Springfield, IL. – My ongoing tour of our area’s major employers brought me to Conserve FS headquarters in Marengo on Monday, March 18; I spoke at the Agriculture Legislative Day event in Springfield on March 19 and; met with high school students from Crystal Lake at the Capitol.
Pro-Life Rally At the Capitol
In other news, thousands of people from across the state came to the Capitol Wednesday, March 20 for the largest pro-life rally Springfield has ever witnessed. So many people gathered under the Dome that the crowd spilled into the hallways and on to the second and third floors of the Rotunda (photo below). Eventually, the Secretary of State Police closed the Capitol because the building was at its Fire Code capacity.
Meanwhile, a day earlier, a Senate committee gave initial approval to Senate Bill 1594 to repeal Illinois’ Parental Notification of Abortion law. The parental notification is not the only issue of concern. The parental notification law went into effect in 2013. It was upheld as constitutional, but if this bill passes, parents will lose their voice in their daughters’ lives. Parents have the right to know if their minor daughter is about to undergo a major operation. Parents are responsible for the welfare of their minor children. A desperate situation doesn’t always lend itself to good judgement. It also clouds a young person’s proper and mature understanding the medical, emotional and potentially long-lasting psychological consequences of abortion.
We have seen extreme abortion legislation this session including a bill that would allow abortion, up to the moment of birth, for any reason or no reason at all. According to an analysis by Illinois Right to Life: the legislation, House Bill 2495, removes all limits on late-term abortions and eliminates licensing requirements for the small number of abortion clinics that are licensed. It also expressly declares that the unborn child has no rights and removes conscience protections from pro-life doctors, nurses and hospitals who refused to participate in abortions remove penalties for performing an abortion on a woman who is not pregnant and lifts the ban on the sale and experimentation of an unborn baby. It also would force all insurance plans to cover abortions, with no exception for churches, religious organizations, or pro-life groups.
There is a long-standing principle of justice, common sense and compassion in this country to protect the lives of the most vulnerable. The unborn, who cannot defend or speak for themselves, are the most vulnerable of all.
Combating Deadly Fentanyl
Legislation taking aim at fentanyl, now the biggest cause of opioid overdose deaths, passed the Senate Criminal Law Committee during the week.
Despite the fact that fentanyl is now considered to be the biggest cause of opioid overdose deaths, current Illinois criminal law treats is as a lesser threat. That could all change under Senate Bill 199, which would put the drug on the same level as heroin.
According to 2018 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl is now the drug that is most frequently involved in overdoses in the United States. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. While it is commercially sold as a prescription pain reliever, much of the drug involved in overdoses and deaths is made illegally. It is often mixed in with heroin and cocaine by dealers.
Senate Bill 199 creates a Class 1 felony penalty structure (4 to 15 years in prison) for the possession of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, targeted at illegal dealers and suppliers of the drug. It gives law enforcement another tool in the battle against the opioid crisis.
Senate Bill 199 is now awaiting a vote by the full Senate.
The week started out with a visit to Conserv FS in Marengo.
The tour included looking over the company’s state of the art equipment, including a liquid row crop machine (photo left), and learning about the services FS offers, such as coating soybean seeds to protect them against pests and disease after planting, which helps maximize harvests (photo bottom right).
I thank John Tuttle, Scott Reeder, KJ Johnson and Liz Hobart for the tour (photo bottom left).
Tuesday, March 19 was Agriculture Legislative Day in Springfield. As the Minority Spokesman on the Senate Agriculture Committee I was invited to speak to the agricultural organizations gathered for this 49th annual event (photo below).
What legislators do in Springfield and D.C. has great potential for help or harm when it comes to Illinois Agriculture. I recalled my father’s uncle’s dairy farm negatively impacted by government regulations so much so, that he eliminated his herd and converted the farm to producing maple sugar. Agriculture is interwoven into American history and our lives. I remember picking strawberries with my wife and girls a few years ago. We got caught in the middle of a downpour, the only family out there in the field, but we had a great time and it’s a memory I’ll never forget.
Our 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “The proper role of government, however, is that of partner with the farmer — never his master. By every possible means we must develop and promote that partnership — to the end that agriculture may continue to be a sound, enduring foundation for our economy and that farm living may be a profitable and satisfying experience.”
This is the kind of wisdom and principles to be considered when deciding the fate of legislation that comes before the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Prairie Ridge H.S.
I met with two teachers from Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake who were part of the Fit Kids exhibit at the Capitol March 20 (photo right). Thanks to Michelle Loding (on my left) and Kristin McGowen (on my right) for being part of this important event bringing students and teachers from all over Illinois to Springfield. Fit Kids highlights the importance of physical education as part of the school curriculum.
As an active high school student myself, and the son of a phys-ed teacher, it was great to see these enthusiastic students.
High School Grads Going Out-of-State
More Illinois high school graduates are choosing to go to college outside of Illinois. According to 2017 figures recently compiled by the Illinois State Board of Education, “the number of college-bound public high school graduates who enrolled in a four-year institution, nearly half, or 48.4 percent, out-migrated.”
IBHE interim executive director, Nyle Robinson said, “The outmigration trend continues to increase, and that means we’re not only losing students to out-of-state colleges and universities, we’re likely losing them to other states for good. We want to educate our state’s students and see them flourish in jobs here in the Land of Lincoln.”
The Board attributes the 2015-2017 budget impasse with motivating the out-of-state enrollment increase (3.7 percent), although the IBHE indicates there was an increase (1.2 percent) in high school seniors attending four-year institutions in the years prior to the budget impasse.
Wanted: State Troopers
The Illinois State Police (ISP) are accepting applications for its next Cadet Class. Cadet Class 130 is tentatively scheduled to begin in October 2019. ISP has 21 patrol districts across the state. The deadline for a completed application and required documentation is May 31. More details are available at the Illinois State Police Merit Board website at www.illinoistrooper.com.
Keep In Touch/Stay Informed
There are several ways to keep in touch with me. You can call my district or Capitol offices: 815/455-6330 or 217/782-8000 and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My legislative website at www.senatorwilcox.com is a great tool to find out what’s happening at the Capitol. You can sign up for my free newsletter, read our Founding Documents, connect to state government agencies and resources, find college scholarship information and there’s an extensive list of sites veterans can use to connect to employment, education, service records and more.