not necessarily true. Upon each deadline, hundreds of "shell" bills will be passed from one chamber to the other that could eventually contain language which is hidden until the last minute. Often, there is intense negotiation regarding certain issues and the final agreements related to compromise on an issue are not met until later in the session. The deadlines are pesky to the leaders, so they simply have found a way to ignore deadlines by passing shell bills back and forth. That way, even late in the session, trades can be made and agreements can be written into these shell bills.
One of the biggest shell-bill guessing games comes with the final budget implementation bill. Often, the final language contained in the budget is placed in one of these shell bills a day or two (if we are lucky) before a final vote. Sometimes, an elected representative (Senate and House) only has a couple of hours to look at the budget before a vote is taken. I have written before about an effort to change this system, which would allow for sunshine to be part of the process by passing a constitutional Amendment requiring a certain amount of time to pass before any vote on the final language of a bill (including the budget). You can go to www.showus.org to learn more or even sign up to help end the shell game.
A few bills were passed out of the House during the first week. I will highlight one of those bills. HB 201 became the first bill to receive favorable consideration. It basically makes "remote control hunting" illegal. The measure provides that a person may not operate, provide, sell, use, or offer to operate, provide, sell, or use any computer software or service that allows a person not physically present at the hunt site to remotely control a weapon that could be used to take wildlife by remote operation, including, but not limited to, weapons or devices set up to fire through the use of the Internet or through a remote control device.
I am getting considerable mail regarding a couple of other issues as well. The attempt to ban smoking in all indoor areas of the entire state (HB 246) seems to be popular. There are those that think the state should continue to allow local governing bodies to make this decision. It has only been about one year since legislation has been enacted allowing local governing bodies this power. I have heard from many others who believe that a full ban would be fairer since all businesses would be treated the same statewide. Others strongly believe that this is a personal property issue and it should always be left up to the owner of the business. Then there are those who believe it is an issue related to healthy working conditions. Keep the comments coming; I do appreciate the input.
A new proposed rule regarding septic systems is also causing a great deal of concern in rural parts of the state. The new rule would require all systems to receive a permit, perform yearly testing and includes certain maintenance requirements. The estimated cost to comply is about $500 for each person that operates a septic system. The IEPA claims that federal regulations require the implementation of these costly and onerous rules. The fact is that the federal rules and regulations require much less than the new Illinois rules are proposing. In fact, there are states that have implemented new rules already that are much less onerous and costly.
I have introduced legislation that would limit the rule making power of the IEPA regarding this issue. HB613 specifically mirrors the requirements of the federal EPA and does not require Illinois property owners with septic systems that do not have discharge that goes directly into a navigable waterway to be affected by any new regulation.
Please keep in touch regarding issues that are important to you. E-mail me at email@example.com); write to me at Box 125, Hutsonville, IL 62433 or call us at 618-563-4128. You can also keep up with important issues at my web site: www.peopleforeddy.com.