Starting this week, Illinois courts may no longer hold hearings or operate a process that requires cash bail for criminal defendants.  Although 49 U.S. states continue to have a process in place that seeks to ensure the good behavior of criminal defendants prior to trial through the use of financial incentives, Illinois is no longer one of them.  Under a new law that went into effect on Monday, September 18, Illinois courts can no longer impose cash bail on defendants after a due-process hearing.  The Prairie State is the only one of the 50 states where the courts  no longer have pretrial powers falling into this category.

The web of alleged deceit, lies, and corruption tied to Illinois House Democrats has been well-chronicled in the last several years, with the latest example being the conviction of former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Chief of Staff Timothy Mapes on perjury and obstruction of justice charges in August. It was during that trial that another scandal was uncovered, as a top Democratic strategy firm was found to have been advising Madigan while at the same time providing support to the woman who accused one of his aides of sexual harassment and his inner circle of retaliation. 

Did you know southern Illinois is home to a cypress swamp? The nearly 15,000-acre Cache River State Natural Area in Johnson, Massac and Pulaski counties is composed of three distinct management units – Little Black Slough, Lower Cache River Swamps, and Glass Hill. These areas provide food, cover, and water for a vast array of plant and animal species, more than 100 of which that have been listed as endangered or threatened. The site offers a wide variety of recreation opportunities, including hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, and seasonal hunting programs. 

There is no sugarcoating the reality that Illinois’ public pensions are the worst-funded in the nation. State and local pension debt in Illinois now sits at $211 billion, with both debt to GDP (21 percent) and funding ratios (50.8 percent) the worst in the nation, according to a report by Equable Institute. The top five states in the nation with unfunded liabilities have a shortfall of $787 billion, just slightly larger than the rest of the country combined ($778 billion). More than one-third of national unfunded liabilities are in California and Illinois combined. 

Genome editing, also called gene editing, is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA. These technologies allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome. Ever since scientists realized that changes in DNA cause cancer, they have been searching for an easy way to correct those changes by manipulating DNA. 

Only two horse racing tracks remain in Illinois, one in western Chicago in Stickney and the other in the Metro East in Collinsville. Three horse racing tracks have closed within the last eight years in Illinois, including Arlington Park, Balmoral Park, and Maywood Park, all in the Chicagoland area. 

The horse racing industry decline can be attributed to fewer equines being bred on downstate farms, and many breeders and trainers have left to race in other states. A long-anticipated ‘racino’ project at Hawthorne Racecourse in Chicago remains stalled amid financing woes.  Horse racing tracks have been facing increasing competition from casinos and the explosion of sportsbooks and other forms of gambling in Illinois in recent years. 


Worsening structural budget deficit could reach $1.9 billion/year by 2026. This would be approximately $700 per year for each Chicago resident. The grim budget projection is based on data generated by chronically challenged functions of the city and its government, including law enforcement, public-sector pensions, and the cost of housing and providing care to non-legal residents. In FY24 alone, the immediate budget deficit facing Chicagoans in the spending cycle that has already begun is $538 million.
In sharp contrast to budget projections generated by outsiders, the $1.9 billion-a-year worst case scenario came from the office of newly elected Mayor Brandon Johnson. It was developed with access to the city’s own budget books and cost trends, including cost trends for public-sector pensions and other historically underfunded city budget line items. Tax rates in Chicago are already among the highest in the U.S. When a Chicago purchaser buys non-grocery goods within city limits, the sales tax is above 10%.

Total consumer debt increased by seven percent from 2021-2022, rising from $15.31 trillion to $16.38 trillion. Auto loans, credit cards, mortgages and personal loans saw the largest increases on a percentage basis. Personal loans increased by 18 percent, and credit card balances grew by 16 percent. Consumer demand for auto loans was abundant, with cars selling for more than their manufacturer’s sticker price. Average car sale prices rose by 9.4 percent from September 2021-2022. 

Well-designed parks and trails are valued parts of the environment. They can promote physical activity and community engagement while providing environmental and mental health benefits. Parks can also help reduce stress. In addition, an important interaction between parks and health is through physical activity, which in turn can improve health outcomes. 

Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) passed his first bill back in 2017, and it involved a bipartisan measure to allow volunteer work to be performed at Illinois State Parks.

Missing out on a family wedding or having to reschedule a Christmas dinner is nothing new for Rep. Dan Swanson (R-Alpha), a fifth-generation family farmer in rural Henry County. And whether it’s service to his family farm, service to his community or service to his country, Swanson has always answered the call.

“There’s nothing 8 to 4:30 about farming,” Swanson stated. “There’s something about waking up and smelling the newly turned soil or getting down in there, putting in a long day and coming home to a good pork chop supper that’s something special.”

There have been many dark days in the history of the United States, with one of the worst being the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The four coordinated Islamist suicide terrorist missions killed nearly 3,000 people and injured thousands of others. The attacks forever changed how American leaders shaped and implemented security procedures in all areas of the country going forward. 


General Assembly budget watchdog reports on declining State income tax revenues. The report summarized revenue trends observed by the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) in August 2024. During this 31-day period, total Illinois income tax revenues declined $61 million from the revenues enjoyed in August 2023. The decline was $38 million in personal income tax payments (payments made by individuals and individual-equivalent taxpayers, such as trusts and estates) and $23 million in corporate income taxes. The August 2023 numbers were reported to the General Assembly by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget monitor office.

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association hosts a yearly contest called ‘Makers Madness,’ which involves a bracket-style tournament in which the public decides what product earns that year’s title of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois. The fourth annual Makers Madness event was held earlier this year in February and March. The competition celebrates the incredible work of manufacturers across Illinois. Nearly 250 unique products from every corner of the state were nominated for this year’s contest, with submissions ranging from agriculture equipment to COVID testing supplies to sweet treats and a variety of vehicles.  The contest celebrates the diversity and strength of Illinois’ manufacturing industry. Qualifying products must be made in Illinois.

The United States and China have one of the world’s most important and complex bilateral relationships. Since 1949, the countries have experienced periods of both tension and cooperation over issues such as trade, climate change and Taiwan. One of the most recent examples was earlier this year, when a Chinese-operated ‘spy balloon’ flew across the United States. U.S. officials claimed the balloon was spying on sensitive military sites, while China claimed the balloon was a civilian weather monitoring craft that had accidentally veered into U.S. air space. The Biden administration ordered the Air Force to shoot down the balloon only after the balloon reached the Atlantic Ocean off the southeast coast. 

Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County is integral to the economic growth and development of southwestern Illinois and the St. Louis metro region. Scott AFB is the largest employer in SW Illinois, and the fourth largest in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Scott AFB boasts an active working force of 13,000, with nearly 50,000 retirees and family members living in a four-state area. 

Labor Day officially became a federal holiday in 1894, and it is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. While Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers and was created by the federal labor movement, it also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans and includes a three-day weekend celebrated with parties, parades, and athletic events. 


Meteorologists’ count indicate Illinois could be No. 1 state for tornadoes so far this year. The funnel clouds often form in conjunction with derechos, squall lines, and other powerful low-pressure weather fronts. Pre-existing hot, humid weather can encourage the formation of the potentially deadly storms by creating conditions in which colder and warmer air masses are violently colliding with each other.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 every year. The Atlantic basin includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Based on a 30-year climate period from 1991-2020, an average Atlantic hurricane season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. The first named storm typically forms in mid to late June, the first hurricane tends to form in early to mid-August, and the first major hurricane forms in late August or early September. 

Whether you call it soda or pop, Illinois boasts a number of unique soft drinks. The most popular of those brands include Green River, RC Cola, Ski and Dog n Suds root beer. Soft drink production dates back to over a century ago in Illinois. These signature soft drinks have been produced in the Chicago, Champaign, and in the southern Illinois community of Breese in Clinton County.

Illinois House Republican Reps. Jennifer Sanalitro
(R-Bloomingdale) and Jason R. Bunting (R-Emington) recently delivered for kids in their districts by hosting School Supply Drives. Donations of various school supply items were dropped off at their district offices and were distributed to area schools for children in need of assistance.

