I am always a fan of this time of the year as we begin to slow down and focus on spending the Holiday Season with our friends and loved ones to reflect on the past year. This time is much needed to reflect on the good things that happened, the special moments, the victories, the challenges, and the setbacks. This time helps me point to where I need to focus my improvements and continue to create a general plan for how I will approach my next year.
While this is a good approach to take for any business or personal situation, the legislative process is much the same. Besides taking time to be with family and enjoying Christmas, I’ll be spending the next few weeks thinking hard about 2019, where we have been, what I’ve learned, and what I’m taking into the New Year as I head into my second year as your Representative.
2019 was full of plenty of excitement with many high and low points. Since I am generally a glass half full kinda guy, I’ll start out with the good stuff. Certainly, it is a true honor to serve as your Representative in the General Assembly. I am well aware of this honor that few people ever get to experience, and I am humbled every day that I walk into the State Capitol.
Springfield is filled with many great and honorable people working hard for people of this state, and while politicians sometimes get a well-deserved bad rap, there are some very good people in as well. The good people are on both sides of the aisle. There are some that I mostly agree with and some I don’t, but many are there for the right reasons and are working to make the State better. It is an honor to know and serve with those people. They are the ones that give me hope that, even amongst all the bad, our State has a bright future. It is my hope to work together with this group to root out the bad actors and finally end corruption in a bipartisan manner.
I was happy and proud to get my first pieces of legislation passed in 2019. All the bills I carried were minor fixes, but they were things that needed fixing! I appreciate everyone who helped in those efforts. I was honored to work with Senator Scott Bennett on the Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act, which was very important to the 104th District, and I was proud to help make that a truly bipartisan effort. I was extremely excited to be able to push the effort for a Danville Casino across the finish line after decades of trying. An effort that started with Rep. Bill Black and continued with Rep. Chad Hays that has been long and trying, but we finally got the job done. I happened to be the lucky guy that was there when it happened. The legislative achievements were definitely a highlight of the year, and I will work hard in 2020 to bring even better things to the 104th.
There were many challenges this past year that were extremely frustrating. Governor Pritzker got a lion’s share of his agenda through and I had some serious concerns about many items that passed. Legislation like the $15/hour minimum wage are going to make it harder for areas like the 104th on the Indiana border to compete for businesses and many other anti-business, pro tax initiatives. It was tough being on the negative side of those votes in the General Assembly. That fight is only going to get tougher as we move forward, which is why it is critical I be a strong voice for our area against higher taxes and harmful regulations on business and agriculture.
I will redouble my efforts to combat policies that are damaging to the 104th. I will work with the Governor and the majority when I can, but I won’t hesitate to speak out for our district when they get it wrong. Beyond policy, my goal is to continue through platforms like this and inform you about the parts of the process that are broken and need fixing. A great example of this are the ridiculous rules that govern the House of Representatives, which make the Speaker an all-powerful force. These rules afford him complete control of the legislative process, including what bills get called, when they get called, and also gives him the power to amend anything last minute. That is how we get a 1500 plus page budget dumped on us two hours before we must vote on it during the last day of session. Regardless of your political affiliation, reasonable people would agree that these practices are an abuse of power and a horrible way to conduct business. If I accomplish nothing else in Springfield, I am determined to tell that story as much as I can. People need to know our system is broken.
Finally, I, along with many of my other colleagues, will push for ethics reform. The Federal Corruption Investigation is giving us specific examples of things we already knew were wrong with Springfield. We must have real ethics reform if we are ever going to right the ship in Illinois.
In 2020, I will be proposing several legislative initiatives. Among these will be consumer protections for truckers and farmers, items to help the 104th District, some outside the box ways to attract business to this part of the State, and other ideas as well. After getting a taste of legislative success in the last session, I am committed to getting some more substantive changes passed for the District and the State. It is never an easy process in Springfield, but I am confident that I will be able to leverage the relationships that I have built to get some good things passed. It’s always a challenge, but challenges are fun and I’m ready for it.
2019 will soon be part of the past. It had its highs and lows and 2020 will be no different. We will keep up the good fight and work to build the State that we all deserve. I’m happy to be in the fight with all of you and together we will keep at it. As you reflect on 2019 and look ahead to 2020, remember to take time to enjoy the season and to enjoy time with loved ones. After all, that is what this joyous season is really all about. Take care and have Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas, and a wonderful 2020!