This week has been interesting to say the least. Illinois has gone through the ceremonial changing of the guard, with Governor J.B. Pritzker coming into the fold and outgoing Governor Rauner leaving office. One of Governor Pritzker’s main campaign promises has been an issue near and dear to honest government officials, concerned citizens, and the Illinois Republican Party. Governor Pritzker promised to bring a unified, non-partisan redistricting commission to our State to fulfill our Constitutional requirement to redraw legislative maps every ten years after the U.S. Census. These candidates then have to file unrealistic pieces of legislation that normally force more regulations on small businesses and higher taxes for middle class Illinoisans.
I believe in independent redistricting reform, because I believe it is a critical first step to common sense reform for the future health of our State. I campaigned on the promise of supporting the Fair Maps initiative, so I’m proud to announce I am joining 42 of my Republican colleagues in signing onto Leader Durkin’s bill, HJRCA 10, requiring that much needed reform. We need 71 votes on this bill to pass the House, and I am hoping Gov. Pritzker will stick to his word on supporting this initiative and veto any partisan drawn maps that are sent to his desk. He vowed he would work to pass this initiative and to work together with the Republican Caucus, so this is a wonderful opportunity to prove he truly is a man of his word. Implementing fair maps will end politicians gaming the system and drawing maps to ensure they’ll never have to be accountable to the voters. It empowers the voting public and fosters accountability. I support Leader Durkin’s effort for this common sense reform, and I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will join to make Illinois a better and more ethical place.
|Me and Miss Alexi Bladel|
With all of the craziness happening in Springfield this week, it was great to be able to be in district using the opportunity of being home to get out and talk with constituents about my experiences so far in Springfield and talk about moving this State forward. During the week, I learned about the interesting roles I get the honor of being a part of as a State Representative. Two young ladies, Miss Alexi Bladel of Winnebago County and Vermilion County’s own Megan Brown, came to my office for some help prepping for this weekend’s competition for the coveted title of Illinois County Fair Queen! I admittedly know nothing about pageants, but I do take a great deal of pride in my public speaking and I enjoyed helping these young achievers be the best they can be. Meeting these two young ladies reminds me of the high caliber of young people we have in this State. The children are the future, despite the challenges we face, and they make me feel confident about our future and the hard work it will take all of us to make this a better place for them. Good luck to both Alexi and Megan as they seek to represent agriculture on a state-wide level!
On Tuesday, I had the honor of meeting and eating lunch with the Danville Dental Society. It was a wonderful conversation and they shared their concerns with me about their profession and the community that they do business in. Among their top concerns is the need for an improved business climate, access to care, the consolidation of the dental industry, and the struggles health professionals have understanding and dealing with the State’s Medicaid reimbursements. I am so happy to be able to have this professional group of people who truly care about the health and wellbeing of our district, and was honored to be invited to listen to their valued ideas.
|Leonard Wirges and Belynda Allen|
The most rewarding experience that happened during my week back home was when I gave a speech to the Rantoul Exchange Club on Wednesday. The speech went extremely well, but the real rewarding part of the event was handing out an official General Assembly certificate to a friend of mine, Mr. Leonard Wirges. Leonard and his wife, Lorraine recently received the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award and the certificate was to honor that accomplishment. It was a special moment for me because Leonard is a good friend of mine. We’ve gotten to know each other with our involvement with the Rantoul Republicans and Leonard truly is an amazing man. Leonard is a WWII vet, and veterans of WWII hold a special place in my heart. You see, growing up, my all-time hero was my Grandpa. He had been a combat medic in WWII and I thought he walked on water. He left a deep seated appreciation in me for ‘The Greatest Generation’ and the sacrifices they went through for our country. WWII truly was a defining moment for our nation. It defined our national character in a way that set a high standard. It said that we are the good guys and America stands for honorable things like Truth, Justice, and Freedom. The members of that generation and men like Leonard set a high mark for us to live up to and they should be honored for it, every chance we get.
Wrapping up the week, I filed my first bill. The legislation was originally Rep. Chad Hays’ idea. The bill would provide for property tax relief after natural disasters. It was a good feeling thinking of the prospect of potentially getting something positive enacted for the district. That, after all, is why we are in office. Weeks like this one, are what truly make this job rewarding. I realize that there will be challenging times ahead, but spending time with my constituents and representing my home town is truly an amazing honor. I love going out and talking to you, hearing your ideas and concerns, and seeing the fruits of those initiatives we push together start to come to life. You the people of the 104th, make this job amazing! Thank you and have a great weekend! Be safe with all this snow!