Massive water rate increase bill should be vetoed by Rauner

Massive water rate increase bill should be vetoed by Rauner

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Massive water rate increase bill should be vetoed by Rauner

The Illinois House and the Illinois Senate approved a new law, HB 4508, that would allow two major water companies to massively increase water rates on its customers to help them buy up smaller water companies so they can grow and profit. The sponsors used the confusing and bureaucratic language of the bill to slip this past the public, although the CUB have denounced it and Gov. Bruce Rauner still has the power to block it. Contact your legislator today and let them know how you feel about what they did.

By Ray Hanania

Legislation to grant wide ranging powers to two of the state’s largest and under-regulated water companies, Illinois American Water and Aqua Illinois, and allow them to impose massive water rate hikes should be vetoed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.

Rauner has the ability to take a stand to protect residents of the state who have been suffering under excessive water rate charges from these two powerful water distribution companies, Illinois American Water and Aqua Illinois.

The governor has the opportunity to slap back down the outrageous support these powerful water companies received from members of the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate in approving HB 4508 on May 17, 2018.

The water tower for Rockton, Illinois at the north terminus of Illinois Route 251. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The water tower for Rockton, Illinois at the north terminus of Illinois Route 251. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Illinois House and the Illinois Senate approved the legislation which opens the door to massive water rate increases for many communities in Illinois who receive water through the two companies.

Personally I am shocked that members of the Illinois General Assembly would approve this bill which allows the water companies to jack up water rates on existing companies so they can purchase water operations run by other competing companies. The less competition, the worse it will be for residents now served by these two companies.

How could they do it?

Well, one reason is the bureaucratic rhetoric that is often used by government to disguise the potentila harmful impact of many Illinois laws. In truth, the language on this one is a bureaucratic gobbledygook of misleading political garbage.

Here is how the bill is described by the legislature:

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Public Utilities Act. Modifies the definition of “water or sewer utility” to remove language specifying water or sewer service provided to 7,500 or fewer customer connections as provided by certain entities. Provides that appraisals of the fair market value of the water or sewer utility that is being acquired shall be performed by 3 appraisers approved (rather than selected) by the Illinois Commerce Commission’s Executive Director or designee (rather than the water department manager) and engaged by either the water or sewer utility being acquired or by the large public utility. Allows appraisers to engage one disinterested engineer who is licensed in this State who may be the same engineer that is engaged by other appraisers. Provides that in the Commission’s order that approves the large public utility’s acquisition of the water or sewer utility, the Commission shall issue its decision establishing, among other requirements, the rates to be charged to customers in the water or sewer utility. Provides that a large public utility may (rather than shall) recommend the district or tariff group of which the water or sewer utility shall become a part of after the acquisition, or may recommend a lesser rate for the water or sewer utility. Provides that from the date of acquisition until the date that new rates are effective in an acquiring large public utility’s next rate case, the customers of the acquired water or sewer utility shall pay the approved then-existing rates of the district or tariff group as ordered by the Commission, or some lesser rates as recommended by the large public utility and approved by the Commission. Provides that in an acquiring large public utility’s 2 rate cases following an acquisition, the public utility may file a rate tariff for an acquired water or sewer utility that establishes lesser rates than the district or tariff group into which the water or sewer utility is combined. Extends the repeal date of the valuation of water and sewer utilities Section from June 1, 2018 to June 1, 2028. Makes conforming changes. Effective immediately.

Have you ever read anything more intentionally misleading.

Basically, the law could have said, “The Legislature gives Illinois American Water and Aqua Illinois the power to raise water rates to any limit under the disguise of seeking to expand their businesses by buying up other water service companies.”

Yea, sure, let’s have a monopoly on water service.

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) has spoken out repeatedly against this legislation and despite their opposition members of the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate voted to support the bill anyway. If homeowners had any clue as to what this bill was all about, this never would have happened.

House Bill 4508 has passed the Illinois House of Representatives and moves to the state Senate. We need your help to defeat this legislation, which allows big water companies to expand while customers foot the bill.

CUB opposes this bill: When the nation’s biggest private water companies get their hands on municipal water systems they often raise rates.

Five years ago the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation allowing private water companies (Illinois American Water and Aqua Illinois) to automatically raise rates in order to buy municipal water systems. Now that bill is up for renewal — only this version removes the limits on the size of systems that the water utilities can buy.

The Chicago Tribune reported that some Illinois communities are so fed up with high water rates they are trying to buy back a pipeline from Illinois American Water.

This bill makes powerful corporations even more powerful as they march across the state to buy up municipal systems.

But here is the list of the legislators who sponsored the bill to help the two powerful water companies, Illinois American Water and Aqua Illinois:

You need to contact them and SCREAM at the top of your lungs and demand that they do something to stop this. And Gov. Bruce Rauner needs to know that he has the opportunity to stand up for the rights of homeowners and veto this bill.

House Sponsors
Rep. Nick Sauer – Lou Lang – Tom Demmer – LaToya Greenwood – Norine K. HammondLinda Chapa LaViaJohn C. D’AmicoDan BradyLuis ArroyoStephanie A. KifowitMichael D. UnesChristine WingerJehan Gordon-BoothJerry Lee LongRandy E. FreseChad HaysDavid B. ReisMichael P. McAuliffe and Marcus C. Evans, Jr.

Senate Sponsors
Sen. James F. Clayborne, Jr. – Pamela J. Althoff – Linda Holmes – William R. Haine – Chris NyboMichael E. HastingsAntonio MuñozDavid KoehlerMartin A. SandovalDan McConchieCristina CastroTerry LinkKaren McConnaughay and Patricia Van Pelt.

When you look at the list of Representatives and Senate sponsors, you can see right away why these legislators voted to slam homeowners with the almost certain massive water rate hikes. Because most of them don’t represent areas where the water rate hikes will have an impact.

In other words, they supported it because the almost certain water rate hikes would hurt them politically.

But Governor Rauner. You represent all of Illinois, which is why you have the power to veto this outrageous greedy money grab. You can stop it.

On behalf of the millions of Illinois residents who will be harmed by this bill, I urge you to do the right thing and cast a veto to stand up for the rights of the little people and not the politically connected, corporate robber barons.

(Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall political reporter. You can reach him at his personal website at www.Hanania.com or by email at rghanania@gmail.com.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania