Illinois House of Representatives, 70th District candidate Jeff Keicher answered Shaw Local’s election questionnaire for the Illinois House primary election.
Voting ends for the primary election on the evening of June 28.
Full Name: Jeff Keicher
What office are you seeking? 70th Illinois House
What offices, if any, have you previously held? 70th Illinois House
Sycamore Public Library President
Occupation: Insurance Agent
Education: Northern Illinois University BS 1996 Political Science
American College 2001 CLU, ChFC
Campaign Website: Keicherforrep.com
What are the top issues facing your district and what would you like to do to address those issues?
1-High property taxes - SB 3789 my recently passed legislation on local taxing units requiring efficiency and consolidation review every 10 years.
2-Next-generation Jobs - Data Center Incentive which has brought Facebook/Meta data center to DeKalb(2019), Electric Vehicle Manufacturers Incentive to help us gain entry into new transportation technology HB 1769, MICRO incentives to support jobs moving here to develop and manufacture smart chip technologies
3-educational catch up from COVID - working with school district administration and teachers to explore quickly implementing a competency based learning environments to adapt and tailor learning to the deficiencies seen as a result of COVID. A successful program is already in place in Huntley Schools
4-meaningful ethics reform - we need to pass the legislative ethics package we’ve introduced following the many corruption cases we’ve seen over the past few years. This would help restore trust in our Illinois government functions and move us along to being held accountable more strictly. The Madigan days are past, our rules should reflect the same.
If COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths rise again, what mitigations, if any, should the state pursue?
I witnessed first-hand the need for legislative involvement in decision making, as well as the importance of checks and balances between the Governor and General Assembly. Legislators provide a unique and district-specific perspective that was missing from the larger debate. Unfortunately, the Governor didn’t see the merits of a collaborative approach, leading to the chaos we saw and unnecessary rancor.
In light of Michael Madigan’s indictment, what steps should the legislature take to address corruption and ethics concerns in the state?
I’ve recently been honored with an appointment to the Legislative Ethics Commission, and look forward to reforms that make both the Legislative Inspector General and the rules around legislative ethics stronger. The biggest modification we need is the complete autonomy of the Legislative Inspector General to investigate potential wrongdoing wherever the information leads. Additionally, legislators should stop the revolving door of legislators-turned-lobbyists and better track conflicts of interest through additional transparency measures.
If there was one bill that you could get through the legislature next year, what would it be?
I’ve heard from multiple constituents about the cost of state mandates on local units of government. I would like to pass my bill to allow local units of government to waive following mandates if approved by their governing board, leadership, and a percentage of those they serve.
If there was one recently passed law you could repeal, what would it be?
Although it did not become law, I was most disturbed by House Democrats voting to remove felony violations for hard drugs including heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Fentanyl is one of the most toxic and deadly drugs available on the street today. In 2016, I lost a cousin who took drugs she didn’t know had been laced with fentanyl. She died alone in a parking lot. In Illinois, we saw a bill introduced that would basically legalize the amount of fentanyl capable of killing 3000 people. We need action to protect vulnerable people suffering from addiction from drug dealers and importers who put profits above human life.
Do you support term limits? If yes, why and what would they look like? And if no, why not?
I have been a longtime supporter of distributing power in Springfield to better serve diverse constituencies of our state. For too long, former Speaker Michael Madigan held the power to pass or bottleneck each bill in the House, and a lot of necessary legislation died without a hearing. That model doesn’t work. One lesson I’ve learned since my first election is how much experience matters in the General Assembly, and how much constituents can benefit when their legislator gains more knowledge about key district issues. I believe House leadership should be term limited to ensure the problems of Speaker Madigan never, ever happen again.
Inflation across the country has greatly impacted the price of gasoline, food and other supplies. What should the legislature do to address these issues?
The cost of living has increased, and residents of my district feel the impact. To help alleviate some of these costs, I support Senator Dave Syverson’s bill SB 4195 to permanently suspended the sales tax charged on gasoline. The plan the Governor introduced saves a paltry two cents a gallon, is reinstated after January 1st, and also depletes the motor fuel tax that goes to critical road infrastructure improvements. We must do better for struggling Illinoisans and I will continue to support sensible reforms that lower our overall cost of living and also keep our roads safe.
Taxes are a top concern of Illinois voters. What do you think the underlying issues are and how would you propose addressing them?
I was very pleased to introduce and pass an original idea in a bill this year that goes to the heart of the issue of our crushing tax burden. My bill requires every local taxing body other than cities, counties, and schools to evaluate once every 10 years efficiencies, services they provide, collaboration that might be more appropriate with other units of government, and also the potential of consolidation. Over time, this public scrutiny gives the taxpayer an opportunity each decade to modify or remove units of local government that charge them taxes that no longer provide value. It truly allows for a citizen-lead form of government that is determined locally. I introduced HB 162 which became SB 3789.
What are three things the state legislature could do to promote better fiscal responsibility within state government?
1-Prohibit cost consequential mandates when the funds are not available to implement them.
2-Require a minimum of one week for any proposed budget spending or implementation legislation without the ability to waive the timeframe.
3-Better restraint from my Democratic peers across the aisle from continuing to introduce new program after new program that requires the state to spend additional dollars. Their thirst for government growth seems unstoppable recently.
How would you propose addressing the problems with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services?
Illinois is failing vulnerable children and DCFS and the governor refused to accept any responsibility. Under the current system, it’s too easy for kids to get lost in a bureaucratic structure. The state must do a better job of recruiting foster parents, as well as recruiting, training, and retaining skilled workers these children can rely on. Increased funding is not enough. We must invest in solving the root causes of circumstances leading to children needing state care and must help families in care navigate the complex process.
What can be done at a state level to address crime?
Rising crime is one of the top problems of our state. Unfortunately, Democrats passed revisions to the Illinois criminal justice system in January 2021 that failed to engage and take seriously the advice of our law enforcement community. Police departments have been asked to carry heavier burdens that benefit criminals (while ignoring victims) instead of helping police officers investigate and arrest those committing crimes. Illinoisans are less safe because of the SAFE-T Act and we must repeal and replace it with a better more balanced approach.
Did Joe Biden win the 2020 election?
What is your position on the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol?
To this day I feel personally violated that the confederate flag was flown inside the United States Capitol. People were hurt and lives were lost, and we must continue to demand answers so that this can never happen again.
Illinois has seen significant revenue growth from marijuana sales and enhanced gambling. Are there other industries the state should consider to grow revenue?
I have been a proponent and supporter of the expansion for our data center incentive, electric vehicle manufacturing incentive, and expansion to welcome micro chip manufacturers. If we are going to recover as a state, and become more self-sufficient as a nation, we need to recognize the important impact manufacturing has on our future. Businesses in this space not only bring high paying jobs but also offer local property tax units like schools the ability to diversify and increase revenues without increasing the burden on homeowners.