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The question on everyone's mind is "When will the General Assembly and Governor put the remainder of the state budget in place?"  The brutal, straight forward answer:  no one knows.
It has been reported that the Governor and the leaders of the four legislative caucuses have not had a face to face meeting since the end of May.  Most of the public comments among the parties have come at press conferences, through comments to the media, or in the case of the Governor's budget staff, hearings of the General Assembly.  This is not a good sign that meaningful budget negotiations are going to happen anytime soon.    
The Senate did take action Wednesday on legislation providing appropriations for some budget items not yet funded.  Those program areas included were:

Program Area


Public Health





Human Services


Public Aid Recoveries


Veteran's Assistance


Court of Claims Unjust Imprisonment


Motor Fuel Tax Local Govt. Disbursement


Lottery Prizes over $25,000





The above listed items were included in SB 2016 (President Cullerton) which received 36 yes and 19 no votes.  The roll call was along party lines with Democrat senators supporting and Republican members opposing the bill.  The bill will now be sent to the House, where it will take a minimum of three full session days to be considered.  The bill will need a super majority vote of 71 for passage since it has an immediate effective date.  The House is scheduled to return on September 24th for a one day session. 
It is fully anticipated that if the House were able to garner the required super majority vote of 71, the Governor will veto the bill.  The Governor continues to state that any final budget deal needs to include his "Turnaround Agenda" items. This standalone appropriation bill does not include those items.
SB 2016 in no way includes all the remaining budget line items yet to be funded.  Not included in the bill were items like the Department of Agriculture operation and pass through funds for Soil and Water Conservation Districts, U of I Extension, county fairs, and other programs.  Soil and Water Conservation Districts have been publically vocal that without state appropriations, their employees will lose their health care benefits at the end of the month.  Some districts are also reporting that without funding, several programs and services they provide, such as assisting in CREP applications, will be suspended.
Building additional pressure this week was the announcement by State Comptroller Munger that the state's backlog of unpaid bills is expected to be $8.5 billion by December 31st.  The state continues to make expenditures for state debt service, pension payments, tax refunds, and other items that are required by law.  The courts are also mandating that other expenses be paid like employee paychecks and Medicaid payments. 
According to the Governor's Budget Director Tim Nuding, who provided testimony Tuesday to the Senate Human Services Committee, $14 billion is to be paid by court orders and federal consent decrees.  Other items are required by statute to be paid via continuing appropriations, equaling $8.9 billion.  An additional $6 billion in statutory transfers for payments to municipalities and counties are also occurring. Mr. Nuding alluded that the state budget is running on "autopilot".
Illinois Farm Bureau continues to reach out to members of the General Assembly and the Governor's office to see that funding for the operations of the Department of Agriculture, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, U of I Extension, county fair programs, and other agricultural pass through programs receive maintenance levels of funding in a final budget.  But as we have tried to relay in this update, the current situation is an unprecedented mess and we do not see it ending soon.  For the impasse to be broken, the Governor and the General Assembly must sit down and tackle the significant issues facing the state.  Seeing the rhetoric from all parties involved does not indicate it will end soon.  It could be months before enough pressure builds or a gargantuan failure occurs, forcing all parties to sit down and negotiate a solution.







If you have not done so, please sign the petition to put the question of creating an independent redistricting process for drawing the Illinois General Assembly districts on the November 8, 2016 ballot. You can sign a petition at your local County Farm Bureau office.  Become one of the more than 200,000 Illinois registered voters that have already signed the petition.  Our goal is to get 600,000 Illinois registered voter signatures.
If you have already signed a petition and would like to do more, we would encourage you to circulate petitions.  The process is simple.  You can go to your County Farm Bureau office and pick up several copies or you can print them off the internet by visiting www.mapamendment.org.  It is not hard, but there are some rules that have to be followed to make sure everything is done legally.  The process for circulating the petitions is explained below. 
Illinois Farm Bureau supports the amendment and will be working for its passage because it creates an independent redistricting commission to draw Illinois legislative redistricts by an unbiased third party, will not be based on political affiliation and prior election results, and districts will be compact, contiguous, and impartial to party or incumbency. It also sets out guidelines that districts should follow county, township, and municipal boundaries as much as possible.
The Independent Map Amendment would establish a non-partisan, independent commission responsible for drawing state legislative districts in a way that is transparent and open to the public. It would end the current redistricting process reliant upon current seated legislators and better involve the public.
The 11 members of the Independent Redistricting Commission would be selected in the year of each federal decennial census. The first commission would be appointed in 2021 and the first election under the new maps would be 2022.
Petition Instructions
Each County Farm Bureau office has copies of the petitions or you can go to the Independent Map Amendment web site at www.mapamendment.org.   If you would like to make your own copies, please perform the following procedures. 
It is IMPERATIVE that we follow these instructions or any signature will be ruled invalid!  To make more copies of the petition, it must be printed on 8.5" x 11" letter size paper and printed on BOTH sides. One side will have blank spaces for the voter's signature, printed name, and address. The other side will have the printed text of the proposed amendment. The petitions that you download and print yourself MUST be printed or photocopied on both sides or the signatures you collect WILL NOT count!
Who can circulate a petition?
U.S. citizens age 18 and over can circulate petitions.
Who can sign a petition?
Only Illinois registered voters are eligible to sign.
Please DO NOT limit your signatures or signature gathering opportunities to Farm Bureau members.  Any legally registered voter in Illinois is eligible. 
Tips for accurate collection of signatures:
Make sure that the people who sign the petition use their full address without abbreviations. The address they use should be where they are registered to vote.  Also, please make sure they fill in all the information and that they clearly print their name in the space provided.
What do I do when I'm finished circulating the petition?
As the petition circulator, you must have the petition sheet notarized with your signature. Your notarized signature at the bottom of each page you circulate is proof that you were the person who circulated them. If your County Farm Bureau does not have a Notary Public, most banks provide notary service. Take your petitions with you to a notary public, fill out the circulator's affidavit at the bottom of each sheet, and sign each sheet in front of the notary. The notary public will sign and stamp the petitions you have circulated.
PLEASE do not fill in the Yes or No question at the top of the first page or the page number.  The Independent Map Amendment staff will take care of the page number.
Please Send Petitions that are completed!
Please turn in your completed petitions for processing and validation.  Please return the completed petition to you County Farm Bureau office or mail them to us at:

