Good afternoon from Springfield. This week I’ve got some good news to share about bipartisan legislation to help family farms. I’ll also tell you about a bill I’m supporting to empower local counties again with wind and solar projects. But first, I want to congratulate two future leaders from Clinton County – Abigail Detmer and Ashlyn Jerding. They were honored at the Illinois Pork Producers Expo last week. It was an honor to attend and speak at their Expo and I want to congratulate Ashlyn and Abigail on being recognized!
Illinois Family Farm Preservation Act
Last week, I joined a bi-partisan group of my colleagues and the Illinois Farm Bureau to discuss our proposal called the Family Farm Preservation Act. This bill would make it easier for family farms in Illinois to pass their farm on to the next generation through raising the estate tax threshold for farms.
As I have been saying for years since I joined the General Assembly, the estate tax has devastated family farms for decades as these farms are often sold to pay the inheritance tax. Improving estate tax exemptions for farmers will help save family farms when the farm is passed down to each generation. Family farms treat their farmland like family as it helps provide for their family and produces the crops that help feed the world. Our country has the lowest food costs in the world, thanks to family farms.
I am supporting House Bill 4600 which is a bipartisan bill designed to protect farm families and their land by updating the Illinois Estate Tax code to include protections for farm ground and to protect the tax against inflation.
“Passing on the family farm is not just about continuing the business, it’s about preserving family heritage and a way of life,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Brian Duncan. “Yet the current Illinois estate tax often forces families to break up the farm by selling land, livestock or even equipment every time the business passes on to the next generation. A death of a loved one should not be a death sentence for the family farm.”
You can hear my comments here.
Counties Should Have A Say In Wind and Solar Ordinances
During the lame duck session last year, Democrats pushed through a partisan bill that took away local counties’ rights to make ordinances around wind and solar projects. Instead of letting local county boards work with their residents to set the zoning rules for these projects, the state passed a law that made the maximum setback for these projects very small. That means solar projects can now be just 50 feet away from residential homes. I opposed this bill. Local counties should get to decide.
Since that law passed, I have heard from homeowners who are frustrated with this law. Something needs to be changed. In committee this week, I voted for House Bill 4135 and spoke in support of it. This bill would return these setbacks to 500 feet instead of 50. This is a start in the right direction towards giving locally elected officials more flexibility to make zoning decisions about their own county. I was glad to support the bill and I will keep fighting for more local control around these projects. You can watch my remarks in committee here: https://youtu.be/hYzppaYe3W0?si=jtZYWKhOLmSIkCJG
Down on the Farm:
On Sunday I dined at the Highland KC Chicken Dinner and then was able to donate to the Girl Scouts at Tru Buy. And, I ended the weekend by hosting my local 4-Hs progressive dinner.
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