McHenry, IL. – Legislators spent the weeks of April 14 and 21 back in their districts during the General Assembly’s traditional two-week spring break. The time away from the Capitol essentially marks the half-way point in the spring session. The break gives legislators the opportunity to focus on local meetings and district issues, which is what I did.
Visiting Catalent Pharma
On Friday, April 19, I visited Catalent Pharma Solutions, Inc in Woodstock (pictured right). This company provides the pharmaceutical industry with the latest sterile technology that keeps critical prescription medicines free from harmful bacteria, viruses and other dangerous microorganisms. Catalent has a global reach with facilities in Europe, Asia and South America, in addition to 14 locations in the U.S. and Canada – including Woodstock. They are a great corporate citizen for McHenry County and Illinois. Thanks to Catalent General Manager Oliver Vogt (pictured far right) for the tour. Michael Rein, Woodstock Chamber of Commerce Director (pictured far left) joined me for the visit.
Meeting Local School Supers
Also during the break from legislative activity, I met with some of our local school superintendents (pictured left). We discussed recently-passed school funding reform and how well the new system of evidence-based funding and adequacy grants are working.
We also talked about how schools will be able to implement new physical education requirements and their impact on the overall daily class schedule. That led to a discussion about unfunded government mandates that may be well-intentioned but lacking in funding.
Other topics included the teacher shortage, the difficulty they see meeting the minimum teacher salary legislation that recently passed the Senate and the related struggle that puts their districts in a tough competition with wealthier districts for student teachers and teachers. (pictured with me, from l to right: State Rep. Tom Weber; Dr. Joy Brua, Gavin School District 37; Heather Frizziellie, Fox Lake School District 114; Dr. Christine Sefcik, Grant Community High School District 124 and; Bob Gold, Big Hollow School District 38)
High-tech Traffic Management
Senator Dan McConchie and I were treated to a great tour of the Lake County Transportation headquarters and their Traffic Management Center on April 23. We got a detailed look at a unique-in-the-nation system allowing Lake County to monitor traffic and a majority of their traffic signals. Their real-time system helps them manage traffic flow using video camera feeds and the ability to adjust traffic signals to improve traffic flow. While the monitoring system is using the latest video technology, they do not record license plates, which should ease privacy concerns.
The Lake County Division of Transportation has a great website you can use to get updated transportation information. You can also view the road map on their Passage Traffic Info webpage where you can see the locations of current road projects, be informed about possible traffic delays and plan alternative routes to avoid congestion (https://www.lakecountypassage.com/). Passage Traffic Info also ties into Waze, a popular navigation/traffic phone app, so you can be informed and warned about traffic situations in real time.
I want to thank Director of Transportation and County Engineer Shane Schneider, Assistant County Engineer Al Giertych, County Engineer of Traffic Jonathon Nelson and Traffic Management Center Manager Ryan Legare for the tour and their time. On a related topic, while there is ongoing discussion in Springfield about a major capital construction program for Illinois, Lake County’s Division of Transportation is already working on its own 2019 Construction Program with projects totaling $137 million. Twenty-nine projects have been identified – including some new projects – such as Weiland Road, Hunt Club Road at Illinois Route 132 and Old McHenry Road at U.S. Route 12.
My in-district schedule of activities also included meeting with local realtors on April 24 (pictured left). We talked about legislative initiatives imposing rent control restrictions and government consolidation, its impact on property rights, and keeping property taxes low so people aren’t driven out of their homes by property taxes that rival mortgage payments, or that become unaffordable for those on fixed incomes. (pictured with me from l to right: Jim Haisler, Heartland Realtor CEO; Sue Miller, Local realtor and current Treasurer of the Illinois Realtors Association, and Neeley Erickson, Government Affairs Director for Northern Illinois Realtors)
Local Survey Results
I recently conducted a survey of district constituents about the issue of full marijuana legalization.
- 3 percent of respondents said no, medical marijuana provides enough access for those that need it.
- 9 percent of those responding said yes they would like to see recreational marijuana.
- 5 percent responded by indicating they would like to get back to stricter enforcement of marijuana possession.
- 5 percent had no opinion.
During my first Teleforum conference call, earlier this month, I included a phone poll on the issue of recreational marijuana. Here was the outcome of that survey:
Should Illinois legalize marijuana for recreational use?
- No – 48%
- Yes – 41%
- Undecided or No opinion – 11%
Staying in Touch/Conversations Untapped
On Friday, April 26, Senator Dan McConchie and I hosted “Conversations Untapped” at Crystal Lake Brewing to meet with constituents and discuss the hot issues of the day (pictured right).
We had a great crowd of between 30 and 40 who came to meet with us and discuss critical issues including the graduated income tax, pension reform, recreational marijuana, out-migration, Second Amendment and the measles outbreak and vaccinations. Hopefully, we can do this again in the future.
Session Resumes April 30
When senators and representatives get back to Springfield, from the spring break, there will be a few big issues waiting for us including, legalizing marijuana for recreational use, a proposed constitutional amendment to radically change Illinois' income tax and a local government consolidation bill directly impacting McHenry and Lake counties. There are 21 scheduled days left in the spring session beginning April 30 through May 31.
Keep In Touch/Stay Informed
There are several ways to keep in touch with me. You can call my district or Capitol offices: 815/455-6330 or 217/782-8000 and you can email me at email@example.com. I’d also encourage you to visit my legislative website at www.senatorwilcox.com, I post news from the Capitol and you also can sign up for my free newsletter, connect to state government agencies and resources and a lot more including, an extensive list of sites veterans can use to connect to employment, education, service records and more.