Session Update

Happy Spring! At the farm, we’re getting ready for a busy Spring and at the Capitol the legislative session is also in full swing!

Legislative Update:

This week, the Illinois House met Tuesday through Friday in Springfield for a full week of committees and votes. Many of the bills that previously passed committee required amendments, so there were many committee hearings this week to consider small amendments and changes.

This week is the deadline to pass bills out of the House and on to the Senate. I was able to advance House Bill 2996 that was brought to me by a local hospital district. And I was able to pass House Bill 1156 and a bill to recognize Illinois Soil Health Week. I’ll give you more information on both bills below.

While this week is the last week to pass bills out of the House, we will begin to contemplate legislation that has passed the Senate. So, if there are issues that are important to you, bills that would negatively impact you, or bills you would like me to sign on to as a co-sponsor, please let me know.

You can find a list of the current bills I have introduced here.

I presented House Bll 1740 in committee Thursday morning and was joined by Albers Mayor Steve Shoemaker and Albers Alderman Mike McDermid.

Promoting Soil Health

As I mentioned in my newsletter a couple of weeks ago, I recently passed legislation that designates the first week of March each year as Soil Health Week to celebrate and raise awareness regarding the importance of soil health to Illinois agriculture and Illinois farmers.

In celebration and observation of Illinois Soil Health Week this year, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts came to Springfield to advocate for soil health, conservation efforts, and to talk with lawmakers. I was happy to participate in their “Soil Your Undies Challenge.” Below is part of an article written in Agrinews about their visit to the Capitol and my participation in the challenge:

“The day also featured a ‘Soil Your Undies Challenge’ where a pair of cotton undergarments were buried 2 to 3 inches into healthy soil in early January. The idea is to wait at least 60 days and let the microbes do their work. Depending on the soil health, little should remain of the undergarment following the natural biological degradation.

“State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, member of the House Agriculture Committee, and southern Illinois farmer, had the honors of pulling the undergarment out of the soil and the microbes did their job as advertised. Only the waistband was left.

“Meier also was among the guest speakers at the rally.

“This dirt is home. Dirt is part of our family. It’s our legacy. It’s what we are giving to our kids, grandkids, and future generations. It’s what fed the world during World War I – Illinois dirt, Illinois farms. World War II, we fed the world again. Our exports go across the world right now all because of dirt. It took millions of years to get Illinois soil to the place it is now,’ Meier said.”

Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Information

This week I passed House Bill 1156 which requires the websites of licensed long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and other care facilities to post the information for the Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

Here is some information from their website on the work that the Ombudsman program provides:

The Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) is a resident-directed advocacy program which protects and improves the quality of life for residents in a variety of long-term care settings. Ombudsmen work to resolve problems of individual residents and to bring about changes at the local, state and national levels to improve care.

Trained community ombudsmen regularly visit long-term care facilities, monitor conditions and care, and provide a voice for those unable to speak for themselves. Most residents receive good care in long-term care facilities; however, far too many experience violations of their rights including abuse, neglect, poor care, isolation and lack of choices and meaningful activities.  Long-Term Care Ombudsmen make every reasonable effort to assist, empower, represent and intervene on behalf of the resident. Ombudsman work is directed by the resident.

The Services Provided are Free of Charge

You can find more information at their website here:

Constitutional Amendment Proposal to Give Downstate Illinois A Stronger Voice

Often in rural parts of the state, we know that our voice can get drowned out in the legislature. I have proposed a Constitutional Amendment to fix this and to provide a system more like that in Washington D.C. At the federal level, U.S. Representatives each have districts with substantially similar populations and each Senator represents different population numbers with the interests of their entire states in mind.

House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 14 would amend the Illinois Constitution to provide that each Legislative District shall be composed of three contiguous counties, with the exception of Cook County to have one Senator, instead of the 32 seats they have today. This change would provide the other 101 out of 102 counties in the state to have a bigger voice in the legislature.

Illinois currently has 59 State Senators and 118 State Representatives, my proposal would reduce the number of Senators from 59 to 35. The composition of the Illinois house would remain the same, at 118 Representatives.

This proposal would also save taxpayers over $6 million a year in lawmaker salaries and district office expenditures.

My proposed constitutional amendment would provide people outside of Cook County and southern Illinois more representation. This is an alternative to breaking away from Chicago by giving the voters a choice to have a larger voice at the capitol while adhering to our U.S. Constitution.

If this proposal becomes law, when a bill is passed by either the House or Senate, it would require lawmakers from both sides of the aisle from around the state to reach an agreement that is good for the state as a whole instead of just the city of Chicago having a majority in the Illinois Senate. Cook County has a majority in the Senate, this bill would change that and level the playing field in the State Senate and force both chambers to work together.

This Week on the Farm:

As the weather warms up on the farm, we are already cutting our first crop of spinach in the garden and the new lettuce and radishes are just popping out of the ground.

The Week Ahead:

  •  Next week, the Illinois House is scheduled for legislative session Tuesday, March 28th through Thursday, March 30th.
  • I try to make it to as many local events as I can. If you have an event coming up in your community that you’d like for me to attend, please let my office in Highland know: 618-651-0405.

Stay Up To Date:

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