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McSweeney ramps up opposition to abolishing waterway agency

Published: Monday, March 24, 2014 3:31 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014 9:06 p.m. CDT

A local lawmaker known for opposing the growth of government is throwing his weight in support of keeping the Fox Waterway Agency.

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, introduced a resolution to the House on Friday that opposes Senate Bill 2696, which aims to eliminate the agency and fold its responsibilities on maintaining about 40 miles of the Fox River and the Chain O' Lakes into the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

McSweeney in filing his House Resolution 934 called the legislation, filed by Sens. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, and Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, "ill-conceived and shortsighted."

"For 30 years we have relied on the Fox Waterway Agency to deliver an essential service which no state agency is equipped to provide," McSweeney said in a news release. "We should not turn back now."

Link said his bill was aimed at helping pare down the state's almost 7,000 units of government. But opponents argue that targeting the agency to streamline government makes no sense because it does not levy taxes – it makes its revenue through user fees and grants. Furthermore, supporters said the agency was created in 1983 by voter referendum to do the maintenance and oversight that the IDNR did not have the finances or the staff to do.

The bill, filed in January, has been postponed from consideration by the Senate Agriculture and Conservation Committee. Link on Friday filed an empty "shell bill" amendment, meaning he could revise the bill with language to be decided.

McSweeney's opposition joins that of state Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, who used to be the waterway agency's director, and the governments of McHenry and Johnsburg, which passed resolutions supporting the agency's continued existence.

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