“I hosted this Back to School Supply Drive to help the students and families in our district that might need a little extra help this back to school season,” Rep. Sanalitro stated. “Getting ready to go back to school can be one of the more stressful times for a family. Having to buy new clothes, shoes, and other supplies can become expensive very quickly, especially since inflation has dramatically increased costs.”

High school sports are a staple of life in Illinois, providing thousands of children and teenagers the opportunities to compete, learn life lessons, and have fun outside of the normal classroom routine. Extra-curricular activities are a vital part of the overall educational experience. Many communities are defined by their schools, and mascot names can be derived from local history or culture. When it comes to mascot names, Illinois school districts show off their creative identities in many ways, and there are over 150 unique names.

Mike Marron, a fifth-generation family farmer, has devoted his life to public service through several avenues. The Fithian native charted a diverse and unique path to Springfield, where he has served with the Illinois House Republicans since 2018. Rep. Marron’s vast life experiences include a passion for rodeo, which he developed during his high school years and continues to this day.


Tim Mapes, key aide to former Speaker Madigan, convicted in federal court. The former chief of staff to the office of the Speaker was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. The charges were related to false answers that Mapes voiced to a federal grand jury when he was being questioned under oath. The false answers were closely related to a parallel criminal inquiry mounted by federal investigators against Mapes’ former boss, Chicago’s Michael J. Madigan.

Periods of warm, dry, and windy weather can lead to the dangers of wildfires burning in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) urges Illinois residents to become more vigilant and educated on wildfire safety so that incidents of fires can be prevented. In the last decade there have been instances of large fires at state park properties. 

The origins of high school football in Illinois date back to the 1880s. Some of the state’s most tradition-rich programs originated before 1900, including schools such as Oak Park, East Aurora, Freeport, Woodstock, Joliet, West Aurora, Pontiac, Pittsfield, and East St. Louis. Many of the greatest legends in the history of the sport played high school football in Illinois, including Red Grange, Otto Graham, Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, and Kellen Winslow, to name a few. 

Commercial cargo can be transported locally and around the world through several different methods, including by roadways, air, water and railroad tracks. Most of these transportation methods can be defined by truck or tractor trailer, airplane, barge and train.

Illinois is second in the nation in both rail freight loaded and rail freight received per year. Chicago has been the busiest rail center in the country for the past 125 years, and roughly 25 percent of all U.S. freight traffic either passes through or ends in the Chicago area. Illinois loads over 125 million tons of freight each year while receiving 107 million tons. Wyoming loads the most freight at over 270 million tons, and Texas receives the most at over 200. 

Jeppson’s Malört, a bitter liqueur that has become a cultural icon in Chicago for the past decade, is the creation of Swedish immigrant Carl Jeppson. During Prohibition in the 1920s, Jeppson began distilling Malört in Chicago. It was initially marketed as a medicinal tonic, but Malört soon gained a reputation for its unique flavor and became a popular after-dinner drink. 

Manufacturing giant Boeing is expanding its aerospace footprint in St. Clair County, with a 300,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility expected to be completed in early 2024. The facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah will bring up to 300 advanced manufacturing jobs to the Metro East area. Aircraft production is projected to begin in the start of FY ’24, and Boeing is investing $200 million into the project. 

“Boeing’s commitment to bring hundreds of high paying manufacturing jobs to St. Clair County is a huge shot in the arm for our local economy,” stated Rep. Kevin Schmidt (R-Cahokia Heights). “These are the types of investments we continue to work to bring in to our state and the Metro East area.”

With sky-high inflation still impacting hard-working Illinois families and the new school year set to begin, it’s important to consider ways to save money. Food prices, gasoline costs, interest rates, rent and almost all living expenses continue to rise, and with little end in sight. Saving money in the current economic climate may not be easy, but there are tips and strategies that can be utilized to help families. 

In January of 2023, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) was faced with a lawsuit accusing the agency of mistreating children in their care by having them sent to juvenile detention facilities. Sadly, these allegations are not the first leveled against the agency tasked with protecting foster children.

