ECONOMIC GROWTH
Illinois Innovation Network expands to DeKalb County. Northern Illinois University (NIU), already home to many centers of graduate education and research, has announced plans for a $23 million business-development incubator and innovation center. NIU will construct the center to serve as a hub of the Illinois Innovation Network, the growing web of broadband-linked innovation centers being set up in locations throughout the state. Much of the center’s construction cost will be funded by NIU, by gifts made to NIU, and by private investments made by venture capitalists.
Image from the program cover of “The Wonderful Story of Illinois” pageant.
Photo from the Illinois Digital Archives.
A celebration one hundred years in the making almost didn’t happen.

One hundred years ago, Illinoisans were planning the celebration of the Illinois Centennial, the 100th anniversary of Illinois’ statehood. A commission had been created by the 48th General Assembly in 1913 to begin planning and coordinating the commemoration of the anniversary, which would fall on December 3, 1918. Excitement for the big day was building, as communities all across the state planned their celebrations.
BUDGET
CGFA releases State revenue numbers for September 2018. The Commission on Budget Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) is the nonpartisan budget-forecasting arm of the Illinois General Assembly. Working with the Department of Revenue and other State revenue collectors, this office monitors the State’s cash flow and determines its balance with the State’s spending patterns and budgeted expenditures. CGFA’s report on state revenues in September 2018 was published on Tuesday, October 2.
Chicago after the fire, 1871   
As the last raindrops struck the smoldering embers of Chicago on October 10, 1871, the city’s civic and commercial leaders were confronted with one of the greatest challenges any community can face.

Two days earlier, a fire had broken out on the west side. Fed by violent winds, it had quickly spread, sweeping across the city, jumping the river and raging out of control for 34 hours. It had killed at least 300 people, destroyed 18,000 buildings and left a third of the city homeless. Despite the best efforts of the fire department and the city’s residents, it had overwhelmed every human obstruction, and if not for this day’s rainstorm it would likely have continued on.
TAXES
The Tax Foundation issues mixed rating for Illinois’ tax structure. The Washington-based nonpartisan study institute monitors the tax laws of all 50 states, and issues comparative rankings based on what they find. States are ranked not only on the financial burdens imposed by their tax laws but also by the administrative burden of filling out income-reporting forms and complying with each tax.
Frontispiece of the 1973-74 Illinois Blue Book
showcasing Illinois State 
Symbols.
Photo from the Illinois Digital Archives.
In recent years, Illinois has added a number of items to its list of official state symbols. Oftentimes, these ideas are produced by local student groups seeking to bring some recognition to an important part of their community or the state as a whole. Some good examples are the 2015 designation of sweet corn as our Illinois State Vegetable and the 1980 selection of the white-tailed deer as the state animal.

Illinois has had a roster of state symbols from its beginning as a state, starting with our state seal. Some of the early state symbols included our state bird, state tree, state flower and state song. This is the story of how those early symbols were chosen.
JOBS
Illinois unemployment rate matches lowest on record. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced Thursday that the unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent in August and nonfarm payrolls decreased by -5,200 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The July job gain was revised down slightly from its initial report to show no growth. (+0 jobs versus +3,700 jobs).
Our guest today says its time for Illinois lawmakers to “put their money where their mouth is,” stop talking about rooting out “waste, fraud and abuse” in Illinois government and actually do something about it.

We will hear about 63rd District State Representative Steve Reick’s legislation which creates the Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Act. In addition to other matters related to Springfield, we will hear about his attempt at being a walk-on with the University of Illinois basketball team and how his passion for cooking led to cooking up some quail tacos for colleagues and staff in Springfield.


By the late 1970s, technology was making everything bigger and faster. Skyscrapers were reaching farther into the sky than ever before. The space shuttle was preparing for its maiden voyage. The joint British-French Concorde was transporting passengers across the Atlantic at supersonic speeds. Jumbo jets like the Boeing 747 and the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 were carrying more passengers farther and faster than was dreamed possible a generation before.
HURRICANE FLORENCE
Illinois prepared to assist states impacted by Hurricane Florence. Governor Bruce Rauner announced Thursday that Illinois is prepared to provide personnel and other support to states that may be impacted by Hurricane Florence.

