LOMBARD, Ill. — Staff and board members of the Illinois Soybean Association cultivate more than soybeans.
On June 1, the ISA celebrated their move into a new location in suburban Lombard, relocating from the ISA’s downtown Chicago, La Salle Street location, with an open house.
As part of the open house events, ISA board president Steve Pitstick and ISA policy manager David Kubik recognized state lawmakers for their efforts in increasing the market for soy biodiesel in Illinois.
State Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex, and Rep. Eva Dina Delgado, D-Chicago, were honored with the ISA’s Legislative Champion award.
“We had this B20 bill. We ended up without a sponsor at the last minute. He picked this thing up and started running with it. He passed it out of committee. It stalled and came back this year. He fought for it as much as he could. Every time, somehow, you found a way to revive it,” said Kubik as he recounted Joyce shepherding Senate Bill 1146 through the journey that ended in the bill being passed by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly and being signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on April 19.
The bill extends the existing sales tax exemption for B10 through 2023 and then raises the biodiesel blend level eligible for the sales tax exemption to B13 in 2024, B15 in 2025 and B19 in 2026.
“We started on it a year ago. It stalled. This year, we took it up again. We had a lot of stakeholder meetings with people who were in opposition or had concerns. We did a series of meetings for two months trying to negotiate the bill to where we could get everybody who was in opposition at least to neutral. We were very successful at getting that done. The ISA and all the partners in the ag industry were very instrumental in helping get us to where we needed to be,” Joyce said.
Joyce said the primary opposition to the bill came from the petroleum industry and fuel marketers. He said moving the bill to the finish line required listening to their concerns and finding ways to compromise.
“The fuel industry doesn’t want to give up anything. That’s obvious and that’s most of it. The environmental benefits, I put that on the table right away and it settled that. It is good environmental policy for the state. But it was mainly the fuel marketers who opposed it and we worked with them on a strategy that did it over three or four years, so those bigger industries have an opportunity to develop the infrastructure they need to get to B20. We don’t want to go to B20 and find they don’t have the wherewithal to move that direction,” he said.
Joyce said one key to moving legislation like the biodiesel bill is listening to and trying to understand the concerns from opposition.
“I think as long as you are taking a respectful, thoughtful approach and listen to the objections — and some of those are very warranted — if you understand you are listening to something that makes sense for what they are doing, that’s a key,” Joyce said, adding that was the approach he took on the biodiesel bill.
“We adjusted the bill to fit those concerns. If some were voicing an objection just to be objecting, we tackled those in a different manner,” he said.
Kubik recognized Rep. Eva Dina Delgado, who wasn’t able to attend the open house due to a family commitment, as someone who helped spur interest among her Illinois House colleagues in the use and benefits of soy biodiesel.
“She came to a B20 event with the Chicago Park District on the lakeshore with us at this time last year. She was the only state legislator from Chicago who showed up as it was a municipal election day and they had other things to do. She created days to bring her colleagues out to the Chicago Park District for visits to learn about how biodiesel works and to talk about legislation. She created a coalition that we couldn’t have created. We developed a great relationship with her,” Kubik said.
Delgado sponsored the Illinois House version of the biodiesel bill.
State Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, accepted the Legislative Champion award for Delgado, and Kubik said Conroy herself has been a champion for biodiesel.
“She came to a B20 Club visit two years ago and has been one of our biggest advocates behind the scenes, so much so that she created a day for all of her House Democratic women colleagues in DuPage County to come out to the DuPage Forest Preserve and learn about and see B20 in action. Honestly, without that coalition of House Democratic women that came out to talk as the bill was being drafted, I don’t know that this bill would have crossed the finish line,” Kubik said.
Conroy thanked Kubik and praised Delgado’s efforts and her work with ISA.
“She was making sure everybody called the revenue chair. She was telling us make sure you text him and let him know we want this included. She was working that hard. You have found a treasure in the Illinois House. She is one of the biggest up and coming legislators that we have. She deserves a lot of credit,” Conroy said.