50th District Update: Remaining Open
This week I filed legislation to place a referendum on the ballot during the next general election in November 2018. This referendum would ask voters to decide whether to create a new, elected Director for the Department of Agriculture. This is something that 12 other states have done, including two states bordering Illinois.
Why do this? Well, my thought is that having an elected advocate for agriculture could help the industry grow. Since agriculture is our state's biggest industry, that could potentially provide a boost to our entire state.
This idea certainly has its pros and cons, but I do believe it's worth exploring further, and that's why I filed this legislation. I think there is potential here, and I look forward to having a discussion about this through the legislative process, both with my colleagues in the Senate and House, as well as with stakeholders, farmers, and industry professionals as well. If, and only if it passes the General Assembly, it would then be up to the voters to make the final decision.
I think it's important that we are open to new ideas, ideas that could bring positive change. I know our state is embroiled right now in partisan gridlock over the budget. Part of the problem is that not enough lawmakers are open to what the other side is proposing. I believe the backlash from the public over the lack of a budget is hopefully starting to change that. When we all have open minds and listen to each others' ideas, we can accomplish great things.
If there's anything I can help you with, please don't hesitate to contact my office at 217-782-8206 or SenatorMcCann@gmail.com.
State Senator Sam McCann
Students from across the district visited Senator McCann at the Capitol on May 11th. The group is part of the Jared's Keepers Foundation, a suicide prevention and awareness organization.
Senator McCann visited with students from Jerseyville West & East elementaries, Illini Middle School and Sacred Heart-Griffin High School to learn more about their projects that were on display as part of the Tech 2017 event at the Capitol.
Senate Week in Review
McCann files legislation to create elected state Agriculture Director
State Senator Sam McCann (R-Plainview) has filed legislation to allow voters to turn the Illinois Director of Agriculture into a statewide elected position.
“The Director of Agriculture is tasked with overseeing our state’s largest and most important industry,” said Senator McCann. “This would make sure that our Ag Director, just like all elected officials, is held accountable to the voters at the ballot box.”
Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 14, if passed by the General Assembly, would place a question on the ballot to let voters decide whether the Director of Agriculture should be an elected constitutional officer.
The Department of Agriculture is currently overseen by a director who is appointed by the Governor. McCann’s proposal would turn that administrative position into an independent, statewide advocate for agriculture.
“Having an elected person solely focused on agriculture could help grow the industry, providing a much needed boost to the state’s sluggish economy,” said Senator McCann.
According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the state’s agriculture industry generates more than $19 billion annually, including $8.2 billion worth of exports.
“Agriculture is one of the few cylinders of our economic engine that has been firing reliably,” said Senator McCann. “This would make sure the industry gets the attention and focus that it deserves at the Capitol.”
Currently, only the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, Comptroller, Secretary of State and Attorney General are elected constitutional officers in Illinois.
Twelve other states have elected Directors, Secretaries, or Commissioners of Agriculture, including two of Illinois’ neighbors, Iowa and Kentucky.
“The successes and struggles of Illinois agriculture affect everyone residing in this state,” said Senator McCann. “I believe the people of Illinois deserve to choose the person who holds such an important role.”
If SJRCA14 passes the Illinois General Assembly, the question would appear on the ballot for the 2018 general election.
Ceremony honors firefighters
On May 9, hundreds of firefighters from across the state gathered in Springfield to remember fallen firefighters who lost their lives to protect Illinoisans. The 24th Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighters Memorial and Fire Fighting Medal of Honor Awards Ceremony also honored individual firefighters for extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism to protect fellow firefighters and civilians.
Two firefighters who died in, or as a result of, the performance of duty were honored during the ceremonies as their families were presented with the Duty Death Gold Badge by Illinois State Fire Marshal Matthew Perez. Those recognized include Captain Eric Kohlbauer of Freeport Rural Fire Protection District, and Firefighter and Paramedic Kenneth Harris of Village of Oak Park Fire Department.
Twenty-four firefighters received the Firefighter Excellence Award for an act of service in the line of duty, demonstrating excellence and professionalism in service to the citizens of the state of Illinois.
Demonstration of school technology
Students from across Illinois came to Springfield May 9 to participate in TECH 2017, a demonstration of school technology.
TECH 2017 allows students to display their projects and show state leaders what skills will be needed for the Illinois work force and how technology can improve teaching and learning.
Since 1990, student and educators have convened at the Capitol building in Springfield to demonstrate ways they use technology to enhance learning and prepare themselves for success in today's digital world.
Illinois tourism growing
On May 8, National Travel and Tourism Week kicked off with the release of domestic Illinois tourism figures that show robust growth in visitor spending in 2016.
The Illinois Office of Tourism announced that in the first quarter of 2017, there has been a seven percent increase in tourism revenue in Chicago and a four percent revenue increase downstate. Visitors to Illinois invested $35 billion in the state's economy in 2016. In the last two years, Illinois has created 20,000 tourism-related jobs.
Illinois Legislative Shadow Day
On May 10, 60 youth in foster care, as well as alumni from such programs from across the state, were paired with members of the General Assembly, as part of Illinois Shadow Day 2017.
Throughout the day, youth learned firsthand how state government operates and what it takes to be a state legislator. The Illinois Legislative Shadow Day is modeled after the annual Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Experience held in Washington, D.C. each May.
The event was sponsored by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Foster Care Alumni of America – Illinois Chapter, the Illinois Statewide Youth Advisory Board and Be Strong Families as part of the observance of National Foster Care Month.