Update from the Capitol – Strike vote, Route 66, State Police

Strike Vote
The news this week that a majority of state workers who belong to AFSCME have voted to authorize a strike is disappointing, but I remain hopeful that agreement on a fair contract may yet be reached.

I understand employees’ frustration with the lack of recent progress, but a strike would not help us bridge the differences that exist; in fact, it may widen them.  And it would most certainly impose great hardship on employees’ families, and families throughout our district and the state who depend on the services they provide.

I will continue to encourage both sides to return to the bargaining table to renew good faith negotiations.

Budget Negotiations Continue
Leaders in the Senate are continuing to negotiate the budget “Grand Bargain” that will hopefully soon end our year and a half long budget stalemate. As it currently stands, the package remains a combination of tax and fee increases, spending limitations, tax credit changes, and fee reductions, but discussions are very fluid and the details of the bills included continue to change.

As the plan is structured, all of the bills included must pass for any to become law. That will require 30 votes in the Senate, 60 votes in the House and the Governor’s signature.

Route 66 Centennial Commission Advances
This week I secured unanimous House approval of House Bill 66 which creates the Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission. The commission will lay the groundwork for celebrating the famous road’s 100th anniversary in 2026.

Route 66 is the most famous road in the world and Illinois lays claim to where the Mother Road begins. The centennial of Route 66 will truly be an international celebration of this famous strip of pavement.  Illinois is uniquely positioned to welcome and entertain travelers from around the world who want to experience the magic of our scenic byway.

The centennial celebration may include events about the history of how local communities grew and changed with the construction of Route 66; the cultural impact of Route 66 in the United States and internationally; the portrayal of Route 66 in music, artwork, and folklore; and how to maintain the mystique and appeal of Route 66 for future generations. The commission will help guide these activities in Illinois. 

State Police Turn 95
I was very pleased to join House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and several colleagues this week in presenting House Resolution 58 to a group of state police officers recognizing the 95th anniversary of the Illinois State Police Department.

The Illinois State Police Department was formed on April 1, 1922, under the direction of Superintendent John T. Stack; its motto is, “Integrity, Service, and Pride”. Today, the Illinois State Police has 21 patrol districts, seven investigative zones, six operational forensic science laboratories, and five regional crime scene services command under the helm of Director Leo P. Schmitz.

As of 2017, more than 60 state troopers have paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in service to the state and its citizens. The Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation’s Memorial Park will soon be constructed in downtown Springfield.

Remembering Former U.S. House Minority Leader Bob Michel of Peoria
Our Nation, our State, and my hometown of Peoria have lost a true giant this week. Bob Michel embodied the best of what it is to be a public servant. It was a true honor to know Bob and to be able to call him my friend, and it was an honor to help remember him on the floor of the Illinois House. Click the video below for more.

Congratulations Champion Rochester Rockets Football
The 2016 IHSA Class 4A Champion Rochester Rockets Football team and coaches were recognized for their achievements by the Illinois House of Representatives. House members unanimously adopted House Resolution 17 I co-sponsored with Representative Sue Scherer outlining the team’s road to victory and congratulating athletes and coaches on their outstanding championship season.

Last year’s victory marks the Rockets’ sixth Class 4A football championship in seven seasons – a tremendous achievement. I was proud to welcome these young men and their coaches to the Capitol and to recognize their hard work and dedication.

The Rockets’ sixth state championship puts them just two behind East St. Louis and Wheaton Warrenville South for the statewide lead for a public school.

Starting the Day with a Chocolate Abe Lincoln
This week Representative Jimenez and I marked our second month of highlighting local businesses with a visit to our Stratton Building office from Cocoa Blue Chocolates. Not only are Joshua Becker’s locally–produced chocolates and truffles delicious, they also come in very theme-appropriate Abe Lincoln and State of Illinois shapes! Cocoa Blue has locations on Yucan Drive in Springfield and on Main Street in Rochester. You can check them out online at http://www.cocoabluechocolates.com/.