Illinois lawmakers are pushing for a new bill that will ban internet providers from doing business with the state if they don’t abide by net neutrality rules. Supporters of the bill say the internet isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity.

The fight for net neutrality may have been struck down at the federal level, but the battle in the statehouse has just begun.

“It’s now our responsibility, as state lawmakers, to protect our residents at best we can,” says Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago).

Monday, net neutrality rules expired nationwide, but Williams is spearheading a plan to keep regulations in place in Illinois. She fears without it, internet providers will be able to charge higher rates and limit access.

“Right now, consumers can access the internet, not as a luxury but as a necessity, and when that’s something that you need for every day life, if that’s for access to government services, to go to school or to do work for small business, we think that should be open for everyone.” 

Though the FCC okay’d changes nationally, she’s taking control where she can. Under her proposal, providers who don’t abide by net neutrality rules can’t do business with the state. 

“They want to find  a way to make money and I get that, but that’s not right for consumers.” 

The bill would still allow businesses to work in Illinois, but if they don’t follow rules, they can’t get a contract with the state. Business groups say that will do damage.

“It would create a patchwork of states with different rules, different regulations for these providers throughout the country.”

Michael Reever, of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce, says it would be a nightmare and could hurt consumers on the back end.

“It potentially adds cost because it doesn’t provide the most cost- effective benefit for taxpayers in Illinois.”

A University of Maryland poll shows more than 80% of Americans support net neutrality. Right now, almost two dozen states are pushing similar state regulations. 

Williams hopes Illinois can be the first to take a stand, but says it will be an uphill battle.

“There’s a lot of momentum on this bill so I’m hoping more and more people will understand this issue.”

Support of net neutrality appears to be split down party lines. Democrats, like Attorney General Lisa Madigan and gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker, back the state legislation. Governor Bruce Rauner (R), on the other hand, is siding with businesses and agrees the issue should be left up to the federal government.