Letter to IFB membership recapping Illinois General Assembly session

Will Rogers once said “Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don’t hurt anybody. It’s when they do something is when they get dangerous.”

Doing nothing was not a likely option this spring session for the Illinois General Assembly.  

A new governor took office in January and 45 new legislators came to Springfield when the General Assembly convened for its spring session. 

Illinois’ ag organizations, including Farm Bureau, worked together to educate new lawmakers about the importance of farming for all parts of Illinois. 

Several high-profile pieces of legislation not supported by Farm Bureau policy were also on the agenda.  

Despite this difficult environment, I’m proud of what the Farm Bureau accomplished.

During discussions on a capital construction package, IFB worked hard to reduce the negative impact tax and fee increases would have on farmers.

As a result, we were able to protect two of the largest markets for Illinois corn – livestock and ethanol. Legislation that would have halted new ethanol plant construction was stopped. We were able to stop regulatory changes that would have reduced livestock production, benefitting our livestock and grain farmers.

We exempted farm equipment and trucks from new trade-in vehicle taxes. A proposed tripling of the real estate transfer tax that would be charged on the sale or transfer of farmland and other real estate was eliminated.

Attempts to divert infrastructure dollars away from rural roads was thwarted by making sure the distribution of road funds treated rural Illinois fairly.

We passed the Uniform Partition of Heirs Act, a legislative priority. This will allow the right of first refusal for the heirs of the property upon a forced sale. 

Farm Bureau opposed legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The Illinois Department of Agriculture budget will increase $5.3 million, mostly to support operational costs for implementing new hemp regulations and regulating recreational marijuana. 

Despite over 2,000 calls from our members opposing the progressive income tax, legislators approved putting the tax on the ballot for the November 2020 election. I can assure you, Farm Bureau will work with other like-minded organizations in a campaign to defeat the progressive income tax proposal. We cannot continue to encourage businesses and wage earners to leave Illinois.

We could not have accomplished what we did during this challenging legislative session without you. Clearly, there is much work ahead. Thank you for your continued support of Illinois agriculture and the Illinois Farm Bureau.

Richard Guebert Jr. is president of Illinois Farm Bureau.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.