By CARL GREEN
Alton, IL – Bill Haine, Madison County’s state senator since 2002 and a reliable supporter of working families, will not run for re-election next year so he can spend more time with his family while he fights blood cancer.
Haine (D-Alton), 73, was diagnosed earlier this year with multiple myeloma. Treatments for it have kept him away from the Capitol except for a couple of crucial votes on the state budget and school funding. He does plan to finish his current term.
“It has been my honor to represent the people of the Metro East region,” Haine said in announcing his decision. “They are my neighbors, my friends, the people of the communities of my life. I have always tried my best to serve them, and I hope I have done a good job.
“The good Lord gives us a finite amount of time on this Earth. I believe the time has come for me to find a new adventure and for someone else to take up the challenge and honor of serving the people in the Illinois Senate.”
Haine was born in Alton and served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969, being awarded the Bronze Star for combat service with the First Cavalry Division (Airmobile).
Upon returning home, the St. Louis University graduate was elected to the Madison County Board and then to a 14-year stint as Madison County State’s Attorney before moving on to the Senate.
POPES AND ANECDOTES
Haine is an historian known for adding rhetorical lessons and anecdotes from Roman emperors, popes and the Founding Fathers to legislative debates. He and his wife Anna have seven children and 32 grandchildren.
Some of the highlights of his tenure in the Senate include:
• LEVEES – Leading the effort to modernize the Metro East levee system, which has protected homes and businesses from floods in recent years.
• SIUE – Bringing greater state investment to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, now one of the most successful state schools.
• ROADS – Leading the push for a constitutional amendment that now protects the state’s road fund from being used for non-transportation purposes.
• MARIJUANA – Developing, sponsoring and winning approval for the medical marijuana law that balances compassionate use with stringent standards and regulations.
• CONSUMERS – Passing a consumer protection law to keep motorists from having to pay fees of up to $500 to release their cars from impound lots.
• JOBS – Leading the Senate in protesting China’s dumping of cheap, low-quality steel into the U.S. market and calling on the federal government to use national tariff policies to protect American jobs.
Said Haine: “I’ve never forgotten that it’s the people who sent me to Springfield to represent and fight for them.”
THE FIGHT GOES ON
Even now toward the end of his tenure, Haine has played a vital role in Springfield, leaving his medical treatment and traveling there to cast the key vote on July 4 to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of the sorely needed budget bill.
He returned again Aug. 13 to help the Senate override the amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1, the long-negotiated reworking of the school funding formula. That amendatory veto is now an obstacle to continuation of this school year in many districts, and the House is scheduled to vote on an override this week.
Haine called on the House to foil Rauner’s attempt to disrupt school for Illinois’ children.
“Senate Bill 1 is the most scrutinized bill in recent state history,” he said. “It provides millions of additional dollars for Metro-East schools and for the first time in nearly two decades, gives them much-needed stability from year to year.
“The governor’s veto is an attempt to pit school districts and children against each other. It is divisive partisan politics that does nothing to support the schoolchildren in Edwardsville, Alton or Collinsville.
“I strongly urge my colleagues in the Illinois House to override the governor’s veto, to provide stability for our schools and allow them to keep their doors open this school year.”