Ten Illinois Army National Guard soldiers and two helicopters have deployed to support relief efforts in North Carolina. The crews left from Peoria's 238th Aviation Battalion and Kankakee's 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment. They will provide support for up to 10 days. All costs associated with the deployment will be paid for by the Tar Heel state.
Already having served as student body president at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, as a village board member in Downers Grove, and on the Board of Trustees at the College of DuPage, he is one of the youngest members of the General Assembly and part of a new generation of state representatives in Springfield. Our guest is 81st District State Representative David Olsen.

"Father Marquette and the Indians" painting by Wilhelm Lamprecht, 1869
Many Illinoisans are tempted to snicker when an out-of-stater mispronounces our state’s name. We know that the ‘s’ on the end of the name is silent. Our state’s name and its correct pronunciation are part of the legacy left by the French explorers who in the 17th century became the first European settlers to visit the parcel of land in the middle of North America now known as “Illinois.”

The French had claimed the region sight-unseen in 1671. Two years later, an expedition led by Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet arrived in the area to be known as Illinois. Their group consisted of seven French explorers and two scouts in a pair of canoes. The French had already colonized portions of present-day Canada and had been exploring the Great Lakes region and its nearby rivers.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Mike Marron sworn in as 104th District State Representative. Vermilion County Board Chairman Mike Marron was sworn-in Friday to serve as the new 104th District State Representative. Marron is succeeding retiring State Representative Chad Hays, who had served in office since 2010. Marron, who succeeds both Hays and legendary State Representative Bill Black, thanked both men for their leadership.
On session days, the Illinois Capitol is a crowded place to be. While either house is in session, members of the public tend to gather outside the chamber doors around the rail surrounding the third floor rotunda. Looking up, or down, a visitor to the Capitol has the chance to see statues of some of the towering figures of Illinois government.

Here is a quick jaunt around the center of the Capitol building to explore some of the stories of the figures depicted in the statues that line the 2nd floor and which tower above the center of the Capitol’s rotunda.
AGRICULTURE
Ag-boosting measures signed into law. At the Du Quoin State Fair on Saturday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Industrial Hemp Act, Senate Bill 2298, adding Illinois to a growing number of states that permit growth of cannabis cultivated for non-drug uses such as paper- and fabric-making, biodegradable plastics, construction materials and health food.

The governor also signed House Bill 5749, easing weight-limit restrictions on state highways during harvest time, improving the competitive outlook for Illinois farmers and agricultural commodities haulers. Both measures will enhance one of the state’s leading industries: farming.
 From Illinois Digital Archives, Illinois State Library - General
Collection: Record of the Illinois National Guard (33rd Division)
and Illinois Naval Militia.

Soldiers in the Illinois National Guard’s 33rd Brigade Combat Team wear a circular shoulder insignia which features a gold cross against a black background. This simple design got its start from Illinois soldiers who served our nation overseas a century ago. It has been worn on battlefields from World War I to Afghanistan, by troops who earned accolades from some of the most celebrated generals in American history. It marks the proud history of the 33rd Division of the U.S. Army.
When Ryan Spain became the youngest at-large member in Peoria City Council history, he garnered a reputation for educating himself on all sides of the issues. After following a legend into the Illinois House of Representatives, he is doing the same thing by working with members of both sides of the aisle on such issues as comprehensive redistricting reform.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Rep. Helene Miller Walsh appointed to 51st House District seat. With her business experience, passion for public service, and commitment to fighting for her community, Representative Helene Miller Walsh brings a valued perspective and unique skill set to the governing process. Rep. Miller Walsh graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a B.A. in Diplomacy and World Affairs with an emphasis on Middle Eastern Affairs, and a minor in Economics.
In east-central Illinois near the Piatt County village of Bement sits the Bryant Cottage State Historic Site. The house was built in 1856 by Francis E. Bryant, and legend has it that it was in his parlor that his friend Senator Stephen Douglas sat down with former Congressman Abraham Lincoln to plan out what would become the most famous debates in American history.

