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State House passes bill banning new landfills in Cook County

Updated: May 30, 2012 10:02PM

SPRINGFIELD — A measure to halt the expansion of landfills in Cook County survived a House vote on Wednesday despite multiple concerns about circumventing local authority.

With a heavy hand from environmental lobby groups as well as support from the Chicago City Council, the bill passed by a 62-49 count and is now headed to Gov. Pat Quinn.

Under current state law, the authority to create or expand landfills rests with the city or county in which it resides.

The city of Chicago has enforced a moratorium on landfill expansion for about 27 years. However, the city is being sued by the Park Ridge-based Land and Lakes waste disposal company, which wants the city to give up a piece of land on the far Southeast Side and attach it to the community of Dolton, which does not have a landfill ban.

Proponents of the legislation claimed that it was purely an environmental issue, and codifying the Chicago moratorium would have no effect on local authorities.

“This bill does not affect home rule,” said the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Marcus Evans (D-Chicago). “I want everybody to be aware of that.”

The waste disposal firm issued a statement saying it was disappointed with the bill.

“The bill guarantees that a closed landfill in Chicago will remain a brown field for generations to come,” the company said, adding that the measure “creates significant budgetary challenges for the already cash-strapped Village of Dolton, which has relied on taxes and revenues generated at the landfill to fund 10 percent of its budget.”

Several members of the House contended that the bill gives the General Assembly authority it should not possess.

“Sidestepping a process that gives locals control is not in the best interest of the people of Illinois,” said Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley)

Rep. Jim Sacia (R-Pecatonica) was more forceful in his criticism.

“This is bad, bad, bad legislation,” he said.

The bill is House Bill 3881.

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