Legislation proposed by high school students signed into law

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — A group of students from Pontiac High School worked with their local lawmakers to recently pass new legislation that helps to protect natural resources in Illinois.

The legislation was filed in the House by Representative Tom Bennett and was sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Jason Barickman. It was signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker last Friday.

“It’s been an honor to be a part of helping these students to see their vision move forward,” said Barickman. “They have stepped up in a way that should serve as an inspiration to other young people.”

Officials said House Bill 3928 will create the Thirty-by-Thirty Conservation Task Force — a panel made up of members who are from different state agencies as well as stakeholders from various backgrounds. The task force will hold hearings to develop plans for how Illinois can protect 30% of its land and water resources by 2030.

A group of students from Pontiac Township High School and their teacher, Paul Ritter, worked with Representative Bennett and Senator Barickman to sponsor the legislation in the House and Senate, according to officials. The students had an opportunity to testify on behalf of their legislation via Zoom during a committee hearing in the spring legislative session.

“This initiative has made us realize how much opportunity exists for change and the need to include younger generations. We have learned that by working together with legislators, government officials, farmers, environmentalists, and everyone in between, we can make a positive change in a major way. We are proud and grateful to be a part of this legislation and we look forward to working with everyone on the committee,” said Pontiac Township High School Students Keagan Hall and Emilie Collins.

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