COLUMNS

The 'Hi'-light of a week

Staff Writer
Morton Times-News
Rep. Keith Sommer

A young autistic boy, who I'm told rarely speaks, walked up to me with a smile and said, "Hi" as I visited the Autism Place in Normal two weeks ago.

His caregivers were so delighted, as was I. Wonderful work is indeed being done there by The Autism Program — ISU in assisting these children.

Illinois needs to clean up its fiscal mess so that effective programs like this may continue. My thanks to Dr. Karla Doepke and staff for welcoming me.

Berean Bible

Ministry gives Illinois $945,734.74

Yes, in addition to the benefits of ministering to those incarcerated, that's the value of food and other goods given during 2012 to the Illinois Department of Corrections by the Berean Bible Ministry based in Peoria.

This generosity of central Illinoisans is a little known story in how Illinois meets needs within its prison system.

This information was provided to me by Mike Davis at the Berean Bible Ministry Banquet in Morton on April 20.

According to the Department of Corrections, "When there is a need at a facility it is so wonderful to know we have someone who will assist us, someone we can go to with the knowledge that if the problem can be solved, you (Berean) will solve it." Amen.

'On the road(s) again'

No, Willie Nelson wasn't there, but many others were.

Let me acknowledge Mike Matejka, Laborers Local 362, Great Plains Laborers' District Council and the McLean County Chamber of Commerce for hosting a recent meeting on transportation needs in Bloomington.

Rep. Dan Brady and I discussed road, rail, and air projects and their funding with those in attendance, including Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner.

Building and maintaining a strong transportation system is vital to ensuring public safety and a vibrant local economy.

Working together, again.

It never gets old.

70 miles per hour or 20 miles per hour?

The Senate side of the Capitol Rotunda passed a bill last week increasing the speed limit on Illinois interstate highways from 65 to 70 miles per hour.

The House wing, however, drove in another direction and put on the brakes by passing a separate proposed law that would make driving 20 mph in a school zone a 24/7 proposition.

If anyone under 18 years old is present within 50 feet of a roadway in a school zone, day or night, 24 hours a day, drivers would be required to slow down to 20 mph — even if the kids are sitting on their front porch across from a school.

I certainly wish to protect our children, too, but this looks like a wrong turn to me. What do you think?

Prairie State vs. Lone Star State

We in Springfield must act soon to get our financial house in order, as was masterfully pointed out in an editorial in the Sunday, April 28, edition of McLean County's daily newspaper, The Pantagraph.

We can't afford to wait. Other states like Texas are wooing away our jobs. Unfortunately, four months have already passed this legislative session with scant attention being paid to budget and spending issues.

Recent legislation approved by the House, however, only further increased the costs and burdens placed on our job providers. Several members voting for these measures proclaimed that they were acting in what they believed to be a pro-business manner, while employer groups loudly stated their opposition.

Who would you believe? When will this madness end?

Some would say that the pounding you might hear this time of year is that of home builders. Others perhaps, like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, would say it sounds like coffin nails being driven in.

Southern Illinois odds against Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to close Murray Development Center in Centralia on the heels of shuttering corrections facilities in southern Illinois has that area's legislators from both parties ready to put on the gloves.

They've as much said so on the House floor.

Though Quinn may win this round, he will likely be politically bloodied by the jabs and haymakers thrown his way between now and next March by these lawmakers. A rope-a-dope defense won't likely work this time.

Conceal carry/ pensions / health care / marriage / gambling

The daily headlines between now and May 31 when the spring session of the of the legislature is scheduled to end will certainly cite these issues. Strong feelings abound.

It is my job to do what I believe is right and in the best interest of the people I was chosen to serve. I will do my best to live up to that trust placed in me.

— Rep. Keith Sommer is the State Rep. of the 88th District, which encompasses McLean and Tazewell counties