New numbers show “second wave” of viral transmission in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has now reported results from more than 7.0 million coronavirus tests performed in Illinois as of Thursday, October 22. Slightly more than 5% of these tests have come back positive, with more than 360,000 confirmed cases reported.

On two separate days over the past seven-day period, on Friday, October 16 and again on Thursday, October 22, new positive cases have passed 4,500 per day. The count of positives cases was 4,554 on October 16, and was 4,942 on October 22. Both counts were records for a 24-hour period in Illinois. 
The Federal Aviation Administration assigns every airport in the country a three-letter identification code. This abbreviation is useful shorthand for flight scheduling and also for simpler conversation. Usually these codes are tied to the name of the city, like Miami’s MIA or Dallas-Fort Worth’s DFW. Sometimes cities with multiple airports have an abbreviation which helps distinguish one local airport from another, like New York’s JFK or Washington-Dulles’ IAD.
Rep. Mike Marron discusses legislative action from the 2019 and 2020 sessions, lays out his legislative priorities going forward, and reviews what he's learned in his first term as 104th District State Representative.

Rep. Marron is a native of rural Fithian, in Vermilion County, is a family farmer, and previously served as Vermilion County Board Chairman.
The Illinois General Assembly enacted new statutory provisions in an attempt to protect voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the Legislature amended the Election Code to expand access to mail-in voting and make other changes that are designed to ensure that Illinois voters do not have to choose between their health and their right to vote in the 2020 General Election. The Illinois Attorney General has put together the following information to answer questions and provide general guidance to Illinois voters:

As election approaches, taxpayer-funded ethics reform commission falls silent. The Illinois taxpayer money that funds the General Assembly’s Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform was used to hold hearings and gather evidence on the current state of pay-to-play politics in Illinois. The Commission, which is staffed by taxpayer-funded public sector employees, was created in the wake of serious allegations made against lobbyists and members of the General Assembly – including politicians who have resigned from office under federal indictment.
The Illinois Secretary of State has established a new email service available to members of the public who need information on reinstating driving privileges, obtaining driving relief or scheduling an administrative hearing. Individuals who have a driver’s license suspension or revocation or any other loss of driving privileges can send an email to

Once an email is received by the office, a response will be sent within three days. The response will include whether a hearing is necessary, the type of hearing needed and the documents that may be required at a future hearing. Administrative hearings are still required to be held in person.

For more information on the service, please visit
Illinois State Arsenal under construction, 1902.
Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. 
For as long as there have been armed forces there have been arsenals, facilities to store and secure weapons and ammunition. For obvious reasons these facilities are generally well-built and well-protected. A lucky hit on one of them by an enemy in battle could wreck an entire fort, or sink a powerful warship. Over the centuries, warring armies have expended enormous effort and tons of artillery or aerial bombs to destroy these high-value targets.

One Sunday night in February 1934 in Springfield all it took was a ten-year old with some matches and a paper bag.

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin Says Time’s Up for Democrats: Demand Answers from Madigan or Call for His Resignation. Charging that Democrats “pulled the plug” on the investigation of Mike Madigan for political motives, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin on Thursday called on Gov. JB Pritzker and House Democrats to “demand answers from the speaker or demand his resignation.” 
The scene at Chicago’s Dearborn Station on May 3, 1932, was not unlike that observed on most days. As a particular train readied to pull out of the station, bound for Nashville, Atlanta and ultimately Miami, a crowd of onlookers had gathered to bid goodbye to passengers on board. But on this occasion the departure was different in at least one sense. The scene included two men who, while enormously famous due in large part to each other, had just met in person for the first and only time.

Aboard the train, headed for the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, was the gangster Al Capone. Watching from the station was the U.S. Treasury agent who had put him there: Eliot Ness.
State Representative Tom Demmer who serves as the minority spokesperson on the Special Investigating Committee II, released the following statement:

“At last week’s meeting of the Special Investigating Committee, a motion to subpoena key witnesses was ruled out of order by Chairman Welch, and no vote of the committee was taken. After the meeting, we sent copies of the requested subpoenas to Chairman Welch for his review. Still now, a week later, he has not responded nor issued any subpoenas.
The suicide rate for farmers is higher than all other occupations. Rep. Norine Hammond and a group of lawmakers from around the country and Canada are working together to address issues directly impacting the agriculture community, including farmer suicide.

