June is here, and summertime usually means our legislative session in Springfield is finished. But as I write you this month, our work continues.
We made important progress during the regular session that ended May 31. I am proud of our new state budget: we avoided tax increases as our citizens and businesses recover from the pandemic, wisely spent federal pandemic dollars, supported increased funding for our schools and made sure we provided full funding to our local communities through the Local Government Distributive Fund.
Last month, I told you I was hopeful we would step up and support the popular cover crops program to promote more farmland conservation practices around the state. We put several million dollars into this budget to make agriculture conservation a higher priority in Illinois, and as Chair of the Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee, I will continue to push for more support to invest back into protecting our precious soils.
I was a chief proponent of a bill now headed to the Governor that will lower small trailer plate registration fees from a costly $118 down to a more reasonable $36.
We also took an important step forward by modernizing the state’s FOID card system. We hope these changes will make it easier for law-abiding gun owners to get their FOID renewal done faster.
The good people of Pembroke Township should get some relief via House Bill 3404, which I helped push through the Legislature to bring a natural gas line to the area.
But as I told you at the outset of this column, our work is not finished. We have not yet agreed on a comprehensive clean energy reform package as negotiations center on the future of how the energy we use is produced through coal and natural gas plants.
I am very hopeful we are close to an agreement that will accomplish our key goals: moving toward cleaner energy use for our environment and our natural resources, protecting and promoting clean energy jobs including in our vital nuclear plants in this region, and ensuring all of Illinois has access to affordable, reliable energy even on the hottest summer days and coldest winter nights.
I will support a package that strikes the right balance for an energy future that is most definitely cleaner, but also recognizes the critical role our nuclear and other energy facilities have in our communities. It’s paramount we protect those jobs and those communities today and tomorrow.
In Phase 5, I can see a great sense of relief throughout our district as our businesses fully reopen and schools prepare for the fall. If you have not yet been vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible. It’s fast, easy, free and our best protection collectively against any return of this devastating virus.
We know it’s been difficult to take advantage of some state services, including at driver’s facilities, during the pandemic. If you still need help, please join me for a Secretary of State mobile unit event in South Wilmington on Tuesday, July 13.
I urge you to contact me anytime I can help: 708-756-0882, or at http://www.senatorpatrickjoyce.com/. I will continue to share the latest news on my website and on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/senPatrickjoyce40/.
Sen. Patrick Joyce
D-Essex, 40th State Senate District