Thanksgiving is a time to reflect upon all for which we are grateful. Here are a few quotes on gratitude and thanks to get your started:
"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action." ~W.J. Cameron
"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow." ~Edward Sanford Martin
“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” ~Henry Ward Beecher
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is joining Illinois State Police (ISP) and local law enforcement agencies to remind motorists to buckle up and drive sober during one of the heaviest travel periods of the year. With one of the biggest party nights of the year on Wednesday and more people on the roads through Sunday, police throughout the state are stepping up their enforcement of seat belt law violators and impaired drivers during the long holiday weekend.
The holiday season is upon us and shopping is about to commence. Before you head out on Black Friday be sure the gifts you intend to buy are safe for your family.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office recently released the 2015 Safe Shopping Guide to aid you in your gift buying decisions. The guide provides detailed descriptions of toys, baby products, children’s clothing and other items recalled by the U.S. Consumer Produced Safety Commission.

Since technology gifts continue to be at the top of our children’s wish list, the guide also includes helpful information for parents considering the purchase of a smartphone, tablet, video game or other Internet-accessible devices for their children.

Before you shop, arm yourself with the 2015 Safe Shopping Guide.

FY16 Budget
Leaders’ budget meeting with Governor moved to December 1. The face-to-face meeting is scheduled to bring together Governor Bruce Rauner and the leaders of the four General Assembly legislative caucuses, including House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. Originally scheduled to be held on Wednesday, November 18, the meeting has been reset for Tuesday, December 1. The new time will allow preparations to continue over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Standing at the front, cordoned-off entrance to the former Illinois Youth Center, State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, shared plans for the facility to be reopened and converted into a work camp for adults.

Bryant's announcement came Thursday afternoon before a small crowd that included some Murphysboro and Jackson County officials, a handful of corrections officers and a candidate for the 58th Senate District seat, Sharee Langenstein.

The facility, which was opened in 1997. was closed in 2013 as a cost-saving measure by then-Governor Pat Quinn. That facility could house 150 juveniles and employed up to 135 people.

"I have introduced legislation that would provide the funding and administrative support necessary to re-open and repurpose this institution as an adult correctional facility," Bryant said of House Bill 4340. "(Former Governor) Pat Quinn's mistake needs to be corrected so we can reduce the overcrowding in our correctional facilities across the state." Read more in the Southern Illinoisan.

More on this issue:

IL Rep. files legislation to reopen Murphysboro correctional facility
Bryant pushes to reopen IYC as adult prison
Bryant announces bill to reopen Murphysboro correctional facility
Front line correctional officers joined Rep. Terri Byant in
support of her legislation to reopen and repurpose the
shuttered Murphysboro correctional facility.
Calling it a necessary step in reducing Illinois’ overcrowded prison population, State Rep. Terri Bryant (R - Murphysboro) announced Thursday that she has filed legislation aimed at reopening and repurposing the shuttered Illinois Youth Center at Murphysboro.

During a press conference in front of the facility, which was closed in 2013 by Democrat Governor Pat Quinn, Bryant detailed her support for an accompanying resolution to study the effectiveness of work camps and adult rehabilitation facilities in reducing recidivism rates. Read more.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has named State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) a “2015 Legislator of the Year” for her efforts to curb repeat drunk driving. Wheeler was the chief sponsor of House Bill 3533, which prevents repeat drunk drivers from prematurely reobtaining a driver’s license and increases the length of time breathalyzer ignition devices (BAIID devices) must remain in their vehicles. Read more.

Governor Bruce Rauner has issued the following statement regarding Illinois’ acceptance of Syrian refugees after the terror attacks in Paris:

“Our nation and our state have a shared history of providing safe haven for those displaced by conflict, but the news surrounding the Paris terror attacks reminds us of the all-too-real security threats facing America. We must find a way to balance our tradition as a state welcoming of refugees while ensuring the safety and security of our citizens. Therefore, the state of Illinois will temporarily suspend accepting new Syrian refugees and consider all of our legal options pending a full review of our country’s acceptance and security processes by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
Republican state Rep. Raymond Poe was named Friday to be the new director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Poe, 71, of rural Springfield, said he will start the job Monday.

"I'll definitely miss (the legislature), but I think it's a lot easier moving up to an agency director rather than moving out of a home," Poe said. "This isn't total closure yet because I'll still be working with the legislature."

Poe has been in the Illinois House since 1995. He's a member of several key committees, including Agriculture and Conservation, Higher Education Appropriations, and Personnel and Pensions. He is also the ranking Republican member of the Business and Occupational Licenses Committee.
A lifelong farmer, Poe fits Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's criterion that the agency's director be someone with direct agricultural experience. The last director under former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, Robert Flider, did not have an agricultural background.

