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Chicago makes the cut to 20 in Amazon’s HQ2 search. and its owner-CEO, Jeff Bezos, have announced their intent to create a second headquarters in addition to Amazon’s current headquarters in Seattle. In late 2017, the firm asked cities in North America to submit plans and proposals for the global marketing firm to initiate a major expansion. Amazon’s stated criteria for selecting their location for potential expansion included a city within an urban area with more than 1 million people and within 45 minutes of an international airport. The presence of mass-transit infrastructure was described as strongly desirable but not essential. The firm stated that it was their intent to create a research, development, and logistics management complex that could support as many as 50,000 jobs.
Charles Dvorak at the St. Louis Olympic Games, 1904
 Next month Illinoisans will cheer on the athletes of Team USA as they represent our nation in the winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. In recent years the nation has pulled for Illinoisan Olympians like Naperville figure skater Evan Lysacek, Chicago basketball stars Candace Parker and Dwyane Wade, hockey stars like Cammi Granato-Ferraro of Downers Grove, and legends like East St. Louis track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Champaign figure skater Bonnie Blair. Most recently, during the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, more than 50 athletes with ties to Illinois competed; and they brought home 22 medals, including 11 golds.
State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about his plans for the spring session and the changes in the process he believes are needed in order to accomplish real reform.

We also talk about his travels around his large 106th district, his days as a school teacher, Gospel singing, and time with his grandkids.

As a military veteran Rep. Dan Swanson brings a unique perspective to Springfield. He understands better than most that many of the brave women and men who honorably served their country now find themselves in need of our help. He gets that honor and other circumstances sometimes prevent veterans from asking for assistance. And he is alarmed by the staggering number of veterans who turn to suicide as a solution. Rep. Swanson also knows from his advocacy that proactivity is the best way to get resources in the hands of veterans. So, he is taking action.

Earlier this month, Rep. Swanson filed legislation that provides a mechanism for law enforcement to immediately respond to a missing veteran. Under Swanson’s bill law enforcement can issue a Silver Alert for a missing veteran. Like an Amber alert, the public will be notified in an effort to quickly locate a missing veteran and perhaps save a life.

We think Rep. Swanson’s HB4212 is legislation you should know about.

Read the text of HB4212.

If you are a veteran in crisis or are concerned about one please reach out to the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. 

Men building former Highway #4 through Towanda, eventually parts of that highway became
Route 66.  Photo from the Towanda Area Historical Collection, Illinois Digital Archives --
A service of the Illinois State Library and Office of the Secretary of State.
The maps had just been released, but already the grumbling had begun.

In the 1920s, the first map of the proposed federal numbered highway system had been released. The most prominent east-west numbered highways were those ending with in zero. But a few states had been bypassed by every one of the round-numbered highways: a blow to their national prestige.

Some of those states’ representatives took their complaints to the proper authority, and some of the roads were dutifully re-numbered. More states got round-numbered federal highways and Illinois ended up as the hub of the most famous highway in the world: Route 66.
"People are fleeing Illinois. And still, Democratic leaders in Chicago
and Cook County...deny that high taxes, underfunded pensions, government
debt and political dysfunction are the reasons for the exodus..."

While imposing a stiff prison sentence on former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, U.S. District Judge James Zagel contemplated an issue that, just over six years later, continues to debase this state’s prosperity.

“In the United States, we don’t much govern at gunpoint,” Zagel told the courtroom on Dec. 7, 2011. “We require willing and creative cooperation and participation to prosper as a civil society. This happens most easily when people trust the person at the top to do the right thing most of the time, and more important than that, to try to do it all of the time.”

Corruption at the top tears and disfigures the “fabric of Illinois” and is “not easily or quickly repaired,” Zagel said.

Trust in government is essential to civil society — not only governance that is corruption-free but also competent and responsible. Read the rest of the commentary by Tribune Editorial Board member Kristen McQueary.

Revenues up, but overall budget picture clouded by poor retail spending numbers. The December 2017 State revenue report by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) shows that State revenues rose by $438 million over comparable levels in December 2016, an increase of 15.4%. This increase is helping to pay off some of the $8.7 billion backlog of unpaid State bills.

However, the Commission’s economic team has called the General Assembly’s attention to areas of weakness within the revenue numbers. Sales tax receipts declined by 4%, or $34 million, on a year-over-year basis within the overall revenue increase. The poor sales tax numbers were attributed by economists to the continuing challenges faces by participants in the U.S. retail sector.