CHILDREN
School bus safety law helps protect Illinois students. The nation was horrified last fall by the story of a girl and her younger twin brothers who were struck and killed on the side of a highway while attempting to board a school bus in Rochester, Indiana. The heartbreaking story was made even worse by the knowledge that it was not the only such incident in the United States in the recent past. That same week there were fatal bus stop accidents in Mississippi and Pennsylvania, and another crash in Florida in which three students were seriously injured.
Elias Kent Kane. Photo from the
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum.
August 26 is the birthday of the first Illinois state Constitution. It marks the date in 1818 on which delegates to the first Illinois Constitutional Convention adopted the state’s founding document. It was this brief document which set in motion the creation of a government for the nation’s 21st state.

Our first Constitution was largely drafted by Elias Kent Kane, a Yale graduate and a lawyer from New York. Illinois’ first Constitution was heavily influenced by the founding document of Kane’s home state, as well as those of Ohio and Kentucky. When the Constitutional convention met at Bennett’s Tavern in the territorial capital of Kaskaskia, Kane was among the 33 delegates from 15 counties, with Judge Jesse Thomas serving as presiding officer. Delegates drafted, debated and approved the first Constitution in the space of three weeks. It was not submitted to the people for approval. Its adoption was celebrated with speeches in the capital city and the firing of 20 cannon rounds.

The nation was horrified last fall by the story of a girl and her younger twin brothers who were struck and killed on the side of a highway while attempting to board a school bus in Rochester, Indiana. The heartbreaking story was made even worse by the knowledge that it was not the only such incident in the United States in the recent past. That same week there were fatal bus stop accidents in Mississippi and Pennsylvania, and another crash in Florida in which three students were seriously injured.
CHILDREN
Governor signs Davidsmeyer bill to create Pediatric Cancer License Plate that funds cancer research. Senate Bill 946, sponsored by Senator Steve McClure and Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer, was signed into law Thursday by Governor Pritzker in honor of Jerseyville resident Jonny Wade, who passed away from cancer at age eight. The legislation authorizes universal special license plates and license plate decals to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer treatment and research.
Ella Park Lawrence with the Illinois State Flag.
Ella Louise Park Lawrence was a great patriot. Her ancestors came to America in 1639, and eight members of her family fought in the Revolutionary War. Her father, George, moved to Illinois when he was young, but eventually settled in Missouri. In the years before the Civil War he ran an abolitionist newspaper – an act of extreme courage in a sharply divided state like Missouri. As the nation split over the issue of slavery and then descended into civil war, George Park taught his children, including his three-year-old daughter Ella to love and respect the flag of the nation so many were fighting to save.

Young Ella never forgot that lesson, and as she grew up she was known to present stars-and-stripes flags to her school and her classmates. She returned to Illinois in 1874 to attend Knox College. There she met her future husband, George Lawrence, and they and their family lived in Galesburg, where they had five children, four of whom tragically died while still young.

Lauryn Russell is a 13-year-old student from Mercer County in northwestern Illinois who has faced a medical challenge made even more difficult by the laws of her home state. When she was 7 years old, Lauryn contracted Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness that is characterized by headaches, fevers, rashes, joint pain and fatigue. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 30,000 Lyme disease cases in the United States each year, but also says that reported cases are likely only a fraction of the true number of cases, which could be as high as 300,000.

BUDGET
COGFA publishes annual Budget Summary. The report published on August 1 covers the State budget passed for FY20, the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2019. Like the State’s monthly budget summaries (see below), the annual Budget Summary is published by the nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA). Unlike the monthly reports, however, the annual Summary is an overview of the entire State budget, including the public-sector operations for which the various budget line items have been appropriated. It is an anticipatory document for the Annual Report on FY20 to be published by the Office of the Illinois Comptroller after the fiscal year comes to an end.

Americans cross the Siegfried Line, 1945.
In May 1940, the German Army stormed into the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Having crushed Poland the year before, and invaded and conquered Denmark and Norway just a few weeks earlier, the Germans now turned their attention to the west, and the small nations on the North Sea coast were the first on their list.

Employing a new form of warfare; known as “blitzkrieg,” or “lightning war;” the Germans swept into Dutch and Belgian territory, overwhelming or driving back all who tried to resist. In Belgium, King Leopold III recognized the hopelessness of his country’s situation, and opted to surrender just weeks after the invasion.

While many monarchs and elected leaders of occupied nations (including much of Belgium’s civil government) fled to create governments-in-exile, Leopold stayed behind and surrendered with his army. He was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner for five years, eventually ending up in a house near Strobl, Austria.

It was there on May 7, 1945, that the King was liberated by soldiers of a unit comprised largely of men from the Illinois National Guard.

Every year in America it is estimated that 50,000 people die from epilepsy-related causes. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the nation; behind migraines, strokes and Alzheimer’s. The condition affects more than 65 million people worldwide and 200,000 people of all ages in Illinois, including schoolchildren. One in three of these individuals lives with uncontrollable seizures due to epilepsy.

The thought of a child being struck with a seizure while at school is an issue of major concern to parents throughout Illinois, and it is one which Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) had in mind when she introduced legislation this spring to better prepare schools to assist a student having an epileptic seizure.

BUDGET
Fitch Ratings calls Illinois’ outlook “stable.” The unenthusiastic description from credit rating firm Fitch Ratings maintains Illinois’ credit rating as one notch above “junk bond” status. So-called “junk debt” is viewed, by a wide variety of investors and investment vehicles, as unsuitable material for prudent savings. Issuers of “junk debt” typically have to pay much higher interest rates, and must work with a much shorter list of bond underwriters and potential bond buyers. 
Governor Shelby Moore Cullom.
In the 2nd floor portrait gallery of the Illinois state Capitol known as the Hall of Governors, a casual observer might do a double take looking at a portrait of a subject who looks an awful lot like Abraham Lincoln. His dark suit, thin face and beard certainly do bear a strong resemblance to the Great Emancipator. The lanky, distinguished 17th Governor of Illinois, Shelby Moore Cullom, had noticed the resemblance himself, and he took it as a point of pride that he looked so much like the man who had been friends with his father and who had guided his study of the law.

By the time he died in 1914 at the age of 84, Shelby Cullom had been a force in Illinois and national government for half a century, a political career spanning from the days just before the Civil War to the eve of World War I, and one which had put him in the orbit of almost every American President from Lincoln to Woodrow Wilson.