JOBS
Illinois’ unemployment rate drops to 4.2%. The numbers also showed that Illinois’ economy created 3,700 new nonfarm payroll jobs in July 2018. The new 4.2% unemployment figure approaches the 4.0% benchmark traditionally used to signify “full employment,” and come as a signal that Illinois is continuing its recovery from the 2008-09 economic crash and Great Recession. The numbers were compiled and posted on Thursday, August 16, by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).
Earthquake Hazard Map from USGS
This year, Illinois celebrates its bicentennial of statehood. One part of the celebration is a review of 200 years of Illinois history. Of course, while statehood occurred 200 years ago, Illinois history extends long before that date. In fact, one important development in our state’s history which has substantial implications right up to today began thousands of years ago with the first rumblings from the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

Scientists have tried many different methods of studying the history of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, the source of a series of earthquakes along a fault line running from Illinois through Missouri, Tennessee and into Arkansas. They have found signs of significant earthquakes hundreds or even thousands of years ago. What is certain, however, is that just seven years before Illinois became a state, the New Madrid Fault was the source of three of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in the United States. Something else that is widely believed among scientists is that the possibility still exists of another major earthquake in the same area.
Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed legislation that streamlines veteran identification services and makes it easier for homeless veterans to access needed medical benefits. Rauner also made Nov. 4th GI Bill of Rights Day to pay tribute to the American Legion committee, chaired by the 29th Governor of Illinois, that wrote the historic Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944.

“We should seize every opportunity to streamline services to better honor and support those who selflessly gave so much to our country,” Rauner said. “Providing a free medical record for homeless veterans will help them more easily access the critical services and benefits they earned, and the ID designations and license plates represent tokens of our gratitude for the monumental sacrifices made by Illinois veterans to protect our freedoms.” 
STATE GOVERNMENT
New law brings hundreds of state jobs back to Sangamon County. Gov. Bruce Rauner followed through with his promise to bring state jobs back to the capital city with the signing of House Bill  4295 Thursday. The legislation moves hundreds of state jobs to Springfield.

“It is a matter of state pride,” Rauner said. “This bill preserves the heritage of Springfield as Illinois’ capital city while boosting our local economy. It promotes Lincoln’s hometown and his vision as one of the original lawmakers who advocated for making Springfield the capital of Illinois.”
A 1892 campaign poster showing the Cleveland-Stevenson
(Cleve and Steve) ticket.
Illinois has been the home of four U.S. Presidents. Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Reagan and Obama all called Illinois home at some point. All four were chosen for a second term in the Oval Office. Each achieved the ever-lasting fame that comes with the Presidency.

History has not been as kind to the two Illinoisans who served as Vice President.

Neither of Illinois’ two Vice Presidents achieved the stature of Lincoln. Neither got a second term and neither have long passages in the history books, if any at all. There is no Mount Rushmore for Vice Presidents. But both were highly accomplished and very prominent men of their times. One was the patriarch of an Illinois political dynasty, while the other helped organize a World’s Fair and won a Nobel Peace Prize.
LAW ENFORCEMENT
New lottery game to benefit families of fallen police officers. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill this week to create a new Illinois Lottery scratch-off game from which proceeds will fund police memorials, support for the families of officers killed or severely injured in the line of duty, and protective vest replacements for officers.

“Our police officers stand in the face of danger every day to keep us safe. We are proud to stand with them and support their families when they are faced with a devastating loss,” Rauner said. “This new ticket will help fund scholarships for their children and honor their bravery at memorial parks across the state.”
Abraham Lincoln c1846
A visitor to Springfield might take some time to stop by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site or Lincoln’s Tomb. Lincoln, after all, spent a big part of his adult life in Springfield. He represented the area in the state legislature and in Congress. His children were born there, the only home he ever owned is there, just down the street from his law office and the Capitol building where he gave one of his most famous speeches.
Sandbagging in downtown Alton during the
Great Flood of 1993
Illinois is the crossroads of North America. For centuries, this location has been a great advantage for the settlement and commerce of our state. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is among the busiest in the world. It is here that the major rail lines come together, that the major highways intersect, and the major rivers of the continent converge. But 25 years ago it was that last crossroads—the rivers—that brought about one of the greatest natural disasters in Illinois history.

Our state’s unique geography within North America’s river system puts us in a prosperous but also dangerous position. The great rivers of the upper Midwest, the Great Plains, the Rust Belt and the mid-south all come together in or near Illinois. The moisture from our rivers contributes to the rich Illinois farmland that feeds so much of the nation and the world. But it also carries great risk: excessive snowfall in Montana or western Pennsylvania, or heavy rains in Minnesota or Alabama can have disastrous impacts hundreds of miles away in Illinois.
Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst was sworn into office Tuesday as the new State Representative for Illinois’ 47th Legislative House District. She took her oath of office outside of Elmhurst College’s Hammerschmidt Chapel, a mere 4 miles from where she was raised in Villa Park, and 6 blocks from her Elmhurst home.

