Rep. Brian Stewart Weekly Column: FFA, Festivals and Vehicle Insurance

On Thursday June 14th, the Illinois FFA made history at the State Convention.  Delegates to the Convention elected five young women to each of the state chapter offices.  I wish a hearty congratulations to the new President Sophia Hortin of the Fisher FFA Chapter in Champaign County, Vice President Eliza Petry of the Rochelle FFA Chapter in Ogle County, Reporter Shaylee Clinton of the Mount Vernon FFA Chapter in Jefferson County, Secretary Miriam Hoffman of the Earlville FFA Chapter in LaSalle County, and Treasurer Taylor Hartke of the Teutopolis FFA Chapter in Effingham County.  I look forward to the great work they will do this term.

It was author Charles Bowden who wrote, Summertime is always the best of what might be. Summer definitely is the best time to enjoy weekends full of festivals and parades throughout Northern Illinois.

Last weekend, many counties enjoyed Ag Breakfasts sponsored by their local county Farm Bureaus.  I had the pleasure of enjoying the Stephenson County Ag Breakfast on Saturday which served over 3,000 people at the Stephenson County Fairgrounds.  On Sunday morning I joined the Jo Daviess County Ag Breakfast in Warren, Illinois.  And on Sunday afternoon, I visited the town of Polo, Illinois at their Town and Country Days Festival and marched in the parade.

There will be three festivals this weekend throughout the 89th District.  The Milledgeville Jamboree is scheduled from Friday through Sunday and will include a 5K run, bags tournament, concerts, a softball tournament, and a car show.

Lanark will be hosting its Old Settlers Days this Friday through Sunday as well.  Old Settlers Days also hosts a 5K run, softball tournament, and a car show, along with Its Kids Quarter Mile Run, Saturday morning breakfast at the fire station, pony rides and various tractor pulls throughout the weekend.

And Scales Mound will be celebrating its 165th Anniversary this weekend!  The festivities will include tug of war, concerts, mud volleyball, baseball games, a petting zoo, bags tournament, knocker ball, a 4H Breakfast on Sunday, and more.  Congratulations on the anniversary Scales Mound!

Lastly, the Illinois Bicentennial Commission will dedicate the new Captain Lincoln statue at Black Hawk Battlefield Park in Kent, Illinois this Saturday at 1pm.  The statue will mark where Captain Abraham Lincoln buried soldiers killed in battle with Sauk and Fox Indians in 1832. 

Cuban artist Mario Fernandez once said, Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine. Last Monday brought with it ferocious storms especially to the east in Rockford, Illinois.  We all look forward to sun shining again.

The same can be said of Illinois state government.  And while it seems as though theres nothing but storms brewing in Springfield, periodically, the sun shines through.

One example is House Bill 4472.  I filed this bill at the beginning of the Spring Session in order to help law enforcement and protect the citizens of Illinois.  This bill was the result of a traffic stop where a driver was pulled over for following a tractor-trailer too closely and heavily tinted windows.

After obtaining the Drivers License the officer returned to their squad.  Shortly thereafter, the officer went back to the vehicle and checked for proof of insurance.  During that exchange, the officer found the vehicle contained illegal drugs and two loaded hand guns.

At the time, Illinois law did not require out of state drivers to provide proof of insurance.  The officer mistakenly believed they had authorization to return to the vehicle and ask for proof of insurance.  As a result, the courts ruled it an unqualified return and dismissed the case.

HB4472 provides our officers consistency when enforcing the law on Illinois roads.  It closes the loophole and allows officers to ask all drivers for proof of insurance regardless of what state the vehicle is registered in.  Springfield needs more solutions like HB4472 especially when it comes to balancing the budget, reducing taxes, and growing our economy.

Once we agree on solutions that will move Illinois forward, the key will be sticking to our guns. Some may remember how Kansas tried to balance their budget and cut taxes in 2012.  While they did cut taxes, instead of balancing the budget, they chose to deficit spend.  According to the FY2018 Kansas Governors Budget report, Kansas set spending records in fiscal years 2013, 2015, and 2017.

While Kansas ratcheted up spending, it also increased taxes in 2013, 2015, and 2017.  In its report Rich States, Poor States 10th Ed., the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) describes it saying, Perhaps the most important complexity to keep in mind is the Kansas tax reform plan was never fully implemented as intended.  The ALEC report goes on to say that states should avoid the Kansan pitfalls and, Pursue lower taxes, but resist the ever-present temptation to overspend.

Illinoisans are familiar with overspending.  We saw what happened during the last tax hike. Money that was supposed to pay down the pension debt and bill backlog was spent on more government programs.  The same thing is happening with the current tax increase.

With legislation like HB4472, Springfield has demonstrated that the sun can shine through and we can come together to pass common sense solutions.  I am hopeful that we can extend such successes to our finances in the coming year.

If you have any additional thoughts or ideas, you can reach me or Sally at 815-232-0774, or visit my website at and use the form to send me an e-mail.

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