My roots are on the farm, so I am always excited to talk agriculture. Last Friday, I was able to attend the East Central Illinois Legislative Breakfast organized by Farm Credit Services. It was a great opportunity to discuss concerns on what is happening in Springfield with local farmers and the ag business owners and their employees from the area. The hot topics were on the $15 minimum wage increase, the Governor’s Progressive Tax proposal, and fear of what new environmental restrictions may be placed on farmers and ag businesses. It is always good to hear concerns from our number one industry, and our farmers can be assured that they have a strong voice with me.
On Monday, I was thrilled to attend the dedication of the new roof for the Rantoul Historical Society while I was back in district. The Society moved several years ago from the old location on the former air base to a location on Route 136. The building they moved into was an old church that needed a new roof. My predecessor, Rep. Chad Hays (R- Catlin) and Senator Bennett worked tirelessly to help secure the money that had been granted to the Historical Society for the much needed improvements to the building. We also had the opportunity to tour the museum, which was the first time I had been to the Society since it moved. It was wonderful to see the awesome exhibits from Rantoul’s history and although the credit belongs to Rep. Hays and Senator Bennett, I was happy to be a part of the process that will help preserve Rantoul’s rich history.
I signed on to two great bills this week, HB 886 and HB 3373. HB 886 is an initiative protecting victims of a battery offense when they are under the age of 17 and their assailant is over the age of 21. If the court finds that the battery was sexually motivated as defined in the Sex Offender Management Board Act, then at its discretion, the Board may require a person convicted of battery to register under the Sex Offender Act. This seems like a common sense approach to keep bad actors away from our children, and I am happy to support Rep. Batinick’s initiative.
The second bill I signed on to this week, HB 3373, or the Blue Collar Jobs Act, is an outstanding bill to promote Illinois construction projects. I represent a border district. Businesses looking to locate in Illinois are sometimes enticed away because Indiana has better economic incentives than the State of Illinois can offer, including lower taxes, and a less regulation-driven environment.
Illinois continues losing its competitive edge year after year with more regulations, higher taxes, and out of control spending. The Illinois Blue Collar Jobs Program offers tax incentives to companies making significant capital investments in Illinois based on the withholding tax paid to construction workers. These tax credits only become available after the work has been fully completed. The legislation essentially expands the current Edge tax program to further incentivize construction projects in the State of Illinois using Illinois construction workers. I think this is a great idea to start helping Illinois businesses grow, while keeping the hard working men and women of our state in good paying jobs.
On Friday, I hosted a wonderful group of Danville Area High School seniors for a round table discussion on the various issues facing young people in my district. I have always been a huge believer in and supporter of our youth. As you know, the children make up our future. That is one of the reasons I wanted to run for State Representative. I want to make my district and the State of Illinois the best it can be, and we all need to work together to get our state back on track to incentivize our kids to stay here. We have some of the hardest working and smartest young people in the Midwest, yet our kids are finding it easier and more affordable to attend college out of state. We have businesses that are choosing to go to Indiana and Wisconsin over staying here in Illinois. These are the major challenges that were discussed in our student advisory group. I am going to take these sentiments seriously and keep fighting for the future generations, so they can enjoy the State we all love.
The highlight of my week was our first day back in Session. As of Tuesday of this week, I still hadn’t had the opportunity or the occasion to speak on the floor of the House yet. March is Women’s History Month and in honor of the great women who have contributed to our rich history here in Illinois, our caucus decided to speak each day on an outstanding woman from Illinois History. I was honored to be chosen as our first speaker, and I was even more honored to be asked to speak about Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman. Justice Garman is truly an outstanding woman. She is a trailblazer, an inspirational figure, and a good friend. It was a true highlight to speak in front of the Illinois House for the first time, an assembly that Abraham Lincoln was once a member of, and to have the subject of that speech be an outstanding woman that has meant so much to my community and the State of Illinois in general. At times like these, I am reminded of just how lucky I am to represent you, the people of the 104th district, in Springfield. It is an honor and a responsibility that I do not take lightly. Thank you for the chance to serve you. If I may ever be of service, please do not hesitate to contact my office.