Illinois PIRG 2024 Legislative Agenda

Illinois PIRG works to create a healthier, safer, more secure future for all Illinoisians. Here are the problems we are working to solve in 2023.

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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 transitioning to efficient, mercury-free lighting, establishing stronger consumer protections for car and health insurance customers, and eliminating single use plastic foam pollution.

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

Consumer Protection

We work to get dangerous products off store shelves, end exploitative practices and ensure a level playing field in the marketplace.

  • Stop unfair and excessive car insurance rates, HB4767, SB3214 (Guzzardi, Cervantes): 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. It is time to establish rate review for car insurance and end the unfair use of non-driving factors to set rates.
  • Ban junk fees HB4629, SB3331 (Morgan, Aquino): The Federal Trade Commission estimates junk fees cost consumers tens of billions of dollars each year. Transparency and upfront pricing help not only consumers, but also honest businesses. 
  • 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.
  • Stop Credit Repair Scams, HB4507 (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.

Clean, efficient energy

Illinois’ reliance on polluting fuels puts our health and safety at risk. We support policies to increase clean, efficient energy use.

  • 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.
  • Appliance Efficiency, HB5072, SB3181 (Buckner, Fine): By establishing minimum energy efficiency standards for a variety of consumer and commercial appliances, Illinois could drastically cut climate emissions, cut energy waste, and save consumers millions of dollars.
  • 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.

Zero Waste

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

  • Phase out foam, HB2376 (Gong-Gershowitz, Fine): 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) SB2680 (Fine): 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.

High Value Health Care  

We live in a country with some of the best hospitals, doctors and medical technology in the world. But the simple truth is that Americans pay too much for health care, and get too little in return. 

  • Health Care Access and Protection Act, HB5395, SB3739 (Moeller, Peters): For too long, insurance companies have used predatory practices to restrict patients’ access to care and boost profits. The Healthcare Consumer Access and Protection Act (HCAPA) puts the power back into the hands of patients and their doctors.
  • Fair Prescription Drug Prices, HB4472 (Syed): Americans pay two to three times as much as people in other countries for the same medicines. We know that when generic drugs come to market, prices for those medicines decrease by 39 percent or more. It’s time to put an end to anticompetitive schemes that prevent patients from getting lower priced generics. Establishing drug affordability boards can work to bring drug prices down by setting annual drug spending targets or establishing upper payment limits.

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. After a decade of steadily increasing utility rates, the Illinois Commerce Commission recently took important steps to reject massive rate hikes and restore meaningful oversight. It’s important to maintain and strengthen regulatory oversight as the utility sector continues to transform.

  • Stop using customers’ money for utility influence operations, HB5061, SB2885 (Mah, Glowiak Hilton): Utilities shouldn’t be allowed to charge consumers for influence operations – such as “goodwill advertising,” charitable giving, or trade association dues. Utilities, which enjoy state granted monopolies, can pay for such activities out of their profits.
  • Stop subsidizing gas utility expansion, HB3576 (Syed): Gas utilities have been aggressively expanding their systems, and shifting the costs of expansion to existing customers. The costs of extending service to new customers should be fully borne by those customers, not subsidized.
  • Oppose mandated gas connections, HB5244 (Walsh): It’s time to begin a long-term transition off the gas system, not require fossil fuel infrastructure in every home. 
  • Oppose Illinois Commerce Commission job impact mandate,  HB4374 (Cabello): this legislation would require a job loss impact finding from the ICC anytime it does not reward a utility with exactly the rate hike it proposed. The ICC does not have the tools to make such findings and should not be distracted from its mission to ensure adequate, efficient, reliable, safe and least-cost public utility services. 

Healthy Living

All families and communities should have access to clean air, safe drinking water, and healthy and sustainably produced food.

  • 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.
  • Ban harmful food ingredients,  SB2367 (Preston): We should be able to trust that the food we buy is safe, but unfortunately, some food additives contain harmful chemicals linked to health harms, including a higher risk of cancer, behavioral problems, harm to the nervous system, and even DNA damage.

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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