Rep. Hammond is passionate about supporting the agricultural community and discusses the issue of farmer suicide in this episode of Leading Voices.

Learn more about Rep. Hammond:
House Special Investigating Committee questions ComEd about Madigan bribery scheme; former ComEd VP pleads guilty in federal court. An executive from Commonwealth Edison, Chicago’s largest electric utility, testified to the Committee on Tuesday, September 29, on admissions that ComEd had engaged in a multi-year bribery scheme to influence Public Official A (Speaker Michael J. Madigan) with jobs and a board seat for Madigan associates.
In recognition of  National Women's Small Business Month, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) recently announced it will host a series of webinars to support the advancement of women-owned businesses. The discussions scheduled by DCEO and a host of industry partners, including Groupon, will offer support and insights for small businesses to grow, position themselves, and seek out resources that will help them overcome the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Granger Movement Promotional Poster, ca. 1873.
Library of Congress
Agriculture has been the backbone of Illinois’ economy from the very start. Whether it is farming itself, the manufacturing of farm equipment, or the transport, storage and sale of farm commodities, the agricultural sector has been a dominant part of Illinois’ economy for its entire history.

Just after the Civil War Illinois farmers were struggling. The farm economy had been hit with several challenges all at once. Soldiers returning from the war expected their jobs back, while new competition was coming from homesteaders arriving in the plains states west of the Mississippi. This all created new rivals for markets and eventually led to overproduction of corn and wheat. All the while, the post-war revolution in farm machinery compelled farmers to buy new equipment or risk falling behind.
Illinois State Police (ISP) Division of Forensic Services (DFS) unveiled the online sexual assault tracking system, known as CheckPoint, to allow sexual assault survivors to monitor the progress of evidence taken in their cases. 

The CheckPoint system will allow survivors of sexual assault to monitor the status of their evidence throughout the entire process, from collection at the hospital, through law enforcement pick-up and submission to the forensic lab, and ultimately to the State’s Attorney’s office where final results are received. To ensure privacy, the system will use unique case numbers and passwords to limit access to survivors and law enforcement. 
Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced COVID-19 resurgence mitigations will be implemented in Region 1, the northwestern most counties in Illinois, beginning Saturday, October 3, 2020. The region is seeing a 7-day rolling average test positivity rate of 8% or above for three consecutive days, which exceeds the threshold set for establishing mitigation measures in the region under the state’s Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan. This announcement follows last week’s warnings to local leaders that additional mitigation measures would be implemented if the region continued to see an increase in cases. Region 1 includes Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties.

House Special Investigating Committee to hear from ComEd. The Chicago electric utility holding company is one of the focal points of the Committee’s investigation into allegations that House Speaker Michael J. Madigan allegedly took part in conduct worthy of potential disciplinary action. Commonwealth Edison has already agreed to a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the Office of the U.S. Attorney that includes the payment of $200 million. Announcement of the payment in July 2020 coincided with reports that ComEd was cooperating with federal prosecutors. Now, one or more ComEd executives will be called as witnesses by the Committee.
Illinois is known for Presidents and for debates. Specifically, the four Chief Executives who came from the Prairie State and made history in the Oval Office, and the most well-known series of debates in American history: the contests on the 1858 U.S. Senate campaign trail which launched Abraham Lincoln to national fame.

Where these two come together is also in Illinois: the most famous Presidential debate in American history happened right here in Illinois some 60 years ago this week.

