Legislature scales back local government power in bill set to be signed by Pritzker



(The Center Square) – A bill on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk would allow for electrified security fence construction without the need for local government permission.

House Bill 2154 prohibits local governments from requiring a permit before installing a battery-charged fence on nonresidential property. The measure, if enacted, would apply to both electrified fencing for agricultural use and electrified security fencing to prevent trespassing.

Opponents say they worry the legislature is stepping on local governments’ toes.

Some Democrats like state Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex, voted against the measure. On the Senate floor, Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, the bill’s sponsor, pointed out union opposition to the measure. Joyce’s top donors are all labor unions.

“There were discussions on this regarding potential opposition from a union,” said Cunningham. “The parties met during the summer and the potential difficulties the union had with it…their questions were cleared up and they no longer had opposition to the bill.”

Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, raised concerns about taking away local control from municipalities.

“We have, the last few years, have taken away so much from local governments. It’s a serious issue and I see why the Illinois Municipal League is opposed,” said McClure.

The league opposed the measure.

The bill amends the township, county and municipal code to ensure there are uniformed statewide standards for the installation of battery-charged electric fences in nonresidential areas.

Cunningham carried the bill in the Senate and said the bill also requires warning signage on electric fences.

“This is to create uniformity across those three layers of government,” said Cunningham. “This is an effort to synchronize across local government at the township, municipal and county level so we have standard rules across the state.”

McClure voted against the measure. Any battery-charged fence installed under this law must have signs located on the fence placed not less than 30 feet apart that read: “WARNING: ELECTRIC FENCE.”

“I think it’s time we give more power back to the locals,” said McClure.

The bill is on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk. He is expected to sign it.

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