First, we would like to commend the members of the Illinois General Assembly who came together in a bi-partisan fashion to pass Senate Bill 76, meaningful legislation that addresses nuclear energy as part of Illinois’ clean energy future.
However, political actions surrounding Senate Bill 76 subsequent to the bill’s passage may prevent this bill from being brought to the Senate and House floors for a vote during the upcoming veto session. This inaction would deny Illinois voters their voice and representation, which are cornerstone values of the Forward Party. In addition it would delay crucial policy decisions necessary to secure Illinois’ clean energy future.
Dedicated to a vibrant democracy, the Illinois Forward Party believes every citizen’s voice must be heard and represented in our government. We also believe that citizens deserve to know how Their voice is being reflected by their elected representatives.
Background on the Bill
Senate Bill 76 would remove the moratorium on the construction of new nuclear reactors and would allow for the construction of Advanced Nuclear Reactors (ANR). New nuclear reactors could replace the existing 40% of Illinois’ energy generated by older generation reactors.
This legislation had significant bi-partisan support, passing the Senate 39-13 (21 Democrats, 15 Republicans in favor) in March and the House 84-22 (45 Democrats, 39 Republicans in favor) in May, both of which represent a three-fifths super majority that is sufficient to override a veto.
Yet Governor Pritzker elected to issue a blanket veto rather than an amendatory veto, which would provide the ability to request specific changes to the bill that, if agreed upon, would presumably allow passage of the revised legislation.
According to his veto letter, he did so “at the request of the leadership team of the Speaker of the House and advocates.” He also cited health and safety, as well as vague language as additional bases for his veto.
There have been signals from state elected officials that this bill may not be brought to the floor of either body during the veto session. The decision is under “consideration” by leadership in both parties, despite the fact that party leaders and an overwhelming majority in both chambers voted in favor of the bill.
The Legislative Veto Process
Each year, the General Assembly hosts a veto session to reconsider bills the governor vetoed and provide an opportunity to override those vetoes or propose amendments to the legislation through a vote. The session is an essential part of Illinois’ legislative process and honors the democratic separation of powers by allowing the state legislature, representing the people of Illinois, to override an executive veto, when the overwhelming support exceeds the mandated threshold of a three-fifths majority.
Per the process, SB76 could first be brought to the Senate floor by the motion of any individual Senator who voted for the bill. If the override veto is successful, then it is sent through a committee process in the House before heading to the floor for an override vote. If overridden by a three-fifths majority in both chambers, the bill becomes law, a threshold that was exceeded in both the house and senate when the bill was passed.
Climate change is a huge problem that we, as a society, are facing, and the Forward Party believes that all solutions need to be on the table and considered to address this massive threat. Nuclear power has been a part of IL’s carbon-free energy infrastructure, and we should continue to consider it a part of the solution moving forward.
We first question why the Governor vetoed this bill “at the request of the leadership team of the Speaker of the House and advocates”, when the Speaker of the House, Chris Welch (D), and a supermajority of Democrats voted in favor of the bill. If party leaders prevent their senators and representatives from bringing this vote to the floor during the veto session, they are defying the spirit of democracy.
Should this legislation not see an override vote, it seems apparent that these politicians are acting on behalf of interests other than those of the people. At the very least we deserve an explanation and the planned pathway to swiftly enact future legislation to address this critical issue. Something has changed and Illinois voters deserve to understand what that is.
Therefore, we urge the party leaders, state senators, and representatives to honor a vibrant democratic process where our representatives are responsive and accountable to their constituents by bringing this bill to a floor vote in the upcoming veto session. Failing to do so is counter to the transparent democracy we at the Illinois Forward Party stand for and the people of Illinois deserve.
This issue is too important to our energy future to let it languish over two party politics.
How You Can Take Action
We call upon all Illinoisans to support the Forward Party in our efforts to persuade party leaders, state senators, and representatives to honor democracy and the legislative due process by bringing the bill to the floor during the upcoming veto session beginning October 24, 2023. Please support this effort by calling or sending a letter or email to your State Senator and Representative to request that they support the introduction of this bill to the floor in the upcoming veto session.
Together, our actions will carry forward the legacy of our great statesman Abraham Lincoln by protecting a “government by the people, for the people.”
– The Illinois Forward Party
About the Illinois Forward Party
The Illinois Forward Party is focused on restoring the integrity of our political system by honoring the values of grace, tolerance, fairness, and compromise. Our goal is to address the existing system that limits our candidates to the extremes on the right and left, which only preserves power for a select few who represent a minority of voices in the state.
We are committed to candidates and elected officials who commit to common sense productive policymaking, unwavering support for pro-democracy reforms, including the drawing of fair election districts, the use of ranked choice voting and open primaries, campaign finance limitations, robust ethics and anti-corruption reforms, and reasonable term limits.
For any media inquiries, please contact James Young, State Chair, Illinois@forwardparty.com