McLean County GOP house, senate members address local business economy
NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — The McLean County Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual State of the State with Illinois lawmakers who represent the county Tuesday morning.
Local business leaders heard first-hand about actions underway in Springfield and how they could affect their business operations back home.
The state representatives and senators addressed multiple concerns from McLean County business owners including unemployment benefits, employment shortages, and renewable energy bills.
Illinois Republicans representing McLean County are calling for an end to federal unemployment benefits ahead of Friday’s phase five reopening. Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) said it’s time to give businesses an even playing field.
“I don’t think there’s anyone here on this panel or in the room, especially business [owners] that wouldn’t tell you, ‘I’m starving for help,’” Brady said.
Brady said Illinois House and Senate leaders asked Governor Pritzker to withhold the additional $300 in unemployment benefits from the federal government, which has already been accomplished in more than 20 states.
The all-GOP panel also focused on renewable energy and addressed a clean energy bill that will soon be read to the General Assembly.
Legislators said they don’t know the specific contents yet of the bill, but presume it’s working towards the state’s goal of carbon-free energy.
Freshman Senator Sally Turner (R-44th Dist.) said she hopes the bill addresses jobs lost in the transition with multiple people losing jobs at the Elkhart Coal Mine.
“Just two days ago, they laid off another 39 people and they laid off 51 people prior to that. So that’s a difficulty on those communities,” Turner said.
Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) said despite the challenges facing the area’s economy, it’s in a better position now than in years past.
“Today, I think there’s a comfort in our largest employer (State Farm) and their long-term vision for the community. There are awesome things happening in our community with Rivian, the university,” Barickman said.
The legislators also slammed Governor Pritzkers’ approval of the redrawn district maps, calling them “unfair” and a disservice to all Illinois voters.