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Bill to dissolve the Fox Waterway Agency shelved

Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 2:55 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 11:56 p.m. CDT

The Illinois senator who introduced a bill to dissolve the Fox Waterway Agency has shelved the idea pending a further study of the issue.

Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, introduced Senate Bill 2696 in January, which would have eliminated the agency and folded its responsibilities into the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The bill was aimed at helping pare down Illinois' nearly 7,000 units of government, Link said at the time.

He shelved the bill Wednesday and intends to amend it after talking with the IDNR and groups involved with the waterway, according to Link spokeswoman Mary Shaw.

"For lack of a better term, it's a dead bill," Shaw said. "There are ongoing negotiations. That's why they're shelving it."

Shaw said there is a possibility a task force could be formed to study whether the agency should be absorbed by another department. There is no set timeline for the bill, but it could technically be brought back at any time, she said.

"I believe that Sen. Link received enough negative comments from the current administration and all the people that live along this waterway that he is rethinking his approach," said state Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry.

Althoff said it would be "beyond detrimental" to give control of the agency to the state.

"Nothing has changed in the 25-plus years it has been in existence," she said. "Having local control means that we are much more aware of the needs of our residents."

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, who introduced a resolution to the House on Friday that opposed the bill, said he was glad to see it shelved.

"It was a bad idea," McSweeney said. "I'm a supporter of the Fox Waterway Agency … I hope [Link] doesn't try to pursue the bill further."

McSweeney said taking local control of the 40 miles of the Fox River and the Chain O'Lakes away and shifting power to the state would be a mistake.

"I am going to make sure we are continuing to stand up for local control of the Fox Waterway Agency," he said.

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