State Rep. Dwight Kay
A newspaper story about the fact that ex-Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon continues to collect on a $90,000-per-year state pension has led state Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, to co-sponsor a bill to ban criminals from receiving taxpayer-funded pensions.

House Bill 3665 amends the Illinois pension code to cut off pension benefits to participants in a state retirement fund who are convicted of corrupt acts linked to their public service.

Crimes covered by the measure include intimidation by a public official, bribery, official misconduct, engaging in kickbacks, fraudulently obtaining public money reserved for a disadvantaged business enterprise and certain types of theft.

Kay said in a statement that he was "outraged to learn that criminals continue to receive a taxpayer funded pension after pleading guilty for an act they committed while serving the taxpayers.

Kay added the he believed that rewarding elected officials with a pension after they admittedly broke the law while serving the taxpayers should be stopped. Mike Fitzgerald with the Belview News-Democrat tells the story.

Chief Justice Rita Garman
Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman of Danville made history on October 28th of this year.  Upon her swearing in at a ceremony at the Vermilion County Courthouse, Justice Garman became only the second female Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court in our state’s history. Chief Justice Garman is also the longest-serving female judge in the state, and the first Chief Justice to have served in virtually every judicial capacity in Illinois.

Chief Justice Garman grew up wanting to become a lawyer; a goal that was strongly encouraged by her late parents. Some law school professors admonished her, however, for taking up a seat in class that could have gone to a man.  During her career on the Illinois Supreme Court, she has actively participated in hundreds of opinions as well as the Court’s administration; including the establishment of a Special Court Committee on Child Custody Issues to ensure that children’s best interests are the primary focus in child custody cases.

Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) sponsored and led Illinois House passage House Resolution 627 which honors Chief Justice Garman for her remarkable career of service to her community and to the people of Illinois.

Want to know more about the Illinois Supreme Court?
In a recent column, Reboot Illinois provides a little background on the current members of the Illinois Supreme Court.
Starved Rock - photo via EnjoyIllinois
The Illinois Office of Tourism recently launched a new online feature dedicated to helping travelers plan the ultimate outdoor adventure in Illinois. The new Off-Road Illinois provides information, resources and events to inspire travelers to get off the road and explore Illinois by foot, by wheel or by paddle.

“We are seeing more and more interest from travelers who are interested in getting outdoors in Illinois, so we’ve put our stunning trails and waterways in one place with Off-Road Illinois,” said Jen Hoelzle, deputy director for the Illinois Office of Tourism. “Off-Road Illinoisis dedicated to helping all Illinois visitors – from the amateur runner, biker or hiker to the seasoned outdoor enthusiast – plan an outdoor adventure they won’t soon forget.”

Travelers can use the new website feature, located within, to explore by location to find trails, waterways, state parks and outdoor activities across Illinois. In addition, travelers can search upcoming athletic events throughout the state to find the perfect marathon, kayaking excursion, bike race or rock climbing expedition. From running along the lakefront trail in Chicago, to kayaking the Illinois River at Buffalo Rock, Off-Road Illinois provides a range of options and ways to explore Illinois.

In addition, Off Road-Illinois can help connect travelers to outfitters in each region of the state, providing everything they need to get even further from the road. To learn more about Off-Road Illinois and to plan your own hiking, biking or paddling excursion, visit
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin
Jim Durkin unanimously elected by Illinois House as Republican Leader.  Durkin’s election, which was an anticipated event after his colleagues unanimously elected him in August 2013 to lead their caucus, took place on Tuesday, October 22.  This was the first day of the Illinois House and Senate veto session, a series of days set aside in the fall to respond to veto messages submitted by the Governor and take action on urgent issues of public interest.  Durkin’s election formalized his status, and renewed the ability of House Republicans to slate members of House committees and participate in the naming of members of their caucus leadership team.