House Republicans have been leading the fight to reform this agency and to offer the necessary support to foster children and families for years. With the beginning of the 103rd General Assembly, House Republican Leader Tony McCombie rededicated caucus efforts to the work that needed to be done to protect children.

Youth apprenticeships provide multiple career pathway opportunities for high school students in Illinois. Students enrolled in these programs have the opportunity to enter the workforce upon graduation, or they could enroll in college and continue their education.

Apprenticeships involve a work-based learning model, commonly referred to as a ‘learn and earn’ model, where on-the-job training is combined with relevant classroom instruction. The apprentice acquires new skills and applies them on the job while under supervision. Upon completion of the program, the apprentice receives an industry-recognized credential. 

Illinois is home to an abundance of natural resources, particularly vast agricultural land, clean water and over 200 billion tons of coal. Natural resources are used to make food, fuel and raw materials for the production of goods, and they also provide heat, light and power. Humans could not live without these resources, which are needed to survive and thrive.

Budgeting processes differ in every state in the U.S. In Nebraska, for example, the House legislative leadership is non-partisan and not based on party affiliation. In the 49 other states this year, 30 budgets were passed in partisan fashion, while 19 received bipartisan support. Of the partisan budgets, there was an even split of 15 Democrat-led states and 15 Republican-led states. And of the bipartisan budgets that were passed, 15 of the 19 were in GOP-led Houses.


July 2023 State of Illinois revenues dropped significantly from moneys taken in one year earlier.  The decline affected the State’s fiscal standing as it completed the first month of fiscal year 2024 (FY24).  The news was reported to the General Assembly by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the nonpartisan spreadsheet watchdog office of the Illinois House and Senate.  While Illinois took in $3,594 million in general funds revenues in July 2022, in July 2023 this intake dropped to $3,406 million, a decline of $188 million.

Panhandling is currently legal in Illinois, with a ruling by a federal district court judge in Chicago in January 2021 striking down the law on the books that had prohibited panhandling in public streets and medians. That ruling came six years after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling made it clear that most laws targeting panhandlers are unconstitutional. Since that Supreme Court decision in Reed vs. Town of Gilbert, a number of panhandling ordinances across the nation have been repealed or struck down by courts.

The rise of the electric vehicle industry has prompted at least eight automakers to discontinue installing AM radio equipment in new EVs. The biggest reason for this trend is the fact that electric motors cause interference with radio frequencies, leading to unwanted noises and poor reception. BMW first stopped installing AM radios in its electric vehicles in 2014, and Tesla followed in 2018. Ford, Mazda, Volkswagen and Volvo are other examples.
The legend of the Big Muddy Monster began 50 years ago and locals are now embracing its heritage in the southern Illinois community of Murphysboro. Residents reported multiple sightings of a large ‘big foot’ type creature near the Big Muddy River, and there are several police reports documenting what people observed from back in June 1973. The story became national news, with a report in the New York Times and letters pouring into the police department from interested children and adults all across the world. The case files also include artist sketches of the monster and descriptions from eyewitnesses.

Bison once roared some 30 million strong in the Great Plains region and also in Illinois. As the continent’s largest land mammal, bison were crucial in shaping the prairie ecosystem. However, bison nearly vanished in the late 1800s. In Illinois, overhunting and habitat destruction eliminated the bison population, with the last recorded bison being killed in 1837 near Troy Grove. By 1900, most of Illinois’ prairies had been converted to crop agriculture. 

The professional licensure system in Illinois is antiquated and outdated, and as a result industry professionals from nurses to barbers to roofers can experience wait periods of three to nine months to begin working. The system, which has a never-ending backlog, has not been upgraded since 1999. Republican lawmakers have fought for the General Assembly to pass needed legislation with funding increases, but the status quo remains. At least 40 different professions require state licensure to work in Illinois, and these lengthy delays leave people out of work and the state leaving taxable income on the table. And in many cases, professionals in seasonal and outdoor industries can miss out on an entire year of income waiting out the current licensing system.

An Illinois-based low carbon feed and fuel production plant has partnered with an Illinois-based aviation fuel technology provider and producer to revolutionize the jet fuel-making process. In February 2022, Marquis Sustainable Aviation Fuels, LLC joined forces with LanzaJet to construct an integrated sustainable fuels plant at the 3,300-acre Marquis Industrial Complex in Hennepin in Putnam County.

