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Morton Times-News - Morton, IL
  • Sommer Legislative Updates: Washington knows how to cooperate

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  • Washington, Ill., that is! Just consider how Washington’s park district, city council, school district and library joined with a non-profit to cooperatively form the wildly successful Five Points. Mayor Gary Manier led a city contingent to meet with the Illinois Secretary of Transportation regarding the re-design and re-construction of the Route 24 — Nofsinger Road intersection. Present along with myself and Sen. Bill Brady was Washington resident Steve Brown of Speaker Madigan’s staff. Again, “cooperation” for the public good. Yes, it can work! It does in Washington!
    My House committee assignments
     
    For the next two years I will be serving on the following committees: Insurance, Economic Development, Adoption Reform, International Trade and Commerce, and Business and Occupational Licenses. You are most welcome to offer your input on our deliberations and attend our hearings as they are all open to the public.
     
    “Good, Bad and Ugly” spending
     
    The additional $2.2 billion in spending that was approved days ago in Springfield on a mostly party-line vote (I voted “no”) could be described as “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Yes, extra federal monies for needed and delayed road projects could be called “good,” while the spending of $125 million from the Road Fund this year to pay for healthcare costs might easily be tagged as “bad” policy. But it is the governor’s hiring of unnecessary high-wage employees and the raiding of the Local Government Distributive Fund that certainly qualify as “ugly!” Can you think of another Clint Eastwood movie title that might also apply? I know a few, but I’ll let you suggest one ....
     
    TV 25 / Receptions
     
    Nothing attracts more legislators than two things, TV cameras at the Capitol and free food and drink at after-hours receptions. Once that camera light goes on, they’re like moths diving into a bonfire. Locally, TV 25 has the knack of easily getting grown men and women to line up, smile and say something provocative enough to make the evening news.
     
    Save the Date
     
    On Saturday, we will be holding an open house from 8-10 a.m. at my legislative office in Morton. Please stop by for “coffee and conversation” at 121 West Jefferson. Anne, Rebekah and I look forward to seeing you.

    The Capitol still leaks
     
    About a decade ago the roof of the Capitol Building in Springfield leaked so badly that bits of plaster were falling on and near legislator’s heads and desks. Core Construction, I believe, and others came to the rescue, made the necessary repairs and refurbished the chambers. Today, however, the Capitol is again experiencing leaks of another kind — those to reporters about private conversations among legislators. More bumps on the head are likely to follow.
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    Residential address, please
     
    Since we can get hundreds of emails any morning, it’s helpful if the sender includes a residential address because I like to respond — but those with addresses within my legislative district get our priority.

    State of the State
     
    The State of the State addresses of Illinois’ governors usually include plenty of rhetoric about how good they are and what great work they have done.
     
    When Pat Quinn often repeated the words “That’s Our Illinois,” however, in last week’s address, I couldn’t help but think somewhat differently about the past decade or two. To me and many others “That’s Our Illinois” sadly brings to mind habits of overtaxing, overspending, over-regulating and overpromising!
     
    The governor’s budget address is next. Let’s see how that sounds.
     
    Three people rule
     
    No, I’m not talking about the governor, the speaker of the House, nor the president of the Senate. Now, under the new House Rules adopted for 2013 and 2014, the three majority members of the Rules Committee can unilaterally stop the consideration of any legislation they wish by refusing to send it to a committee for a hearing and vote. Gone apparently are the days when all legislators’ bills were treated somewhat equally. Are the days of equal representation nearly gone as well? Let’s hope not. There is too much yet for us to do for the 110,000 people we each represent.
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