* I told subscribers about this earlier today, along with who is most likely to run for his seat…
Fifty years ago, fresh out of Saint Louis University, Bill Haine enlisted in the Army and went to war in Vietnam.
It was the first step in a lifetime of public service that would include a Bronze Star for combat service as a member of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969, election to the Madison County Board, 14 years as Madison County State’s Attorney and service in the Illinois Senate since 2002.
On Wednesday, Haine announced his career in elected office will come to an end and that he will not seek another term in the Illinois Senate.
“It has been my honor to represent the people of the Metro East region. 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,” said Haine, who was born in Alton and lives around the corner from his boyhood home.
“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,” said Haine. He intends to serve out his current term.
Earlier this year, Haine, 73, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. A regimen of medical treatments kept him away from the Capitol for most of the legislative session, though he recently returned to cast deciding votes on a balanced budget and override the governor’s rejection of a historic school funding overhaul.
Haine’s tenure in Springfield has been marked by practical politics rather than political agendas.
His focus has at times been big.
He was the legislative architect of a sweeping plan to modernize the levee system in the Metro East region, an effort that has helped protect homes and businesses from damage in recent years’ flooding.
He helped win state investment in maintaining and expanding the Edwardsville campus of Southern Illinois University and other key infrastructure such as I-255. He similarly led successful efforts to approve a Constitutional Amendment protecting the state’s Road Fund from being raided for non-transportation related spending.
He drew upon his distinguished, award-winning law enforcement background from his time as Madison County State’s Attorney to sponsor, negotiate and win approval of the state’s medical marijuana law that balanced compassionate use with stringent standards and regulations.
Proving he wasn’t afraid to think outside the box, Haine raised political eyebrows when, just a few years after taking office, he sponsored and helped pass medical malpractice litigation reforms opposed by some of his staunchest allies. Those reforms were later thrown out by courts, but Haine credits the effort with helping change the tenor of the legal practice in this area.
At the same time, Haine kept an eye out for injustice at any level.
In response to media reports of motorists being ripped off and forced to pay outrageous amounts of up to $500 to have towed vehicles released from impound lots, Haine sponsored and passed a consumer protection law to limit those charges and end abuses.
To protect jobs at the US Steel plant in Granite City, Haine rallied the Illinois Senate to protest China’s dumping of low quality, cheap steel into the U.S. market. He called on the president and Congress to rewrite national tariff policy on steel goods in order to protect American jobs.
“I’ve never forgotten that it’s the people who sent me to Springfield to represent and fight for them,” Haine said.
A true historian, Haine often sprinkles legislative debates with rhetorical lessons and anecdotes from the works of Roman emperors, a litany of popes spanning civilized history and the founding fathers.
Despite his many awards and accomplishments, Haine considers the crowning achievement of his life to be his marriage to his wife Anna, whom he met in college, and the family they have built.
Bill and Anna Haine have seven children and, at press time, 32 grandchildren. Haine’s future plans include spending more time with all of them.
He’s a heck of a man. This place won’t be the same without him.