Springfield, IL. – In this report, remembering our military heroes who gave their lives in defense of our nation; controversial issues remain unresolved as the scheduled deadline of the spring legislative session approaches; Agriculture is Illinois’ Number One industry and; a local airport wins an award.
Remembering Our Heroes
On May 23, the Senate Republican Caucus held its annual Wall of Remembrance Ceremony at the State Capitol to mark Memorial Day, a holiday which honors those members of the U.S. Military who gave the full measure of their lives in the defense of our nation (photo below - from l to r: Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady; Gold Star Family Member, Mike Sullivan; Jim Frazier, the Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator for the U.S. Department of the Army and Gold Star Dad; Sen. Wilcox, and Sen. Brian Stewart).
It is said that a soldier dies twice. Once on the battlefield and the second time when people stop saying their name or forget. This ceremony is about keeping those memories alive, so we don’t forget.
Today, there is great respect for our veterans and broad public awareness and acknowledgement of their sacrifice, but there was a time when veterans weren’t treated so well. It’s worth noting that the Vietnam veteran, who didn’t necessarily get treated well when coming home, are today the very fabric of most veteran organizations. They rose above that shunning and, showing amazing dedication, continue to serve their communities and their fellow veterans.
The Wall of Remembrance Ceremony, with the Gold Star family members in attendance, also reminds us there are family survivors still grieving, and we should take a moment to think how we might support them.
The Wall of Remembrance will be on display in the Capitol Rotunda through July 4. The exhibit includes a video compilation of pictures of service members who lost their lives in defense of our country and personal remembrances by family and friends. I encourage you to visit the Wall display. There is an opportunity to fill out and post a card of thanks for those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Freedom and Liberty.
Senate Passes Legislation to Help Service Members and Spouses Earn Professional Licenses
Members of the Armed Services and their spouses who are stationed in Illinois may soon have an easier time obtaining professional licenses, under legislation passed by the Senate.
House Bill 1652 creates an expedited professional license application process for service members and their spouses. The applicant must be licensed in another state, stationed in Illinois, and otherwise eligible for licensure in this state. The legislation will also require the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to designate a staff member to serve as a military liaison to review and report on the process of the expedited licensure program.
HB 1652 heads back to the House for final legislative action.
Cold War Veteran License Plates
U.S. military veterans who served during the Cold War would be able to purchase special recognition license plates marking their service during the nearly 50-year U.S./Soviet Union “Cold War” conflict under legislation approved by the Senate May 21.
House Bill 2088, which passed the Senate by a vote of 54 to 0, authorizes the Illinois Secretary of State to issue Cold War license plates to Illinois residents that served in the U.S. Armed Forces between August 15, 1945 and January 1, 1992. The plates have no additional fee attached. Having already been approved by the House, HB2088 now heads to the Governor for consideration.
School Bus and Student Safety Bill Heads to Governor
Fines for those who do not properly stop for school buses on the roadway will double if Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs House Bill 1873 sponsored by fellow Republican State Sen. Dan McConchie.
HB 1873 seeks to crack down on those who ignore the red lights and stop arm on school buses by increasing the fine from $150 to $300 for the first offense, and from $500 to $1,000 for the second or subsequent offense.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, on average, 33 school-age children are killed every year nationwide in school-bus related crashes, many of which are caused by a passing vehicle in violation of the school bus warning systems.
HB 1873 passed the Senate by a vote of 53-0 and now heads to the Governor for consideration.
Legislative Session Nears Adjournment - Unresolved Issues Remain
With just a few days remaining until the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn the spring legislative session on May 31, several controversial issues remain unresolved.
Lawmakers have yet to act on issues like an overhaul of Illinois income tax system from a flat to a graduated tax system, legalization of recreational cannabis, sports betting, or a much needed capital plan. Lawmakers must also approve a budget for Fiscal Year 2020 in the remaining days.
The Senate Republican Caucus hopes to resolve these issues in a matter that is in the best interests of the state and their constituents.
Illinois Agriculture is #1
The latest nationwide census of Agriculture shows Illinois Agriculture remains the state’s number one industry. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Illinois has 72,651 farms, encompassing 27 million acres and generating $17 billion in annual revenue. The USDA says the most common size farm is 50 to 179 acres.
One of my valued legislative assignments this year has been to serve as the Minority Spokesman on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The Illinois farmer is the first link and the key link in a food chain that stretches from the family farm to the family kitchen table. Our farmers also have a worldwide impact; they feed the world. Illinois ranks third among the 50 states in the export of agricultural commodities with $8.2 billion worth of goods shipped to other countries. As such, Illinois Agriculture plays a significant role contributing to our country’s unchallenged global leadership in food production.
Lake in the Hills Airport Wins Award
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently announced the winners of its 2019 Airport of the Year award. Lake in the Hills Airport was recognized as the Reliever Airport of the Year. The airport is owned by the Village of Lake in the Hills. Being just 38 miles northwest of Chicago’s central business district, it’s a designated reliever airport for O’Hare International Airport.
In announcing the winners May 9, IDOT noted: “The winners were selected as a result of their accomplishments throughout the year, including an outstanding partnership with IDOT and a strong commitment to customer safety and satisfaction. Among the award considerations are cooperation and coordination with the state, facility safety record, promotion of seminars and aviation events, and facility maintenance.”
Congratulations to the Airport’s administration and the community of Lake in the Hills.
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.
On my legislative website, www.senatorwilcox.com, I post news from the Capitol and you can sign up for my free newsletter, read our Founding Documents, connect to state government agencies and resources and find college scholarship information. There’s also an extensive list of sites veterans can use to connect to employment, education, service records and more.