Photo from the Illinois Digital Archives -  A Service of the
Illinois State Library and Office of Secretary of State 
Sunday December 3 will mark the State of Illinois’ 199th birthday and the kickoff of the year-long celebration leading up to our bicentennial in 2018. In honor of this momentous occasion, here are a few odds and ends from (nearly) 200 years of Illinois history.
  • Illinois’ original northern border was a line drawn from the southern tip of Lake Michigan west to the Mississippi River. Just before statehood Illinois’ territorial delegate to Washington, Nathaniel Pope, convinced Congress to move the line 40 miles north into what would have become southern Wisconsin. This move gave Illinois a port on the Great Lakes. Two hundred years later, this area of the state includes 14 counties and around 60% of Illinois’ population. 
Spawned by the demands of a rapidly changing America, historic Route 66 defined a remarkable era in our nation’s history. State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) is proud of the fact that he is the only member of the Illinois General Assembly who actually lives on the historic highway. In our interview he talks about the highway that connected Chicago to St. Louis and what it means to the state of Illinois. In addition, he discusses the upcoming state bicentennial celebration and his ancestor who was a member of the very first Illinois General Assembly.

Have All Voted Who Wish are the stories about the real people who represent us in Springfield. Illinois lawmakers tell us about their passions and how it shapes their policy initiatives.
As one of the youngest members of the Illinois General Assembly, State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) has brought a fresh perspective to the Illinois House of Representatives and this year she has been one of the key legislators in the overhaul of the state’s school aid formula, an effort that was years in the making.

We talk with her about education in the state of Illinois, along with her legislation dealing with synthetic drugs and her fight for Illinois coal. We also touch on some of her passions when she has some time away from the capitol which includes family traditions that are all a part of her growing up in rural Illinois.

Illinois Jobs Up in October - Unemployment Rate Declines. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced this week that the unemployment rate dipped by 0.1 percentage points to 4.9 percent in October and nonfarm payrolls increased by +3,400 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. September job growth was revised up to show a smaller decline (-7,900 jobs) than initially reported (-10,800 jobs).
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law today a tax credit worth up to $750 for property owners in 18 Illinois counties where flood damages were sustained in July.

The bill, signed at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago this morning, creates a natural disaster credit that eligible, affected property owners may apply to their 2017 Illinois income taxes.

Included counties are Cook, Lake, Kane, McHenry, Alexander, Clinton, Jackson, Marshall, Union, Woodford, Carroll, Henry, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Rock Island, Stephenson and Whiteside — all of which were declared state disaster areas by the governor last summer.
Arial view of the Capitol complex in 1966. Photo from the
Mercury Studio Collection, Illinois Digital Archives – A
service of IL State Library & Office of the Secretary of State
When ground was broken on the sixth Illinois state capitol building in 1868, it was atop a small hill on the edge of downtown Springfield. The building was designed to be the hub of state government, and to house virtually all of its offices. But as the state grew and expanded, space became tight, and it wasn’t long before work began on new buildings adjacent to the capitol. This was the beginning of what we now know as the State Capitol Complex.

The state capitol building was designed right after the Civil War. Illinois’ population according to the 1860 census was 1,711,951. By the turn of the 20th century, the population had nearly tripled to 4,821,550. It had taken 20 years to build the new capitol building, but

"I was proud to lead this coordinated, multifaceted effort between Nucor, Gov. Rauner, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity to garner support for and ultimately the selection of Bourbonnais Nucor for this expansion." ~ Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst

Nucor Steel's Bourbonnais site has been selected as the location for a $180 million expansion.

In a release sent out by the Charlotte, N.C.-based company today, the expansion will take approximately two years to complete.

The expansion will require an additional 75 workers once complete. Currently, the company employs 475.

The expansion is for increased production of its Merchant Bar Quality production. The new mill will have the capacity to produce a half-million tons of steel annually.

The Bourbonnais site was in competition with a company site in Marion, Ohio. Read more.
State Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, has introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would restrict the use of eminent domain.

Eminent domain is the legal name for the process that occurs when the government seizes your land. In turn, you get paid "just compensation." But when it comes to something you own, there are two ways of valuing it.

The first is an objective valuation based upon the legal assessment of your property.

There also is an emotional attachment to what you own. Maybe it was a home you built on your own. Maybe it was the home where you were born. Maybe an older or ill person lives there, and it would not be easy for them to move. Maybe you don't want to sell at any price. Read more.

In the summer of 2016, drug overdose deaths in Baltimore were exploding and health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen told federal Drug Enforcement Administration officials the city needed real-time data to better manage its public health response.

Four months later, the DEA’s Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) team had developed a smart phone application that could be used by first responders to record the time and location of overdoses and transmit the information to a regional mapping database.

Today, that tool, known as ODMAP, is used by more than 250 law enforcement, first responder and public health agencies in 27 states. Read more.
Illinois State Rep. Tony McCombie is hoping to deter harm towards DCFS workers in her state.

“They're out there trying to keep families and children safe, so I feel it's our responsibility to protect them at the same time,” McCombie said.

She’s co-sponsoring a bill that would increase the penalties for someone who assaults a DCFS worker.

“It will increase their sentence from a Class 3 (felony) to a Class 1 (felony),” McCombie said.

The bill is a response to an incident that happened in October. During a welfare check in Carroll County, a DCFS worker was left in critical condition. Read more.

