Illinois Senate committee passes trailer bill to Clean Energy Jobs Act

Bill sponsors promise further amendments to bill
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Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 4:19 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The Illinois Senate Energy and Utilities Committee discussed a proposal Thursday morning that could act as follow-up legislation to the recent law requiring Illinois to move to 100% clean energy by 2050.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act mandated that Illinois will revert its resources to clean energy as opposed to coal-powered electricity. It also included measures to increase diversity in the energy industry by developing hubs in areas that need job growth. The proposed change involved extending apprenticeship grants to last three years to accommodate time for recruitment and training for clean energy apprenticeship programs.

However, representatives from the AFL-CIO said more changes are coming. AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Pat Devaney said future amendments could “delete the prevailing wage section of the bill as it’s currently written.”

Prevailing wage measures require that those working clean energy jobs are paid wages as well as benefits for their work. Typically, workers in those positions are not provided benefits. Erasing those measures may mean that those working clean energy positions would not be offered benefits by law.

Bill sponsor Sen. Hastings and co-sponsor Sen. Cristina Castro said four amendments are on the way to make further changes.

“Due to some practical matters and trying to come to a resolution and come forward, we’ve agreed to delete the prevailing wage section of the bill,” Devaney said. He later explained that these amendments came after discussions with energy company stakeholders.

However, the amendments have not been officially introduced and were not available for review. Castro said the amendments will be explained once the bill goes to the Senate floor.

The language included in the bill passed out of committee Thursday would make changes to how union hubs are funded. These union hubs are in three parts of the state, as opposed to 13 hubs funded differently across Illinois. Advocates argue stipends and grants should be given to union jobs in order to encourage people to enter union workforces.

“It takes months to recruit, screen, and train individuals for apprenticeship programs, and then those individuals need to apply and get into those programs,” Hire360 Executive Director Jay Rowell said.

Rowell also said that apprenticeship programs often only open applications once a year or once every other year, meaning they need financial support for longer.

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