Illinois has hosted more political party nominating conventions than any other state. From brokered conventions held during times of national turmoil, such as the Republican meeting at the Chicago Wigwam in 1860, to quiet times where the outcome was known long in advance, such as the Democrats’ gathering at the United Center in 1996, Illinois has seen all kinds of political gatherings.

The violence and chaos of the 1968 assembly is probably the most frequently recalled, but for sheer drama and fury, none match the raucous 1912 Republican convention which led to the formation of a new political party and an election with three different Presidents listed on the ballot.
Illinois House Republicans are asking for more transparency and open communications from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and the Pritzker administration on policy changes and communications regarding prison furloughs or inmates released early during the coronavirus pandemic.

State Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville), whose district includes correctional centers in Taylorville and Hillsboro, said inmates released into her district include high-level drug and meth dealers.
Gov. Pritzker modifies and extends Stay at Home Order through May. Governor JB Pritzker announced Thursday that he will sign a modified version of the state's stay at home order that will go into effect on May 1 to continue the life-saving progress made over the last month while also allowing residents additional flexibility in the safest way possible.

In conjunction with Thursday's announcement, the Governor released modeling put together by top academic institutions and researchers in Illinois that predicts the course of coronavirus in the state over the coming months. On our current trajectory, the state is projected to see a peak or plateau of deaths per day between late April and early May, but if the stay at home order were lifted this week, the model anticipates a second wave of the outbreak in Illinois starting in May, which would claim tens of thousands of lives and greatly exceed the state's hospital capacity.
A new modified Stay-at-Home order goes into effect on May 1 in Illinois. The new provisions include the following changes to the current order:

FACE COVERINGS: Beginning on May 1, individuals will be required to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance. Face-coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask.
Recovered Mail Bags from Rondout Train Robbery.
Photo from the Cook Memorial Public Library. 
Old westerns are filled with tales of masked bandits of the 19th-century robbing trains and stagecoaches as they traveled across the frontier. But it might surprise you to learn that the largest train robbery in American history didn’t happen in the 1800s, and it wasn’t in the old west. It happened here in Illinois in 1924.

Banks throughout the upper Midwest depended on the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to supply them with the cash they needed to operate. This cash was placed on heavily-guarded trains which then carried it to small towns and big cities across the northern plains. Such was the plan on June 12, 1924.
We are still learning about the coronavirus, but we know that it is zoonotic, and it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.

Recently two cats in New York have been reported to be diagnosed with the virus. Additionally, the CDC is aware of a very small number of pets, including dogs and cats, outside the United States reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after close contact with people with COVID-19. To date, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus to people.
Illinois House Republicans discussed an array of proposals and ideas on ways to safely re-open Illinois during the coronavirus pandemic. Some of these proposals include a safe, responsible re-opening of hospital systems, essential retail operations resuming online or curbside pick-up and the re-opening of state parks. State Rep. Mark Batinick has been a vocal advocate for increasing the use of personal protective equipment. With safety in mind, Batinick says it is time to revise current restrictions and make plans for a first-phase reopening of Illinois’ economy. 
Illinois schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Governor JB Pritzker announced Friday that in-person learning in schools will not resume during the 2019-2020 school year, with remote learning days to continue for all pre-k through 12th grade students.

"I've said time and time again, our decisions must follow the science and the science says our students can't go back to their normal routine this school year," said Governor Pritzker. "Over the last month, Illinois' schools have stepped up and faced the many challenges of COVID-19 with generosity, creativity, and a resolute focus on caring for students, parents and communities. I am confident that our schools will manage and expand the learning opportunities for all our children who will be working from home over the coming weeks."
COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown has caused economic hardship for many Illinoisans. If you are facing tough economic times please know you are not alone and there are programs out there to help. Below is a list of some of the programs available to help with utilities, mortgages and student loans.

Utility Providers
The IL Commerce Commission (ICC) ordered that each Illinois gas, electric distribution, water, and sewer utility shall design and implement on a temporary basis more flexible credit and collections procedures and file them for consideration and approval to ensure that customers remain connected to essential utility services when the emergency status ends.
Tales of gangsters abound throughout Illinois history. The stories of Al Capone, Bugs Moran, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and Chicago’s Beer Wars grabbed headlines during the Prohibition era, and have remained well known via movies and television shows for almost a century.

