Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gov Quinn Signs Bill to Create Coal Gasification Plant in Southern Illinois

Governor Quinn Signs Law to Advance Clean Energy Project in Southern Illinois

Power Holdings Project Will Provide Major Boost to Regional

Economy and Create More Than 1,650 Jobs

MT. VERNON – August 2, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation that will help develop a state-of-the-art coal gasification facility in southern Illinois, creating 1,650 jobs and reducing carbon emissions by an estimated 90 percent. Following principles the Governor outlined in the spring legislative session, the new law will ensure consumer protections, create jobs and safeguard the environment.

“This important project will help revive the coal industry in southern Illinois while ensuring that Illinois remains a leader in the development of state-of-the-art, clean energy facilities,” Governor Quinn said. “We must continue to do everything we can to strengthen the state’s ongoing economic recovery through projects that create jobs while safeguarding the environment and protecting consumers.”

Senate Bill 2169, sponsored by Sen. James Clayborne, Jr. (D-East St. Louis) and former Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Steeleville), provides the framework for Power Holdings LLC to build a $2.3 billion facility in Jefferson County that will convert coal to pipeline-quality synthesis natural gas (SNG). The new law will utilize a pricing formula that shields customers throughout Illinois from historically volatile swings in the cost of heating their homes with natural gas from traditional sources.

Power Holdings, which has already obtained an active air quality permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, will use an ultra-clean coal gasification technology for removal of harmful gases and set a new standard for commercial energy projects by capturing and safely storing more than 90 percent of the plant's carbon emissions.

Power Holdings expects to generate more than $10 billion in economic activity and create more than 1,650 jobs, including approximately 1,100 construction jobs, 300 permanent mining and 250 permanent plant jobs. The plant will use at least four million tons of Illinois coal per year.

“Projects like Power Holdings provide us with a rare opportunity to hedge our own future prices for natural gas, using an affordable domestic resource, Illinois coal, which will be mined just a few miles away,” Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Warren Ribley said.

The legislation, which takes effect immediately, was modified from a previous bill considered earlier this year to include input from the Governor, the Citizens Utility Board, and other stakeholders. The new law includes significant consumer protections, including a rate cap and a reconciliation account to pass savings back to consumers. Power Holdings will also have to prove to state regulators that its construction and carbon sequestration costs, as well as operating expenses, are reasonable through annual reports and plant reviews. Pricing based on those costs will be guaranteed for 10 years, and Illinois' natural gas distributors will spread those costs evenly across their customer bases.

Gov Quinn Signs Williams-Wilhelmi Bill to Stop "Storm Chasers" from Defrauding Homeowners

New Law Helps Protect Homeowners from Fraud After Natural Disasters

JOLIET – August 2, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation that helps protect Illinois homeowners who are trying to recover following a natural disaster. He also signed a new law that ensures landlords are able to evict tenants who commit serious crimes on the rental property.

House Bill 3034 was sponsored by Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) and Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi (D-Joliet) to help protect homeowners from contractors who prey upon individuals following natural disasters. Contractors known as “storm chasers” travel to towns after natural disasters and target homeowners, especially elderly citizens, through home repair scams. These contractors misrepresent themselves in order to persuade homeowners to sign contracts for home repairs. If the work is done at all, it oftentimes must be redone due to its poor quality.

“When disasters such as storms or flooding hit, the recovery process can be overwhelming, and some individuals use that as an opportunity to take advantage of vulnerable homeowners,” Governor Quinn said. “It is important that we do everything we can to stop dishonest contractors so that residents can focus their energy on rebuilding their homes and communities.”

"These "stormchasers" victimize consumers at the most vulnerable times," said Rep. Williams. "This bill will help to prevent unscrupulous contractors from taking advantage of homeowners desperate to pick up the pieces after a natural disaster."

The new law prohibits roofing contractors from allowing out of state roofing contractors to lease their license numbers for compensation. It also requires roofing contractors to include their license number on all contracts, bids and advertisements. Additionally, the law enables residents to cancel a contract and requires contractors to refund any payments within 10 days of the cancellation.

“When people are the victims of a natural disaster, the last thing they need to worry about is someone trying to take advantage of them in their time of need,” said Sen. Wilhelmi. “This law will prevent contractors from using unscrupulous practices to take advantage of victims and win contracts over more honest competitors."

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issues licenses to roofing contractors and recommends that local governments require a roofing contractor to provide proof of an active state license prior to issuing a local building permit or business license. Individuals can also visit www.idfpr.com to look up roofing contractor licenses to determine whether they are active and in good standing. HB 3034 goes into effect Jan. 1.

Governor Quinn also signed Senate Bill 1766, sponsored by Sen. Wilhelmi and Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights). The law will help fight crime by requiring rental contracts to include an provision stating that tenants can be evicted for committing a felony or a Class A misdemeanor on the property. The new law goes into effect immediately.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Cong Aaron Schock (R) Statement on his Vote for Raising the Debt Ceiling Bill

The passage of the Budget Control Act represents a serious shift in the mindset of how Washington has approached raising the debt limit. Congress has rightly focused this debate on how much to cut, instead of how much to spend. This year began with the President’s call on Congress to raise the debt limit by $2 trillion with zero cuts. The President was also insistent on raising taxes.

I joined with a majority of my colleagues to focus on cutting spending as opposed to increasing revenue. As a result, the bipartisan legislation cuts trillions of dollars from the debt, doesn’t raise taxes and takes serious steps toward a path of fiscal solvency. This bill also focuses on the critical vote of a balanced budget amendment, which is an important aspect to fixing our problem for the longer term.

“While this has been a frustrating and lengthy process, I think the finished product is something to be proud of. It’s not perfect. In fact, it’s far from perfect, but with divided government neither side gets everything they want. A great number of Republicans and Democrats who joined together in support of this legislation is evident of its support. This bill continues to put our government on track for the first time since World War II to spend less than the previous year.

“America still has a debt crisis, but tonight was a step in the right direction toward putting our budget back on a path of fiscal solvency.”