• Column 02-23-18

    Congratulations to Dakota’s Maverick McPeek (220 pound class) and Lena-Winslow/Stockton’s Ian Kuehl (285 pound class) for their victories at the IHSA State Wrestling Tournament this last week in Class 1A. I would also like to congratulate Le-Win/Stockton’s Rahveon Valentine (2nd place 170 pounds) and Hunter Luke (4th place 145 pounds), and West Carroll’s Ethan Doty (5th place 120 pounds) for their Class 1A medals; and congratulations to Freeport High School’s Major Dedmond (6th place 170 pounds) for his Class 2A medal.

    In team wrestling, the Lena-Winslow/Stockton Pantherhawks advanced to the Sectional match against Aurora Christian on Tuesday. The defending champion Pantherhawks kept it close but it wasn’t enough to overcome Aurora Christian.  Congratulations to Coach Milder and the Pantherhawks on their season.  We look forward to seeing great things next year from all of our area wrestling teams.

    Wrestling is quite possibly...

  • Column 01-19-18

    Pierce Brown wrote, “Home isn't where you're from, it's where you find light when all grows dark.” For 115,000 Illinoisans in the past year, the light is no longer in the Land of Lincoln. 115,000 Illinois residents left our state according to the US Census Bureau between July 2016 and July 2017. Furthermore, Illinois has lost over 642,000 residents since 2010.

    This is especially true of Illinois rural counties.  The Illinois News Network reports that rural Illinois has been losing more population in recent years, while suburban Chicago has grown. Crain’s Chicago Business indicates that Chicagoland has done more than increase population, it has created jobs, saying, “Federal data shows that just 20 counties nationwide accounted for half of new businesses created in the US between 2010 and 2014… Cook was the only county in the Midwest to land on that top 20 list.”

    Even considering the growth in Chicago’s economy, the...

  • Column 01-05-18

    Thank you! Last month, I sent out my legislative update and included a survey covering important issues we all face in Illinois. Hundreds of you returned the survey either by mail or online and they are still coming in! Many of you sent personal comments, letters, and cards as well. I am reviewing them all, and am both humbled and grateful to read your thoughts.

    I also understand there were some challenges with the online survey. I am working with our House web development staff to work on improvements for the future. It was George Washington who said, “In a free and republican government, you cannot restrain the voice of the multitude.” The government is us; we are the government, you and I. For a government to be successful we need to elect good people, who know when to stick to their guns and how to accomplish the will of...

  • Column 12-28-17

    Well, 2017 has flown by. Here we are, at the start of another year. Like Christmas, the New Year fills our hearts with hope and possibility. We make resolutions and plans. We commit ourselves to making this year better than the last. I am looking forward to what the New Year will bring for us.

    New Year’s Resolutions are not a new phenomenon. The ancient Babylonians brought in the New Year with promises to their gods, while returning borrowed items, and clearing their debts. Romans made promises to the god Janus – get it, Janus for Janu-ary.

    The tradition permeated Christianity too. Knights in the Middle Ages would place their hands on a live or roasted peacock, and recommit themselves to the code of chivalry. Christians held watch night services to bring in the New Year in prayer and commitment to make the next year a better one.

  • Column 12-22-17

    It’s hard to believe how fast another year has gone by, and that Christmas is already here.  I have said it before, and I will say it again, Christmas is a great time of year.  It is full of hope and joy, opportunity and care.  Christmas brings the promise that all things can become new.

    Looking back at the past year, we have been very blessed.  We have many committed local public servants working diligently to meet the public trust.  Freeport elected its first woman as mayor, and changed its form of government to better serve the taxpayers.

    Our local economy is moving forward with many regional businesses expanding and looking for qualified staff.  MetLife has returned to Freeport!  At my Annual Christmas Party, I was impressed to see so many young professionals who have joined our community of solidly growing businesses.

  • Column 07-21-17

    During the past few weeks much has occurred in the General Assembly and it has been covered by the news media from many different points of view.  However, the fact remains that a massive, permanent tax hike was shoved down the throats of the working Illinoisans, their families and small business owners. The personal income tax rate increased from 3.75 to 4.95% which is a 32% increase and the largest permanent income tax increase in state history.  The corporate income tax rate increased from 5.25% to 7%.  In case any of you were wondering I voted NO on the tax increase.   

  • Column 6-16-17

    The General Assembly failed to pass a budget during regular session this year.  That disappointment was felt by Illinoisans across the state – especially those who rely on the necessary social services that our state is currently neglecting.  In my opinion, there is no other word to better describe this ridiculous situation other than “unacceptable.”  It truly is unacceptable.  This inaction prolongs suffering and does nothing to address the very real problems that our state currently faces.

    Many of you who read my column know where I stand on the budget debate – and you know that I believe that the budget is not the sole issue that necessitates action.  There are some serious systemic issues that need to be addressed so that we can prevent this mess from ever...

  • Column 6-9-17

    Last week we talked about the ongoing budget battle.  All of us are very aware of the deleterious consequences that stem from operating without a budget. Necessary social services and our education systems are suffering because of the impasse, and Springfield politicians are earning themselves some much deserved heat from constituents.

    We have operated for two years without a budget, and that is completely unacceptable.  Illinois deserves far better than political bickering.  I read your comments every day, and I certainly understand the frustration you have with the lack of progress in the legislature.  Please understand that no one is more frustrated than I am.  It’s the first thing I think about every morning, and it’s the last thing I think about at night.

    But as we focus squarely on the issue of the budget, I hope you’ll remember one thing: A balanced budget will heal many of our wounds,...

  • Column 6-2-17

    This week was our last chance to reach an agreement on the budget before the legislative session came to a close. This week we passed bill after bill – but none of those bills were a budget. Though we currently find ourselves without a resolution to the budget crisis, there is still some hope that an agreement can be reached during a special summer session.

    As your State Representative, passing a balanced budget is my top priority. But we should also be acutely aware of our overarching goal – to chart a course that makes our state both economically prosperous and fiscally sustainable. If we don’t accomplish this goal, then we can expect to hemorrhage more and more of our population.

    Last year Illinois lost over 114,000 residents to other states, and our overall population declined by nearly 40,000. The obvious ramifications are that those of us who remain must...

  • Column 5-19-17

    As I write this column, we are still learning about the Illinois Senate’s so-called “Grand Bargain.” In next week’s column we will explore the Grand Bargain, but this week I’d like to focus on what happened in the House.

    It wasn’t all bad news in Springfield this week. The House passed Senate Bill 607 – a bill on which Senator Bivins and I collaborated. S.B. 607 strikes an archaic passage of the Illinois criminal code which banned the use of spring-assisted knives in Illinois. While some people still have a negative opinion of this particular tool, many others know that this instrument is useful to professionals such as paramedics and law enforcement. Laws prohibiting the possession or manufacturing of these knives are extremely antiquated, and most states have either repealed those laws or are in the process of doing so. S.B. 607 has passed both the Senate and the House...

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