* I didn’t realize this until yesterday…
Access to water and electricity, fair utility rates, decent cell phone and cable service, and safe railroad grades are all issues that are vitally important to rural Illinois consumers.
Yet no rural or downstate residents today sit on the Illinois Commerce Commission, the powerful five-member state panel that regulates utilities, approves utility rates, licenses trucking and towing companies and oversees railroad safety and crossing improvements.
Since taking office in 2015, Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed five members to the commission; none live outside of Cook and DuPage counties. It marks the first time in a century that the commission has lacked a downstate member.
“There is a lot of Illinois outside of Chicago and the suburbs, and the people in these communities deserve to have someone on the commerce commission who will represent their interests and their point of view,” said State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).
(Go here, then click the hyperlinked text “Commissioner List” to view a list of past ICC commissioners, their hometowns and the governors who appointed them.)
On Monday, the Senate Executive Appointments Committee voted to recommend two of Rauner’s pending appointments to the commission: D. Ethan Kimbrel and Anastasia Palivos, both of Chicago. Manar, who is vice chairman of the committee, voted no on both recommendations.
Kimbrel’s recommendation was forwarded to the full Senate for approval Monday afternoon. It passed 45-1. Manar, who represents a largely rural swath of central Illinois, cast the lone no vote.
It was unclear when Palivos’ recommendation may receive a vote before the full Senate.
* From the governor’s office…
Our administration has worked diligently to appoint qualified experts to the Illinois Commerce Commission who meet the stringent statutory requirements. These individuals are tasked with taking a broad look at the state as a whole to make decisions that are in the best interest of all of the citizens of Illinois.