U.S Attorney’s Office Sends Official Response to Parameters for Special Investigating Committee. The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District has responded to both letters from Rep. Demmer and Rep. Welch about the parameters of the Special Investigating Committee. Ron Safer, special counsel for the petitioner Leader Jim Durkin, released the following statement:

“The US Attorney’s Office has given the Special Investigating Committee the green light to pursue all avenues of the investigation, including testimony and documents, that were articulated in the petition. We are grateful that US Attorney John Lausch told the Committee that his office recognizes the SIC’s ‘separate and independent obligation to conduct its inquiry.’ We look forward to the Committee convening promptly to do this important work.” 
The early 1930s were a time of mixed emotions in Chicago. On one hand the agony of the Great Depression was continuing with no end in sight. But on the other hand there were reasons to be optimistic. Federal agents had finally caught up with Al Capone and ended the darkest days of the city’s “Beer Wars,” the city had been chosen to host the upcoming World’s Fair in 1933, and a brash and energetic new mayor had taken the helm in city hall.

House Special Investigating Committee meets for first time. The Illinois House of Representatives has named a Special Investigating Committee to look into allegations surrounding Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan. The Investigating Committee met for the first time on Thursday, September 10 to discuss their responsibilities and determine a path forward.
Every two years the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) releases the latest Illinois highway map, the most up-to-date illustration of the state’s motor vehicle transportation infrastructure. Most of the time a sharp-eyed observer can spot areas of progress on new or expanded highways in the state. In recent years, that might have included the progress of the Illinois 336/Chicago-Kansas City Expressway project in western Illinois, or the Interstate 255 extension in the Metro-East area.

Ever since the first plan for Illinois’ “hard roads” was introduced more than 100 years ago there have been revisions, additions and even some subtractions. For example, nowhere on that Illinois map will you find Interstate 53. Nor will you spot Interstate 66. Even if you turn the map over to the expanded view of the large cities of Illinois, you will not see a Crosstown Expressway in Chicago.

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin Files Petition to Form Special Investigating Committee on Speaker Madigan. On August 31, 2020, Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin filed a petition to form a Special Investigating Committee. The subject of the petition is Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and surrounds information from the Deferred Prosecution Agreement entered into by ComEd and the United States Attorney’s Office. The petition was signed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Rep. Andrew Chesney and Rep. Ryan Spain.
Every four years Americans are united in their support of our Olympic athletes, cheering our nation’s best swimmers, fastest runners, most spectacular gymnasts and the many others who represent the red, white and blue. Unfortunately, this year’s Tokyo Olympics were among the many events cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, but they have been rescheduled for next year.

Illinois has been home to its share of Olympic heroes, both summer and winter. Perhaps the greatest of these was a man whose heroics extended far beyond the athletic arena and who came from Ohio, but made Chicago his home later in life.
~ by Rep. Steven Reick

Joseph Wallace, Gizzell “Gizzy” Ford, Ja’hir Gibbons, Semaj Crosby, A.J. Freund. What do they have in common? All of them were murdered and before their deaths all of them were the subjects of investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Now add to that list Kerrigan “Kerri” Rutherford, age 6 from Montgomery, Illinois. Her mother and stepfather have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with her July 2nd death, which Kendall County authorities allege was the result of the couple having given Kerri enough of a prescription drug, olanzapine, to kill her.
Illinois House and Senate Republicans Demand Meetings of Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform Resume Immediately. The Republican Legislative Delegation to Illinois’ Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform held a Zoom video press conference on Monday morning demanding that Ethics Commission chairs take steps to resume meetings immediately. The four Republican lawmakers serve as commission members.
In happier times, this week would have fallen right between two of Illinois’ premier late summer events: Springfield’s Illinois State Fair, and downstate’s DuQuoin State Fair; annual gatherings for fun, all-things-fried-and-on-a-stick, agricultural showcases and plenty of rides. With the cancellation this year’s state fairs, and so many county fairs, many Illinoisans are disappointed to miss out on the corn dogs, livestock shows and rides on the Ferris wheel.

Here in Illinois we have a special connection to the Ferris wheel, as it was invented by an Illinoisan and made its first public appearance at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
The Illinois Secretary of State announced that the expiration date for valid driver’s licenses held by Illinois drivers who are 75 years of age or older has been extended for a period of one year past the licenses’ current 2020 expiration date. As a result, drivers age 75 and older with a 2020 driver’s license expiration date do not need to visit a facility to renew their driver’s license until shortly before their birthday in 2021.

In this podcast episode of Leading Voices, Rep. Jeff Keicher talks about the need to implement reforms to end public corruption and instill integrity in state government.

