Meier, Bryant Speak at Farm Bureau Legislative Breakfast
By Todd Marver
State Rep. Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) and State Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) spoke at the Washington County Farm Bureau Legislative Breakfast on Saturday, March 11 at Roland Barkau Memorial Golf Course in Okawville.
Bryant said she only represents six precincts in Washington County. She said she tries to work across the aisle on a lot of things, but mostly it’s to educate individuals about the different dynamics of more rural areas.
“It’s getting less and less where we’re able to do some negotiating across the aisle. Politics is becoming more and more polarized. There are still a few folks who are willing to work with the other side, but it becomes very difficult to do that,” she said.
Bryant said to be sure to have your own attorney looking at wind and solar contracts.
“Remember that most of these contracts are for 20 to 30 years long. There are generally two options to continue two more times. You could be signing away your property for 20 to 60 years or 30 to 90 years. Make sure that they’re insured and bonded. Also note that those two options are not your option. It’s their option about whether or not they want to continue. You could get 20 years into this and then decide you don’t like it anymore and finish out that first contract and they have two more times they can fulfill that contract,” she said.
Meier said to make sure to get a lawyer well-versed in dealing with wind and solar.
“Farm Bureau will give you that list of people to go ahead and do that. Whenever I go out and talk to groups, I find people all the time who have already signed a contract and never even let a lawyer look at it. This week again I was dealing with somebody who has a contract that wasn’t well thought out, so you have to be careful. Make sure you have the right lawyer and be careful with it,” he said.
Bryant said she has been approached twice now by the FBI that has an office in Springfield.
“The last time they talked to me they brought one of the same two agents and then someone from the office of counterterrorism. The reason they’re talking to me is I have the longest stretch of the Mississippi of any Senate district in the state. They have concerns about properties that are being purchased by folks that aren’t from around here. They’re specifically focusing in on what the Chinese are doing,” she said.
Bryant said they also talked about how sometimes individuals can use other individuals to purchase land.
“The things that we’re looking for are areas along the Mississippi. I also represent now all the way over to the Wabash and Ohio. If you see purchases like that going on, please call my office and let me know. There might be nothing wrong with it. But we at least like to have the chance to make sure the FBI knows that’s happening,” she said.
Bryant said the other things the FBI is concerned about are old mine shafts and rare minerals.
“The Chinese are looking for rare minerals. Right now we get lithium and some of the other components for batteries from China. It isn’t just that foreign entities are coming in to buy property around military bases, but there’s all of these others as well. We should be watchful about what’s happening. If people don’t have nefarious plans, awesome, we’re welcoming people and we want them in our region, but we want to keep our eyes out as good citizens to see what things might be going on behind the scenes,” she said.
After recently winning the 50/50 drawing at the Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s Chicken and Beer Dance, Meier donated his $210 winnings to the Washington County Vocational Workshop CILA (Community Integrated Living Arrangement) Home. CILAs are group homes for individuals with disabilities.
Meier said there is abuse in some other CILAs.
“There is nobody in inspecting these homes, so this abuse never gets out to the public,” he said.
Meier recently had a press conference with the Clinton County sheriff and Aviston police chief regarding a CILA in Aviston.
“We’ve got a CILA I’ve tried closing for a year and a half. It has had a sexual misconduct charge in there. It’s very mismanaged. The workers at this one are usually outside their car smoking marijuana for maybe up to two hours at a time and there is nobody in the house, which explains the 75 phone calls in a year’s time for missing people and other things,” he said.
Meier said he has three bills that he has been hammering very hard on that has to do with stopping abuse. He said the Illinois Department of Human Services has not gotten on board with any of them yet and the bills have not moved or been heard in committee.
“We get calls in our office all the time about people needing help to find somewhere for their loved ones to go. I get them from across the state,” he said.
Meier said that residents that the Illinois Department of Human Services is supposed to take care of have been in the hospital two to three months and that the same type of people are also being left in jails across the state.
“The hospital is not getting paid anything for them. They don’t have a room. They don’t have a bed. They’re kind of living in the emergency room. The hospital employees bring clothes in for them. The hospital feeds them free. We have to get a judge to do an involuntary mandatory court order and admittance to get those people help. People who are in diapers in a jail cell with somebody that is being held for murder,” he said.