While Capone is by far the most famous of Illinois’ 20th-century gangsters, another Prohibition-era outlaw at the opposite end of the state named Charlie Birger made plenty of headlines himself until justice finally caught up with him and made him the last man to be convicted and publicly hanged in Illinois.
Legislators have been fielding hundreds of calls and emails from desperate and distraught Illinoisans who are frustrated with the inability to connect with the Department of Employment Security (IDES). Finding themselves unemployed overnight because of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Illinois residents thought they would be able to attain unemployment benefits but found IDES phone lines busy and a website that can't handle the traffic. There was no way to communicate with IDES so they turned to their lawmakers in an attempt to find someone to help as they struggle to pay for food, housing and medicine.
The Illinois Secretary of State’s office has filed emergency rules extending expiration dates for driver’s licenses, identification (ID) cards, vehicle registrations and other transactions and document filings for at least 90 days after Driver Services facilities reopen. The previous extension was for 30 days. This move will ensure driver’s licenses, ID cards and vehicle registrations remain valid during the COVID-19 pandemic and will help alleviate the rush of customers visiting Driver Services facilities once they reopen.
“Stay at Home” continues. Governor Pritzker renewed his call this week for Illinoisans to continue and intensify “social distancing” from each other, including avoiding all public gatherings and keeping even essential activities, such as shopping, to a minimum. The public appeal, made on Tuesday, April 7, came as both the number and the rate of COVID-19-related cases and deaths continued to increase throughout Illinois, particularly in the Chicago area. The Governor’s Stay at Home Order remains in effect through April 30.
Illinois has long been a destination for those seeking a better life. For thousands of years the rich farmland and agreeable climate drew Native Americans to the land between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. Pioneer settlers made their way west in search of new homes in the early years of the United States and southern African-Americans traveled north for new opportunities during the Great Migration of the early 20th century. They were just some of many.
The Illinois Conference of Women Legislators (COWL) is accepting scholarship applications to help eligible women attend college. 

COWL endeavors to support women of all income levels who have not had the opportunity to begin or complete higher education. Women 25 years of age or older, who are Illinois residents, with plans to attend an accredited school in Illinois are encouraged to apply.

The one-year undergraduate scholarship will cover tuition, books and fees up to $2,500 for the 2020-2021 academic year (Fall 2020 through Summer 2021). Up to ten scholarships will be awarded.

The online application must be submitted by midnight on Friday, May 1, 2020 to be considered. COWL will send notification to all scholarship awardees by Monday, June 1, 2020.

Please email COWL for more information.
Illinois State Museum Launches online tool to collect COVID-19 stories for future generations

The Illinois State Museum (ISM) announced a new collecting initiative that allows Illinois residents to share stories that reflect their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, for the benefit of future generations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a vital moment in history, and ISM wants to document how it is affecting Illinois residents through its Share your Story: Illinois in the COVID-19 Pandemic collecting initiative.

ISM is requesting personal stories, written works, artwork, photos, or photos of objects from the people of Illinois to document life during the pandemic. The Museum is collecting residents’ submissions for preservation in its digital archive via its new online tool. Additionally, ISM will share some of the stories and photos on its social media platforms and in its online exhibition.

Share your stories here.
From the Illinois Department of Revenue: If you scheduled an electronic payment for 2019 Illinois income taxes to be paid on or before April 15, 2020, your payment will NOT automatically be rescheduled to July 15, 2020. If you do nothing, the payment will be made on the date you chose. 

If the payment has not been processed, you may be able to cancel or reschedule it. You must cancel or reschedule the payment before its scheduled date.
Gov. Pritzker Announces Extension of Stay at Home Order, Suspension of On-Site Learning in Schools Through April. Building on the state's efforts to flatten the curve of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois and following careful consultation with experts in Illinois and across the nation, Governor JB Pritzker announced that he would sign a 30-day extension of the state's disaster proclamation on April 1. The disaster proclamation provides the governor the authority to sign additional executive orders, extending the Stay at Home order and suspending on-site learning in K-12 schools through the month of April. The April 30 reset date was included in the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-18.
From Illinois Department of Illinois Informational Bulletin: Changes to Estimated Payment Requirements due to COVID-19 Virus Outbreak

Due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic and the subsequent Emergency Declaration of Disaster by Governor JB Pritzker, the filing and payment deadline for income tax returns due April 15, 2020, was extended to July 15, 2020. As a result, a significant number of taxpayers will not be able to accurately calculate and pay their 2020 Illinois estimated income tax.
There is still time to complete the U.S. Census online.

Federal funding for Illinois health clinics, first responders, schools, roads and more all will be determined by how many people complete the census. While you are required by law to participate, the Census Bureau is also required by law to protect your answers. Please take a few minutes to make sure you are counted by taking the census online at
For over a century the Illinois primary has been a fixture on the early spring calendar every even-numbered year. In the recent past, presidential candidates Bill Clinton (1992) and Mitt Romney (2012) became their party’s presumptive nominees after winning in the Land of Lincoln. At the state level, the primary has opened the door for a large number of outsiders to shock the establishment and grab the nomination for office, with future Governor Dan Walker’s surprising primary win in 1972 perhaps the most enduring example.

The primary is such an engrained part of the political calendar that it is hard to imagine the process without it. But Illinois’ spring primary only came into being after a long fight; and many failures; at the start of the 20th century, helped along by the strong-willed 23rd Governor of Illinois, Charles Deneen.