Leader Durkin announced that his highest priority would be to reverse current State laws that discourage job creation and economic growth.  “The biggest social issue of the day is the 9.2 percent unemployment rate,” Durkin told reporters.  Illinois’s jobless rate is currently the 2nd highest of the 50 U.S. states, exceeded only by Nevada.
Rep. Barb Wheeler
Working with local property tax assessors and home healthcare providers, State Rep. Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has introduced House Bill 3715, a measure aimed at helping families take care of their loved ones at home.  This measure would take a commonly used property tax exemption and extend it should a property owner make improvements or additions to their home as long as those improvements are being used to care for a disabled person or senior citizen living in their home.

Illinois law currently allows for a four year Homestead Improvement Exemption.  A homeowner can exempt new improvements made to their house from their property tax assessment up to the fair cash value added or $75,000.  This exemption expires after four years.  House Bill 3715 will extend the exemption for as long as the disabled person or senior is living in that home.  This will allow more families to keep their loved ones close while they seek care and assistance for them. Read more about Rep. Wheeler's initiative. 

Rep. Patti Bellock
Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) today took to the House floor to review the success of the Maximus Medicaid review contract, and to ask when legislators might get an answer from Governor Quinn's administration regarding an appeal of an arbitrator's suspension of the contract. In the short time it was active, Maximus' audit of Medicaid eligibility found thousands of ineligible persons claiming Illinois Medicaid benefits. The audit potentially saved millions of taxpayer dollars before it was terminated by the arbitrator. The full video is available here.

The Illinois House of Representatives voted unanimously today to inaugurate Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) as the new House Minority Leader.  Durkin had his wife, Celeste, and daughter, Caroline, at his side on the House Floor when the vote was taken.

“It’s an honor to have been selected by my peers to serve as House Republican Leader.  It is an awesome responsibility. I am thankful they put their faith in me and that we have come together as a unified caucus,” said Durkin.  “I am proud my family could join me. The support I’ve received from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle has been overwhelming - working together we can get Illinois back on track.” Read more about House Minority Leader Jim Durkin.

The Illinois House of Representatives also welcomed newly sworn-in legislators, State Representatives John Anthony and Brian Stewart:   
Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer
Have you or someone you know signed up for the national Do Not Call Registry and yet still receive unwanted calls to your home or cell phone from telemarketers? Some telemarketers who flaunt the Do Not Call Registry are in fact scam artists who prey on unsuspecting consumers, particularly seniors.

Earlier this year, Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) sponsored and passed legislation in the Illinois House to toughen penalties on telemarketers who violate the do-not-call list and who call people on their cell phones.
 Bellock says Illinois is taking a $6.5 billion risk
with Medicaid expansion.
Obamacare is doing what it was designed to do in Illinois — adding thousands upon thousands of people to the state’s Medicaid rolls.

Gov. Pat Quinn bragged Tuesday about the more than 100,000 people he said have enrolled through the Affordable Care Act. But Quinn left out two very important facts. Almost all of those people were early enrollees last year, and every single one of them enrolled in Medicaid.

 Rep. Patti Bellock is the GOP point person on Medicaid in the Illinois House of Representatives. She has been trying to tell Quinn and his fellow Democrats that Illinois is taking a huge risk by opening Medicaid to that many people. Benjamin Yount has the whole story at Illinois
House Republican Leader-Elect Jim Durkin
Jim Durkin welcomes new members, prepares for first session as House Republican Leader.  Durkin, who was unanimously elected to lead the 47-member Illinois House Republican Caucus, is working in preparation for the October-November convening of the Illinois General Assembly in 2013 “veto session.”   The veto session, which is scheduled to convene on Tuesday, October 22, will deal with bills passed in the spring session and then vetoed by the Governor.
Ronald Reagan went from a major league baseball announcer, to a Hollywood movie star, to a corporate pitchman, to Governor of California to President of the United States. Along the way, he became world famous as an actor, emerged as a leader of the conservative movement, governed a state at a time when it seemed to be spiraling out of control, challenged two incumbent presidents, survived an assassination attempt, saved the American economy and won the Cold War.

