Originally published in ABC News 20 on March 11, 2021.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — Legislation was filled in the Illinois General Assembly last month that intends to lower heating bills across the state.

House Bill 3941 — filed by State Rep. Joyce Mason, D-Gurnee — and Senate Bill 570 — filed by State Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago —would end a gas utility surcharge that contributes to higher heating bills.

These bills would amend the Public Utilities Act.

Under this law, the "Qualified Infrastructure Plant" (QIP) charge would be phased out at the end of 2021, instead of at the end of 2023, and restore traditional regulatory oversight over gas utility spending.

A coalition supporting the legislation is led by AARP Illinois, COFI - POWER PAC, CUB Illinois, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Illinois PIRG.

According to this coalition, Gov. JB Pritzker, D-Illinois, endorsed this policy in his August energy principles. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago City Council also called for similar action last year.

More than 30 organizations have endorsed the legislation, as well.

Category: In The News

Originally published in Streets Blog Chicago on February 26, 2021.

Currently there’s a highly unfair situation when it comes to Illinois state funding for driving, walking, and biking infrastructure. But a new bill under consideration in the state legislature could help fix the problem. But if you want to support the legislation, you need to take action by this Monday.

As the Active Transportation Alliance recently noted, as it stands, when the Illinois Department of Transportation is rebuilding a road, the state covers all the car infrastructure costs. But if there’s going to be a new accommodation for walking or biking, such as a sidewalk, bike lanes, or a side path, state law currently requires the local municipality is required to chip in one-fifth of the money for that infrastructure.

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Category: In The News

Originally published on State of Reform, February 25, 2021.


A new bill in Illinois would expand the use of telehealth to also include optometric services.

Senator Ram Villivalam, a Democrat who represents parts of Chicago, filed SB 567 on Tuesday. Sen. Laura Fine, another Democrat who represents the Chicago area, co-sponsored the bill on Wednesday. If passed, the bill would amend the Illinois Optometric Practice Act of 1987.

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Category: In The News

Originally published in Chicago Sun-Times, February 28, 2021.


Sometimes, changing horses in midstream makes the most sense. Especially when you can help people who are struggling.

By changing direction on its Chicago pipeline replacement program, Peoples Gas could ease the strain on its customers’ wallets. It should do so. Chicagoans shouldn’t have to worry about soaring gas bills every time they turn on the heat or boil a pot of water.

Peoples Gas is in the middle of a program to replace some 2,000 miles of natural gas mains under the streets, sidewalks and parkways of Chicago, but it is behind schedule and way over budget. Already, customers are shelling out about 10 times as much for the work, in the form of a surcharge, than the Legislature was told it would cost when it authorized the program in 2013. Wholesale gas prices are low now, but there is no guarantee they will stay low. If nothing is done, gas bills could grow increasingly unaffordable.

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Category: In The News

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