Facing return of state lawsuit bill, IFB reorganizes opposition

Bill would ease process of suing state agencies, including over livestock siting permits.

By DeLoss Jahnke

Illinois Farm Bureau is working on behalf of members on a variety of potentially problematic bills in Springfield.

Take, for example, last year’s SB 3005, which would have allowed anyone to sue an Illinois state agency. The bill failed to advance in last year’s General Assembly session, but it’s back again this year in the form of HB 2839, sponsored by State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview.

“Representative Gong-Gershowitz has this particular bill back where it would basically give standing to any individual, that they could file a lawsuit against an agency, and the person involved in a permitting decision of any state agency,” said Mark Gebhards, IFB’s executive director of governmental affairs and commodities.

IFB strongly opposes the bill, which could be particularly problematic for animal siting permits issued under the Livestock Management Facilities Act, Gebhards added.

But the effects extend well beyond agriculture, and IFB has been working with the business community throughout the state to build broader opposition.

Meanwhile, Gebhards and his team watch other legislation – both inside and outside of Illinois – that could have an impact on agriculture.

In Ohio, voters in Toledo approved a Lake Erie Bill of Rights in a special election last month. Gebhards said that development has similarities with HB 2839.

“Why are we concerned about this House bill that I just mentioned? That particular issue with the lake is a little different but not in terms of the concept, where you’re giving standing to the lake for someone to sue on its behalf,” Gebhards said. “It’s the world that we are in now, and it’s something we have to take into account as we go forward and work on a lot of these issues.”

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.