Ronald Reagan did all these things and more. But his story begins right here in Illinois.

People in the last state in the nation to legalized the carrying of concealed weapons are eager to get their licenses and have their questions answered.  

Tuesday night's full house at a concealed carry seminar in Carbondale, Illinois was evidence of that.

State Representative Mike Bost put the program together after his office got a lot of phone calls from people eager to get a license.

"I, as one of the sponsors of the bill, felt it was important to go ahead and have an event like this to keep people informed, let them know what they should be doing to position themselves best for receiving their concealed carry permits, Bost said.  WPSD has the rest of the story.

Autumn is a beautiful time of year in the Midwest; and what better way to explore the sights and colors of fall than a scenic drive close to home?

Here are five can’t miss scenic drives in Illinois. Stop along the way to explore the hidden treasures just waiting to be found along these trails full of history and cultural landmarks.

Click the links below for complete information about each of these beautiful scenic drives:

Great River Road
The scenic road that runs along the Mississippi River in western Illinois tells the story of American history. Modern visitors are treated to lessons in history as well as modern architecture and plenty of outdoor diversions.
Length: 557 miles
Illinois cities it runs through: Galena, Moline, Quincy, Cairo
Image: Philippe Put cc
Teenagers are moving away from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other "traditional" social media channels as a way to connect with friends and towards free smartphones apps. But beware, they’re not just talking to friends, they are also "meeting" strangers and far too often the meeting in not just taking place online. Unlike traditional texting these communications apps are free and much harder to track.
Chicago – Schools

·         Chicago Public Schools receive $235 million in overpayments from Illinois taxpayers; Rep. Pihos files reform package to hold Chicago accountable.  In response to recent revelations that Illinois taxpayers overpaid Chicago Public Schools (CPS) by $235 million in block grant funds for the 2011-2012 school year, Representative Sandy Pihos has filed a package of bills that would repeal the preferential block grant funding for CPS and require CPS to submit claims for reimbursement of special education costs, just like the other 859 school districts throughout Illinois are required to do.

According to Pihos, the root of the problem can be traced to a lack of accountability with how grant money is sent to CPS and a failure within CPS to comply with reporting mandates required within the Illinois School Code.  Whereas every other public school district in the state gets reimbursed for services delivered, current law allows CPS to receive their block grant money up front.  For 2011-12, CPS received $483.7 million in block grants, but provided only $249 in student benefits.  Nearly 30 percent of special education funding was earmarked to CPS, which only had 16 percent of the special education student population in the state.

Signs Can Be Posted But Must Meet Regulatory Requirements

ISP approved sign to be posted at entrances of statutorily prohibited areas
or private properties where owners prohibit the carrying of firearms.

Illinois State Police officials today released information on the regulatory requirements for concealed carry signage under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act.

Owners of any statutorily prohibited area or private property, excluding residences, where the owner prohibits the carrying of firearms must clearly and conspicuously post the Illinois State Police approved sign at the entrance of the building, premises or real property. Signs shall be of a uniform design as established by the Department and shall be 4 inches by 6 inches in size.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) today is pleased to announce the new House Republican Floor Team.

State Representatives Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) and Chad Hays (R-Danville) will join Dennis Reboletti (R-Addison) and Ed Sullivan Jr. (R-Mundelein) as the Floor Leaders for the Illinois House Republicans.

“Changing state laws, big or small, can have a positive or negative impact on Illinois residents.   It’s critical for each bill to be thoroughly vetted in both committee and on the House floor before any vote is taken.  I am confident in the ability of these four to take the lead when it comes to asking questions of the bill sponsors and making sure the concerns and opinions of our constituents are considered in the debate.  They will also be responsible for ensuring the majority party is following their own rules and protocols during the debate process,” said Durkin.

