* If you only read this AP story, you’d never know that townships never had state legal authority to regulate wind farms. A couple of townships tried to unilaterally seize regulatory authority and this new law stops them…
Gov. J.B. Pritzker predicts growth in wind-energy development after signing a law streamlining zoning rules.
The Democrat signed legislation Friday that allows only counties and municipalities to establish standards for developing wind farms. Townships will no longer have authority in the process.
Pritzker says the law will spur investment in rural areas, create jobs and pour tens of millions of dollars into the pockets of landowners and farmers and into government accounts in the form of property taxes.
* This bill passed the House with 73 votes…
In recent years, many Illinois consumers were socked with steep price increases when buying health insurance on the Obamacare exchange.
A bill that’s gaining traction in Springfield, however, could prevent that. The bill would give the Illinois Department of Insurance the power to say no to certain sky-high price increases proposed by insurance companies for plans sold to individuals and small businesses. The bill wouldn’t apply to plans offered by large employers.
It’s a change proponents say could help protect consumers, while opponents of the bill say it does nothing to address the rising prices of health care that can lead to higher insurance prices, and it could limit the types of plans insurers are able to offer.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Highwood, would allow the Department of Insurance to reject rate increase proposals, for individual and small group plans, that are “unreasonable,” meaning they’re excessive, unjustified or unfairly discriminatory, as defined by the federal government. Now, Illinois reviews rates and may try to negotiate with insurers to bring them down, but the state generally can’t reject or change rates that are actuarially sound.
* The leagues want in on the action…
Professional sports teams historically have taken an arm’s-length approach to gambling, but after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year overturned a prohibition on state-sanctioned sports betting, the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks are ready to embrace it — if their respective leagues get a piece of the action.
Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is counting on $200 million in licensing revenue from sports betting to help fill an estimated $3.2 billion hole for the budget year that begins July 1. With a lengthy agenda awaiting them when they return to Springfield on April 30 from a two-week break, lawmakers are still wrangling over what legal sports betting would look like in Illinois.
All of Chicago’s major franchises — with the exception, so far, of the Bears — are backing a plan pushed by Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the PGA that would give professional leagues 25 cents of every $100 bet on their sports in the state. Among other arguments, the leagues say the fee would be fair compensation for the millions of dollars generated by wagering on their games.
But opponents, including the casinos and horse tracks that in early legislative proposals would be shelling out upward of $10 million for each sportsbook license, say the leagues should be left to negotiate with sportsbook operators if they want a cut.