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Springfield, IL….House Republican Leader Jim Durkin today is naming State Rep. Adam Brown (R-Champaign) as the new House Republican Conference Chairman.    

“Adam is a hard-working legislator who serves his district well and is well-liked by his peers,” said Durkin. “He always goes that extra mile to help other members.  One of the youngest members of the Illinois House, Adam does a great job of identifying and raising awareness about issues important to younger constituents and how other lawmakers can reach out to them.  I have total confidence in Adam, and I know he will do a great job for the caucus.” 

Rep. Brown has served in the Illinois General Assembly since January 2011. Previously, at age 23, Adam Brown was the youngest person ever elected to the Decatur City Council, serving as Councilman from 2009-2010. Adam formerly served in the United States Department of Agriculture’s APHIS division in Champaign and the Foreign Agricultural Service in Washington D.C.

As a lawmaker, Adam’s focus has been on agriculture, youth, and job creation. 

Representative Brown is a fifth-generation family farmer and a graduate of the University of Illinois. He earned a Master’s in Public Administration through the University of Illinois Springfield and recently completed the Edgar Fellows Program. Adam also serves as a volunteer firefighter for the Bondville Fire Department. Adam married Stephanie in 2011 and together they have a daughter Elise.

“I want to thank Leader Durkin for giving me the opportunity to serve as conference chairman.  Being a part of the Republican leadership team will enable me to have a greater say on issues important to my district and my constituents,” said Brown.  “I am honored to have been chosen and look forward to tackling the tough challenges ahead in my new role.”  
Springfield…State Representative Adam Brown (R-Champaign) presented House Bill 3523 Thursday in the Renewable Energy & Sustainability Committee, which received unanimous approval from committee members.

The bill creates the Wind Energy Facilities Construction and Deconstruction Act, requiring that operators of commercial wind energy facilities built after the bill’s effective date and located on private property must enter into an agricultural impact mitigation agreement with the Department of Agriculture, to outline construction and deconstruction plans to help preserve the integrity of any land that is impacted. Agricultural impact agreements shall be entered into with the Department of Agriculture prior to any public hearing with a county or municipality to ensure that each commercial wind energy facility is planned with nearby land integrity in mind.

Representative Brown stated, “We have the full backing of the Illinois Farm Bureau with this piece of legislation, as its main goal is to protect local farmers and landowners. It does not in any way impede local control, but it does guarantee to local governments that any wind energy facility planned takes into consideration the safekeeping of not only the land used by the facility, but land nearby the facility.”

After its passage in committee, House Bill 3523 moved to the House Floor for full consideration.

Springfield…With various problems surrounding the unbalanced Fiscal Year 15 Illinois budget, State Representative Adam Brown (R-Champaign) supported action taken by the Illinois House to ensure that vital funds were allocated to some of the state’s most significant services.
Without the immediate action taken in House Bill 317, the State would be unable to help low-income working families with child care assistance and funds for services for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled would run out.

Representative Brown stated, “House Bill 317 contains increases to areas that were underfunded in the Fiscal Year 15 budget. Areas of note include increases of $266 million to the Child Care Program, $16 million to State Operated Mental Health Centers, and $25 million to mental health grants. I stand by the decision made to authorize this emergency budget authority, as one of our first duties within the Illinois General Assembly is to protect vital human services for the most vulnerable among us.”

With these supplemental increases to address areas underfunded by Governor Quinn’s final budget, a general 2.25% reduction to general funds throughout executive branch agencies will be executed.

Springfield…State Representative Adam Brown (R-Champaign) had the privilege of welcoming FFA Members to Springfield during the 45th Illinois Agricultural Legislative Awareness Day at the Illinois State Capitol. The Agricultural Legislative Day has been a tradition bringing over 60 farm commodity organizations and other diverse agricultural interest groups to meet with state lawmakers, thereby strengthening relationships amongst a multitude of entities affecting Illinois’ vital agriculture industry.

Representative Brown stated, “I enjoyed welcoming local members of the FFA today to discuss the issues important to them. The FFA has always brought forth bright young minds with an interest in the industry that remains extremely vital to Illinois’ way of life. I always look forward to this day in order to hear the ideas of young people from my own District so that I can remain even more connected to the concerns of current and future Illinois farmers.”

FFA members were greeted inside the Capitol and on the House Floor, and were also given tours of the Capitol Building while speaking their minds to state legislators.
 
The FFA Members pictured below are from Paris, Tuscola, Gibson City, Buckley, Okaw Valley and Arthur, Illinois.




As we head into March, I’d like to take some time to inform you of some issues that are on people’s minds in Springfield at this time. Some issues are rather sobering, and others remain promising for the future of business in Illinois.

