The weather is getting colder and it is starting to act like winter. That must mean we will soon be heading back to Springfield. The Holidays are over and I’m getting out and about in the District preparing for the upcoming session that will kick off on Wednesday the 29th with the Governor’s State of the State Address. After a very active session last year, I’m curious to see what the Governor will be proposing for this session. I’m also anxious to see what his commentary will be on the Federal corruption probe that has long time Springfield insiders on edge. I’m interested in observing how the investigation will influence the upcoming legislative agenda. I hope that we are starting to see cracks in the machine’s foundation that will lead to positive change in Illinois.
On Tuesday, I met with one of my favorite groups, the Champaign County Farm Bureau Legislative Committee. Being a Farmer myself, I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of the important issues facing Agriculture in our State, but it is always good to get the perspective from some of the best Farmers in our area. You can bet that my number one priority for the upcoming session will be to do everything to protect the Illinois Farmer’s freedom to operate and to do all we can to promote Agriculture.
Next up was a visit with Chancellor Jones and his team at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I am always impressed with our State’s Land Grant University and all the wonderful things that are happening there. I am proud that part of the University is in the 104th District. It gives me great hope to hear about the issues facing the institution and the economic impact these decisions will have on our State and our area of East Central Illinois. This visit is always helpful when I am making decisions on the House Higher Education Committee. It was also fun to get to tour the new football complex. This complex, built largely with private funds, is part of a strong effort to put the U of I’s athletic program on the cutting edge of College Athletics, an important part of marketing the U of I for the future.
I was honored to be asked to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Rantoul Sports Complex with Senator Scott Bennett, Mayor Chuck Smith, and several Village Trustees from Rantoul. The Sports Complex is just one of many exciting things happening in Rantoul. The complex will be a huge attraction for the area and will be a big economic boost as people travel from around the State to come to Rantoul for sporting events. The great things happening in Rantoul are a turning point for a wonderful and tough community that has fought for years against challenges that occurred when Chanute Airforce Base closed in the early 1990’s. I’m proud of Rantoul and the progress they’ve made, and I am committed to support these efforts however I can.
This week was full of positive events and I was happy to attend the ribbon cutting on District 118’s Dr. David Fields Administration Building. Dr. Fields has been a pillar of the community of Danville for years. He retired in 2000 after serving 40 years as an educator and administrator for Danville District 118, having touched countless lives and having greatly improved our community. It was great to see the hard work that was done renovating the administration building and it was great to see the building officially named in honor of a good man. Congratulations to Dr. Fields on an honor well deserved.
The community of Danville never ceases to amaze me. It is unquestionably one of the most generous communities in the State. Despite all of our challenges, people never fail to turn out in droves to support some important community effort. Thursday of this week, the Turtle Run banquet center was packed at 7 am for the annual Danville Public School Foundation Breakfast. It is always great to see the number of people willing to show up early on a cold winter morning to support public education in Danville. It was also encouraging to see presentations from students on the items that the Foundation purchased for the district. You can see your donation at work, making a positive impact in the lives of these kids.
Things are primed and ready to go for the new session starting in Springfield. I am ready to get back and get to work. I’m cautiously optimistic, but I will be on guard for new initiatives and regulation that could further hurt our area. I will continue to do my best to give you a strong voice in Springfield and push forward with much needed changes like ethics reform. I will also do my best to keep you informed. That might be the most important part of this job.