On Friday, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 1421, which could have resulted in fee increases for drinking water customers in DuPage County to pay for wastewater improvements downstate. The bill would have allowed private utility companies to charge drinking water customers for wastewater improvements, no matter where located and even if the customers receive wastewater services from their local municipalities and not from those private utility companies.
The bill easily passed the Illinois Senate on April 23 by a vote of 40-4-2, but Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) led a floor fight against the bill in the House, almost killing it. The bill eventually passed the House 63-50-2 on May 28, receiving just 3 more than the minimum 60-vote margin needed for passage. Breen then publicly requested that the governor veto the measure.
“Folks shouldn’t have to pay for services and improvements that don’t benefit them,” said Breen, whose 48th District includes Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Lombard, and Lisle, towns with numerous residents served by private utility Illinois American Water. “People don’t have a choice of drinking water and wastewater providers. Because of the monopoly those providers enjoy, the government carefully regulates the types of fees they can charge. This bill would have weakened these careful regulations. Governor Rauner’s veto is a victory for homeowners across the state.”
In his veto message, Governor Rauner noted that, "Whenever we permit utilities to pass on their costs to consumers, we should ensure that costs are passed to consumers who use and benefit from the particular services to the extent possible. Unfortunately, because not all consumers receive both their water and wastewater services from the same utility, Senate Bill 1421 would permit a public utility to pass on wastewater costs to consumers who do not receive wastewater services. This type of subsidy is not appropriate or necessary."
The bill now returns to the Illinois Senate, where it originated. In order to override the veto, 36 votes would be necessary in the Senate and 71 votes in the House. Breen is optimistic that the proponents of the measure will be unable to obtain the additional 8 House votes needed to reach the 71-vote margin needed for override. The sponsors of the bill are Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria) and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria).