Transparency in state government, mental health issues, and clean energy were topics State Rep. Steve Andersson addressed during the most recent session of the Illinois General Assembly. We talk to him about those issues and his involvement with the people of his 65th district.

On a personal level we’ll hear about his love of Shakespeare, Star Trek, and a visit to Space Camp.

U.S. Army veteran and current State Rep. Dan Swanson
State Representative Dan Swanson (R-Alpha) visited the Quincy Veterans Home on Tuesday, December 18 following reports of another case of Legionnaires Disease at the Western Illinois facility in late November.

Three recent cases were reported at the facility this fall several years after extensive renovations to water treatment facilities and response protocols in the wake of an outbreak of the disease at the facility nearly two years ago that killed 12 and sickened more than 50. Since that time, extensive renovations and response protocols have been developed and followed under the careful monitoring of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and mitigation company Phigenics.

“Visiting the Veterans Home today gave me a deeper understanding of the proactive steps being taken by facility staff under the careful advice and supervision of the CDC and other health professionals at the top of their fields,” said Rep. Swanson on Tuesday following his visit. Read more.
A twelve winged glider of Chanute’s design, prepared for launch
Illinois is home to one of the busiest airports in the world. From Chicago O’Hare, an Illinoisan can reach just about any city on Earth within 24 hours, many of them directly. O’Hare has earned this distinction in part because it is so centrally located for air travel anywhere in North America, but also because of the deep roots which the early development of the aviation industry have in Illinois. They reach all the way back to the most famed aviator of the early 20th century and the engineer who helped the Wright Brothers achieve their great breakthrough.
CTA fare hike, previously signed off on by Mayor Emanuel, approved by CTA board. The proposed fare hike will increase the standard price of a ride on a CTA bus or train by 25 cents. Many CTA rides are paid for by passes, and pass prices will be increased in rough proportion to the cash fare hike. The fare hike was approved as part of the CTA’s $1.5 billion budget for calendar year 2018.
When the subjects of jobs, unemployment, and small businesses come up on the House floor in Springfield, you can guarantee that State Representative Keith Wheeler will rise to be part of the conversation.

We talk with him about those issues and what needs to be done to help Illinois grow jobs.  In getting to know more about the representative, we hear about his passion for Chicago Bears football, Walter Payton, U-2, and an educator who influenced him not only in school but who has been a source of motivation ever since.

Governor Frank Lowden. Photo from the Illinois Blue Books Collection, 
Illinois Digital Archives –  A service of the Illinois State Library and
Illinois Secretary of State.
In state government in Illinois there are about two dozen agencies referred to as “Code Departments.” These include major agencies like the Department on Aging and the Department of Central Management Services. The term “code department” refers to departments of state government authorized by the Civil Administrative Code. The Civil Administrative Code was legislation enacted in Illinois 100 years ago which not only revolutionized the way state government conducted its affairs, but also launched its major proponent on a road toward the White House.
With the year long Bicentennial celebration in full swing, we thought we'd find out just how much you know about Illinois history. Take our quiz and learn just how much you know about Illinois' past.
Illinois will be celebrating its 200th birthday in 2018 and has hundreds of historic landmarks that tell the story of this great state.

Be part of history and the Illinois Bicentennial.

Plan your trip in amazing Illinois.

Learn more travel and Illinois history.

Here are 12 Illinois historic landmarks you should visit in 2018:
  1. Nobel-Seymour Crippen House 
  2. Ulysses S. Grant House
  3. Graham Building
  4. B. Harley Bradley House
  5. Steeple Building
  6. Woodstock Opera House 
  7. David Davis Mansion 
  8. Broadwell Inn & Tavern of Clayville
  9. Beecher Hall and Illinois College
  10. Fort de Chartres 
  11. Joseph Smith House 
  12. New Philadelphia 
Archeological excavations at Fort Massac State Park. Photo from the Illinois Blue Book Collection,
Illinois Digital Archives -  A Service of the State Library and Office of Secretary of State dd caption
On Sunday, Illinois marked our state’s 199th birthday. It was also the kickoff of the year-long celebration leading up to our bicentennial in 2018. Last week, we brought you the first of two parts of our collection of odds and ends from (nearly) 200 years of Illinois history. Here are a few more:
Gov. Bruce Rauner today announced the launch of a statewide helpline to provide immediate assistance for those impacted by addiction to opioids and other substances.

The helpline will provide a confidential outlet for individuals experiencing opioid use disorders, their families and anyone affected by the disease 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Helpline specialists are trained in evidence-based approaches to help connect callers with treatment and recovery-support services. To reach the helpline, individuals can call 1-833-2FINDHELP.
As a member of the Illinois General Assembly, State Representative Chad Hays earlier this year lead a bipartisan vote on a bill to fund 911 emergency services, encouraging his colleagues to support the measure so vital services were not disrupted in any part of the state. 

As Chad Hays, member of a bipartisan musical group comprised of Illinois lawmakers who cover Jimmy Buffett, Marshall Tucker, and the early Rolling Stones, he thinks he’s found something to do long after his days in the General Assembly are over. 

We talk with Representative Hays about both issues.

Get ready to break out some birthday candles — make that lots of birthday candles. Might want to grab a fire extinguisher too: Illinois turns 200 on Dec. 3, 2018.

The yearlong bicentennial celebration honoring two centuries of statehood has begun.

Like any milestone birthday or anniversary, bicentennials are a good excuse to look back, look forward and, most of all, have some fun.

In Travel, we're marking the occasion with a 200 To-Do List: two hundred things every Illinoisan should do — or see, eat and drink — at least once in a lifetime. Read more in the Chicago Tribune.

Click here for the first 20 entries in the History category.
Unemployment rate drops in every Illinois metropolitan area. Statistics published by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) showed a year-over-year unemployment rate cut in each of Illinois’ 102 counties. The state gained 18,200 new nonfarm payroll jobs between October 2016 and October 2017, strengthening Illinois prosperity and consumer behavior. The new numbers are based upon data compiled by state employers and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.