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***Guest Column***

One of the most important measurements of a community’s success is their crime rate. Rightly or wrongly, the responsibility for crime rates often falls in the laps of our nation’s police departments. Our policemen and policewomen patrol a Thin Blue Line to serve and protect us.

Law enforcement has evolved greatly over the centuries. Starting with volunteer watchmen and part-time constabulary, policing was not centralized into civil police departments until the mid-nineteenth century. According to Eastern Kentucky University Criminal Justice Professor Dr. Gary Potter, Boston organized the first full-time police force in 1838, and was followed by New York City in 1845 and Chicago in 1851.

On May 4th 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued a Proclamation, declaring May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which May 15th falls as National Police Week, “in recognition of the service given by the men and women who, night and day, protect us through enforcement of our laws.” He also wrote, “Whereas, from the beginning of this Nation, law enforcement officers have played an important role in safeguarding the rights and freedoms which are guaranteed by the Constitution… Whereas it is important that our people know and understand the problems, duties, and responsibilities of their police departments and the necessity for cooperating with them in maintaining law and order; and Whereas it is fitting and proper that we express our gratitude for the dedicated service and courageous deeds of law enforcement officers.”

As many of you know, I am a former law enforcement officer and retired as a Sergeant with the Stephenson County Sheriff’s Police. My law enforcement background is one of the reasons I am the Republican Spokesperson on the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee.

I stand firmly with my fallen brothers and sisters. I stand firmly with their families. I stand behind the Thin Blue Line. I stand with the heroes who protect it, like Mark Dallas, a 15 year veteran of the Dixon Police Department who stopped and incapacitated a shooter at Dixon High School on Wednesday.

Thank you Officer Dallas. You are a hero. And thank you to every police officer who puts on the uniform to protect and serve us every day.

Another important measurement of the success of a community is literacy. Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan once said, “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development… a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity... Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”

Annan’s view is corroborated by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In a 2006 report, they wrote, “Indeed, it is widely reckoned that, in modern societies, ‘literacy skills are fundamental to informed decision-making, personal empowerment, active and passive participation in local and global social community’.”

It is especially important to develop reading skills from a young age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “More than 1 in 3 American children start Kindergarten without the skills they need to learn to read.” Raising Readers, a program in the state of Maine, reports on their website that “Developing early literacy skills makes it easier for children to learn to read.”

The National Education Association agrees. Their website says, “having kids read a lot is one of the crucial components of becoming a good reader.”
In a departmental report The Condition of Education published in 1998, the US Department of Education uncovered that “the more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores.”

This is why I am happy to once again announce my annual Summer Reading Program. This Program challenges 1st through 5th graders to “Camp Out With a Good Book” and read 8 books during their summer break. Books for local library programs are acceptable and books over 150 pages may count for two books.

Once a student finishes reading all eight books, they should complete the Reading Program form. The form may already have gone home from your local school. In Freeport, the form is available in the school library or at the Freeport Public Library. It is also available at your local public library or on my website www.repbrianstewart.com. Please return the form by July 31st, 2018 to be eligible.

Kids who have read at least 8 books will be invited to participate in an ice cream party later in the summer at the Union Dairy. They will also be awarded an official certificate from the Illinois House of Representatives recognizing their commitment to reading.

As always, if you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com and use the form to send me an e-mail.


***Guest Column***

In 1998, James Hunter wrote a book called The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership. With over 3 million copies in print, The Servant is an excellent book on leadership. Hunter writes, “Leadership is not about personality, possessions, or charisma, but all about who you are as a person. I used to believe that leadership was about style but now I know that leadership is about substance, namely character… Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, habits become our character, and our character becomes our destiny.”

Speaking of character, the City of Freeport Fire Department has had 3 notable retirements recently, Battalion Chief Brian Bruce, Fire Inspector, Robert Bush and next week Deputy Chief Robin Gorsline. In addition Public Works Director Tom Dole also has retired. They have all served Freeport with distinction for over 30 years, and Tom Dole over 35 years. I had the privilege of joining Inspector Bush at Calvary Lighthouse Church’s special “Honoring Public Officials Service” last November in Rochelle, Illinois.

It takes character to be a first responder. It takes character to do it every day for over 30 years. Thank you Gentlemen for showing us what character looks like.

This week also honors two professions, the often unsung heroes of our classrooms and our clinics and hospitals. It is National Teacher Appreciation Week. The first National Teacher Day was declared by Congress in 1953. The National Educators Association began to push to renew National Teacher Day in 1980, and the NEA began observing National Teacher Day in March each year until 1985.

The National Parent-Teacher Association began designating the first full week in May to honor teachers as National Teacher Appreciation Week in 1984. In 1985, the NEA Representative Assembly voted to change the date of National Teacher Day from March to coincide with National Teacher Appreciation Week.

I am sure we can all think of at least one or two teachers who made a difference in our lives. We know that a better education means a better future for our children. It takes character to show up every day to make a difference in our children’s lives. Take a moment and thank a teacher for their hard work and dedication.