Gov. James R. “Big Jim” Thompson, Illinois’ longest-serving governor, passes away at age 84. This week Illinois says goodbye to its 37th Governor, the history-making James R. Thompson. Illinois’ longest-serving governor, Thompson passed away last Friday at the age of 84.
This week Illinois says goodbye to its 37th Governor, the history-making James R. Thompson. Illinois’ longest-serving governor, Thompson passed away Friday at the age of 84.

Governor Thompson left a legacy as a builder and deal-maker. He won the biggest gubernatorial landslide in living memory as well as the closest nail-biter in Illinois history. Around the state, buildings and other projects stand today as monuments to the governorship of Jim Thompson.
In December of 2019, Rep. Tony McCombie filed House Joint Resolution 87 creating the State Ethics Task Force. HJR87 garnered bipartisan sponsorship but was never granted a hearing by House Speaker Michael Madigan who is now the subject of a Federal probe.

In this podcast episode, Rep. McCombie talks about what steps need to be taken to instill ethics reforms in the state and put an end to the corruption that affects every Illinoisan.

IDES has partnered with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) – Division of Banking and Division of Financial Institutions to work with financial institutions in detecting and combating unemployment fraud. The discovery of unemployment fraud can often be identified early on at the financial institutional level. Coordinating and engaging financial institutions as a resource has been a proven and successful approach in identifying fraudulent actors and detecting and recovering improper payments.
Governor’s new rule could be used to impose heavy fines on businesses that do not enforce face-covering requirement. The controversial new emergency rule was filed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on Friday, August 7, and went into effect immediately. The rule directs local health officials – police officers, health departments, and parallel offices – to send out written notices and warnings to businesses that allow employees or customers to violate the COVID-19 facial covering emergency public health orders. The written statements will issue strong advice to the recipient, and will state that failure to comply with the orders could result in the recipient being charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
In Henry, Illinois, a small town on the Illinois River a thousand miles from the nearest ocean, the local park includes a memorial which has as its centerpiece a submarine torpedo. The monument honors 374 officers and 3131 enlisted sailors who lost their lives aboard 52 American submarines during World War II. Perhaps the most prominent among them is Captain John Philip Cromwell, a Henry native who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after sacrificing his life aboard the submarine USS Sculpin in November 1943.
Pritzker’s emergency rule would impose criminal penalties on businesses that fail to enforce facemask requirement. Gov. Pritzker has ordered that all Illinois residents wear facemasks in indoor public spaces, as well as outdoor public spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained. Limited exceptions exist for persons who are indoors in places where facial coverings cannot be worn, such as restaurants and dentists’ offices.
Recent news stories have told of a coin shortage in some parts of the United States. As Americans have become reluctant to handle metal coins for fear of transmitting the coronavirus, coins have been filling up jars in homes around the country and not being recirculated.

Among the coins not making the rounds are the ubiquitous Lincoln penny. It has been estimated that there are as many as 22 billion Lincoln cents in existence today. It should come as no surprise that there would be such a large number of the coins, due in part to the small denomination of the penny. But there is also this: Lincoln pennies have been produced since 1909 when they became the first U.S. coin to depict an American President. The Lincoln penny is the oldest continuously-produced coin in the United States and is among the longest-running designs in the world.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin Calls for Madigan’s Immediate Resignation, New Vote for Speaker of the House. Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin released the following statement regarding the call for Speaker Madigan’s immediate resignation and has filed House Resolution 885 to remove Madigan from the position of Speaker of the House:

“The federal charges outlined in the ComEd prosecution highlight a scheme solely for the benefit of Speaker Madigan. These facts are a disgrace of the highest level to the citizens of Illinois and to the institution of which we serve, the Illinois House of Representatives.
Photo by Eric Douglas/Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 
As these hot summer months drag on, many Illinoisans might be thinking of cooler locales. Eighty-five years ago, an Illinoisan named Lincoln Ellsworth took this idea to the extreme when he and his co-pilot Herbert Hollick-Kenyon of Canada became the first men to complete a flight across Antarctica.

