The new legislative session that began on January 30th saw several changes in the membership of key legislative committees that deal with energy policy issues. Many of these changes relate to the large number of mid-term resignations by important Senators and Representatives.
The Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee has a new Chairman in Senator Michael Hastings (D-Frankfort). Chairman Hastings replaces former Chairperson Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), who moved up in Senate majority leadership with her appointment as Majority Caucus Chair. Senator Hunter remains on the Committee as Vice-Chair and Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) continues as Republican Spokesperson.
Senator Hunter replaced Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) in leadership after his January resignation. Trotter was also a long-time member of the Senate Energy Committee.
Leadership of the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee remains intact. Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) chairs the committee and Senator Kyle McCarter (R-Vandalia) serves as Republican Spokesperson.
Over in the House of Representatives, the chairmanship of the House Public Utilities Committee remains unfilled. Vice-Chair Representative Andre Thapedi (D-Chicago) is now the ranking majority member of the Committee after the resignation of former Chairman Representative Brandon Phelps. Representative Chad Hays (R-Danville) continues to serve as Republican Spokesperson.
The House Energy Committee has seen little change in the past few months. Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) is the Chairperson and Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) is the Republican Spokesperson. There is an opening for Vice-Chair of the committee because former Representative Phelps held that post prior to his resignation.
House Environment Committee chair Representative Dan Beiser (D-Alton) also resigned and has been replaced as Chair by former committee Vice-Chair Representative Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills). Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem) continues as Republican Spokesperson.
There are several openings on the House committees membership lists in addition to the leadership positions because some of the House Members who have resigned served on more than one of the key energy policy committees. Former Representative Elgie Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) served on both House Energy and House Public Utilities. He has now moved over to the Senate to replace former Senator Trotter but his House committee spots remain open.
Similarly, former Representatives Phelps and Beiser served on two of the three committees and their committee spots remain open, as well.
Clearly, changes will be made in the coming weeks because of the open positions on several of these committees. In fact, the openings have caused the unique situation where the majority Democrats don’t have enough members to constitute a majority of each committee at the present time. That situation will probably be rectified shortly.