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State Rep. Bill Hauter opposes proposed carbon pipeline in central Illinois

Bill Hauter at WCBU's studio. Hauter is the Republican representative for the 88th district.
Collin Schopp
Bill Hauter at WCBU's studio. Hauter is the Republican state representative for the 87th House District.

Illinois State Rep. Bill Hauter opposes the development of a proposed carbon capture pipeline in central Illinois.

A Republican, the anesthesiologist from Morton represents the 87th House District.

The project proposal from Wolf Carbon Solutions, currently under review by the Illinois Commerce Commission, would run through multiple central Illinois counties on its way to an underground sequestration facility in Decatur.

Hauter said he’s talked to a lot of people, both his constituents and representatives of Wolf Carbon, in an effort to understand the project.

“How are they going to train EMS? What are they going to do about my rural hospitals, my critical access hospitals, disaster planning?” he said. “All these questions are up, and we are not getting adequate answers from them.”

Hauter claims there’s “no real plan” in the event of a disaster. Issues with the potential use of eminent domain to develop the pipeline also are a sticking point.

“When you just, as a corporation said, ‘Well, we don't intend to use it, but it's always a tool in their toolbox,’” Hauter said. “To me, that concern is a huge part of my reasons for opposing the pipeline.”

In addition to being vocal in his opposition to the pipeline, Hauter is a supporter of so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” or “pregnancy resource centers.” Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a measure into lawearlier this year that opened the commonly faith-based and anti-abortion rights centers to civil lawsuits under the state’s consumer fraud protection laws.

The centers can be entirely volunteer run and offer only counseling, or may have medical professionals on staff for examinations. They often offer services like pregnancy tests, diapers, baby clothes and parenting coaching.

“These centers, I believe, are the real pro-choice centers,” Hauter said. “When you go to Planned Parenthood, you have a very limited range of what your options are: they will offer you an abortion. And if you don't want to abortion, then they can no longer help you.”

On the Planned Parenthood Illinois’ services section of their website, they include options to book appointments for prenatal and pregnancy care. According to their website, the prenatal program includes ultrasounds, genetic screenings, vitamin prescriptions and direction to wraparound care like birthing classes, doulas and food assistance.

Hauter, whose wife has been a director of a crisis pregnancy center, doesn’t believe any of the pregnancy center’s work should be considered deceptive or misleading in the first place.

“It's a revelation of their options,” he said. “And so to call these centers, limited service pregnancy centers that deceive women is absolutely the furthest from the truth that it could be.”

Furthermore, Hauter thinks the bill is unconstitutional and intended to limit the pregnancy center's free speech rights. He calls it “lawfare.” At least one federal judge agrees with him. Judge Iain Johnson issued a preliminary injunction on the law in August. The case is still under review.

As a medical professional, Hauter also is invested in the practice of medical licensing in Illinois. He believes the process takes far too long and should return to the speed it operated at during emergency pandemic measures.

Hauter estimated it takes the average licensing process anywhere from six to eight months.

“If you are competing with Indiana, Michigan, that can reliably get your license to you quickly, or Illinois, we're losing out on some of the most highly compensated professionals in all of, you know, the healthcare industry,” he said.

Hauter believes he can make some bipartisan progress on issues like medical licensing.

“If you can build trust with the, you know, the Democrat side, and you can show that you're someone that is thoughtful about things and is not a bomb thrower, and I'm not insulting people, you can be really more impactful in Springfield as a conservative,” Hauter said. “And so this is one area that, you know, I think that I've worked well with the chairman of the committee.”

Another of Hauter’s bipartisan issues he hopes to make progress on is patient access and patient safety. He points out three hospitals that keep the rural areas of his district supported: Warner Hospital in Clinton, Lincoln Memorial Hospital and the Hopedale Medical Center.

“I'll been at all three of those and talk to their CEOs and the different employees and their different administrations,” he said. “Again, that's really important to me, that we maintain those critical-access hospitals.”

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.
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