It is also National Nurses Week. The first week honoring nurses was called “National Nurse Week”, and it was held in 1954 from October 11th through October 16th. The dates were chosen to coincide with the 100th anniversary of famous American nurse Florence Nightingale’s mission to the Crimea. It wasn’t until 1974 that the next National Nurse Week was designated by President Richard Nixon.

In the 1980’s nursing organizations, including the American Nursing Association, began to lobby for a National Recognition Day for Nurses and President Ronald Reagan proclaimed “National Recognition Day for Nurses to be May 6th in 1982. In 1990, the ANA Board of Directors expanded the observance to National Nurses Week from May 6th to May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

In every clinic and hospital across our nation, nurses are working to make sure their patients receive quality health care. The next time you see a nurse, thank them for the character they demonstrate doing their job each day.

Leadership takes character. It requires knowing what the job is, and doing that job to the best of our ability. If the job is cutting lumber, and you are sharpening pencils, it does not matter if you’re the best pencil sharpener in the business. You’re not doing your job.

Take the job of state representative. My job is to propose and vote on prospective legislation to grow our economy. I have written about several specific bills I have filed in the past several months. One of those bills, House Bill 5233, will make it easier for companies to locate in Illinois.

Currently, Illinois law requires a company seeking to take advantage of state business incentives, to obtain an incentive package from a neighboring state. This hurts our chances of attracting new businesses to Illinois and beating any incentives offered by neighboring states. HB5233 removes the requirement.

Another of those bills is House Bill 4787 which will help rehabilitate structures in downtown Freeport and other cities.

What we need are more legislators proposing common sense solutions like HB5233 and HB 4787 in Springfield. What we do not need are legislators to have emperor like authority to dictate how and where a business should operate, or what any one person should or shouldn’t do.

It is easy to criticize and throw peanut shells from the cheap seats, or around the morning coffee table. There are plenty of critics. We need more people to participate in a healthy community discussion about what all of our elected officials and our citizens can do to fulfill their duty and help our community move forward - together. We need more character.

Happy Mother’s Day and hope everyone remembers their Mother on her special day.

As always, if you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com and use the form to send me an e-mail.
Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz is urging Illinois firearms owners to file paperwork early as the first wave of the 10-year Firearm Owners Identification cards come due for renewal.

More than 50,000 FOID cards are due for renewal between June 1 and Aug. 1. The General Assembly amended state law in 2008, allowing FOID cards to be valid for 10 years. The timing of the law change creates a glut of renewals this summer, and could cause a backlog at the Department. State Police are recommending to renew your FOID Card now.

Applicants can visit the ISP's Firearm Services Bureau website at ispfsb.com to renew online. The cost of the card is $10. Applicants must be Illinois residents and include their Illinois Drivers License or State ID card number. Applicants under the age of 21 must have a parents' signature on the application. Anyone who needs assistance with FOID card renewal, and those who prefer paper applications, can call 217-782-7980 and select menu option 0.

Applicants should make sure the name and address on FOID applications match the records on file for them at the Secretary of State's Office, otherwise the renewal process will be delayed.

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***Guest Column***


I agree with Bern Williams who wrote, “The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.” I definitely hope that the teasing is over and spring has finally sprung. The sun is shining and the temperatures are finally on the rise. It can be argued that the sun is shining on taxpayers because the Illinois House of Representatives has been in recess this past week. I pray our luck holds when the House reconvenes May 8th.

There are two important noteworthy national events going on this week that have been on my mind. April 29th through May 5th is Small Business Week. Most of you may know that I am currently involved in the operations of 21 small businesses employing hundreds in Northern Illinois so this week is very important. And this Saturday marks the 144th Kentucky Derby.

Small businesses received their first assistance from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation created in 1932 during the Great Depression. In 1953, Congress passed the Small Business Act that created the Small Business Administration (SBA). Ten years later, President John F. Kennedy declared the first National Small Business Week, with the purpose to educate small business owners about how the SBA could help small businesses.



Today, not only does the SBA utilize National Small Business Week to inform small businesses about resources they can use to improve or expand their business, it recognizes and awards excellent small business owners. Deborah Sweeney, writer for Business.com, wrote, “According to the SBA, more than half of Americans own or work for a small business. Entrepreneurs also help create two out of every three new jobs in the United States, yearly. Since the week-long event (National Small Business Week) began in 1963, the number of small businesses created has continued to rise. Fewer businesses are failing, too.”

It is important for our state to empower and expand small business opportunities. This can be done by cutting red tape, and putting the right incentives in place to help new businesses start up, and existing businesses expand. I sincerely hope that the Illinois General Assembly works to pass laws that make sense and help businesses create jobs, especially in Northern Illinois.

It has been said that, “The Kentucky Derby is billed as the most exciting two minutes in sports. Held every year on the first Saturday in May at the World famous Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, the most glamorous horse racing event of the year draws spectators from all over the world.” The Derby truly is steeped in tradition, from the big hats to the Mint Juleps.

Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, Grandson of William Clark of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition, attended England’s Epsom Derby in 1872 on a trip to Europe. He later spent time with the French Jockey Club, a group that developed the Grand Prix de Paris Longchamps. Colonel Clark returned to Kentucky with the desire to bring a spectacular horse racing event to the US.

His uncles, John and Henry Churchill, leased the land in Louisville, Kentucky to be used for the racetrack. Colonel Clark formed a club of enthusiastic local horse racing fans called the Louisville Jockey Club. The club dues raised enough money to build the track’s clubhouse, grandstand, stables and porter’s lodge. They opened the gates to the track on May 17th, 1875 for the first Kentucky Derby.

In 1883 the racetrack adopted the name, Churchill Downs. Churchill Downs holds the record for the longest-running continuous sporting event in the United States, the Kentucky Derby.

Hats were part of the Kentucky Derby extravaganza right from the start. Colonel Clark envisioned a horse racing spectacle that was a lodestone for upper class attendees in the European style. The Europeans required “Sunday best” attire for their crème de la crème events, including gowns, parasols, and of course, hats.

Col. Clark originally used the Louisville Jockey Club’s upper class women to attract more upper class attendees to the Derby. The result was a Kentucky Derby that was as much about fashion as it was about the horse race. Once the Derby was televised, hats became bigger and more colorful.

The Mint Julep was chosen and promoted by Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby in 1938, ostensibly to add another unique aspect to the event. The Old Forester Mint Julep is now the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Almost 120,000 mint juleps are served during the Derby weekend.

The Kentucky Derby truly is an awesome spectacle. I look forward to watching it this weekend. Then it will be back to Springfield, fighting for common sense legislation that will make life in Northern Illinois better.

If you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com and use the form to send me an e-mail.
***Common Sense***

This last week in Springfield has me thinking about common sense more and more. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have run roughshod over what I believe are common sense solutions. It certainly seems that common sense isn’t so common, and I began to wonder how the term originated.

Common sense made its first appearance in the book De Anima (Of the Soul), written by famed Greek philosopher Aristotle in 350 B.C. He described common sense more as a sense of common things and also as the place where our consciousness comes from because, “it makes us aware of having sensations at all.”

Centuries later, the Romans shaded Aristotle’s idea of common sense in three ways. First, the Roman, “sensus communis,” represented widely accepted ideas that originate from our souls. Second, it referred to mankind’s natural intellectual capacity. Lastly, it was used to describe the public attitude or spirit.

Common sense continued to evolve over the centuries. It developed the definition it has today through the contribution of Thomas Reid. Reid was the founder of the “Scottish School of Common Sense”. Reid wrote, “If there are certain principles, as I think there are, which the constitution of our nature leads us to believe, and which we are under a necessity to take for granted in the common concerns of life, without being able to give a reason for them – these are what we call the principles of common sense; and what is manifestly contrary to them, is what we call absurd.”
Reid’s philosophy was a strong influence on many of our own Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. It also had a significant impact on the father of modern capitalism, Adam Smith.

I agree with W. Somerset Maugham who wrote, “With a little common sense, a little patience, and a little sense of humour you can live well on this planet.” I was disappointed to witness how much common sense was lacking in votes taken by the House Judiciary Subcommittees and the Judiciary Criminal Committee last week.

The Sex Offenses and Sex Offender Registration Subcommittee voted down House Bill 4318. After a rapist gets out of prison they can move right next door to their victim. You read that correctly. There are no living restrictions for a convicted rapist when it comes to their victim. HB4318 established a 1 mile radius living restriction between a rapist and the victim.

A registered sex offender cannot live within 500 feet of a school. Surely it is reasonable to protect rape victims from living next door to their rapist. The Subcommittee Democrats argued that rapists do not need any additional restrictions after being released from prison.

The Judiciary Criminal Committee voted down House Bill 4586. As I have written before, HB4586 extended the same protections to Illinois DCFS employees that DHS workers, corrections officers, police officers, fire fighters, and other first responders have under current law. We filed this bill in response to the horrific and brutal attack on DCFS investigator Pamela Knight in September of last year.

Pamela Knight’s family issued a statement in response to the vote. Her daughter, Jennifer Hollenback wrote, “Speaking for myself as a lifelong democrat, I understand that enhancing criminal penalties doesn’t always deter crime. I don’t believe that philosophy applies to this bill. We are not talking about mandatory minimums. We are talking about legislation that protects social workers working in some capacity for the state of Illinois… I am devastated by the vote cast by the democrats, in the Judicial Criminal Committee. We are supposed to be advocates for social issues. We are supposed to be a party for the people. How can we ask child welfare workers to keep children safe, if we can’t keep our child welfare workers safe?”

To Jennifer, her family, and to DCFS workers across the state of Illinois, I say, I will not give up the fight. We cannot let this injustice happen to other families.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said, “We have drained common sense out of our politics. The more we focus on tactics and games, the more good people check out and give up.” I agree. We need common sense. We need to put partisanship aside and get things done for Illinois. My sincere hope is that my colleagues across the aisle start by reconsidering their votes on HB4318 and HB4586.


If you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com and use the form to send me an e-mail.