Municipalities across the state may have a small window to pass ordinances regulating installation of small cell, or 5G, phone technology as a state representative works to advance a measure to amend a law signed by the governor last week.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 1451. With the exception of Chicago, the measure mandates uniform standards for deals telecommunications companies can make with local governments. Some cities – including Springfield, Rockford and others – opposed the measure. They say it ties the hands of local officials in making deals for their jurisdictions.
State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, said his bill would be a minor amendment to the law.
“It says, among other things, that if a municipality has passed an ordinance dealing with small cells by a certain date, that they have the same protection the city of Chicago got in Senate Bill 1451,” Zalewski said.
The law Rauner signed – and business groups backed – is set to take effect July 1.
Illinois Manufacturers’ Association Vice President Mark Denzler said Zalewski's amendment measure would be a step back from the uniform standards.
“Illinois needs a modern telecommunications system for businesses and residents,” Denzler said in an email. “Manufacturers rely on innovative smart technology. This legislation takes a step back from the recently enacted modernization law.”
The amendment is also opposed by AT&T and T-Mobile, according to witness slips filed on the bill through the General Assembly’s website.
Zalewski said municipalities are asking for more control over the technology in their jurisdictions.
“Fees and costs associated with installation, flexibility, those are the types of things local mayors deservedly want to have a voice in and we’re trying to give them that voice,” Zalewski said.
Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said Zalewski’s amendment would be good news if it passes and the city, with it’s publicly owned utility, will be looking to pass an ordinance regulating small cell technology.
“We have to do the, not only generation, but the delivery of the electricity through our city,” Langfelder said Tuesday. “So we’d like to have that opportunity to protect our asset as much as possible.”
The amendment has the backing of the West Central Municipal Conference, the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference and the Metro West Council of Governments.
Zalewski’s measure remains in committee.
This article originally ran on ilnews.org.