Several times over the past week, Gov. JB Pritzker has avoided responding to a major criticism farmers have of a recent state law allowing a private company to use eminent domain to lay a transmission line. across the state.
Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, was asked last week at the Illinois Farm Bureau forum about the provision of the energy law that Pritzker signed last year.
“If there was one reason and only one reason I would vote no on this bill, it would be because of the eminent domain clause,” Bailey said of his opposition to the bill in the Senate. Eminent domain allows private land to be seized if the government deems it necessary for a public good.
Bailey said two of his counties are affected by the Grain Belt Express project. The project presented in a radio ad earlier this year, $1.2 billion in economic benefits for the state with 2,200 local jobs and $33 million in new revenue for area communities.
“The message that came back to me was, ‘well, one of these days we might have to tune into this for our own purposes,'” Bailey said. “There’s no reason this line should cross our state.”
Before being separately asked about the issue at last week’s IFB forum, Pritzker told the group that Bailey was a liar and that there was nothing to expand eminent domain authority. When asked specifically why a project that is not a public utility should have the right to take private property, Pritzker deflected.
“There is no eminent domain provision in the bill that allows the state to take more eminent domain property than there was before the Climate and Jobs Act. fair,” Pritzker said.
But the measure gives the private project a way to use eminent domain if some private land is needed. The company behind Grain Belt has said land acquisition “will be minimal”.
The 800-mile project from Kansas wind farms has a 200-mile main route and a proposed alternate route to Illinois.
CEJA right states that if a “qualifying direct current project” traversing Pike, Scott, Greene, Macoupin, Montgomery, Christian, Shelby, Cumberland and Clark counties can show that it is “designed to provide electricity”, then it can be used “for public use”. ”
Later, after the IFB forum, Pritzker was asked to clarify. He said he was talking “broadly” about eminent domain.
Asked Friday at the DuQuion State Fair if he regrets calling Bailey a liar, Pritzker doubled down.
“Darren Bailey didn’t tell the truth about eminent domain,” Pritzker said. “Darren Bailey said there was a massive change in the state’s ability to declare eminent domain, that’s just not true.”
Last week, Bailey said in a statement that Pritzker was dishonest.
“If JB is comfortable walking into a room and lying to workers about it, how can he be trusted to tell the truth about anything? I focus on honest leadership that identifies issues, brings people to the table, and finds solutions to make Illinois safer and more affordable for everyone,” Bailey said.