Posted by Eric Jones on Jun 19, 2019
Today's meeting featured State Representative for the 70th District, Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore). Representative Keicher, also a member of the Sycamore Rotary Club, shared an update on the recently concluded General Assembly session. Rep. Keicher was appointed to Rep. Bob Pritchard's seat on July 17, 2018 and was subsequently elected to the position in November.
 
Rep. Keicher shared his views of the progress made, and battles that were fought or will continue to be fought, during the most recent session. With Democrats holding a super majority in the House and Senate, there is little motivation to pass anything with Republican support. However, many bills this session were passed with bi-partisan support, including the budget thanks to a push by Governor Pritzker to have Republican support.
 
Some of the issues tackled during this session included a graduated income tax, higher minimum wage, legalization of marijuana, as well as the expansion of gaming. Nearly 6,000 bills were introduced with just under 1,000 passed, making it one of the largest General Assembly sessions in recent decades. In addition to his regular duties, Jeff was assigned to five committees including the Veteran Affairs, higher education, mental health, and agriculture.
 
After providing his prepared remarks, Jeff took questions from the members on particular issues. When asked about medical marijuana, he mentioned that Illinois has one of the most restrictive policies. Some of the changes made during this session included changes to who could administer, thresholds for chronic pain diagnosis, and home growing policies. Regarding legalized recreational marijuana use, he remarked that municipalities and counties can limit dispensaries, zero tolerance policies are still permitted in the work place, and that it is prohibited while driving. Regarding minimum wage, his primary concern was that the new minimum wage law doesn’t consider geographical discrepancies, setting the same wage level for workers in Chicago and Effingham.
 
Regarding the state budget, Rep. Keicher mentioned that the bi-partisan appropriations committee spent nearly two months going line-by-line and cut many line items from the budget where there were issues. In May, the state received an additional $1.4B in receipts,. As a result, they paid off old bills and then the Democrats restored all of the agreed cuts. As a result of the Governor wanting votes from Republicans on capital bill and budget, he spent 12 hours negotiating with the Republican caucus and agreed to many concessions that they had been unsuccessful in negotiating under Governor Rauner. Additionally, the budget that was finally passed is balanced with the potential for a $200 million surplus.
 
For a more detailed summary of Rep. Keicher's thoughts on the spring session, you can visit his official recap at https://repkeicher.com/2019/06/11/spring-session-recap/.