Illinois House Squanders Week Talking Trump and Zombies

***Guest Column*** 

As I am writing this I have just returned from Springfield after two days of session. Two days of session and not much to show for it, unfortunately. Many of you are asking about the so called “Grand bargain” being discussed in the Senate. As a member of the House, I am not a part of those talks, and quite frankly I learn from the same news reports most of you do.

I will say this about the talks: I am optimistic that members of the other chamber are meeting to discuss budgetary issues in a bi-partisan fashion. Even though some of the proposals that are being talked about are beyond that which I can support, the very notion that the two sides are willing to engage each other is encouraging.

For far too long we’ve heard that everyone in Springfield wanted a compromise but no one was willing to make the first move. The legislative chamber resembled something along the lines of a middle school dance where the guys awkwardly stood on one side of the room and the gals stayed on the other. I can think of no better description of the past year than to refer to it as the most ornate and time-consuming middle school dance in world history.

But here we are – finally talking about working together. There is some good news after all. Let’s hope that these negotiations are in good faith and that we can actually achieve the necessary reforms that will allow us to keep school doors open, fund our necessary social services, fulfill our pension promises, and provide a level of certainty that we can use to leverage Illinois as a place to grow businesses and create jobs. That’s the goal, and I hope that’s exactly what we will see.

Now I suppose I should recount what happened in Springfield over the past two days, and I should warn you to brace yourself for an underwhelming explanation. The three takeaways were: 1) we discussed and passed House Resolution 30 Zombie Preparedness Month – yes you read that correctly. No Budget, however we are concerned about Zombies. 2) Lawmakers discussed creating yet another state holiday in which state workers would get one more paid vacation day, and 3) My friends on the other side of the aisle spent almost a whole day complaining about President Trump from the floor of the Illinois House. Oh by the way, after we are done bashing the President maybe we could get around to asking him for a federal bailout. Kidding aside, I don’t believe the charades accomplished much of anything at all. We don’t have a budget, but apparently we have plenty of time to bash the President while on the taxpayer’s dime. That doesn’t sit well with me for some reason. Regardless of how you feel about the President, we, as state legislators, have a job to do. And our job description does not include pontificating on federal issues from the House floor.

Speaking of our legislative job descriptions, I would like to take a moment to share with you my committee appointments this year. I’m proud to say that I have been selected to be on the Agriculture and Conservation Committee – a committee that is very near and dear to the hearts of many of us in Northwest Illinois.

I was also appointed to the Appropriations – Public Safety Committee as well as the Executive, Labor and Commerce, Revenue and Finance, Veterans’ Affairs Committees as well as the Unemployment Insurance, Workers Compensation, Property Taxes, Sales Taxes and Finance Subcommittees.

Finally, I had the honor of being named Republican Spokesperson on the Judiciary – Criminal and the Restorative Justice Committees. Needless to say it will be a busy year legislatively. But most importantly, I plan to use these various committee appointments to be an advocate for Northwest Illinois. At the end of the day, which committees I’m appointed to is not nearly as important as my primary task – to represent you. As your voice in Springfield, I always want to know which issues are important to you. That’s why I have a district office, and that’s why that door is always open.

As always, you can reach me 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.

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