Chamber News, Member News

Livingston County Farm Bureau Hosts Legislative Breakfast

Cat and Danielle of the Chamber of Commerce recently attended the Livingston County Farm Bureau Legislator Breakfast held at the Pontiac Elk’s. Among many Farm Bureau members, in attendance were Senator Jason Barickman, Representative Tom Bennett, Congressman Adam Kinzinger’s assistant, Patrick Doggett and County Board Chair Kathy Arbogast. Matt Kilgus of the Livingston County Farm Bureau was our gracious host. The audience was updated on all levels of government.
Arbogast told us that the second proposal for the new Public Health Department is at a lesser dollar amount and has been approved by the Property Committee already. County Board also has stated that any cannabis facility will need to be 1500 feet away from schools, churches, etc… There is a property tax increase vote on the ballot asking citizens of the county if they support the tax for the Livingston County Health Care plan. Kathy also reported that the county has already seen $355, 000 in funds from the state gas tax increase. County has approved monies for bridge, culvert and road repairs.
Adam Kinzinger’s assistant, Patrick Doggett gave a brief summary of the issues Kinzinger has been addressing in Washington including the Coronavirus legislation that passed 415-2 and was approved by the President, freeing up emergency spending of $8 billion dollars in funds to go to the CDC and other organizations to help combat the virus spread. When asked about the need for infrastructure funding, Doggett stated that at this time there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope for a deal in the near future.
Representative Tom Bennett addressed the crowd updating us on bills he has proposed and committees he is currently serving. He reported that attendance soared by 37% at the 2019 State Fairs at both Springfield and Quoin brining in $5.7 million dollars to the State of Illinois. This in turn allowed the state to approve keeping the fairs open this year. Tom discussed bills he has worked on and proposed like a perjury bill, the FOID Card process and the mandatory HPV vaccine. He talked about the importance of taking the 2020 Census and the frightening fact that around50,000 Illinoisans left the state last year and sadly, the state has no answers for it.
Senator Jason Barickman reported that Governor Pritzker proposed to consolidate some pension systems for savings, but more needs to be done. The Senator said he is strongly opposed to the graduated tax increase saying if it is voted down then real spending reform will be put on the table for real discussion. It was noted that there are three names by which this tax increase is referred: the Graduated Tax, the Fair Tax and the Progressive Tax. Barickman agreed with Bennett that nothing is being done about the large number of residents leaving the state saying that there is a lack of recognition by the Democrats that it is already happening. When discussing the FOID Card system being broken, Barickman said he doesn’t see the card going away, if anything there will be more restrictions and higher fees added. On the brightside of politics, though it has been tough to come to agreements on big issues, he is seeing bi-partisan solutions. He and a Democrat have proposed a tax credit together for volunteer firemen that will help aid recruiting.
The morning ended with a Q&A from the audience to the panel which led the way for many great discussions.

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