99th District State Representative Randy Frese held an open house discussion in Jacksonville on Monday night. Frese said last month he wanted to hold a series of these events across his newly-aligned district to get to know his new constituents and hear concerns from them directly.
Frese says his first event in Jacksonville exceeded expectations: “We were hoping for 10-15 people to show up, and I thought when we started we were going to have to find more chairs. It’s great to see that. They treated me very, very well. I think maybe they took it easy on me, so that maybe I better be more prepared the next time when I come for maybe some harder, more cutting issues. We covered a lot of issues here. You name it – we covered child care and education, we covered roads, we covered the firearms, all the things from back to when even Mike Madigan was the Speaker of the House and all the different things that have happened. It was great to cover them. I made a number of notes, and I got some extra homework to do and see if I get some answers for people.”
Approximately 35 people were in attendance to talk to their new representative. Frese says he is already hoping to schedule a return engagement in Jacksonville after he makes stops in Brown & Schuyler counties, which are also new to his territory for the General Assembly. Frese says with Quincy and Jacksonville being the two largest municipalities in his district, he will make both locations a priority during his term. He says that Jacksonville does have some major differences from his old district because of its close proximity to Springfield: “There’s going to be differences. Geographic area changes things. There’s a little more influence, I think, in this area because of the close proximity of Springfield to Jacksonville. There’s a lot of people that work over there and travel there. It’s a simple trip down the interstate. Those type of things change a little bit. Otherwise, roads are an issue everywhere in the state. It’s just a different corridor. All of these different corridors, everyone has an interest. It’s just geographic changes.”
Frese was passing through Jacksonville last night to head to Springfield for today’s session and committee meetings. Frese says that with the close of session coming up in just 3 weeks, the way legislation is introduced and how quickly it will be churned through will quicken. He says things like the state budget should already be in front of legislators but will likely come in the 11th hour to make for little or no debate: “We should already be working and see hard numbers on line items for budget. We will not see that. We will not see that until 24-36 hours before or at the very end of session when we’re voting on that. That’s just the way. We know it’s that way. There are some other bills that are hanging out there that are still getting talked about that haven’t gone anywhere that we figure, as I mentioned, that will be put in an omnibus bill. With what other [legislation] and how will the whole package look, we don’t know. We would have time to look at that if given the time. Too often those large bills are given and 24 hours later, they need to be through both houses and sent on to the governor. We can get it done by May 19th. There’s no reason why we can’t. We should just be working on things now that we are not. I have great expectations for the amount of work that we are going to get done. I’ll probably be disappointed by the end because we won’t have done all that we could.”
Frese says he will be working specifically in healthcare licensure and early childhood education. He says that Frese is likely in consensus with Governor J.B. Pritzker on working to improve and add more money to early childhood programs. He says that statistics and outcomes prove that when children have better and more access to early childhood education, like kindergarten and pre-k programs, it helps to keep them out of the judicial system as adults.