State lawmakers working through full slate of issues

Agenda includes several topics of interest for Illinois Farm Bureau.

By DeLoss Jahnke

May is in full swing, and the month’s end represents the finish line for the state’s legislative session. Meantime, there’s a lot of heavy lifting to be done in the next few weeks.

“A lot of issues that are of extreme importance to us that we’re monitoring very closely,” said Mark Gebhards, executive director of governmental affairs and commodities at Illinois Farm Bureau. “Obviously, some of the bigger overarching issues are state budget and looking at a capital plan that, if they can develop that, could promote infrastructure.”

Those initiatives will require the generation of revenue, and lawmakers could weigh several options.

“The legalization of recreational cannabis being one of those. Sports gambling is also being talked about,” Gebhards said during an interview this week with the RFD Radio Network®. “And then an issue we certainly oppose, and that’s the progressive tax. We’re asking our members to contact their House member and vote no on the progressive tax.”

Gebhards expects the House to vote on the progressive tax Wednesday or Thursday.

Related: Click here to find out how to ask your state representative to vote no on the progressive tax.

Revenue-related legislation will be important to pass before a budget can be finalized.

“I would anticipate some votes coming relatively soon on the legalization of recreational cannabis,” Gebhards said. “I think there’s still a lot more discussing and negotiating to be done when it comes to sports gambling. So both of those things are kind of contingent upon how you make a budget work as you go into the next fiscal year.”

Gebhards said a bill to provide infrastructure funding should include a number of projects, including increased broadband coverage in rural Illinois. IFB has been part of those discussions and supports better access for all of its members. 

“At that same time, we need to take into account property rights and make sure that however you provide the ability for people to have better access, that our land owners are justly compensated if land is taken to do that,” he said.

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