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Greens battle biz, unions over revised ALEC model bill

Thursday, Apr 4, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Environmental Council…

Today, legislation known as the ‘Guilty by Association bill’ advanced out of the State House Judiciary Criminal Committee. Citizens across Illinois are raising concerns about HB 1633, sponsored by Rep. Jay Hoffman (D - Belleville), citing concerns that the bill is heavily influenced by out-of-state special interests, will intimidate citizens from expressing opposition to new sources of pollution, and creates vague parameters that will be difficult for both individuals and law enforcement to interpret.

Opponents of the bill have dubbed HB 1633 the ‘Guilty by Association bill’ because it would allow industrial polluters to suppress opposition to proposed projects by threatening excessively harsh penalties on Illinoisans and nonprofit groups for legally exercising their right to free speech and assembly, and by unfairly tying them to the illegal actions of other independent actors.

“This bill places an extreme burden on nonprofit organizations of all sizes,” said Jen Walling, executive director, Illinois Environmental Council. “Any nonprofit could be found guilty by association, receiving a million dollar fine and jail time, if an independent actor identified by law enforcement as associated with their organization–in any way–is accused of intentionally or unintentionally committing one of the ambiguous crimes outlined in the bill.”

Walling continued, “Over 1,000 Illinoisans have already contacted their lawmakers in opposition to this bill and I expect this number to greatly increase as this bill begins to receive the negative attention it deserves. You will not see that kind of mobilization on the other side of this issue because this bill originated at the request of out-of-state, extreme right-wing special interests, not out of a need identified by everyday Illinoisans.”

HB 1633 mirrors legislation proposed in other state legislatures across the country by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a national right-wing, corporate-backed organization that recruits state legislators to run model conservative legislation.

“This bill is not about protecting private property or public safety; Illinois already has criminal laws against trespassing, property damage and similar offenses,” said Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs Director Khadine Bennett of the Illinois ACLU. “This bill is about one thing: imposing excessive criminal penalties in order to chill environmental protests at the very sites where many of the urgent threats to our environment arise. We have seen the power of such protest at the Dakota Access pipeline and the Keystone pipeline. The full House should reject this measure and demonstrate its commitment to free speech and protest in Illinois.”

The bill will be debated next on the House Floor.

ALEC’s “model bill” is here. The introduced version of Rep. Hoffman’s bill is here. Notice the similarities? The measure has since been amended twice.

* Letter to House members…

Dear Representative,

On behalf of the Illinois AFL-CIO and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, we strongly encourage your support of HB 1633 (Hoffman).

This legislation will protect critical infrastructure in Illinois from criminal trespass and intentional damage. In 2013, President Barack Obama designated critical infrastructure sectors including water and wastewater plants, dams, telecommunication facilities, military bases, nuclear reactors, pipelines, manufacturing facilities, electric generation, refineries, and railroads.

These sectors are considered so vital to the United States that “their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”

HB 1633 protects an individual’s rights under the First Amendment and will not impede or diminish their right to protest or demonstrate. Protections are included to make sure that members of labor unions can picket or organize at the workplace.
Unfortunately, we have seen increased occurrences across the United States where organizations and individuals are intentionally damaging, destroying, or tampering with equipment in order to impede or inhibit operations of the facility. This risks the health and safety of the protestors, employees, and communities.

This will not penalize individuals that may simply vandalize or deface property. For example, this law would not impact a person that trespasses and spray paints a facility or piece of equipment.

Nearly twenty states across the country have taken similar legislative steps in light of growing incidents where real damage is incurred resulting in health and safety threats.

We respectfully ask for your support. Sincerely,

Michael T. Carrigan
Illinois AFL-CIO

Mark Denzler
President & CEO
Illinois Manufacturer’s Association

I asked the proponents if they know of any significant problems here in Illinois that prompted this legislation and they couldn’t name one. Apparently, the pipeline companies are worried about another North Dakota-style protest. The refineries are also pushing hard. But this bill covers a lot more than those industries.

* Related…

* You elected them to write new laws. They’re letting corporations do it instead.

