from McDonough County Voice, April 26, 2017, By: Jared DuBach

MACOMB — While much of the public’s focus has been on the issues surrounding the 22-month state budget stalemate, a number of bills have been making their way through the General Assembly with regard to environmental concerns and impact on statewide industry.
The Voice on Friday sat down with state Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, to talk about a number of bills she has sponsored and co-sponsored, as well as her recent appointment as vice chair of the Midwestern Legislative Conference Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee. The committee provides bipartisan collaboration among 11 Midwestern states and four Canadian provinces.

The Committee

The ag and natural resource committee is part of the Council of State Governments, which includes all 50 states and eight Canadian provinces. The council has various areas broken into regions, and State Ag and Rural Leaders (SARL) is part of the Midwest council region. In 2011, Hammond was appointed to SARL by the Democrat majority in the House. She has been on SARL’s board more here
MACOMB –Assistant House Minority Leader Norine K. Hammond (R-Macomb) provided the following Mid-Session Update:

“For those of you that are not aware, there was a demonstration outside of my Macomb office on April 17 from 4:00 to 5:00 PM. As a result, I wanted to address not only these passionate constituents but all of the citizens of the 93rd District to provide an update on the Spring Legislative Session.

I’d like to thank all of the constituents who have reached out to me and continue to do so through these trying times. The concerns continue to be well-recognized by all Illinois residents. The top, salient concern continues to be that Illinois does not have a budget, which in turn leaves social services, higher education, services for seniors, and so much more underfunded or, in the worst case, completely unfunded. For the past two years, I have repeatedly called on our state leadership (i.e., leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, and the Governor) to negotiate a compromise and comprehensive budget. Unfortunately, even with these efforts, some members have not been able to negotiate and/or compromise in good faith, which has ultimately resulted in this ridiculous impasse in which we find ourselves.
From The Midwestern Office of the Council of State Governments

LOMBARD, IL — Representative Norine Hammond has been appointed to serve as vice-chair of a regional committee of legislators that will examine key agriculture and natural resource issues while pursuing opportunities for interstate and binational cooperation, policy-making and information sharing.

As vice-chair of the bipartisan Midwestern Legislative Conference Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee, Hammond will be working with leaders from 11 states and four Canadian provinces. Hammond will lead the committee as the members continue their work to enhance the economic relationship between the Midwestern states and neighboring Canadian provinces and to support efforts to ensure viable rural communities, strong agricultural and natural resource industries and environments.

Each state and province in the region can appoint as many as six legislators to serve on this MLC committee.

The Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee provides an opportunity for Midwestern legislators to examine issues affecting rural communities, including rural economies, agriculture, energy, forestry and wildlife of the individual states and of the region as a whole. The Committee’s focus is on those issues related to the approaches policymakers have taken to promoting the related industries, and the impact of federal policies on the industries, the land and people involved. 

The Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will have many issues to address with rural communities facing financial erosion in both farm income and rural job losses and a growing list of federal issues including food safety, trade and discussions beginning on the 2018 farm bill.

MACOMB –Assistant House Minority Leader Norine K. Hammond (R-Macomb) issued the following statement after the passage of HB 109, also known as the “lifeline” bill:

“I want to make it abundantly clear to all of the citizens of the 93rd District my reason for voting ‘no’ on HB 109. First, let me address the timeline for context. The amendment, which became the bill, was filed less than 24 hours before it was voted on in committee and on the House floor. In that time, I quickly read the bill and our research staff did an on-the-fly analysis of the funds that would be appropriated as a result of the bill’s passage.

On the morning of April 6, my intention was to vote ‘yes’ on HB 109 because at the time all I knew was our state universities need operating funds and Illinois college students need MAP grants. After being able to assess the funds that would be appropriated, a few key elements ultimately shaped my vote. In regard to the funds that would be appropriated to higher education (including MAP grants), all of this money in the bill is appropriated from the Education Assistance Fund. Moreover, based on our estimate, if the money gets appropriated (i.e., assuming it passes the Senate and the Governor signs the bill), the fund would break even by the end of the fiscal year. On this point, I wanted to vote yes.

The bill didn’t just appropriate funds for higher education, though; the bill also appropriated money to social services. This would not have been an issue if this bill was not drafted in haste. There were programs that were being funded in this bill that do not exist. Let me repeat that: millions of taxpayer dollars would be appropriated to programs that do not exist. Additionally, and unfortunately, the social services portion of this bill is underfunded by over $60 million. And, if this bill were to pass into law, this means the millions of dollars going to non-existent programs won’t be able to go to the social services and programs not included in this bill from the start.

Even more concerning, the Senate had already adjourned by the time the House voted on the bill. This wouldn’t be a problem except that the Senate is not scheduled to return until April 25. At that point, they could take up the bill and pass it. However, we would all be foolish not to think what the Governor would do if the bill passed the Senate. The Governor has already vowed to veto this bill. I am not pointing this out to say that we shouldn’t pass bills that the Governor doesn’t like; I am pointing this out because if the Governor vetoes the bill and it comes back to the House and then the Senate, so much time will have been wasted over a bill that could be so much more comprehensive. Simply put, a reasonable, compromise budget that truly funds higher education, social services, services for seniors, and so many other worthy state services and programs has just been delayed as a result of this bill’s passage in the House.

I remain ready and committed to working with any and all members of the General Assembly, who want to take this process seriously, on a comprehensive, compromise budget that adequately funds all of the state’s vital services. I only hope that this can be accomplished sooner, rather than later.”

Hammond represents all or part of Brown, Cass, Fulton, Knox, Mason, McDonough, Schuyler and Warren counties.