We were out of Springfield this week, so I was able to spend some time in and around the district. I had some great highlights this week especially speaking to the Champaign Kiwanis Club about the legislative session, and I met with Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy and representatives of Fight Crime Invest in Kids. That meeting was about the importance of helping children from troubled backgrounds get out of bad cycle and into the program promoting a better start in life. The rest of the time this week was spent talking to constituents about their concerns on several bills that were filed this week. It was a fun, productive week and I received a great deal of valuable input.
This week was the legislative deadline to file bills for the upcoming session. I feel good about the legislative lineup of bills I am proposing this session. The major initiatives this year will focus on the current environment to promote and attract business to the State. This issue is crucial to the 104th. One proposal I filed include tax incentives to businesses who provide health care for their employee’s onsite with the goal of driving down cost and increasing access. Another was to businesses for aggressively treating on the job injuries with the goal of getting workers rehabbed as soon as possible, and for employers who participate in a “Move to Work” training program through a housing authority. These programs are pioneered by people such as the Champaign County Housing Authority Director David Northern with the main goal of moving people from public housing, into a productive job and eventually a good career. I am also sponsoring a workforce training initiative for the Illinois Community College Board that will set up our workforce training goals for the future.
Another major initiative involves our efforts to push ethics reform. I am carrying a bill requiring a public official that has knowledge of a sex crime to report it. Failure to do so, would be a criminal offense. We are all still in shock and are demanding answers about the Mike McClain email that requested leniency of disciplining an employee because he covered up a rape in Champaign County. People in public office and their associates cannot be allowed to take such a cavalier attitude about such a heinous crime and there must be repercussions for covering up something of this nature.
The 104th District has a strong tradition of celebrating our Veterans and the U.S. Military. Danville is home to the VA Illiana Health Care Center, the Danville National Cemetery, and is routinely voted one of the most Veteran friendly communities in the Nation. Rantoul was the home of Chanute Air Force Base for many years. That is why I am excited to sponsor a couple of Veteran initiative bills.
Garrett Anderson, a friend and a hero who served in Iraq, proposed that we create a Fold of Honor license plate for family members of Service Members who died in the line of battle. The extra proceeds from the sales of the plates would benefit the Folds of Honor Foundation, which would provide education scholarships to military families. I was happy to carry this bill and I appreciate Garrett giving me the idea.
Brad Gould, a good friend from Rantoul and a Veteran who is currently serving as the State Commander of the VFW had a great idea of mandating that a parking spot be reserved at State facilities for Veterans. I loved the idea and we filed a bill to make it happen. I am in favor of doing anything we can to help honor the Men and Women who have served our Country and fought hard to protect our freedom. These two bills make me extremely proud and I am honored to have my name on them this session.
Despite my frustrations with the real issues with the ethical environment that I discussed last week, I am excited about what initiatives we have proposed this session. I think the opportunity to do some good is there and I am ready to make it happen. On the other front, I promise to keep fighting the good fight and to call out the nonsense when I can. Together we’ll keep fighting for Illinois and especially for the 104th.