Brian's Column 11-25-2015

District Update and Holiday Blessings

Where has the time gone this year? It seems I ask myself that question around this time every year, but it never ceases to amaze me how time flies. The past two weeks have been very productive for the 89th District as we begin to close out 2015. I have outlined a few of the legislative events below, and would be happy to listen, discuss, or present for your group in the future – weather and schedule permitting. Also, I’d like to remind everyone to drive defensively and be courteous to others on the road as we approach the season with some of the most dangerous weather conditions.

Speaking of weather, I was driving home from Chicago when our first snow fall of the year began in the 89th District. I have had the pleasure of serving on Governor Rauner’s Criminal Justice Reform Commission this year, and we spent the day advancing a bipartisan agenda for our final report due in December. All commissioners have passionately debated and had a healthy exchange of ideas which span multiple ideologies and personal backgrounds. Our final report will ultimately be suggested as part of a comprehensive overhaul to the Illinois criminal justice system. I’m proud of the work my colleagues and I have done, but there is much more to accomplish.

This past week I also held two of my annual Legislative Luncheons to assist in updating our local leaders on new laws and pending legislation to solicit feedback in each of our communities. Sometimes laws are passed that have great intentions, but in specific circumstances they create terrible results. Hearing from our local leaders that experience these difficulties assists in eliminating burdensome regulations and mandates from Springfield.

I’d like to thank all of our area school Superintendents and the Chiefs and Sheriffs of our local law enforcement agencies for attending their respective meetings. Public safety and public education impact every individual and are at the forefront of our daily lives. The public servants providing an education and those keeping the peace in our community often go unnoticed. Remember to thank them when you see them, especially around the holidays.


Additionally, I hosted the Department of Children and Family Services Director, George Sheldon, in Freeport last week and invited some of our local service providers and DCFS regional staff. It has been many years since a DCFS Director was in our area to address the staff and providers, let alone visit one of the providers as Executive Director Sheldon did with me. A special thanks to Director Cara Williams and her entire staff at the Norman C. Sleezer Home in Freeport for welcoming Director Sheldon and me to tour your facility.

Amy Morris and Autumn Kubatzke of the Regional Access and Mobilization Project (RAMP) met with me to keep me updated on the legislative side of their Center for Independent Living (CIL). RAMP was the second CIL in Illinois, and they advocate for policies that assist people with disabilities in directing and living independent lives. Regardless of disability, RAMP, promotes (and I support) an agenda where everyone has the same range of choices in housing, transportation, education and employment.

The Jo Daviess County Mayors Association invited me to attend their monthly dinner, and this one was held in Stockton at Stella’s CafĂ© and Catering. Thank you to the McGovern family for hosting us. The Mayors and Village Presidents representing their communities across Jo Daviess County are the definition of public servants. They often serve in part-time positions, with little compensation, and have dedicated themselves to the betterment of their city, village, or town.

Finally, I had the privilege of presenting to the Stephenson County Leadership Institute led by Alan Wenzel at Highland Community College, and I can tell you every year I grow more impressed with the program. Participants engage in a nine month program that covers a variety of community issues and leadership perspectives. It is an incredible feeling to watch the next generation and experienced professionals take leadership roles in local businesses and non-profit organizations alike.

The upcoming holidays and the past two weeks have revitalized my sense of public service and charity. I hope and encourage all of you to do two things: volunteer your time to any cause you choose and provide a random act of kindness to a stranger. Thanksgiving this past week always reminds me of the many blessings we have to be thankful for and following is a quote from President Franklin D. Roosevelt which brings this to mind, “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.”

As always, you can reach myself or Sally at 815/232-0774 or e-mail us at repstewart@gmail.com.  You can also visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com or on Facebook.