Abraham Lincoln once said, If elected I will be thankful; if not, it will be all the same. Illinois finished a spirited and intense primary election this past week. The joys and stings are still fresh. Last Tuesday was not the first such primary.
How many of us remember the Republican primary of 1994? It was then that former Governor Jim Edgar was challenged in the rimary by the late Jack Roesser. Jack ran against Governor Edgar because he believed the Governor was going to raise our taxes and use more taxpayer dollars to fund abortion.
How about the Republican Senate primary in 1998? Governor Edgar endorsed Loleta Didrickson who was challenged by Illinois State Senator Peter Fitzgerald in the race to see who would run against Senator Carol Moseley Braun that November. Against all odds, the challenger Fitzgerald won.
The Democrats have had some big primaries too. In 2002, Congressman Rod Blagojevich ran against former Attorney General Roland Burris and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas. Vallas lost to Blagojevich by 2.03% of the vote. The rest, as we know, is history.
2002 was a big primary year locally when Jim Sacia won his first election for State Representative in the 89th District against four opponents. Yes, Illinois has a history of intense primaries.
It was FDR who talked about how government should not be twirling its thumbs. Instead, he said that government should roll up its sleeves. He promised Americans that government will keep our sleeves rolled up.
The same holds true today. We had a primary election. We will have a general election in November so your mailboxes should be relatively empty till the fall. And we still have a state that needs help. The January Comptroller report tells us that Illinois has paid almost a billion dollars in late-payment interest penalties alone! So yes, we have a lot of work to do when legislators return to Springfield on April 9th, and I will roll up my sleeves.
We should not be passing more laws to appease a political base or to distract the public from harassment charges in the Speakers campaign office. We should pass laws that make sense and help Illinois move forward. Anything less is not worthy of the peoples trust.
An example of a common sense law is House Bill 4548. This bill provides us an opportunity to save tax dollars in rural Illinois. Right now, juveniles who are detained after having been charged with a crime are required to physically appear in court for the initial detention hearing. This is less of a problem in cities like Rockford, Peoria, or Chicago, where juveniles are detained a short driving distance from their respective court house.
In cities like Galena, Mount Carroll, and Freeport, close proximity is not an option. Juveniles are detained in Galesburgs Mary Davis Home Juvenile Center, or in the Kane County Juvenile Detention Center. Sheriffs deputies are required to drive two and a half hours to Galesburg or Kane County to transport juveniles to the courthouse for an initial detention hearing that usually lasts less than ten minutes. Not only is this a safety issue for both the deputy and the juvenile it is expensive for taxpayers. It also removes a county deputy from the beat. It is difficult for a deputy to effectively fight crime while also driving at least five hours round trip.
After hearing of this issue from our local Sheriffs, I saw a problem that needed solving. So, I filed HB4548. It establishes a three year pilot program that whenever an appearance of a minor is required in court who is held at a juvenile detention center, the court may allow the appearance of the minor to be made by means of a two-way audio-visual communication. This is already being done for adults that are detained. We have the technology to ensure a fair hearing and save tax dollars at the same time and I think we should get it done this spring.
Now that the primary election is over, we can get on with the important issues facing our state like creating jobs and expanding opportunity in our rural communities. I am looking forward to rejoining my colleagues, as we roll up our sleeves and get to work. In the meantime, congratulations to the primary winners and thank you to everyone who went to the polls for the primary election. You make all the difference.
If you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com and use the form to send me an e-mail.