Elmhurst College Trustee and 4th Ward Alderman Kevin York welcomed guests, and the Honorable Liam Brennan, 18th Judicial Circuit Court Judge, administered the oath of office. Mazzochi was introduced by State Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst). Read more.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Jeff Keicher sworn in as 70th District State Representative. Joined by community leaders, family and friends, Sycamore businessman Jeff Keicher took the oath of office at Dayton Farms on Tuesday to become the new State Representative for Illinois’ 70th District, encompassing portions of Boone, DeKalb, and Kane Counties. Keicher replaces former Representative Bob Pritchard, who resigned July 1 to accept an appointment to the Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University.
President Theodore Roosevelt and Governor Richard Yates, Jr. sit on a bench at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield. Photo courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Last weekend, the Illinois Governor's Mansion in Springfield re-opened after a multi-year renovation effort. The first tours were conducted on Saturday. The tours feature exhibits highlighting the children who have lived in the mansion and they also include furniture from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the pre-Civil War era. The mansion, which was built in the mid-1850s, has been visited by everyone from Presidents of the United States to a First Daughter’s pet alligator.

Springfield became the state’s capital city in 1839, and before the current mansion was constructed Governors lived in a house at 8th and Capitol streets, an intersection now occupied by the Springfield public library, a fire station and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. In 1853, Governor Joel Matteson took office and made the need for a new residence apparent, as the existing house was insufficient for his family which included seven children.
Joined by community leaders, family and friends, Sycamore businessman Jeff Keicher took the oath of office at Dayton Farms on Tuesday to become the new State Representative for Illinois’ 70th District, encompassing portions of Boone, DeKalb, and Kane Counties. Keicher replaces former Representative Bob Pritchard, who resigned July 1 to accept an appointment to the Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University.

Following through on a commitment he made previously, Representative Keicher will sign official paperwork declining state health insurance benefits, as well as opting out of the pension system for state legislators.
Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed legislation that expands the Illinois Veterans’ Home at Quincy and cuts the red tape on future construction projects, allowing the administration to move quickly to build a new state-of-the-art facility at the campus.

“We’re building a brand new facility and making sure our veterans have a safe place to call home,” Rauner said. “Building this new facility should not be caught up in the bureaucratic process. Our veterans deserve the best. They have fought to secure our freedom and we’re fighting to make sure they have the care they need for generations to come.”
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Patti Bellock named DHFS director. Gov. Rauner announced last week that Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock has been named director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Bellock has served in the General Assembly since 1999 and is recognized as one of the body’s leading advocates for Medicaid, health care and social services, areas she will oversee in her new role.
State Representative Avery Bourne was recently named the newest member of ISBE’s (Illinois State Board of Education) Evidence-Based Funding Professional Review Panel. The panel was created with the new school funding formula to annually review data, proposed changes, and the overall implementation of the formula. It is made up of practitioners, experts, legislative leaders, and advocates.

Rep. Bourne stated, “It is an honor to be chosen for the ISBE Panel and I look forward to working with these professionals to make our school funding formula work. School children statewide now have a brighter future because of school funding reform. The work of this panel will make sure the school funding reform is dynamic and continues to provide the best outcomes for students statewide. After our important work to pass school funding reform, now the hard work of implementing it begins.” Read more.

Gov. Rauner announced today that Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock has been named director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Bellock has served in the General Assembly since 1999 and is recognized as one of the body’s leading advocates for Medicaid, health care and social services, areas she will oversee in her new role.

“Illinois is so fortunate to have an advocate for health and human services as dedicated and talented as Patti Bellock,” said Rauner in announcing the appointment. “She has been instrumental in virtually every health advancement our state has made in the last two decades and I am looking forward to her leadership of the state’s ongoing effort to reform our delivery systems and improve our outcomes.”
U.S. SUPREME COURT
Nation’s highest court issues decision in Janus case. In a blow to public employee labor unions, the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday overturned a 41-year-old precedent and ruled in favor of an Illinois state employee who said he should not be forced to pay fair share fees to the union that represents his job

In a 5-4 decision, the court sided with Mark Janus, who contended his free speech rights were violated by being forced to pay fair share dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Janus works as a child support specialist for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The job is a union position represented by AFSCME.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
State Rep. Chad Hays to step down early. State Representative Chad Hays announced Friday that he will be stepping down from his seat in the Illinois House of Representatives early so he can take a job in the private sector.