Lincoln Ellsworth was born into a wealthy Chicago family in 1880. His father was among the city’s leading businessmen and even built one of Chicago’s first skyscrapers. He grew up in the opulent surroundings common to the well-to-do of the Victorian era, including a Michigan Avenue home with a large library full of stories of explorers and adventurers. The young man soon discovered a hunger for adventure that extended beyond studying the exploits of others. Instead, he sought to explore those spots on the globe which had not yet been written about in his books.
No Room for Error in our Right to Free and Fair Elections
by State Representative Amy Grant, 42nd District

State government bureaucracy doesn’t have a great reputation for efficiency, but in recent months we’ve seen lapses in the administration of state government that are unacceptable. When it comes to our most basic rights, like the right to free and fair elections, there is no room for error.
The Governor announced new guidance restricting youth and adult recreational organized sports in Illinois. That includes school-based sports such as those governed by the IHSA and IES, travel clubs, private leagues, recreational leagues and sports centers and Park District sports programs. Restrictions issued today do not include professional sports leagues, or collegiate level sports. The new restrictions go into effect in mid-August.

The guidance was developed in coordination with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
House Republicans demand action on ethics reform. The past twelve months have seen several bombshell revelations about key leaders and former members of the Illinois General Assembly. In October 2019, longtime Chicago Representative Luis Arroyo was charged with conduct that involved political bribery. In January, former Senate Transportation Committee chairperson Martin Sandoval pleaded guilty to federal charges of bribery and tax fraud. Now in July, a federal grand jury subpoena is enforcing a look by law enforcement at the office papers of the Speaker of the House, Michael J. Madigan. 
Photo from Forest Citys Baseball. 
This weekend Major League Baseball will finally begin its coronavirus-delayed 2020 season. After cancelling more than half the season and the All-Star Game, baseball also lost its 2020 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which would have occurred this weekend in Cooperstown, New York. Instead, the ceremony will be postponed until the same weekend next year, when Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker will be inducted into the Hall.

They will join Illinois stars like Ernie Banks and Frank Thomas in the baseball shrine in the rolling hills of upstate New York. The Hall is located in this small, out-of-the-way community thanks to the efforts of two men who died long before its creation: Abner Doubleday, who is credited with inventing the game of baseball on a field near Cooperstown, and the Illinoisan Albert Goodwill Spalding who credited him with doing so.
Illinois State Representatives Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville), Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst), and Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) held a video press conference on Tuesday to demand Governor JB Pritzker call the General Assembly into special session to pass badly needed ethics reforms. The calls for reform came on the heels of news that House Speaker Michael Madigan is implicated in a deferred prosecution agreement unveiled Friday.
Michael J. Madigan is the longest-serving leader of any state legislative body in the history of the United States. He has served as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives for 35 of the last 37 years and has amassed enormous power in Illinois politics. As chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party and Speaker of the House of Representatives he unilaterally controls the agenda in Springfield. His influence has kept many people silent when they should have spoken out. That needs to change.
Total Reopening Nowhere in Sight
by State Representative Dan Brady, 105th District

We have now entered Phase 4 of Gov. Pritzker’s gradual reopening plan for our state, and the restored freedoms for our families and businesses are certainly needed now to get our communities well on the road to recovery.
James Cornish probably did not know he was about to play a role in the making of history when he arrived at Chicago’s Provident Hospital on July 10, 1893. Chances are he wasn’t much interested in what history books would say, suffering as he was from a severe stab wound to his chest. His life would be saved that day by a trailblazing physician performing a first-of-its-kind surgery.
It’s Time for Hearings, Audits, and Answers
by State Representative Avery Bourne, 95th District

It has been nearly 100 days and 40 Executive Orders since Governor Pritzker issued the first stay home order. The initial intention of the order – to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed – was a goal we all shared. Many sacrifices were made. All of this was done with the assurance that once we did our part to flatten the curve, we could slowly and safely reopen.
“Phase 4” in Illinois. With coronavirus case counts going up in many states, worries are spreading in Illinois. An upsurge in COVID-19 could force the State to retreat from its current “Phase 4” status, which has allowed the resumption of many Illinois activities such as nonessential retail store activity, socially distanced indoor dining, and swimming pool use.