State representative reviews highlights of legislative session
In a review of her first legislative session, State Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie, D-Elizabethtown, said she “stood up against new proposals that would limit the Second Amendment rights of law abiding gun owners, passed legislation to help remove excessive fines from local farmers, provided owed wages to state employees and implemented a full, balanced budget for Illinois with strong bipartisan support.”
“I am very happy that the first budget proposal I’ve had a chance to support as state representative of the 118th District is not only balanced, but produces a budget surplus and is fair for our region,” Phelps Finnie said in a news release.
Part of Union County is in the 118th District.
Phelps Finnie said that the budget “could not have been done by a single party, and I’m happy to say that this budget was negotiated in good faith from both parties and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
“Southern Illinois wins in this budget, as millions of additional dollars will be sent to SIUC, and I want to extend my thanks to my fellow Southern Illinoisans legislators, both Republican and Democrat, for working together to pass this legislation.
“What’s more is that this budget also creates a surplus, allowing us to do the responsible thing and pay our debts and obligations.”
“Our balanced budget provides additional funding to the Southern Illinois University system, which we desperately need.
“Millions in new funding will be directed to SIUC in an effort to continue the great work they do and ensure our students receive the best education.
“In the midst of budget negotiations, I opposed efforts to split SIU into two separate universities, which would jeopardize the Carbondale campus and thereby threaten Southern Illinois economy.
“It would be unconscionable to allow another year of havoc on our university system while politicians scramble to do their job.”
Phelps Finnie stated that she “has stood against every attempt by misguided legislators to implement further restriction on law abiding gun owners, including extended waiting times, higher fees, and the banning of certain firearms.
“Coming from a family that enjoys hunting and shooting for sport, I do not see the value in pursuing policies that harm law-abiding citizens.
“I wish my colleagues would come around and join me in protecting those who uphold the law and hold accountable those who break it.
“We need to come to the table and look at legislation that will actually be effective in protecting our children and ending these school shootings.”
During her first session as a state representative, Phelps Finnie also helped state employees receive years of overdue payment for work they have completed and worked to streamline existing laws to ease burdensome fees on Southern Illinois farmers and truck drivers.
“Both governors Quinn and Rauner flat out refused to keep promises the state made to our state employees,” she said.
“Workers have still not received their fair compensation, which is more than $60 million for work they completed as far back as 2011, but with bipartisan support in the Illinois House we were able to release the money owed to workers.
“The new budget plan further details the allotment of money owed to our workers by funding our correctional facilities and providing needed resources to combat the rampant opioid crisis.”
Phelps Finnie declared that she “led the charge to help our downstate farmers and truck drivers by creating parity with the laws of our neighboring states, which help farmers save money and get their work done efficiently.
“Farmers benefit from hauling heavier loads because it reduces the number of trips from the fields to the grain bins, decreasing fuel consumption and overall man hours.
“Historically, IDOT has fined farmers for hauling loads that are overweight, which unfairly taxes them.
“Also, by putting us on equal footing with neighboring states, this gives our grain elevators in these border counties an opportunity to increase business.
“I am happy to report that the Illinois House successfully passed my bill to treat our farmers fairly.”