Andrew Larson
Illinois Farm Bureau, GAC
PO Box 2901
Bloomington, IL 61702-2901

All completed forms will be reviewed by the Independent Map Amendment coalition to verify valid voter signatures or if there duplicates as required by the law.  The coalition is working to secure legal signatures and verify them with the State Board of Elections. 
If you have questions on the amendment, the process, signature gathering, or the petitions please contact Kevin Semlow by phone at 309-557-2308 or by email at semlow@ilfb.org.  







This past spring's legislative session proved to be successful for the Illinois Farm Bureau as all four of our priority bills were passed by the General Assembly. In recent months, the Governor has also successfully approved each of the bills passed by the General Assembly.  The bills that are now law are:

  •  HB 2515 (P.A. 99-0057) - Aligns Illinois statute with federal trucking regulations regarding Covered Farm Vehicle Exemptions. Signed by the Governor on July 16, 2015. 
  • HB 2580 (P.A. 99-0237) - Requires that a public hearing must first take place before a road commissioner can permanently reduce the weight limit of a road. The road commissioner must also receive approval from the county engineer. Signed by the Governor on Aug. 3, 2015.
  • HB 3523 (P.A. 99-0132) - Requires wind energy companies to sign an Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement with the Department of Agriculture to protect landowners throughout the construction, deconstruction, and decommissioning of wind energy turbines. Signed by the Governor on July 24, 2015.
  • SB 1726 (P.A. 99-399) - Requires a public meeting to be held on a proposed electric transmission line project before it is considered by the ICC during its normal review process. It will also improve landowner notification on projects being considered by the ICC and before survey and land study work can being on private property.






The Illinois Farm Bureau has established a new state legislative priority to amend the Illinois Property Tax Code to extend the life of the vegetative filter strip assessment process.  HB 4254 (Rep. Bradley) and SB 2160 (Sen. Sullivan) have been introduced to accomplish this priority. 

Currently, the Illinois Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/10-152) provides that in all counties except Cook, land which is located in a farm field or an area to be protected that is a vegetative filter strip shall be assessed at 1/6 of its productivity index equalized assessed value as cropland. This provision has a statutory life which is set to sunset December 31, 2016. HB 4254 and SB 2160 extend that deadline to December 31, 2026.

The vegetative filter strip assessment was created to increase the voluntary participation of farmers in building filter strips. Filter strips are a tool farmers use to help address nutrient management and soil erosion. They are also a tool that is being encouraged by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and Illinois Department of Agriculture's (IDOA) recently released Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) which focuses on improving water quality in the state. The vegetative filter strip property tax assessment is important for encouraging the continuation and development of their use.

Vegetative filter strips are land that uses some type of grass or legume plant to create a permanent vegetative cover to reduce the flow of runoff water. This allows for water runoff flow control and the capturing of sediment, other suspended solids, and dissolved particles in the runoff. Vegetative filter strips also help in providing wildlife and beneficial insects additional habit, food, and cover. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Technical Guide provides the guidelines for filter strip design depending on the soil type, geography, slope of the land, and other necessary factors. The guide also provides options for the types of plants that should be used to provide the vegetative cover, including orchardgrass fescue, orchardgrass redtop, tall fescue, red clover, alfalfa, or other related grasses and legumes.

The vegetative filter strip assessment was created by legislation passed in 1996 (Poe/Bomke). This original legislation included a sunset date of December 31, 2006. The process was amended in the spring of 1997 to require that in order to qualify for the assessment, the filter strips must meet the standards and specifications set forth in the NRCS Technical Guide. Originally the filter strips were to be 66 feet wide, but the NRCS Technical guidelines set the width by taking into consideration the type of soil, slope of terrain, and other environmental factors.

In 2006, SB 2513 (Sullivan/Granberg) was introduced to extend the sunset to December 31, 2016. The bill passed the Senate with 48 yes, 0 no, 0 present votes. SB 2513 was held in the House Rules committee. The language was also included in SB 2709 (Wilhelmi/D. Brady) which was approved by both chambers and signed by the Governor.

Currently, the Illinois Department of Revenue reports that 112,882.4 acres are enrolled as vegetative filter strips. They also report that 22,873,784.2 acres are classified as cropland and 4,766,067 acres are classified as other farmland in Illinois.



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