Bed bugs are small, oval, brown insects that feed on the blood of animals and humans. Adult bed bugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, they swell and turn a reddish color. Bed bugs’ flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card, which means they can get just about anywhere. They tend to live in groups in hiding places and can move quickly over floors, walls and ceilings. 

With at least 165 wineries and over 100 miles of wine trails, the wine industry in Illinois is thriving and the growth has been exponential in the last 30 years. Illinois is now the 12th-largest wine producing state in the country, which is remarkable considering there were only 12 wineries in the entire state in 1997. Award winning wines in Illinois are made from Native American, French Hybrid and Vinifera grapes, as well as a local fruit. Rose wine is the official wine of Illinois. 

Audit finds Illinois paid out $5.2 billion in fraudulent or excessive unemployment “overpayments” during COVID-19. An audit report released this week by the Illinois Auditor General revealed that the State of Illinois paid out more than $5.2 billion in fraudulent or excessive unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic, including $46 million in payments to incarcerated or deceased persons.

This summer the Illinois House Republican Caucus welcomed more than 40 high school and college students from around the state to participate in Leader Tony McCombie’s paid internship program. 

Interns were assigned to legislative district offices and other divisions within the Office of the House Minority Leader where they gained valuable insight into the day-to day operations of legislative offices as well as the responsibilities of legislators and their support staff.

House Republicans Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) and Jennifer Sanalitro (R-Hanover Park) have led the charge to address diaper shortages for families in need in their respective communities by hosting Diaper Drives. Spain has hosted a Holiday Diaper Drive for six consecutive years in the Peoria area, while Sanalitro just hosted her first Diaper Drive from April 14-May 12, with six drop-off locations in the Carol Stream, Bloomingdale and Itasca areas.

Home delivery of alcohol in Illinois is here to stay, as the cocktails-to-go law has been extended for five years through August 1, 2028. Illinois restaurants and bars first began selling cocktails to-go in June 2020, three months after Gov. Pritzker used his emergency powers to order all food and drink establishments to close. The mixed drinks to-go policy was necessary to keep struggling businesses afloat, advocates said.

Shark Week is being celebrated July 23 -30, and it involves a week of shark-based programming on the Discovery Channel. A study conducted and published in the Marine and Fishery Sciences confirms two known sightings of sharks in Illinois, the first in 1937 and the second in 1995. Researchers and experts have also confirmed that stories of bull shark sightings in the Great Lakes as hearsay or hoaxes.

Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Elimination of Cash Bail. The Illinois Supreme Court has announced its opinion on the Pretrial Fairness portion of the SAFE-T Act, and by a 5-2 decision, they have ruled it as constitutional. This strikes down a lower court ruling in December 2022 which found that the portions of the SAFE-T Act that abolished cash bail were unconstitutional. Thus, the elimination of cash bail is now set to go into effect on September 18, 2023 in Illinois. Illinois becomes the first state in the U.S. to totally eliminate cash bail, and it comes at a time when crime in the state remains at the top of the nation.

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced its opinion on the Pretrial Fairness portion of the SAFE-T Act, and by a 5-2 decision, they have ruled it as constitutional. This strikes down a lower court ruling in December 2022 which found that the portions of the SAFE-T Act that abolished cash bail were unconstitutional. Thus, the elimination of cash bail is now set to go into effect September 18, 2023 in Illinois.  Illinois becomes the first state in the U.S. to totally eliminate cash bail, and it comes at a time when crime in the state remains at the top of the nation.

A report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau puts Illinois at the top of a dubious list. Illinois had the largest increase in vehicle thefts in any state in 2022, with a 35 percent increase from 2021. In overall car thefts, Illinois is fifth on the list for 2022 with 38,649 thefts, behind only California (202,685), Texas (105,015), Washington (46,939) and Florida (45,973). The theft rate in Chicago is even higher, with automobile thefts increasing 73 percent in the last 12 months compared to the average of the last three years from January 2017 to May 2023.