Session Update

This week we were in Springfield for many committee hearings and committee votes. We also got to welcome some great guests to the Capitol. It was one of my favorite weeks in session each year as we welcomed FFA students and other agriculture leaders on Ag Day at the Capitol. It’s always wonderful to talk about the importance of agriculture and see our future leaders in Springfield.  I handed out 5 ½ cases of Ski to FFA members to keep them going throughout the day. Last week I also handed out Ski to members of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts on their advocacy day. I’ll tell you more about that below.

Storm Damage

This week we saw some damaging storms roll through our area and many people experienced hail damage. As you are assessing the damage and figuring out how to repair the damage, please remember to check on your contractors – storms like this often attract some bad actors to the area. Check to make sure they are reputable and use our local reputable contractors if you are able.

If you have any questions or if there is any way our office can assist you, please reach out to my office.

Advocating for Farmers – Soil Health Week and Working with the Stewardship Alliance

Last week was an important week for agriculture at the Capitol. It was Soil Health Week and members of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts joined us at the Capitol to talk about the importance of maintaining our soils and keeping them productive for generations to come. I was able to speak with them about the practices on our farm and share a Ski. I started my speech by reading the beginning of the famous poem, “So God Made a Farmer.” It really highlights the role we have as stewards of the land and the responsibilities we have as farmers.

I also got to speak on behalf of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance on the importance of supporting local foods. When I was first elected to the legislature, I was able to pass the “Cupcake Bill” that allows home bakers to sell their products. This bill led to even more cottage foods bills that support our local producers and makers and give communities better access to locally grown and produced foods.  I will continue working with the Stewardship Alliance and others to make local products more accessible and to support our local producers.

Working with the Farm Bureau to Bring Down Taxes for Family Farms

As the legislative session continues, I am working with everyone I can to push forward a bipartisan proposal to help keep family farms in the family. In Illinois, our inheritance tax often makes it difficult to pass a farm on to the next generation without having a huge tax penalty or compliance cost. Especially with the increase in farm real estate values and inflation, the threshold for inheritance tax should be increased accordingly. That is what the Family Farm Preservation Act does. We are working to make sure families do not have to sell a part of their farm just to pass it on to their children.

This legislation has been filed in the House and the Senate. I will continue to work as the Minority Spokesman on the Agriculture committee to move this policy forward and I will keep you updated. You can read more specifics about the policy here –

Don’t Bring Bad California Policies to Illinois

There is a new bill proposed by democrats in Illinois that would force our EPA to adopt California emissions standards for semis in Illinois. This bill, House Bill 1634, would eliminate the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. On top of that, it would surrender Illinois’s rights to regulate this to California bureaucrats – crazy!

This bill goes to show how extreme and out of touch some lawmakers have become in Illinois. Why in the heck would we give the State of California the ability to control our vehicle emissions standards? This bill would stop the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles for electric cars, trucks, and semis.

This California-born bill will regulate our trucking industry and all vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel fuel. This bill gives California lawmakers, regulators, and their governor the right to change Illinois emissions laws without input from Illinois elected officials.

I’m not sure about other Illinoisans but I am not ready to become a secondhand citizen of California with no voting rights. This bill would double the price of trucks, semis, and increase the costs of all electric vehicles.

The cost to install one charging station for semi-trucks would cost $112,000 and the cost to run transmission lines to a charging station like this can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000, and that’s if there is even enough energy on the power grid to charge these electric vehicle batteries. Then, who knows what the price of electricity will be with all of our base load power closing down in Illinois.

The batteries needed to power a semi weighs 20,000 lbs., therefore reducing load capacity which will put 34% more semis on our roads that are in constant need of maintenance. All the while, these electric vehicles would be paying no gas tax to fix the roads.

All these extra costs will greatly increase the consumer’s cost of everything, especially groceries. This would mean inflation on steroids.

I like California grapes and strawberries when they’re in season, but not this California bill.

Fighting to Keep Jobs for People Living with Disabilities

I am continuing to work to preserve the dignity of work for people in Illinois who are living with disabilities and attend workshops throughout the day. These workshops provide them with pay for their work and also provide their families with a place for them to safely be in community throughout the day.

As I have told you before, there is pending legislation in Springfield that would force most workshops in Illinois to close due to new mandates. This would mean that the opportunities these workshops provide to some of our most vulnerable citizens and their families would be closed. I am working to speak with each lawmaker about the value of these opportunities and the importance of preserving the current workshop model.

If this legislation passed, it would put as many as 3,591 workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities out of work across the state of Illinois if the bill were to become law. We need to create opportunities before we close the others. These clients need the dignity of having a job as this legislation could result in over 3,500 jobs lost for folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities, that’s about three-fourths of these jobs currently filled. We must work on this bill, we need to make some changes, we want to keep everybody with their job, and maintain the chance of having a job.

The CEO of SPARC, Douglas McDonald, voiced his concerns about this bill, “Implementing HB793 would be a tremendous undertaking with high risks,” said McDonald. “It is essential that any substantial change in services be carefully considered before any action is taken. This bill pushes for implementation based solely on guesses.”

We held a press conference at the Capitol with advocates, legislators, and individuals who rely on these programs. You can watch the press conference here:

So far, the bill has not been assigned to a committee, but I will continue to be diligent and work toward maintaining these opportunities for our residents and their families who rely on them.

Emerging Women Leaders Conference

I was able to recognize two women from our area at this year’s Emerging Women Leaders Conference, Jennifer Ostrander and Elaine McNamara. I was proud to recognize Jennifer and Elaine for their commitment to improving our region. Jennifer Ostrander and Elaine McNamara exemplify a spirit of leadership and service.

Jennifer Ostrander is the owner of The Olde Wicks Factory Special Event Center located in Highland. Her business marries the beauty of century-old architecture from the original Pipe Organ Company that built this property to the modern comforts and amenities of today to give her clients a truly outstanding experience every time. On top of her historic building, she also has multiple rooms all with different capacities and benefits to suit a wide array of different events.

Elaine McNamara is very involved in the Greenville community, she serves as the Director of Greenville SMART and Executive Director of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. Elaine is also an experienced radio broadcaster. Host of “The Morning Buzz” on 97.5 the Rock / WDLJ FM and an Experienced General Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the broadcast media industry.

Down on the Farm:

We have had some beautiful days – as Spring begins I made sure to spray the fruit trees.

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