The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2018 participants learned firsthand about the issues in Illinois state government at the Maschhoffs, LLC State Government Seminar, held January 17-19, 2018, in Springfield.
The seminar began with an overview of the legislative and political process, beginning with a presentation on how legislation is originated and the importance of leaders being involved in the process of creating new laws. That session was led by Alan R. Kroner, Executive Director, Illinois Legislative Research Unit. The importance of leaders forming relationships to accomplish policy goals was addressed by long-time contract lobbyist Neil F. Flynn. State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-99) then followed with a discussion on the political process, and all the considerations that go along with accepting political appointments and running for office.
To end the first day of the seminar, the Class of 2018 traveled to Auburn, Illinois, to visit the Springfield Plastics plant where drainage tile is manufactured for a nine-state area of the Midwest. Following the tour, a reception was hosted at the world headquarters of Brandt in Springfield. Dan Sprague from The Maschhoffs, the largest domestically owned pork producer, was the featured speaker for the evening. He discussed legislative priorities for the firm.
The second day of the seminar featured discussions on the budget and leadership. The budgetary process and requirements was presented by Clayton Klenke, Executive Director for the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. Klenke, the former Director of Appropriations for the House Republican Caucus, presented facts and figures regarding the current budget and gave an overview of the process from a staff perspective. His presentation was followed by a session with State Senator Scott Bennett (D-52) and State Representative Norine Hammond (R-96) that focused on how the state budget and other political issues are impacting programs and constituents across the state.
A discussion on how to identify genuine leadership amid partisan politics was led by David Winters, a former State Representative and Assistant Republican Leader, who is also a 1992 alum of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program. Brian Mackey, a reporter and journalist for the Statehouse Division of NPR Illinois, presented the class with his perspectives on the upcoming 2018 primary and general elections. The final session of the day was highlighted by a discussion with Illinois State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs, who touched on the need for effective and genuine leaders to represent the people of Illinois.
The third and final day of the seminar began with a session on “Regulations and Legislation Impacting Agriculture and Rural Development”, and was led by Emily Gibbons, Legislative Analyst for the House Republican Staff, and Craig Sondgeroth, Legal Counsel for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. A presentation on “Association Representation: Deciding How & When to Advocate” was led by Jean Payne, President of the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, and Kevin ‘KJ’ Johnson, Director of Government Relations for the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association.
The seminar concluded with a dialogue with Director Raymond Poe from the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The morning’s sessions were hosted at the John R. Block Building, where the department is headquartered in Springfield.
“We’re grateful to The Maschhoffs, LLC, for sponsoring this important seminar on state government,” said Lee Strom, President & CEO of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation. “In these divisive and tumultuous times in Illinois, authentic leadership that transcends partisan politics will be necessary to solve problems and create a better future for the entire state, including agriculture.”