Hays, who has served in the General Assembly since December of 2010 and as Assistant Minority Leader since 2013, said he will leave his post in late August or early September, to become the Executive Director of Crosspoint Human Services in Danville. “While my service in the Illinois General Assembly has been the honor of a lifetime and a tremendous privilege, I have decided the timing is right to return to the private sector where my background and expertise in healthcare administration can be put to good use,” said Hays. “I look forward to this next chapter, but will always look back fondly on my time as the legislative voice of the 104th District.”
Sign the Petition to Support Independent Maps
By Rep. David S. Olsen (R-Illlinois) and Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Ohio)

"By designing districts for partisan advantage, we send the message that winning elections is more important than upholding democracy."

On Monday, the Supreme Court kicked back to Wisconsin and Maryland state courts two gerrymandering cases that attempted to establish that legislatures that use gerrymandering to ensure partisan outcomes were acting with unconstitutional bias. In doing so, they have essentially ensured that any constitutional remedies to overly partisan gerrymandering will be years away, if they ever come.

We believe, then, that’s it’s up to us — state legislators — to act on behalf of the constituents that elected us and end partisan gerrymandering on our own.

Partisan gerrymandering has plagued our democracy since the days of the Founding Fathers: The jagged edges of many districts don’t reflect real-life boundaries, like rivers or mountain ranges, but rather exist because someone drew lines with the pernicious purpose of manipulating electoral constituency boundaries to favor one party. Read the entire opinion piece by Rep. Olsen & Sen. LaRose. 

If you agree sign the petition to end gerrymandering support independent maps.
BUDGET
Moody's cites 'positive' moves in new Illinois budget. The fiscal 2019 Illinois budget enacted last week includes a voluntary pension buyout plan and a boost in school funding, which are credit-positive moves for the relatively low-rated state and its school districts, Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday.

The $38.5 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 incorporates $423 million in savings that would be generated by current or former public-sector workers choosing to accept a buyout of their pensions or a retirement benefit in exchange for cash raised by the sale of up to $1 billion of state general obligation bonds.
The fiscal 2019 Illinois budget enacted last week includes a voluntary pension buyout plan and a boost in school funding, which are credit-positive moves for the relatively low-rated state and its school districts, Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday.

The $38.5 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 incorporates $423 million in savings that would be generated by current or former public-sector workers choosing to accept a buyout of their pensions or a retirement benefit in exchange for cash raised by the sale of up to $1 billion of state general obligation bonds.

“The state’s buyout offer is credit positive because it will generate significant pension liability savings to the extent that employees accept the offer,” Moody’s said, adding that actual savings could fall short if participation fails to meet targets of 22 percent of vested former workers and 25 percent of retiring current workers. Read the rest of the story.

BUDGET
FY19 budget passed with bipartisan support and signed into law. On Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a $38.5 billion bipartisan compromise budget that holds the line on taxes, increases funding for education, curbs spending, and creates a new adoption tax credit that will make it less costly for Illinois parents to adopt children.

“For the first time in years, we have an opportunity to manage our way into balance, and we don’t have to dip into the pockets of overtaxed Illinoisans to do it,” Rauner said. “Balance is in reach because we were able to accomplish $445 million of pension reform and the economy is stronger thanks to federal tax reform, and we are benefiting from an unexpected boost in tax receipts.”
Gov. Rauner signed into law a measure that will increase independence in the investigation of legislative ethics complaints in Illinois. This new law, which makes significant reforms to the Legislative Ethics Commission and Office of the Legislative Inspector General, changes the process of handling ethics complaints to provide those who would come forward greater confidence that their concerns will be reviewed in a timely, transparent manner.