Also read: House Republican Leader–Elect Jim Durkin announces Leadership Team 
U.S. Rep. Oscar Stanton De Priest (R-Chicago)
was the first African American elected to
Congress in the 20th century, and the first
ever from any northern state.
In the years immediately after the Civil War, African-Americans suddenly advanced from enslavement to citizenship and made huge strides towards full equality under the law. African-Americans sat in the House and Senate, holding seats from states of the old Confederacy. Unfortunately, the gains did not last long, and with the end of Reconstruction and the withdrawal of the last federal troops from the south in 1877, Jim Crow and segregation began to rise, erasing many of the gains.

By the end of the 19th Century, when it came to membership in Congress, African-Americans were again on the outside looking in. That all changed in 1928 with the election of the first African-American congressman of the 20th Century, U.S. Rep. Oscar Stanton De Priest (R-Illinois).

House Republican Leader- Elect
Jim Durkin
Today, Leader-Elect Jim Durkin named State Representative David Leitch (R-Peoria) and State Representative Patti Bellock (R-Westmont) as his Deputy Leaders.   Leitch is the longest serving member in the Illinois House Republican Caucus and brings tremendous knowledge to the team.   Rep. Bellock has successfully led the charge for Medicaid reform over the past several years and is the first woman to serve as a Deputy Leader for the House Republican Caucus.

“One of the largest and most complicated segments of the state budget is Medicaid and no one knows the topic better than Representatives Bellock and Leitch.   Both are very compassionate when it comes to caring for our most vulnerable citizens, while making sure taxpayers are protected from waste and abuse.  Members of our caucus have to come to rely on their opinion on issues related to human services programs and the budget and both are highly respected by their peers.  I am thrilled to have both of them on my team.”

Durkin has named State Representatives:  Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), Chad Hays (R-Danville) Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth), JoAnn Osmond (R-Gurnee), Dennis Reboletti (R-Addison), and Mike Tryon (R- Crystal Lake) as Assistant Leaders.  Mike Bost will serve as Conference Chair.   It will be his job to ensure caucus meetings are conducted in an orderly manner.

“Each of these members brings a different perspective and area of expertise to the team and all want the best for the residents of Illinois.  I have tremendous faith and trust in each of them and am ready to sit down with them to develop an agenda and work on issues important to families and employers in Illinois,” said Durkin.

While the team has been selected and will meet during the first week of veto session, Durkin’s new leadership team becomes effective on November 1, 2013.

Forty years ago, Mujeres Latinas en Accion was such a tiny operation that it held monthly “rent parties” to raise funds to pay the rent on its storefront location in Chicago. Back in 1973, Mujeres’ mission was limited to helping runaway teens. Today, Mujeres serves more than 8000 residents every year from its 14,000 square foot facility, and two satellite offices. Mujeres provides the community with after-school programs, domestic violence counseling and parent support programs among other services. Along the way, Mujeres has become one of the longest-running Latina organizations in the country.

Mujeres has grown along with Chicago’s Latino community. As the community grew, its needs grew and became more diverse. Mujeres worked to empower those whom they serve, in order to help them to live a better life.

Can you name the seven Illinois cities that hosted a Lincoln-Douglas debate?

This autumn marks the 155th anniversary of the historic debates across Illinois that foreshadowed the looming Civil War and catapulted Abraham Lincoln to national prominence.

Internet use is doubling every two years and that means more teens with 24/7/365 access. This constant connection places teens at risk - based on the choices they are making. Some post personal information, such as location or contact info, and others post questionable and even sexual content, making them vulnerable to the advances of strangers or bullies.