Poe said the monthslong gridlock over a new state budget didn't influence his decision to take the job.
"I've been here 21 years, and it's time to move on," he said. "It's time for new blood, young blood."
State Journal-Register has the story.
FY16 Budget
House Democrats block budget compromise, put politics above solutions.  For months, the Democratic opposition to change in Springfield has called for “reasonable” discussions and compromise regarding the budget impasse.

It’s clear by their actions this week, with a compromise very much on the table, that majority Democrats in the House have absolutely no intention of compromising and would rather put partisan politics above budget solutions.
Gov. Bruce Rauner is halting a practice that let companies get tax breaks for keeping or creating jobs at one plant while eliminating jobs at a separate site in Illinois, a move that has happened dozens of times.

While it is common for large companies to operate from multiple locations, the state's leading jobs program long allowed companies to treat every location, division or subsidiary as an independent operation.

The Tribune last month found the quirk in an examination of the Economic Development for a Growing Economy program, or EDGE, a tax incentive designed to create jobs and lure businesses from other states. Read the story in the Chicago Tribune.

With cold temperatures on their way, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal encourages residents to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by ensuring their homes have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas byproduct of burning fossil fuels. At elevated levels, carbon monoxide (CO) causes sickness and, if not detected, death. Simply having working carbon monoxide detectors in your home and regularly testing them can prevent awful consequences.
FY16 budget – CGFA
General Assembly watchdogs chart continued budget picture.  The nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the in-house budget agency of the Illinois General Assembly, released their October 2015 fiscal report this week. The CGFA “Monthly Briefing” covers ongoing State revenues, particularly key State General Funds revenue numbers, and ongoing trends likely to affect future State revenues. For example, the October briefing includes a discussion, based on nationwide trends and economic models, of the likely health of the 2015 Christmas retail selling season and its expected impact on State sales tax revenues.
While the winter of 2015-16 is expected to be milder thanks to the effects of El Nino, its unlikely Illinois will completely avoid the cold temperatures, snow and ice that define Midwestern winters.

To help people prepare for potentially dangerous winter weather, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the National Weather Service (NWS) and local emergency management agencies will highlight winter weather preparedness throughout November.

“There hasn’t been a winter in Illinois without at least one winter storm in the past century,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “Right now, before that first snowstorm or ice event, is the perfect time to prepare yourself, your home and your car for winter.”
“Heroin is no longer a secret,” Illinois State Rep. Patti Bellock told dozens of lawmakers, community leaders and local advocates who gathered at the Robert Crown Center for Health and Education in suburban Chicago on Wednesday to commemorate the inaugural Illinois Heroin Abuse Awareness Day.

“Eight or nine years ago,I wasn’t worried about heroin,” said Bellock, who sponsored the resolution to make November 4th Heroin Abuse Awareness Day — an effort to raise awareness among Illinois residents, and parents in particular, about the dangers of heroin, the deadly drug at the center of a nationwide epidemic.

“When a close friend approached me, distraught because her son was addicted, I was shocked,” Bellock said. “People weren’t aware that heroin was a problem.”

The midwest, and the Chicagoland area specifically, have been among the regions hardest hit by the country’s current drug problem which, according to the CDC, has caused the rate of heroin-related deaths to nearly triple since 2010. Read more on Yahoo News.

Illinois' troubled child welfare system could soon become an investment opportunity for charities, banks and wealthy citizens under a public-private partnership experiment set to launch Tuesday.

The project, first commissioned by former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and embraced by his Republican successor, Gov. Bruce Rauner, aims to remake the way the state delivers services to people in need.

Rather than the government paying providers directly, investors will cover the costs of coordinating and supplying services, with the potential for a return on the investment if their efforts meet goals designed to improve outcomes and save the state money. The idea is among a number of so-called social impact bond initiatives that have cropped up across the country as states search for new ways to pay for costly social services in an era of slashed budgets.

If successful, the program could become a model for transforming the way human services are delivered in Illinois, freeing providers from the uncertainty of the state budgeting process, which in some years — like this one — has left many caught in the middle of a political battle between the governor and legislature. Read more in the Chicago Tribune.
FY16 Budget
Governor Rauner to chair public meeting with legislative leaders on Nov. 18.  The meeting is expected to examine the delayed FY16 budget process.  Although the FY16 fiscal year began on July 1, 2015, a constitutional balanced budget has not been enacted by the Democrat supermajorities in the Illinois House and Senate.  The State has continued to operate under consent decrees, court orders, continuing appropriations, and school appropriations, but this has created many operational problems.  Recipients of State services, and providers of goods and services to the State, have been affected by the lack of a legal budget document.