Memorial Day, House Nears Vote on State Budget, and More

I hope this update finds you and your family enjoying the holiday weekend and reflecting on the meaning and importance of Memorial Day. 

The first national observance of Memorial Day occurred on May 30, 1868. Then known as Decoration Day, the holiday was proclaimed by Illinois’ very own John A. Logan, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, to honor the Union soldiers who had died in the American Civil War. Today we pause to reflect and express our enduring gratitude for the brave men and women of every generation who gave their lives in defense of our freedom.

Legislators remained in Springfield through Saturday night passing dozens of bills, advocating for our constituents, and anticipating a vote on the new state budget, which is now expected to occur midweek. Unfortunately, the budget contains $800 Million in tax increases and a record-high level of spending over $50 Billion, including $182 Million in additional spending on services for non-citizens. I plan to vote No on this irresponsible budget with its numerous misplaced priorities and tax hikes.

Illinois House of Representatives observes annual Memorial Day ceremony

The Illinois House held our annual Memorial Day ceremony this past week, honoring the members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have lost their lives in service to our nation. This annual ceremony is a solemn reminder that freedom isn’t free. We must never forget the sacrifice of our nation’s heroes.

Rural Landowner Rights Jeopardized by Carbon Capture and Sequestration Bill

Supporters of the radical climate agenda passed legislation on Saturday creating new regulations for the capture, transport, and storage of carbon dioxide in underground wells on privately-owned land in central and southern Illinois – with or without the consent of every impacted landowner.

Under the provisions of the Senate Bill 1289, private landowners could be compelled to have carbon sequestration wells installed in pore spaces on their property, which would be pumped from agricultural, automotive and manufacturing facilities via a pipeline that would be built to store the gas beneath our fertile farmland.

Private property rights are the backbone of our American system of ownership and freedom, and I will continue to fight for the landowners in my district who oppose this program. Carbon capture and sequestration is a risky and unnecessary initiative that from my perspective is a solution in search of a problem.

Opposing ban on wildlife competitions

Ask any farmer in our area about the most significant threats to their crops and livestock and they will likely give you one of two answers: weather and predators. There isn’t much we can do about the weather, but for years we have been taking action to protect our farms and livestock from predators. One way we control the population of predators like coyotes is through wildlife competitions. Unfortunately, the House has passed a misguided piece of legislation that would ban these contests.

House Bill 2900 bans fundraisers and other wildlife competitions which involve hunts for fur-bearing mammals like coyotes, squirrels and raccoons. During debate, House members from agricultural districts tried to get the sponsor and the bill’s supporters to understand that these competitions help control the population of animals which damage equipment, spread disease and kill livestock. Ultimately, however, the majority did not heed our concerns, and the bill passed.

Action still needed to reduce delays in professional licensing

Many of our friends and neighbors are required to obtain a state-issued license to legally perform their jobs. Health care workers, athletic trainers, barbers, locksmiths and many others are among those who have to apply to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) for a professional license. Unfortunately, those license applications and renewals have been taking an extremely long time to get processed and approved the last couple years, putting many of these Illinoisans in jeopardy of losing their ability to legally do their jobs.

The problem is not due to anything the applicant has done wrong, it is because of an outdated system in place at IDFPR. The agency has been promising improvement, but so far they have not delivered. Now the agency has asked for another extension, to June 8, to upgrade to new software and improve its processes.

As a member of the Health Care Licenses Committee, my colleagues and I are supporting legislation to improve this situation. House Bill 1572 would expedite licenses for health care workers, while House Bill 4855 would require IDFPR to accept electronic payments for licenses and fees. Both of these bills have been blocked from moving forward in the House, in spite of the clear need and bipartisan support.

Claim your cash!

I’m teaming up with the Illinois Treasurer’s Office to help local residents see if you have any unclaimed cash with the State, and if so, help you get that money into your wallet. You may have funds from a forgotten bank account, stock dividends or some other source that belongs to you.  Mark your calendar and join us on June 4th in Pontiac to Claim Your Cash!

Welcoming Constituents to Our State Capitol

It is always an honor to share our State Capitol with my constituents. This past week I had the privilege of welcoming Dylan Steffen from Woodford County during his visit to Springfield.