Today, bullying has entered the cyber world, allowing for constant access–from kids and adults. Never before has it been so important to stay on top of how kids are using technology. Kids, as young as 8, are cyberbullied via apps, social networks and text messages and receive things like: hate-filled messages about their appearance, sexually-explicit invitations and other parents-worst-nightmare scenarios.
Rep. Jim Sacia

by Rep. Jim Sacia

As my career as a State Representative comes to an end, you can imagine there is much reflection. I have loved this opportunity to serve you, the constituents of the 89th District, these past eleven years. Yes it’s bittersweet. There are disappointments, there are great joys.

I make no apologies for stands I’ve taken on issues. Each one was based on the conviction that I believed was the best decision for the majority of you. Some of you will read this and say I never represented you or your convictions. Rest assured I tried to understand your point of view. I take great pride in listening to all sides of an issue.

Yes, this article will open some old wounds. I will always believe that my decisions were based on carefully thought out facts.

·         State budget picture improves.  The September 2013 monthly update on Illinois economic activity published by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the economic “think tank” maintained by the General Assembly, reports that General Funds revenue receipts for the first quarter of FY14 are tracking ahead of the receipts for the same period in FY13.  For the first three months of FY14, net General Funds receipts total $8.433 billion.  This total is $700 million higher than the FY13 total for the first quarter.  A primary reason for the increase in FY14 revenue receipts is a one-time spike in transfers in August from the Income Tax Refund Fund into the General Fund.  This one time transfer accounts for $397 million of the first quarter revenue growth.

Receipts from both the personal income tax and the corporate income tax have also seen growth compared to FY13.  Revenue from the personal income tax is up $205 million (net of refunds) and receipts from the corporate income tax are up $75 million (net of refunds).  Perhaps the strongest surprise in growth is due to the sales and use tax, which is up $139 million year to date.  Strong continued growth will be necessary to provide sufficient revenue to support the $35.446 billion appropriated in this year’s FY14 spending bills.  More information may be found at

Did you know? According to the Illinois Department on Aging, over 200,000 children under the age of 18 are living in a grandparent-headed home in Illinois. More than 100,000 grandparents are caring for their grandchildren right now across the state.

The number of Illinois families in this situation has dramatically increased over the past 25 years. Many factors have contributed to this growing trend, including: unemployment/poverty, divorce, alcohol and drug abuse, death of a parent, parental incarceration and teen pregnancy, to name just a few.

The circumstances and pressures borne by these grandparents are as diverse as Illinois itself. Over two-thirds of grandparents who have taken on the responsibility of raising a grandchild are still of working age. Of those who were retired or semi-retired; many had to rejoin the workforce in order to support the added responsibilities of providing for their grandchild.
Rep. Brian Stewart (Freeport)
Family, friends and supporters gathered at the Stephenson County Courthouse on Friday as Freeport native Brian Stewart was sworn into office as State Representative for the 89th District.

“I want thank my family, friends and especially State Representative Jim Sacia for supporting me in this endeavor,” said Rep. Stewart. “I am truly honored at this opportunity and am confident that my background and past experiences will serve me well as I represent the people of the 89th District in Springfield.”

Illinois legislators are scheduled to return to Springfield October 22nd for fall Veto Session. Rep. Stewart stated the pension crisis is the top issue driving the state’s budget woes and is committed towards working in a bipartisan manner to resolve the issue.
Governor Richard J. Oglesby,
(R-Decatur) the only
man elected to three separate
terms as Governor of Illinois
Among the collection of the Illinois State Military Museum sits a most unusual artifact. Beside the weapons, flags and old uniforms from wars past, visitors will see a wooden leg in a carriage. The prosthetic belonged to Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, victor at the Alamo and leader of Mexican forces during the 1846-48 Mexican-American war. The relic made its way to Springfield compliments of the 4th Illinois infantry regiment, which captured it and just missed capturing Santa Anna himself at the battle of Cerro Gordo. Some of those Illinois troops were led into the fight by 1st Lieutenant, and later Governor, Richard J. Oglesby (R-Decatur).