* What is ALEC? ‘The most effective organization’ for conservatives, says Newt Gingrich

* Stand your ground, right to work and bathroom bills: 5 model bills that spark controversy


  1. - A Non E. Moose - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:02 am:

    You can read about the Valve Turners, the sort of group this legislation is intended to threaten, in this New York Times long read:

  2. - Ok - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    We didn’t pass ALEC bills when Rauner was governor, why do people want to pass ALEC bills with a Dem Governor and Dem super-majorities?

    And to try to pass an anti-pipeline protest bill with this wave of progressivism?

    Rep. Jay Hoffman… What’s he thinking!? (cue the black and white freeze shot, ominous music)

  3. - illini - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:10 am:

    So Jay Hoffman is now sponsoring ALEC sponsored legislation? Amazing. I an certain the Koch Brothers will have some more gems for him to promote.

  4. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:12 am:

    I am not sure we need this law. Existing laws on vandalism and conspiracy would seem to do the job.

    At the same time, being proven to be part of a conspiracy is not the same as guilt by association.

  5. - Not a Billionaire - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:16 am:

    Good chance for Dems to say not controlled by Unions.

  6. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    “I asked the proponents if they know of any significant problems here in Illinois that prompted this legislation and they couldn’t name one”

    The GA is being proactive on this one.

  7. - Fav human - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    I’m not sure letting “activists” write laws is any better than letting lobbyists….

  8. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:28 am:

    (720 ILCS 5/8-2)Conspiracy
    (a) Elements of the offense. A person commits the offense of conspiracy when, WITH THE INTENT THAT AN OFFENSE BE COMMITTED, he or she agrees with another to the commission of that offense. No person may be convicted of conspiracy to commit an offense unless an act in furtherance of that agreement is alleged and proved to have been committed by him or her or by a co-conspirator.

    This is the law as it exists today. The sponsor has amended the bill to make it explicitly “intentionally” conspires as applied to organizations.
    The rhetoric of the GREENS is legally inaccurate, this isn’t guilt by association, its guilt by intentionally intending to work with others to commit an offense.

  9. - Generic Drone - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:29 am:

    If ALEC is for it, I’m against it.

  10. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:33 am:

    What Generic said.

  11. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:34 am:

    ==Unfortunately, we have seen increased occurrences across the United States where organizations and individuals are intentionally damaging, destroying, or tampering with equipment in order to impede or inhibit operations of the facility.==

    Fortunately doing all that stuff is already illegal.

  12. - Blooms of Spring - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:47 am:

    Not a billionaire “Good chance for Dems to say not controlled by Unions.”

    I wonder how you reason that. Democratic bill sponsor and supported by AFL-CIO is noted.

  13. - SaulGoodman - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    The Carrigan/Denzler says 20 states. What are those 20 states?

  14. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 12:03 pm:

    Read the bill. Interesting that it covers prostitution and gambling. A lot of bored and lonely folks working at the critical infrastructure places, I take it? I know the graveyard shift can be a real drag.

    It also covers federally licensed radio stations. The FAA licenses all radio stations including ham radio stations. So if this bill becomes law my home will be “critical infrastructure.”

  15. - Going nuclear - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 12:18 pm:

    So sad to see the state AFL-CIO pushing model legislation penned by a conservative group that has been working hard to erode union power across the country.

  16. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 12:26 pm:

    Part of this bill is about protecting workers on these projects. Pretty simple. When you damage something at these facilities, workers have to repair it. Could expose them to dangerous conditions.

  17. - Honeybear - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 12:46 pm:

    Yeah, I don’t like it.
    I can see this being wanted by Cyberdyne Systems.
    (ah come on, that was pretty good cultural reference)
    Going after individuals didn’t stop the Water Keepers, they want to go after the organizations that support and fund the individuals.
    It’s the Janus move.
    Go after the funding.
    No funding, no activism
    when individuals have nothing to lose

  18. - phocion - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 1:07 pm:

    Oh come on, Hoffman. Just let the eco-terrorists have their way. I mean, it’s cool that our water and energy sources are open to destruction because their cause is just. Let’s treat this just like a trespass violation when I cross my neighbors’ lawn.

  19. - illini - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 2:13 pm:

    @Honeybear - Jay Hoffman is in your back yard. Should he not be held accountable for this
    ALEC bill that he sponsored?

