End of General Assembly Spring Session Update

The spring session of the Illinois General Assembly has come to a close and, while several major pieces of nonagricultural legislation passed (a compromise firearms concealed carry bill, the limited legalization of medical marijuana and others) the states continued and looming pension crisis still remains unsolved.

With that said, there have been a number of important pieces of legislation related to local food and farms that have passed both chambers and been sent to the governor’s desk. The most exciting of which was the passage of Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s priority—urban and rural composting reform. Working with the Illinois Environmental Council, ISA and other food and farm systems stakeholders ushered through two bills reforming Illinois environmental law as it pertains to composting. HB 2335, sponsored by Rep. Roby Gabel and Sen. Heather Steans, makes it easier for community gardens, schools and urban agriculture projects to compost off-site materials for use on site. HB 3319, sponsored by Rep. Brad Halbrook, and Sen. Dave Koehler expands the list of materials that rural farms are allowed to bring from off-site to compost on site. Both bills passed nearly unanimously and are now on their way to the governor’s desk where he is expected to sign them later this summer. Stay tuned for more information on specifics of those bills and the implementation time-line.

Another noteworthy bill that is now heading to the Governor’s Desk is HB 1272, sponsored by Rep. Sam Yingling and Sen. David Koehler this bill officially declares the first Saturday of every month as “Buy Local, Buy Illinois Day” and directs the Department of Agriculture’s to assist in increasing awareness and sales of Illinois food and agribusiness products. To read ISA’s full spring 2013 bill tracker and see who all the food and farm legislation we were tracking faired this spring session click here.