More Coal Plants to Shutdown
NRG Energy has announced two of their coal-fired power plants located in Romeoville and Waukegan, Illinois, will be soon shut down. These two plants combine for 111 jobs and the generation of almost 1,200 megawatts of electricity. Coal-fired electric power was once the industrial backbone of Illinois life. It has become increasingly marginalized in recent years as “green” energy is further subsidized by the state and federal government. This news follows the uncertainty surrounding the Prairie State Energy plant in nearby Marissa. The future of Illinois energy will depend on current negotiations over a new energy bill that has yet to be passed.
Over 660 Bills Pass Both Chambers
Far from the headlines, members of both parties in the Illinois House and Senate worked hard on many pieces of legislation in the first half of 2021. Many of these bills made technical changes in legislative language or moved a legislative process forward after agreements between stakeholders were made. Clerks have counted more than 660 bills passed by majorities in both houses.
Some of the bills enacted by the General Assembly have already been signed into law, in particular, three measures to enact a state budget, a redraw the maps of the Illinois General Assembly, and a redraw the maps of the Illinois Supreme Court and its judicial districts. These partisan bills have already run into trouble. The budget has already had to be re-enacted after the first version was passed with numerous drafting errors. The General Assembly map faces litigation, and the Supreme Court has already placed a stay on the judicial map. At the same time, most of the day-to-day work of legislators in the first half of this year was not at all partisan and is slowly working its way through the process. Included in this is my HB1755, which is awaiting delivery to the governor for signing.
Illinois’ Vaccine Lottery
The $10 million prize package for vaccinated Illinoisans includes $7 million in cash payouts and $3 million in Bright Start 529 college savings plans. Under the rules of the “All In for the Win” vaccine incentive, all residents who have received COVID-19 vaccinations are eligible to win. The prizes will be distributed in the form of cash payouts of $1 million to $100,000, and the college savings plan prize program will distribute twenty savings plans in amounts of $150,000 each.
The COVID-19 vaccine lottery idea was first implemented in Ohio. Other states, including Illinois, have taken up the idea. The Illinois vaccine lottery will be funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The Illinois Lottery will draw names each week starting on Thursday, July 8.
The University of Illinois to Require Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination
As part of their planning for the fall semester in 2021, the University of Illinois System is preparing to mandate that all on-campus students show proof of vaccination for COVID-19. The U of I System includes three undergraduate campuses in Chicago, Springfield, and Urbana-Champaign. The System also includes medical campuses, institutes, and affiliated operations of scholarship and higher education located throughout the state. Other Illinois colleges and universities are putting similar rules in place. The U of I announcement followed the creation of near-universal vaccine availability for persons above age 12.