“This bill is a victory for the heroic women who have stepped forward to take on the culture of fear, abuse and retaliation that permeates too much of state government. Illinoisans should applaud this improvement and champion the women who stood up to Illinois’ political power structure in order to make this change happen.” Rauner said in his signing message. “Through their courageous words and actions, they have declared that the culture in Springfield must change.”
On Monday, Rep. Randy Frese applauded the Governor for
including $53 million in the budget for improvements
 at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.
Gov. Bruce Rauner announced today that Stephen Curda, Ph.D. has been named director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA). He takes over from Elisabeth Pennix, who returns to her duties as IDVA’s General Counsel. The appointment is effective today.

“Stephen Curda is a proven leader with years of experience serving our military and veterans as well as his own deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq,” Rauner said. “He has served over 30 years in the military on active duty, Reserve and the Guard, recently retiring as a Brigadier General. His exceptional work in strategic planning, development and program implementation will positively contribute to the IDVA and provide the best services for our state’s heroes.”
"I have always said we can achieve great things when we
respect the priorities and principles of our counterparts."
 ~ Leader Jim Durkin on the FY19 Budget
Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed into law a $38.5 billion bipartisan compromise budget that holds the line on taxes, increases funding for education, curbs spending, and creates a new adoption tax credit that will make it less costly for Illinois parents to adopt children.

“For the first time in years, we have an opportunity to manage our way into balance, and we don’t have to dip into the pockets of overtaxed Illinoisans to do it,” Rauner said. “Balance is in reach because we were able to accomplish $445 million of pension reform and the economy is stronger thanks to federal tax reform, and we are benefiting from an unexpected boost in tax receipts.”

Hours before the deadline, the Illinois House of Representatives concurred with the Senate and overwhelmingly passed the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget. The bipartisan-crafted budget expends $38.5 billion, less than the $40 billion proposed by the Democrats and is on its way to the Governor for his signature.

The House Republicans came to the negotiating table with the goal of leaving with a balanced full-year budget that contained no tax increases and were successful in achieving that goal.
Honoring the quick thinking and brave actions of the Dixon, Illinois school resource officer who thwarted a school shooting two weeks ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner has proclaimed May 30, 2018, Officer Mark Dallas Day in Illinois. Rauner, along with State Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) and State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) met with Dallas, his family, and members of the Dixon Police Department in his Capitol office on Wednesday.

"Officer Dallas’ decisive and courageous action saved the lives of many students and staff at Dixon High School and prevented what could have been an unimaginable tragedy,” Rauner said. “We’re all very proud of Mark and honored to declare it Officer Mark Dallas Day in Illinois.”

Rep. Tom Demmer honors Officer Mark Dallas on the House Floor

A major developer of large-scale solar in the Northeast is launching operations in Illinois, expecting the state’s new energy law to jumpstart the industry in a way similar to what happened in the company’s home state of Massachusetts.

Solect has installed more than 80 MW of commercial and industrial solar in the Northeast and is Massachusetts’ largest solar developer, according to the company. Illinois is its first expansion outside that region.

“As we started to consider expansion, we identified a couple of opportunities where we felt like the legislature was behind the growth and in support at the community level, as well as where the economics would make sense to invest,” said Craig Huntley, the company’s chief development officer. Read the rest of the story.
Here are the 34 new laws that take effect on June 1 that you should know about:

Local governments cannot prohibit autonomous vehicles
(Public Act 100-352, House Bill 791) 
No unit of local government, including home rule units, may enact a local ordinance which prohibits the use of vehicles equipped with automated driving systems.
Gov. Bruce Rauner today announced a plan to invest $11.05 billion in the state’s road and bridges over the next six years, including $2.2 billion of state and federal funding in the upcoming fiscal year. The Illinois Department of Transportation Multi-Year Proposed Highway Improvement Program will focus on projects that provide the greatest economic benefit to communities and take advantage of long-term strategies that save money over time.

“Investing in transportation creates jobs and economic opportunity, improves safety and makes Illinois a better place to raise a family,” said Gov. Rauner. “This plan will make Illinois more competitive while protecting the interests of the taxpayers.”
BUDGET
Budget negotiations continue as clock ticks down to May 31 deadline. With less than a week left before the scheduled end of session, the House and Senate continue to work on budget negotiations with the hope of passing a balanced budget by the end of May.

Both houses of the General Assembly have adjourned for the weekend and are scheduled to return on Monday for Memorial Day session. Negotiations will continue over the weekend as the “budgeteers” work towards an agreement on a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2019.