The General Assembly is on a two-week spring break after 11 straight weeks of Session. While some legislators may use this time to get away, I decided to use this week as an opportunity to get out in the District. I was happy to get out of Springfield for a bit to spend some time back home. Before leaving town last week, I was happy to get my third bill of Session passed last Friday. I want to thank Rep. Mike Unes for his assistance with passing the bill. The bill was an initiative of the Midwest Truckers that allowed for certain local roads to be classified as Class 2 Highways. It was a common sense bill that will help local road jurisdictions classify routes to help farmers and industry get products to market.
I had some good visits this week including a meeting with some local members of the Sierra Club. Although I differ with the Sierra Club on some of its viewpoints, I always appreciate the opportunity to sit down and discuss ideas. I enjoy productive conversations and the ability to find some common ground.
On Tuesday morning, I attended one of my favorite monthly meetings, the Champaign County Farm Bureau Legislative Affairs Committee, where I had the pleasure of bringing former State Representative Bill Black with me. Bill is someone that I have greatly admired for a long time, and I appreciate his perspective on the issues we face in Illinois. I always want to take full advantage of that great knowledge and experience as I learn to navigate this unique role.
I gave the committee an update on what is happening in Springfield and listened to their concerns on the issues of the week. The greatest concernd on everyone’s mind are the fiscal mess that Illinois finds itself in and the Governor’s tax proposals. People in the 104th District believe that we need to fix our spending problem before we go back and ask the taxpaying public for more money. A sentiment that I share with as well.
I spent a big part of my week in Rantoul, which is the second largest community in my District. I held important meetings with local Rantoul leaders, hosted my traveling office hours in the Village, and attended several service organization meetings. I was excited to learn about some of the new and exciting economic development initiatives that are taking place in the community. Some big opportunities are on the horizon in Rantoul, and I am happy to be there during this process and stand ready to help in any way I can.
One of the most inspirational meetings I had in Rantoul was with a few cadets in the Lincoln’s Challenge Academy program. Lincoln’s Challenge Academy is a voluntary boot camp for troubled young people, who want to better their lives. It was inspirational to meet these young men who have made a tough decision to get off the streets and work for a bright future. I really enjoyed getting to meet them as I listened to their stories, and I am excited to see what their future will entail. I left that meeting determined to be a resource to the program and any person working to improve their lot in life.
On Thursday, I spent a big part of the day greeting constituents at the Danville Area Community College yearly Ag Day, which is one of my favorite local events of the year. This year was especially important because it was the first year that my wife, Brandy Marron, oversaw the operation organizing the event. If you have not been before, you should truly try to check it out next year. This is a great way for the community to come out to learn about the importance of agriculture, the exciting career opportunities in Ag, and receive a very tasty meal for 50 cents. 50 cents is the rough amount of profit a farmer sees out of every meal produced in this Country.
It was an honor to introduce the Illinois Director of Agriculture, John Sullivan, who was the guest speaker for Ag Day. Although Director Sullivan is of the other political party, I have a great deal of respect for him. I know his immense experience as a State Senator will be valuable in this role, and it is always great to have a fellow farmer in charge of the Department of Agriculture. Every farmer in the place could relate to the Director when he told the story of how his cows got out of the fence and were running down the highway just as he was getting to his office in Springfield a couple weeks ago. Growing up with cattle, I had to chuckle, because I had that experience more than I ever care to admit.
It has been another good and productive week. My time at home will continue to be about constituent outreach, and we will be working to get in touch with you. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of help. Have a happy and warm Easter!