News from Senator Peter Roskam Senate Republican Whip
Contact 315 West Wesley Street 309H State House
  Wheaton, Illinois 60187 Springfield, Illinois 62706
  630-690-4500 217/782-8022  

For Immediate Release

Date:  June 16, 2006/apf

Week in Review: June 12 – 16, 2006

Springfield, IL – A hearing on the proposed sale of the Illinois Tollway System and a law that will boost environmental standards at nuclear power plants were the focus this week in the Illinois Senate, according to State Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton).

The Senate Appropriations II Committee held the second of seven hearings on the proposed lease of the Illinois Tollway System, in Joliet on June 13. Under the proposal, the Illinois Tollway System would be sold or leased to a private company. Profits from the sale would purportedly be used for additional transportation funding and for repayment of a part of the state’s unfunded pension liability.

Concerns were raised at the hearing over what the money from the sale would actually be used for, where it would be used, and how a private entity could be held accountable, for maintenance and other issues, by voters and government officials.

The Committee is expected to have five more hearings – in Springfield, Chicago, Carbondale, a community in Lake County and a community in DuPage or Kane counties. The first meeting was May 31 at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago.

In other news, the Governor signed legislation to hold nuclear power plants to stricter environmental standards.

Drafted in response to reports of tritium leaks at several of Illinois’ Exelon Nuclear generating stations, House Bill 1620 requires the owner or operator of a nuclear power plant to report to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) any “unpermitted release” of a contaminant within 24 hours; including any illegal spilling, leaking, emitting, discharging, escaping, leaching or disposing of a contaminant into groundwater, surface water, or soil.

Roskam explained that in an effort to stop future leaks, the bill also requires the EPA and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to inspect every nuclear power plant in Illinois for unpermitted releases at least once quarterly.

House Bill 1620 takes effect immediately.

Another piece of legislation recently signed into law will require the inclusion of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program in agricultural education programs in Illinois schools.

House Bill 4986 requires a school district that offers an agricultural education program in high school, that is funded at the state or federal level, to provide courses approved by the State Board of Education, and offer a state and nationally affiliated FFA chapter as part of course work, not as an extracurricular activity.

Other bills signed into law include: