PONTIAC – Legislative issues at the county, state and federal levels were addressed this week during the Livingston County Farm Bureau’s annual Legislative Breakfast at the Pontiac Elks.
State Sen. Jason Barickman said things are going to be tough at the state level in the short term as he tries to make the public aware of what is being proposed in Springfield.
“The political dynamic is what it is,” Barickman said. “In our state, we have swung wildly in a direction I don’t agree with.”
Barickman sees a scenario where Republicans lose Senate seats. On the agricultural front, Barickman spoke about some state leaders wanting to tax agricultural equipment and inputs which are currently exempt. There are opportunities for legislators to show support for our agricultural community but it is an “uphill battle” in Barickman’s words.
When asked about being heard in Springfield, State Rep. Tom Bennett said it all comes down to networking and grassroots movements to get attention. Livingston County Board Chairman Bob Young asked for opinions on a federal facility possibly coming to Dwight.
“I think this is good for the community to look at,” Bennett said while pointing to the economic loss of the Dwight prison in recent years.
Bennett noted he is hearing good news and is getting questions at the same time. Barickman believes this is a local issue which needs to be determined by the village and feels his job is to support constituents and the communities in his district.
“My job in the legislature is to support them,” said Barickman.
During a recent Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference in Springfield, Livingston County Farm Bureau President Jason Bunting learned from lobbyists that 300-400 bills could have an impact on agriculture.
“We are getting extremely concerned,” Bunting acknowledged. “We are keeping a close eye on that and making sure, as bills progress through the committees onto the floor, that farmers are well-represented and their voices are heard.”