General Assembly starts work on Fiscal Year 16 budget.  The budget reform work necessary to finish up Fiscal Year 2015 and start Fiscal Year 16 remains on the table this week as Illinois House committees began to hold hearings on Illinois spending plans, in order to meet the Governor’s goal of making budgetary reforms to meet shortfalls that were found tolerable in the past.  The first hearings by the House appropriations committees began on Thursday, February 26.  
In the first committee hearing, the new heads of three of the State’s biggest-spending agencies – the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) – introduced themselves to the House of Representatives.  All three were appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner. Major work will be necessary to develop a spending program that does not flow money out faster than it comes in.  DHFS (http://www2.illinois.gov/hfs/Pages/default.aspx), in particular, is a department of key interest to budget watchers.  It handles the multi-billion-dollar Illinois Medicaid program.  Controversial decisions are expected to be made.  Representative Patti Bellock has taken the lead in working to push for Medicaid budget reforms.  A DHFS overview of the implementation of the reforms so far enacted, and the current budget status of Medicaid, can be found here (http://www2.illinois.gov/hfs/agency/Pages/Budget.aspx).

Further work remains to be done.  With a shortfall estimated at $1.6 billion, many key spending areas in the Fiscal Year 15 budget are scheduled to run out of available funds prior to the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2015.   The Fiscal Year 16 budget is even further out of balance.   The “structural deficit,” the statutory commitments made by past Illinois administrations is a focus of attention by both Governor Rauner and the General Assembly at this time. As this highly significant issue unfolds, I will be sure to update all of my well-informed constituents in District 102, as I will remain in my post within the General Services – Appropriations Committee.

Peoria continues to respond to news of new Caterpillar headquarters building.  The Caterpillar facility, announced on Friday, February 20, will enable the global machinery manufacturer to consolidate 3,200 employees who currently work in supervisory and executive positions throughout the Peoria area.  WEEK/Channel 19 describes the hopes of Caterpillar’s management: http://www.cinewsnow.com/news/local/CAT-hopes-new-HQ-will-attract-the-next-generation-of-employees-293766031.html.

Caterpillar told supporters this week that they plan to implement the construction of their new global headquarters in a manner that will minimize disruption of operations.  The new building complex, which will be clad in glass and Caterpillar yellow, will be constructed and operations transferred over what is preliminarily expected to be an eight-year period.

Supporters of the construction project were making plans this week for the development of a downtown neighborhood to surround the headquarters.  Amenities in the vicinity include historic buildings, the Illinois River, riverfront green space, and a museum/planetarium complex. 

Frankly I am thrilled that a staple of Illinois business such as Caterpillar has made the commitment to keep its headquarters in Illinois, in order to provide quality jobs to Illinoisans across the state. During a time when the business climate is struggling around us, it is great when a major company keeps their faith in the state it has called home for so long. Cases such as this only add to my desire to hear the local issues brought before the vital Committees I was pleased to be appointed to, and come up with solutions to help Illinois’ citizens and the businesses we work for.

23 Illinois sites added to National Register of Historic Sites.  Located throughout Illinois, the National Register sites are recognized as part of the historic fabric of their communities.  The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IAPA) released the news on Monday, February 23: https://www.illinois.gov/ihpa/news/Pages/2014-National-Register.aspx.  New sites added to the national registry include the brick-built railroad depot (http://www.nps.gov/liho/great-western-depot.htm) from which Abraham Lincoln waved good-bye as his train left Springfield, Illinois for Washington, D.C. in February 1861.

In a change of emphasis, the National Register has begun listing historic downtown community centers, including central-city blocks that are currently redeveloping themselves or hope to redevelop.  Two Illinois downtowns, in East St. Louis and Elgin, are included in the 2015 listing.  Elgin’s Downtown Historic District is acclaimed as showing off a transition in Illinois retail activity, from shop-front buildings built in the 1800s to department stores in the 1900s.
With this news I am glad more of Illinois’ historic places can be added to the list for preservation not only in District 102 but across our historic American homeland.

Springfield…State Representative Adam Brown (R-Champaign) had the privilege of welcoming US Youth Soccer Player of the Month for December 2014, Rylie Danner, to Springfield on Wednesday. Rylie, a member of the Midstate Soccer Club, has been a team captain for two seasons and recently signed up with the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program, the premier youth development program in the United States. During her visit to Springfield Ms. Danner was honored in Representative Brown’s House Resolution 57, which celebrated her accomplishments on the soccer field.

“It was a fun experience to come down and watch the House in Session. I also enjoyed standing up and being recognized by the entire House of Representatives when Representative Brown spoke about the Resolution congratulating me,” Rylie said.

While pursuing her athletic goals, Rylie also maintains an excellent academic record and has been on the high honor roll each quarter while taking advanced classes. A member of her student council and a volunteer for numerous causes, including an Alzheimer’s 5K Walk and community food drives, Rylie would like to continue playing soccer in college, and her accomplishments on and off the soccer field have her on the path to further success.

Representative Brown stated, “It’s always wonderful to welcome distinguished young people and their families to Springfield. As a US Youth Soccer Player of the Month, Rylie Danner’s local accomplishments have been recognized at the state and national level, and it was a joy to congratulate her on the House Floor today.”
 
 

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.