    I know he has enjoyed the support of most of the Unions in his District as well as the DPI, but why is he doing this?

  20. - Commonsense in Illinois - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 2:14 pm:

    Okay, so I went and read the bill. Actually, my reading of the plain text shows the bill is far more about protecting people and communities than it is about speech. There’s even a provision in the bill that says the provision is not intended to deprive anyone of their right to assemble, protest or limit speech. What it does cover is those who intentionally break into a secure area to damage equipment, and that can lead to much bigger problems.

    As I read the bill, environmentalists can protest and picket all they want. The groups, like ANTIFA, just would face harsher penalties if they were attempting to blow up a pipeline or shut off the coolest pumps at a nuclear power plant.

    Its a good bill - it should be passed.

  21. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 2:26 pm:

    I read it, too, and don’t see a problem.

  22. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 2:32 pm:

    ==Its a good bill - it should be passed.==

    It’s a redundant bill. It probably won’t hurt anything if it’s passed but why pass it?

  23. - d. p. gumby - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 2:50 pm:

    Ironic in this time of a weaponized First Amendment used to invoke “religious freedom” over every other value, that this gag rule legislation should be proposed…

  24. - SB 1407 - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 2:59 pm:

    It’s a good bill to protect workers. Why would anyone be on these properties without permission?

  25. - Honeybear - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 3:03 pm:

    illini, Yes Hoffman is the senior legislator in the Metro East. I’m super disappointed by this. I’m not sure what to do. It really seems to challenge civil liberties in a way I am totally not comfortable with.

  26. - Commonsense in Illinois - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    Honeybear, maybe you should read the bill. I don’t understand your suggestion that the bill challenges civil liberties?

  27. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 3:25 pm:

    ==Just let the eco-terrorists have their way. I mean, it’s cool that our water and energy sources are open to destruction because their cause is just. Let’s treat this just like a trespass violation when I cross my neighbors’ lawn.==

    A bit hyperbolic dude. Your neighbors call the police when you cross their lawn? Try not to step on the pot plants next time.

    Ecoterroists have their way? Where?

  28. - Honeybear - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 4:13 pm:

    commonsense, I did read it. It seems to me that if I were a member of the sierra club, and I and other members “agreed with” protestors (individuals, a few of them happened to be members of the sierra club. But the club had not officially condoned the action) of say the Woodriver Refinery. The protest gets out of hand and some numbnut throws a chair through a window or cuts through the fence. My reading leads me to believe that the Sierra Club could be indicted as a conspirator and fined. Please correct me if I’m wrong. My interpretation would indeed be contrary to civil liberties.

  29. - Commonsense in Illinois - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 4:28 pm:

    Honeybear, I’m not reading the language as quite that drastic. It seems that the bill would require the State’s Attorney to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the individual who causes substantial harm through the commission of the offense was sponsored, funded or paid by, in your example, the Sierra Club.

    I just don’t see the Sierra Club doing anything like that.

  30. - Honeybear - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 4:57 pm:

    Madison County air quality is I think maybe the worst in the state because of that place. This bill hands a legal cudgel to corporations to take out any environmental resistance. Again, not good for civil liberties.

  31. - jimbo26 - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 6:23 pm:

    Interesting that the AFL-CIO is backing an ALEC bill since ALEC does everything they can to destroy unions.

  32. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 6:24 pm:

    In an ideal world someone shouldn’t be assumed a co-conspirator without proof. Since we don’t live in an ideal world I don’t blame Illinois Environment Council or other greens for being a bit leery of this bill.
    Take a small town in a rural are where the polluter is also the major employer. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure the local prosecutors might get a little overzealous.

  33. - Annon3 - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 6:31 pm:

    Like so much legislation a solution in search of a problem

  34. - m4a - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 7:35 pm:

    - Generic Drone - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:29 am:
    If ALEC is for it, I’m against it.
    - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 11:33 am:
    What Generic said.
    What Generic Drone and Cheryl44 said.

  35. - Not a Billionaire - Thursday, Apr 4, 19 @ 8:49 pm:

    Was not clear. This gives democrats a chance to show they can say no to the unions. Of course they did in the pension vote. This might be of dubious constitutionality. The ACLU is suing over a similar in South Dakota.

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