From the capitol_ lots of bills; some good, some bad – opinion – journal standard – freeport, il

I just arrived back in northwest Illinois after spending the past week in Springfield, though we should have been back to work the entire month of March. It appears the next seven weeks will be very busy. No budget resolutions were discussed, but many pieces of legislation were debated in committees and sometimes in a manner not conducive to good government, but, nonetheless, argued on their merits. There were 2,181 House bills and 1,194 Senate bills introduced this year, and it never ceases to amaze me as to the content of some of these bills. Here are two of them. House Bill 6308 seeks to amend the Juvenile Court Act and provides that persons under 21 years of age (rather than 18 years of age) who commit misdemeanor offenses are subject to proceedings under the Act for delinquent minors. According to testimony by the Juvenile Justice Commission, young people between the ages of 18-21 are still developing mentally and emotionally and thus should be treated as juveniles. Now, keep in mind that, at age 18, you can enlist in the military and fight and die for our country, you can have healthcare power of attorney and make life or death decisions for a loved one, you can vote, you can enter into contracts and make many other adult decisions. In fact, I don’t think I am aware of any responsible young person between ages 18 and 21 who does not want to be treated and be considered as an adult. Also, consider misdemeanor offenses, including violent offenses such as battery; domestic battery; aggravated assault of a handicapped person, senior citizen, teacher, firemen or EMT; criminal sexual abuse; exposure to children; unlawful use of weapons; or DUI, to name a few. In other words, this bill, if it were to pass, would mean that if you were between the ages of 18 and 21 and you were to commit any of these crimes, we are supposed to treat you as a juvenile or like a 12-year-old. No, I do not support this bill, and I am sure many of you don’t either. By now, you may have heard Senate Bill 3729 was introduced and would impose a 30-cent-per-gallon hike in motor fuel taxes. This would bring Illinois gasoline taxes to 60 cents per gallon and easily the highest rate of any state. Yes, you read that right, a whopping 60 cents per gallon gas tax. The proponents have indicated that these funds would be used to fund state and local roads, public transportation, railways and other projects. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a strong proponent of creating jobs and having safe roads in Illinois, but we simply can’t afford such a massive increase that would cost consumers and businesses much more. One of the good bills was one that I introduced again: House Bill 4636. This bill seeks to amend the Economic Development for a Growing Economy Tax Credit Act, which removes certain provisions concerning conditions that the Business Investment Committee shall determine exist.

Page 2 of 2 – In other words, before Illinois grants incentives to retain businesses that are already here or to attract other business to move to Illinois, the business must obtain a competing proposal from another state. Let me put this in another way. If you are in business and a customer brings you a proposal from a competitor and asks you to beat the competition, what would you do? If you are a competitive type of business man or woman, you sharpen your pencil, put fresh batteries in your calculator and you beat the competition! Unfortunately for Illinois, that is exactly what Iowa and our neighboring states are doing to us. Jo Daviess County has lost at least three businesses to Iowa the past few years, and this is happening all across Illinois. This bill was up in the Revenue Committee this week, and I presented testimony in support. I also appreciated Lisa McCarthy from the Tri-County Economic Development Alliance; Tony McCombie, mayor of Savanna; and Vicky Trager, mayor of Thomson, attending the committee hearing as well. We will continue to push this bill forward and work hard to resolve this budget crisis. Illinois deserves the best for its citizens. This week’s session reminds me of a quote by Tony Abbott: “I understand that government should live within its means, value the money it holds in trust from you, the taxpayer, avoid waste and, above all else, observe the first maxim of good government; namely, do no avoidable harm.” Brian Stewart is the 89th District state representative. You can reach him or Sally at 815-232-0774 or email them at repstewart@gmail. com. You can also visit his website at repbrianstewart. com or on Facebook.