03/16/18 Column

Congratulations to the Winnebago Boys basketball team and Coach Murphy on finishing second in the Class 2A IHSA State Championship.  It was an exciting season and we are all proud of your achievement.  We look forward to next season for all of our area teams.

This past week also saw the National School Walkout protest.  Some students in schools across the country walked out of their classrooms for 17 minutes to protest gun violence in honor of the 17 students who were tragically murdered at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month.  Other students and schools chose to address the issue in other ways.
Dr. King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” However you think gun violence should be stopped, or how people should protest, we can all agree that there is too much gun violence in our schools.  Public safety, in schools and out, is of maximum importance.
The capacity to express our opinions about what we believe without the fear of government retribution is truly American.  I would challenge our students to be confident in expressing your opinions.  Also, be tenacious in studying the issues.  Do not become complacent in your ideas.
Keep learning, keep stretching your intellect, and do not settle for the easy conclusion for any reason.  Walter Cronkite was right.  He said, “In seeking truth, you have to get both sides of the story.”
As we navigate difficult and sensitive issues, let’s never forget, the things that unite us are greater than the things that divide us.  We can and will find answers to the problems we face. How could we not?  After all, we are Americans.
That is why elections are so important.  And just a reminder, the primary election day is Tuesday, March 20th. Early voting is underway.  Many communities are deciding more than who will be on the ballot in the fall.  There are important referenda to vote on in the primary. Contact your County Clerk for details on voting or a sample ballot if you have any questions.
It is also important what our elected officials do in office.  One of the bills I sponsored, HB3095, was directed to improving public safety.  Until last year, one of the requirements Illinois had to become an Illinois State Trooper was that candidates have at least a four year college degree before being eligible to apply.
I was honorably discharged from the US Army after having served as a Military Police Officer and as a Military Police Investigator.  That experience would not have mattered if I were to have applied to be a State Trooper as I did not have a four year degree.
Thankfully, the General Assembly passed HB3095 which became Public Act 100-0011.  Now veterans, who have served honorably, can apply to become State Troopers without a four year degree.  They are still required to pass and complete the same testing and training as those with a college degree.  I believe that those who put their lives on the line for our freedom by serving in the military should not have unnecessary obstacles if they want to continue the fight to keep us safe as civilians.
Legislators return to the General Assembly on April 9th.  We have budgets and taxes to debate and both will dominate the headlines.  I have filed 41 House Bills to be considered for the Spring Session and will provide some details on some of them in upcoming columns.
Abraham Lincoln said, “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.” I look forward to the work we have to do in Springfield next month. In the meantime, have a happy and safe Saint Patrick’s Day.
If you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or John at 815-291-8989-0774, or click the Contact Us link at the top of this page and use the form to send me an e-mail.
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