Richard J. Oglesby was born in Kentucky, in 1824 and moved to a farm near Decatur at 12. He practiced law in Springfield, where he befriended a local attorney named Lincoln. But the law did not hold the appeal for Oglesby that military service did, and so with the outbreak of war in 1846, he was commissioned a lieutenant and saw action at Veracruz and Cerro Gordo.

State Rep. Sandy Pihos on House Floor
“With education dollars in short supply and high demand, it troubles me greatly to know that CPS received almost double the amount of grant funds that their report claimed was deserved.” ~ State Representative Sandy Pihos

In response to learning the Chicago Public School System (CPS) was overpaid by nearly $235 million in Block Grant funds for the 2011-2012 school year, Rep. Sandy Pihos has filed a package of accountability bills that will prohibit the mistake from happening in the future, and ensure that CPS does not receive preferential treatment when it comes to the receipt and reporting requirements for the funds.

“I was shocked to learn of this gigantic error in grant funding,” said Pihos, who sits on the Appropriations Committee for Elementary & Secondary Education. “With education dollars in short supply and high demand, it troubles me greatly to know that CPS received almost double the amount of grant funds that their report claimed was deserved.”   Read the rest of this important story.
Illinois’ northern district bankruptcy court lost its first Hispanic judge this fall when Judge Manuel Barbosa of Elgin retired after 14 years on the bench.

Judge Barbosa was born in Mexico and came to America with his migrant worker family as an infant. He moved to Elgin at the age of 10. After law school at St. Procopius College and John Marshall Law School, Barbosa distinguished himself in both private practice and public service, including 18 years as Chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission during the Thompson and Edgar administrations. From there he was appointed to the federal bench in 1998.
Illinois’ public universities are known for providing a quality, affordable education for students and inspiring the next generation of leaders in business, science and technology, medicine, broadcasting, civic affairs,  education and much more.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the most notable alums of Illinois’ public universities.

Illinois State University – Normal, IL
  • Jim Durkin, Illinois House Republican Leader
  • Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times columnist/film critic and WLS-AM 890 radio personality
  • Dan Roan, WGN-TV sports anchor
  • John Malkovich, Actor, producer, director and fashion designer

A new, national survey reveals that the overwhelming majority of Americans know victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, but they do not talk about the issues with their children or friends, or take steps to help survivors.

The study "NO MORE Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Survey of Attitudes and Experiences of Teens and Adults" was commissioned by the Avon Foundation for Women, and shows an urgent need for increased awareness, conversation and education around domestic violence and sexual assault, with an emphasis on what bystanders can do to prevent violence and help victims before it is too late.

Among the key findings:
  • 60% of Americans know a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault
  • Three out of four (73%) parents with children under the age of 18 said that they have not had a conversation about domestic violence or sexual assault with their children
  • 67% of Americans say they have not talked about domestic violence with their friends; even more, 73% have not discussed sexual assault.
  • Even though 75% of Americans say that they would step in and help a stranger being abused, the reality is most people do not help.
  • For example, among the 70% of women who experienced domestic violence and then told someone about it, more than half (58%) said that no one helped them.
  • But 64% of Americans say if we talk more about domestic violence and sexual assault, it would make it easier to help someone. 
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
A selfie is a self portrait taken with your smartphone and shared online or via an app. But, the concept existed long before social media. “Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna at the age of 13 was one of the first teenagers to take her own picture using a mirror to send to a friend in 1914.” Whether you view them as art, communication or narcissism, selfies continue to grow in popularity among tweens and teens, and are shared via text, apps and social networks.

One of the ways this plays out is through a genre of selfies–the sexy-selfie. While the word “sexy” is open to interpretation, we are referring to sexually explicit, inappropriate or otherwise questionable poses and situations. Even though girls are more likely to share a selfie, they’re shared by both boys and girls as young as 10–and, perhaps, even younger. Read more by Sarah Evans of Faves & Co on how to talk to your kids about selfies.