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***Guest Column***

I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Friends, rule number one this holiday is to not talk politics. The last thing you want is to have Uncle Pete and Cousin Chuck at each other’s throats with the turkey carving knife. Enjoy the holiday and enjoy the company of your family!

Before I continue my theme of addressing the results of the 2016 election, I would like to respond to a bill that many of you have contacted my office about – the serialization of handgun ammunition. I oppose the bill for three reasons: 1) Only law abiding citizens would be hurt by the law. Criminals would simply buy ammunition from other states or steal ammunition from upstanding citizens. 2) The bill would cause ammunition prices to skyrocket. 3) I believe the bill to be “crony-capitalist” in nature. One company stands to make millions from the bill, and that doesn’t sit well with me. I am not voting for the bill.

During the final stretch of the Presidential campaign the Clinton team advocated unity after the election. Many believe this is because she was convinced she was going to win in a landslide. But even after her surprise defeat, the very next day she called for unity during her concession speech. She did not mention her lead in the popular vote, but she spoke of the need to come together and wish the next President of the United States the best. With her concession speech the 2016 elections came to a close. 
***Guest Column***

If you will allow me, I would like to share some of my thoughts on President-elect Trump’s victory. But first, on this Veteran’s Day I would like to thank all veterans who are fighting or who have fought for our country to give us the right to vote and allow us to make this the greatest country on earth. Secondly, I would like to thank the nearly 38,000 of you who voted for me. Though I ran unopposed, the fact that 85% of the district chose to fill in the circle for me was extremely humbling. I am forever grateful and it is an honor and privilege to represent you in Springfield.

All of you who read my column know that I did not weigh in on the top of ticket or really any of the ticket for that matter. It is my belief that as your State Representative, I’m here to represent you and not to tell you how to vote.

Speaking of telling you how to vote – never underestimate the power of a people who refuse to be told what to do or how to think. That’s a big part of what happened last Tuesday. Donald Trump is an imperfect vessel, and we all knew it, but what he stood for was so much bigger than himself. Please allow me to explain.
***Guest Column***

So it finally happened. The Chicago Cubs overcame the longest drought of any American professional sports franchise. After 108 years, the Cubs are winners once again. 1908, the year the Cubs last won the World Series was the year that Henry Ford completed production on the first Model T.

No matter what happens this year, we can all point to one day where we just lived in the moment. Our local team did something that made us all enjoy life just a little bit more for at least one day. Everything else was put on the back burner, and we all sang “Go Cubs Go.”

As I write this column, we are just days from the election. Some of you may be reading this before the votes are tabulated, and some of you may see this afterward. It doesn’t matter when you are reading this, because the challenge for all of us is as simple as it is straightforward – let’s just be respectful.
***Guest Column***

In the New Testament of the Bible, there’s a passage in Acts in which Paul describes the new believers in Thessalonica. These converts were good people, and the Bible says they were of “noble character.” But perhaps the highest praise that was said of the Bereans was that they diligently searched the scriptures daily. When the Apostle Paul preached, they verified everything he said by doing their own research.

We live in an age where information is literally at our fingertips. Give me thirty seconds, and I could tell you the capitol of any country in the world; give me a minute and I can translate any phrase from any language into English. That’s how far technology has advanced. In a world where there is more information available to us than at any time in the earth’s history, are we making good use of this gift?

Chuck Sweeney recently had a great column entitled: “Kids Aren’t Looking up Dictionary Words on Smartphones.” Mr. Sweeney laments the news that a Rockford charity will no longer be giving away free dictionaries to third graders in the Rockford school system. This ends a twenty year period of giving thousands and thousands of young kids a free resource which they may not have otherwise had. He goes on to say that this was brought about because most school-aged kids now have access to the internet, and therefore hard copy dictionaries are no longer deemed a necessity.
***Guest Column***

A February article of Crain’s Chicago Business stated that Illinois ranked 46th out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. in non-farm payroll growth. Our ranking is falling among other states in median household income growth, and the state actually had a net loss of jobs in 2015.

Anyone who has lived in Northwest Illinois for more than a few years isn’t surprised by any of these numbers. We have observed the ebb and flow of our local economy, and many of us have experienced firsthand the pain of watching industry leave the area. To blame this on any single factor would be unfair and incorrect, but there is no question that the State of Illinois has done little to positively impact our region’s plight.

Most of you know that this isn’t simply just anecdotal evidence; this is our region’s history. But you didn’t elect me to reminisce on what was and what could have been. You want to know what I am doing to help turn around our region. As I often say, one of the reasons I ran for office was to bring a small business perspective to the state legislature. To that end, I have been working to eliminate burdensome regulations that negatively impact our region by hurting our small businesses. So I am encouraged to bring you some good news from Springfield out of the Governor’s office.
***Guest Column***

Can we just forget about politics for one second and revel in the fact that the Cubs are in the National League Championship Series. If the Cubs make it to the World Series it will be the first time since Mike Madigan became Speaker of the House. Ok, that’s the last time I’ll use that joke for a while. But the point is that it has been a long time coming! Here’s to singing “Go Cubs Go” and flying the “W.”

Shifting gears now to what to write about this week – politics. Many of you have seen me out and about in the community. I keep my schedule jam-packed with as many public events, activities and dinners as my calendar can manage. I was at one such event Thursday night with the wonderful ladies at the Freeport Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association.

We had a great time – and some great pot roast. We talked about local issues and also many of the issues currently being discussed in Illinois. Some of the highlights were “Automatic Voter Registration,” term limits, and redistricting reform. As we were talking about redistricting reform, I had a thought occur to me that I felt I should share with all of you this week.
***Guest Column***

If you’ve read my column or watched the news over the course of the past several months, you know that Illinois is in dire financial straits. There are too many contributing factors to count, but I try to tackle them one at a time. Last week I made brief reference to one such area that I hope to shed more light on this week. I welcome your comments and feedback, and if you would like any source or reference material, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

There is little doubt that Illinois is heading towards a fiscal cliff. When you couple unsustainable state spending with an unstable tax base, the results are never good. On top of these mounting issues, we have even more bad news: Chicago is fiscally insolvent. Why does this matter to us in Northwest Illinois? Well, if the stopgap budget is any indication, our tax dollars will be paying for a municipality’s empty promises. No, state tax dollars will not be going to bail out Freeport or Rockford, they are going to Chicago.