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The Quad Cities bi-state legislative team’s agenda for growing the Quad Cities is starting to take shape just weeks after the group of veteran and freshmen state and federal lawmakers were sworn into office. On Friday, Jan. 20, a total of 15 area leaders gathered at Bally’s Quad Cities Casino & Hotel in Rock Island for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Event Series kickoff. Each lawmaker took two questions from Rhonda Ludwig, the chamber’s director of legislative affairs. Not surprisingly, the hour-long, rapid-fire question-and-answer session was geared to the business community and local leaders in attendance. This first event in the Legislative Events Series, which is staged by the chamber each year, revealed a pro-business agenda focused on worker attraction and retention, affordable childcare, education, regulatory reform and dealing with the upcoming Canadian Pacific train merger. The panel of Quad Cities legislative leaders featured freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Eric Sorensen of Illinois, who replaced retired longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos earlier this month, as well as Republican U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa. On the state level, Iowa GOP freshman state Sen. Scott Webster, a former Bettendorf alderman, was joined on stage by veteran GOP Iowa state Sen. Chris Cournoyer and longtime former Quad Cities state representative Mike Halpin, a Democrat, who was elected to the Illinois Senate in November. Iowa Quad Cities state House lawmakers included freshmen Democratic Rep. Ken Croken and Republican Rep. Mike Vondran; veteran Iowa representative Democratic Rep. Monica Kurth, and longtime Republican state lawmakers Rep. Gary Mohr and Rep. Norlin Mommsen. Illinois state lawmakers also included Republican Rep. Travis Weaver, the son of former state Sen. Chuck Weaver; House Minority Leader and state Rep. Tony McCombie, a former Quad Cities lawmaker who this month became the first woman to lead an Illinois House caucus; her mentor Illinois House Assistant Minority Leader state Rep. Norrine Hammond, whose House district now includes parts of the Quad Cities; freshman Democratic state Rep. Gregg Johnson; and veteran GOP Rep. Dan Swanson, whose once mostly rural district was redrawn dramatically in the Democrats’ remapping process. “You call it unique, we call it gerrymandered,” Mr. Swanson said of his new 14-mile wide, 100-mile long district that now includes parts of the metro Quad Cities. Mr. Halpin, the new Illinois 36th District senator, said among the things he’s focused on is creating a stable environment so businesses “know the rules of the game.” He also touted the “closer fund” created by the Illinois General Assembly to provide Gov. J.B. Pritzker with the millions of dollars he needs to attract businesses to Illinois. The legislation was sparked by the effort to attract an electric vehicle plant to Belvidere, Illinois, but the fund, which includes $400 million in startup funds, could also be used to help the governor ink deals elsewhere in the state. The measure also made it easier for incoming businesses to qualify for the state’s Edge tax credit program. To attract businesses and workers, he also plans to focus on early childhood education that will give businesses what they want and workers what they need: access to affordable childhood education. Early childhood education is also a priority for Ms. Kurth, who said many communities in the Quad Cities are considered “child care deserts.” There are five bills in the works in the Iowa House to address those problems and others, she said. She also told the crowd she had been “living and breathing the voucher bill” currently being pushed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Under the Students First Act, the $7,598 per student that goes to help educate Iowa students in public schools would now also be for students who attend accredited private schools. Ms. Kurth, who opposes the change, said the measure will take $106 million away from public schools in the first year alone and more every year after that. Mr. Webster, a new member of the Iowa Senate Transportation Committee, highlighted the work he’s doing on a bill to address local issues that will be created by the dramatically increased train traffic coming to riverfront towns if a proposed railroad merger is approved by regulators. Among the provisions being considered is limiting train lengths to 8,500 feet to help landlocked businesses, including Arconic in Riverdale, to deal with the fallout of the merger. Ms. Hammond detailed the efforts of a legislative working group that is focused on things like a “last dollar” fund designed to keep Illinois competitive with Iowa in its efforts to attract Illinois’ best students. Ms. McCombie hopes to use her leadership role to advocate for a complete overhaul of DCFS. The embattled Department of Children and Family Services is constantly under fire including over children who are killed when in the state’s care. Most recently, the Cook County public guardian reported that the agency left 80 kids in juvenile jail even though there was no reason to keep them there.