Illinois PIRG 2023 Legislative Agenda

All Illinoisans want a healthier, safer, more secure future. Illinois PIRG works to find common ground around common sense solutions that will help make that future a reality.

Beyond plastic

Staff | TPIN
Coalition for Plastic Reduction Lobby Day

All Illinoisans want a healthier, safer, more secure future. Illinois PIRG works to find common ground around common sense solutions that will help make that future a reality. The problems we work on aren’t progressive or conservative. They’re just problems that our country shouldn’t tolerate in an age of great abundance and technological progress.

This year Illinois PIRG’s priorities include eliminating single use plastic foam pollution, transitioning to efficient, mercury-free lighting, establishing stronger consumer protections for car and health insurance customers, and warning consumers about the health risks of gas stoves.

Here are the problems Illinois PIRG is working to solve in 2023.

Zero Waste

Illinois has a waste problem. It’s time for new solutions, and a renewed commitment to move toward zero waste.

  • Beyond Plastic, SB100 (Fine) HB2376 (Gong-Gershowitz): Every day people are throwing away tons of single-use cups, containers and other plastic “stuff.” Among the most common and hazardous forms of plastic pollution is polystyrene foam containers (the stuff most of us call Styrofoam), which persists in the environment for hundreds of years. Nothing we use for a few minutes should be allowed to pollute our oceans and rivers and threaten wildlife for centuries.
  • Right to Repair, HB3601 (Mussman) HB3593 (Rashid): When our stuff breaks, it means more cost to consumers, and also means more waste. Americans dispose of 416,000 cell phones per day, and only 15 to 20 percent of electronic waste is recycled. The goal of our Right to Repair campaign is to give every consumer, school and small business access to the parts, tools and service information they need to repair products so we can keep things in use and reduce waste.

A Healthy, More Livable Illinois

In a time of pandemic and climate change, it’s time to reorient public policy and our economy to prioritize the health and wellbeing of Illinois residents. 

  • Clean Lighting, HB2363 (Smith): Fluorescent lights contain mercury – which is a potent and persistent neurotoxin – by design. Today, non-toxic, highly efficient alternatives are broadly available. Illinois should phase out fluorescent lighting to eliminate a toxin from the waste stream, reduce energy waste and save consumers money.
  • Safe and Healthy Homes, HB3572 (Stava-Murray): A recent peer-reviewed study found that 22% of childhood asthma cases in Illinois can be attributed to gas stove use. Consumers should be warned about the well documented health risks of gas stoves. 
  • Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics, SB1891 (Koehler) HB3567 (N Hernandez): Livestock producers routinely give antibiotics to animals to make them grow faster or help them survive crowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions. Overusing these drugs—in humans or animals—breeds bacteria resistant to antibiotics, threatening the future effectiveness of these medicines, and putting our health at risk.
  • Electric School Buses HB2287 (Moylan): Getting to school shouldn’t include a daily dose of toxic pollution, or increase the chances that people will get sick. The good news is that all-electric buses are here, and they’re cleaner, healthier and often cheaper to run in the long-term. 

Consumer Protection

Illinoisans deserve fair rules of the road and an even playing field in the marketplace, and consumers should be protected from scams, dangerous products, and the unbridled power of unscrupulous corporate interests.

  • Stop Unfair and Excessive Car Insurance Rates, HB2203 (Guzzardi): Illinois is one of only two states whose regulators have no power to reject or modify excessive car insurance rate hikes. Insurers regularly use credit scores and other non-driving factors to set rates. HB2203 would establish rate review for car insurance and end the unfair use of non-driving factors to set rates.
  • Stop Excessive Health Insurance Rates, SB1912 (Fine): Individuals and small businesses are increasingly struggling to afford rising health insurance rates. Illinois needs prior review of health insurance rates, and an Office of the Health Care Advocate in consumers’ corner.
  • Don’t Sell My Data HB3385 (Rashid): Almost every company we interact with collects data on us – like what we buy and when. Some even collect data on what we do online, like our browsing habits and search history. Companies often sell this data to other parties, increasing the risk that our personal information will be a part of a data breach, fall into the hands of scammers, or used for invasive targeted advertising. It’s time to stop companies from collecting and using our data for purposes other than delivering the service we’re expecting to get. 
  • Defend BIPA – Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act is an international model for digital privacy law. It should be protected, not weakened. 
  • Stop Credit Repair Scams, SB2135 (Feigenholtz)  HB3461 (Meyers-Martin): Consumers trying to improve their credit score, often turn to credit repair organizations, but too often, these businesses drain resources from consumers without actually improving their credit. This legislation would require sustained, documented improvements in credit scores before charging customers for credit repair services. 

Public Utilities for the Public Good

From the ways we power and heat our homes to the ways we work and communicate, public utility services are in a time of transformation. Over the last decade, Illinois public policy has allowed utilities to raise customer rates with less oversight. As every major utility files massive rate hikes, it is time to restore meaningful utility oversight.

  • Rein in Wasteful Gas Utility Spending: Allow“Rider QIP,” which is similar to formula rates for Ameren Gas, Nicor and Peoples Gas and is leading to higher customer bills to sunset as planned at the end of 2023.
  • Stop Subsidizing Gas Utility Expansion, HB3576 (Syed): Gas utilities have been aggressively expanding their systems, and shifting the costs of expansion to existing customers. HB3576 would require the costs of extending service to new customers be fully borne by those customers, not subsidized.
  • Address Gas leaks from Utility Storage, HB1190 (Morgan): Methane leaks from gas utility storage facilities have damaged farms and contaminated drinking water. HB1190 requires certain actions by gas utilities when their underground storage facilities leak.
  • Pilot Thermal Networks, SB1666 (Peters), HB2875 (A Williams): Geothermal networks are a potential home heating solution that is more affordable, healthier, and better for the climate.

Democracy for the People

We should ensure all voters are able to participate in elections.

  • Pre-Registration, SB1481 (Simmons) HB2446 (Syed): Young voters are the future of our democracy. With the return of high school civics education, we have the opportunity to “pre-register” otherwise eligible Illinois voters such that they are registered immediately upon becoming eligible by age.

Abe Scarr

State Director, Illinois PIRG; Energy and Utilities Program Director, PIRG

Abe Scarr is the director of Illinois PIRG and is the PIRG Energy and Utilities Program Director. He is a lead advocate in the Illinois Capitol and in the media for stronger consumer protections, utility accountability, and good government. In 2017, Abe led a coalition to pass legislation to implement automatic voter registration in Illinois, winning unanimous support in the Illinois General Assembly for the bill. He has co-authored multiple in-depth reports on Illinois utility policy and leads coalition campaigns to reform the Peoples Gas pipe replacement program. As PIRG's Energy and Utilities Program Director, Abe supports PIRG energy and utility campaigns across the country and leads the national Gas Stoves coalition. He also serves as a board member for the Consumer Federation of America. Abe lives in Chicago, where he enjoys biking, cooking and tending his garden.

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