The cold November rain had stopped and a chilled breeze fluttered the flags in front of the Knox County Courthouse Sunday afternoon. Only a little while earlier, generations of armed forces veterans marched down Main Street, in front of buildings that have stood for decades. Buildings with names like Bondi and Hill. Buildings that have had the feet of veterans of the Civil War and the Great War, all now gone, walk in front of them; that have seen years of World War II and Korean War veterans pass by. Sunday, the feet of those who served in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan marched past. The marching ended at the Courthouse, where memorials to the generations of veterans stand.

It was there that state Rep. Daniel M. Swanson, R-Alpha, himself a man who served 27 years in the military, including a tour of duty in Iraq, paid tribute to the men and women of these generations. After serving as grand marshal of the parade, Swanson spoke of how those listening could honor America’s veterans.

“When you see a veteran, don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Swanson told the crowd. “To learn a veteran’s story. If you see a veteran with a hat, distinguishing their military service ... don’t be afraid to talk to them. First, simply say thank you.” Read the entire story.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin authors key hotline section of sexual harassment bill sent to Governor. The Durkin proposal would create a telephone hotline for persons seeking relief in cases of sexual harassment. Examples of help that the hotline could provide could include assistance in filing a sexual harassment complaint, referral of a victim to counseling, or referral of a victim to protective services.
Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Documents Collection, Illinois Digital Archives –
A service of the Illinois State Library and the Office of the Secretary of State
A shocked nation received the news on April 15, 1865, that President Abraham Lincoln had died that morning after having been shot the night before at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC. Jubilant only days earlier at the news of Appomattox, the United States was plunged into a terrible state of mourning.

Around the north, plans began to be made for memorial ceremonies for Lincoln, whose funeral train would stop in several major cities as it re-traced his 1861 route between Springfield, Illinois, and the nation’s capital. In Springfield, plans would have to be made not only for a funeral but for Lincoln’s final resting place. In all, those plans would be made and remade for nearly seven decades.
State Representative Brian Stewart filed House Bill 4147 to make attacking a DCFS workers in performance of their duties an aggravated battery and a Class 1 felony.

House Bill 4147, filed this week, would make battering a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in the performance of his/her official duties or in response to their official duties an aggravated battery and a Class 1 felony. Aggravated battery subject perpetrators to more severe penalties when facing prosecution and sentencing.

“My deepest sympathies and get well-wishes go out to the victim of this horrible attack, her family and everyone in her DCFS family.  Everyday DCFS workers put themselves at risk to protect the most vulnerable children in our communities,” said Rep. Stewart. “This legislation will give DCFS workers the same protections as policemen, firemen, and peace officers who also put themselves in harm’s way.”  Read more.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin plans to introduce legislation to create a hotline where callers can report sexual harassment.

The toll-free number would be run by the Illinois Department of Human Rights and would help connect people to counseling services and advice on filing complaints with the proper authorities. It will be open to state employees, as well as residents who work in the private sector. Read more.
COGFA releases revenue report for October 2017. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) has released its monthly revenue report and economic briefing for October 2017. COGFA continues to report that Illinois’ stagnant job picture is having a negative impact on income and sales tax growth. One major source of potential tax revenue growth is increased supplies of money forwarded from employers to Springfield of income taxes withheld from paychecks, and the absence of net new employment growth is limiting revenue increases from this source.
Human trafficking is one of the most under reported crimes, but according to UNICEF U.S.A., it is also the second largest crime industry in the world.

Among the human trafficking cases, according to the Human Trafficking Hotline, the vast majority of those cases are sex trafficking. The hotline also reports there have been 4,460 cases reported in the states for the first half of 2017. Among those cases, 3,698 of those affected were female, 607 were male and 53 were identified as gender minorities.

According to the hotline, Illinois ranks 10th for the number of reported cases in the states for the first half of 2017 with 100 cases, following Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Of the 100 cases, 83 of those affected were female. Read more.
Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Documents Collection, Illinois Digital Archives.
A service of the Illinois State Library and the Office of the Secretary of State
Illinois is not alone in having moved its state capital from one city to another. Exeter, New Hampshire; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Iowa City, Iowa; Benicia, California, and a handful of others have all been (for however brief a time) the capital city of their states. But after state government left their towns, those cities at least got to remain part of the state for which they had once been the seat of government. In Illinois, that was almost not the case for our first capital city of Kaskaskia.

The town of Kaskaskia was founded at the beginning of the 1700s. It was the site which French explorers chose to build the Church of the Immaculate Conception. The town’s strategic location near the confluence of the Kaskaskia and Mississippi Rivers made it a valuable piece of real estate for French and then British colonial authorities who used Kaskaskia as an administrative post for the area over the next century.

The state of Illinois has added more information to its state health insurance marketplace website ahead of the start of open enrollment on Wednesday.

The new information allows consumers to compare health insurance plans for sale both on and off the public Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) exchange. The website, available at, previously hasn't included information about all plans or the ability to enroll in them and talk to licensed brokers.

Illinois Department of Insurance Director Jennifer Hammer said the agency used part of a $1 million state appropriation to overhaul the website and its services.

She added the agency is "going to utilize all the tools available" to help consumers choose the best plans and products. Read the story here.

Cook County, Illinois’ soda tax went “pop” after the county’s Board of Commissioners voted to repeal the county’s penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages, but a bill under consideration by the state House of Representatives preventing future soda taxes from being enacted by local governments is picking up steam.

In July, the county government began collecting an additional tax on all sweetened drinks sold to consumers in Cook County—including soda, iced tea, lemonade, and sports drinks—purchased in bottles or cans or from dispensers.

On October 11, the Cook County Board of Commissioners repealed the tax, rolling back their February decision to create the new tax.

Despite the tax’s defeat, a bill prohibiting county governments from enacting new taxes on soda and other sweetened beverages is gaining popularity in the Illinois House of Representatives. Read more.