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General Assembly – House Republican Leadership
New House Republican Leadership team takes on the serious challenges facing Illinois. Formation of a new House Republican Caucus leadership team was made necessary by the retirement of many members of the 99th General Assembly. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin worked with his colleagues to name members from both the Chicago metropolitan area and Downstate Illinois. The new leaders of the House Republican Leadership team, announced on Wednesday, January 17, are:
  • Deputy Leader Patti Bellock;
  • Deputy Leader Dan Brady;
  • Assistant Leader Norine Hammond;
  • Assistant Leader Chad Hays;
  • Assistant Leader Michael McAuliffe;
  • Assistant Leader Bill Mitchell;
  • Assistant Leader David Reis;
  • Assistant Leader Mike Unes; and 
  • Caucus Chair Tom Demmer.
The fourth Saturday in January is designated at
Eagle Day in Illinois
Every winter, Illinois presents visitors with the opportunity to see more than 3,100 bald eagles in their natural habitat - more wintering American bald eagles, in fact, than in any other state outside Alaska. The first eagles of the season are spotted in Illinois in December and remain in residence until they migrate back north in March, with January and February the optimal time for visitors to see eagles.

To accommodate visitors who want to take advantage of the opportunity to experience the bald eagles' majesty and glory, towns and parks across much of the state will host specially planned eagle observation programs and exhibits throughout the prime-viewing season. For anyone interested in American history, bird-watching and the environment, bald eagle season in Illinois is a not-to-be-missed opportunity.
Gov. Bruce Rauner and other Republican lawmakers are making a second run at selling and demolishing the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop, which they say could add hundreds of millions of dollars to state and local coffers.

The state legislature's GOP leaders, Sen. Christine Radogno and Rep. Jim Durkin, are once again introducing legislation that would allow the state to sell the 16-story, 1.2 million-square-foot structure and move state workers to leased space in other buildings, Durkin said.

The revised plan comes with conceptual renderings of a redeveloped site where the Helmut Jahn-designed building now stands—including one showing a 1,700-foot tower, which would become the city's tallest, on the site.

Rauner's plan faces several big hurdles, starting with the need for legislation just to begin the formal process of seeking a sale of the Thompson Center.

Renewed GOP efforts come more than a year after Rauner first announced plans in late 2015 to try to sell the building to a developer that would likely demolish it and replace it with one or more large structures on the full-block site. But that effort never even made it to a vote in the Democrat-controlled Illinois General Assembly. Read more in Crain's.

Governor Bruce Rauner today announced Illinois has made significant progress in bringing high-speed Internet to more schools and students statewide through the Illinois Classroom Connectivity Initiative this past year. The EducationSuperHighway’s 2016 “State of the States” annual report on K-12 broadband connectivity showed 83 percent of Illinois school districts now meet the minimum connectivity goal of 100 kbps per student, which is a significant jump from 71 percent at this time last year.
Heads up, Gmail users: a new phishing attack is making the rounds and it's fooling even technically-savvy, security-conscious users.

The ruse aims to steal usernames and passwords for Gmail and other services, and "is being used right now with a high success rate," according to Mark Maunder, CEO of WordPress security plugin Wordfence, who described the campaign in detail. Like other phishing attacks, this one starts with an email. Instead of a random person, the email may appear to have been sent by someone you know, and it may include an image of an attachment you recognize from the sender.

"You click on the image, expecting Gmail to give you a preview of the attachment. Instead, a new tab opens up and you are prompted by Gmail to sign in again. You glance at the location bar and you see accounts.google.com in there," Maunder wrote.

Once you sign in, the attackers have full access to your account. Read the rest of the story by PC Magazine.
Sponsors of a new bill to make voter registration automatic with issuance of Illinois driver’s licenses say it fulfills federal standards for proving voter eligibility and protects against fraud.

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the state's first attempt at automatic voter registration (AVR) over questions about fraud and federal compliance.

But the chief co-sponsor of the new legislation, state Rep. Mike Fortner, R-West Chicago, wrote in an op-ed that his bill "requires the applicant to attest to their eligibility to vote, as is required by the National Voter Registration Act and used by all other states that have (automatic voter registration)."

With automatic voter registration gaining momentum in recent years, we decided to look into Fortner’s claim to see whether states that have authorized AVR do in fact require applicants to attest to their eligibility to vote. Read more from PolitiFact Illinois.
100th General Assembly Convenes
Illinois House members take oath of office, elect leadership. The 100th General Assembly will be the legislative body that celebrates the bicentennial of Illinois as a state. Each General Assembly is elected for a two-year period, and the 100th General Assembly will serve Illinois in our state’s 199th year (2017) and in our 200th year (2018). House members have already filed more than 450 bills for the new General Assembly to consider.