Capitol Briefs: Measure blocks interstate probes of abortion services

Capitol Briefs: Measure blocks interstate probes of abortion services

By PETER HANCOCK
& COLE LONGCOR
Capitol News Illinois
news@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD – Authorities in Illinois would not be allowed to aid another state’s investigation of people coming to Illinois to seek abortions or other reproductive health care under a bill that cleared the General Assembly Thursday.

House Bill 5239, which needs only a signature from Gov. JB Pritzker to become law, also gives individuals the right to sue for civil damages if their information is improperly disclosed.

Further, it gives minors the right to apply for public aid to obtain family planning services without the consent of their parents. And it gives the state exclusive authority to define and regulate “lawful health care activity,” prohibiting local units of government from exercising similar authority.

The bill is one of several responses Illinois lawmakers have passed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2022 that overturned Roe v. Wade. It came in response to legislative efforts in other states to ban or severely limit access to abortion services.

Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, cited the example of a Texas man who is petitioning a court to find out who allegedly helped his ex-partner obtain an out-of-state abortion.

“They want to overreach in the state of Texas to try to come to other states to tell us what we can or cannot do with our bodies,” Villanueva said.

But Republican Sen. Jil Tracy, of Quincy, argued that the bill could also be used to help child sex offenders in other states conceal their crimes by bringing their victims to Illinois to obtain secret abortions.

“A minor child could be raped by their stepfather living in Missouri, brought to Illinois, sign up for public aid – we help her get an abortion and pay for it – all the while covering up the acts of her stepfather,” she said.

But Villanueva pointed out the bill allows authorities to cooperate in investigations of activities that would be violations of Illinois law. It also allows them to cooperate in cases when doing so is required under Illinois or federal law.

The bill passed the Senate, 38-19. It passed the House in April by a vote of 72-37.  Pritzker has indicated he will sign it.

“As surrounding states enact more and more oppressive restrictions on women’s health, it is essential that Illinois continue to serve as a refuge for those seeking care, including after the procedure when legal inquiry may arise,” Pritzker said in a statement Thursday.

 

Education, climate change

House Bill 4895 requires every school to teach climate change curriculum starting in the 2026-2027 school year. Pending the approval of funding, the State Board of Education would create educational materials and provide training opportunities for educators regarding the curriculum.

Since teaching climate change is already required within the state’s school code due to Illinois’ adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, argued that the bill is unnecessary.

The proposal would require a one-time $300,000 expense to create professional development materials, which would need to be approved separately, according to its House sponsor.

It passed the Senate in a 36-16 bipartisan vote Thursday. The bill passed the House on a 70-37 partisan vote in April and needs only a signature from Gov. JB Pritzker to become law.

Read more: Capitol Briefs: Expansion of postpartum coverage, ban on kangaroos among hundreds of measures to pass House

House Bill 5250 would make high school students automatically eligible for placement in advanced coursework if they exceeded state standards in that area on a state assessment.

Bill cosponsor Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said helping students access challenging coursework “can be a huge difference in a student’s life.”

Parents or guardians will receive a notice in writing of their students’ eligibility with instructions to enroll or opt out of advanced placement. If no decision is made regarding placement, the student would automatically be enrolled in the next level. As part of a school’s accelerated placement policy a required course or unit can be waived provided a student has demonstrated mastery of the material.

The bill unanimously passed the Senate Thursday after previously unanimously passing the House.

 

Battery bills

The House passed two bills that would regulate battery collection and storage.

Senate Bill 3481 would require automotive parts recyclers that store over 5,000 kilograms of used electric vehicle batteries – or approximately 10 EV batteries – to register with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency by Feb. 1, 2026.

The IEPA and Pollution Control Board would be required to adopt rules regarding the handling and storage of used EV batteries and fire prevention and emergency response plans.

The bill passed the House Tuesday on a 77-35 bipartisan vote, but since it was amended in that chamber, it goes back to the Senate for concurrence.

Senate Bill 3686 would create the Portable and Medium-Format Battery Stewardship Act.

Beginning July 2026, battery producers would be required to create and facilitate a battery stewardship plan, and retailers would be prohibited from selling batteries from producers who haven’t submitted plans. Producers would be required to submit an annual report and pay an annual $100,000 fee to the IEPA.

Read more: Bills in state Senate would further regulate battery storage and disposal

During floor debate Tuesday, Rep. Sharon Chung, D-Bloomington, said the goal of the bill was for Illinois to “sustainably and safely be able to reuse batteries at the end of their lifecycle.”

In an interview, Chung said that small batteries such as AAs, rechargeable batteries such as removable power tool and camera batteries, and medium-format batteries such as scooter batteries are all included in the bill.

Under the proposal collection sites for portable batteries would be within a 15-mile radius of most residents and there would be at least 10 medium-format collection sites across the state.

It cleared the House Tuesday with bipartisan support in a 77-35 vote. Since it was amended in the House, it will go back to the Senate for a concurrence.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

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