Capitol Update 4/13/16

Another week of session is underway in the Illinois House of Representatives.  Last week was the first week since I started as a legislator that I really felt encouraged by the tone and real efforts toward cooperation both in committee and on the House floor, so I was extremely disappointed that the Speaker started off our new week yesterday with a very partisan speech on the House floor regarding the budget.  The partisan speeches need to end, and we need to work together to solve the enormous challenges we face. We need to keep trying to find places where we agree instead of where we disagree—that’s the way we will get it done.

Job-creation plan debated in House committee
Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation (ILBEDC) CEO Jim Schultz explained last week to Representatives in the House Committee on Public Private Partnerships that the role of the new ILBEDC is to sell Illinois as a place to locate businesses and create jobs. The nonprofit corporation is expected to match efforts of those in neighboring states.
Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, ILBEDC will not be a government agency and will not ask for taxpayer funds for its day-to-day operations, but it work in close cooperation with the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity to improve our jobs climate and attract new employers, something we greatly need to jump-start our state and local economies.

Faster trains coming to Chicago-St. Louis route
As work continues to improve the railroad right-of-way between Joliet and Alton we’re getting closer to the implementation of service along much of the Chicago to St. Louis Amtrak route as fast as 110 miles per hour.  The faster trains could be running as soon as 2017. 
While Illinois continues to tighten its belt with regards to a wide variety of spending commitments, the Joliet-Alton speedup is being implemented through a multi-year capital improvement consortium program that includes federal U.S. Department of Transportation money and partial funding from the Union Pacific Railroad.

New Committee assignment
I have been assigned to represent our district on a new House Committee. Effective last week, I am serving on the House Economic Development and Housing Committee. With economic development being such a vitally important component of solving our budget crisis and putting our state back on firm financial ground, I am very pleased that our district will have a seat at the table as legislation moves through the process.
I am also continuing to serve on the House Agriculture and Conservation, Ap
propriations-Higher Education, Business Occupational Licenses and International Trade and Commerce committees.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month
April has been designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Illinois, and awareness activities kicked off last week with a Capitol press conference.
In the fight to prevent child abuse, everyone has a role to play. This month is the perfect time to get involved. There are activities planned across the state that you can get involved in, or you can a plan your own local event, and urge your local officials to participate. For more information visit Prevent Child Abuse Illinois at www.preventchildabuseillinois.org.

Encourage women to get more involved in government
Please join me for a screening of Raising Ms. President at the University of Illinois at Springfield on April 25th at 7 p.m.in Brookens Auditorium (One University Plaza, Springfield).  This non-partisan documentary aims to encourage more young women and girls to get involved in  government and in elected positions.  Hope to see you there.