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Illinois is ripe with change as we continue to move forward in the year 2015. We have a new Republican Governor, Governor Bruce Rauner, and a new Administration that myself and my colleagues are eager to welcome to Springfield with the hope that Central and Downstate Illinois will see even stronger input with our state government. Sadly, Illinois’ changes haven’t all been accelerative to the State, as we’ve had to mourn the loss of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka in the last month. In her memory, Republicans in the House have written new legislation to combine the offices of Comptroller and Treasurer in an effort to better consolidate state government, an inititiative Judy herself had championed.

Governor Bruce Rauner – Early Executive Order

One of Governor Bruce Rauner’s early actions has called for increased participation by Illinois veterans and members of opportunity groups in Illinois business procurement, apprenticeship programs, and trade union training programs. In addition, the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) - the state’s chief hiring and procurement arm – is instructed to study the hiring and awarding of contracts to Illinois veterans. The Governor’s instructions are included in Executive Order 15-12.

CMS is directed to study participation of veteran-owned businesses in Illinois’ procurement process, with a report due by June 30, 2015. The executive order also reaffirms the State’s commitment to procurement support for businesses owned and controlled by members of opportunity groups, with a report due by December 31, 2015. Opportunity groups listed by the Governor include members of racial minorities, women, and persons with disabilities. The Department is instructed to recommend solutions and methods to remedy any disparity in procurement awards.

More than 800,000 veterans of the United States Armed Forces live in Illinois. Although these are individuals who have put their civilian careers aside and, in many cases, come under hostile fire to defend our Nation’s freedoms, the members of this group have not in some cases been given the bonus considerations for Illinois jobs and procurement opportunities to which they are entitled by law.

 Judy’s Amendment

With new Governor Rauner at the helm, the 99th General Assembly has tough decisions to make about the state’s budget while maintaining the services that families and individuals require. Passing House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 3 would not only do away with the separate offices of Treasurer and Comptroller by combining them into a streamlined office of Comptroller of the Treasury, but the merger could potentially save the state $12 million.

Following the untimely passing of Judy Baar Topinka, the effort to merge the two offices has been renewed in order to pay respect to a great public servant with an inititiative she had called for herself. Combining the two offices would not impact vital services, and many of the duties between the offices overlap, so the state would be streamlining fiscal operations.

I will stand with HJRCA3, alongside the rest of the House Republican Caucus, Governor Rauner and his newly appointed Comptroller Leslie Munger, as we attempt to save vital state money, streamline state government, and honor public servant Judy Baar Topinka’s memory.

Springfield…While the majority party clamored to ensure a special election be held in 2016 for State Comptroller during Thursday’s Special Session, State Representative Adam Brown (R-Champaign) is once again encouraging the State to merge the office of Comptroller and Treasurer in an effort to save vital taxpayer dollars.

Champaign…With 220 new laws set to take effect on January 1st, State Representative Adam Brown (R-Champaign) is urging Illinois residents to familiarize themselves with new statutes aimed at increasing public safety, adding new driving restrictions and protecting the health and safety of children.  

“We'll miss JBT. Judy Baar Topinka brought a spunk and quirky energy to Springfield that flew in the face of the rigid political structure. She was real. She was one of us, always working positively for all of us.” - State Representative Adam Brown

Champaign – Cronus Chemicals, LLC Inc. has chosen Tuscola to build their massive $1.4 billion fertilizer plant, according to State Representative Adam Brown (R-Champaign). The plant will create over 2,000 construction job opportunities, provide for 175 full-time permanent jobs and have an economic impact to the community estimated to be in the hundreds of millions. 

“I would like to congratulate the City of Tuscola and the coalition of labor and business leaders who have worked together to see this project come to fruition,” said Brown.  “I would also like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the General Assembly for supporting my legislation to provide a multi-million dollar incentive package to bring the Cronus fertilizer plant to Tuscola.  Because of this partnership, we will once again see fertilizer production in the United States.” 

After spending decades overseas where production costs were cheaper, lower natural gas prices are bringing fertilizer production back to the United States, translating to more affordable fertilizer.  The Cronus plant will make nitrogen-based fertilizers, specifically urea and ammonia, from natural gas feedstock with the principle emission units being an ammonia plant, a reformer furnace, a boiler and a urea plant.

Tuscola vied against Mitchell County, Iowa for the Cronus plant.  In an effort to gain an advantage, State Rep. Brown sponsored legislation that was signed into law last year to provide an incentive package worth an estimated $14.5 million, with another $16 million available through existing economic programs.  The legislation qualifies the Tuscola development for High Impact Business Incentives in the Enterprise Zone Act. 

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Champaign…In recognition of his outstanding service to the schools of the state of Illinois, State Representative Adam Brown (R-Champaign) was honored recently with the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools Area IV legislative award. The award was presented to Rep. Brown by Bobbi Mattingly (Regional Superintendent - ROE #11), Kyle Thompson (Assistant Regional Superintendent - ROE #11), Matt Snyder (Regional Superintendent - ROE #39), Cheryl Reifsteck (Regional Superintendent - ROE #54), and Barb Daly (Asst. Reg. Supt. - ROE #9). Brown received the award at Regional Office of Education in Rantoul.

“I would like to thank the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools for this great honor”, said Brown. “Improving our children’s educational experience and preparing them for the future is important to me. That is why I believe it is essential that we in the legislature continue to work with local and statewide education leaders on the challenges and needs that face our state’s school system.”