The celebration of Halloween has been around for more than a thousand years. Originally a religious observance, today Halloween is considered a holiday for dress-up and fun, especially for children. By 1950, trick-or-treating for candy had become one of Halloween’s most popular activities. Halloween is observed on October 31, and it is one of the biggest holidays for candy sales in the United States, estimated to be more than $3 billion according to the National Retail Federation. 

Illinois is home to 35 Fortune 500 companies’ headquarters, which ranks fourth overall in the U.S. Most of the companies are located in the Chicagoland area, with the exceptions being Deere in Moline and State Farm Insurance in Bloomington. Overall, the numbers are shrinking, as Citadel, Boeing, and Caterpillar have relocated to other states in recent years. In addition, McDonald’s, which has been in Chicago since the 1950s, could be on the move.  Many other states boast lower property taxes than Illinois. Texas, where Caterpillar is headed, has no state income tax.


The first week of Veto Session concludes in the Illinois House. After the first week of veto session in the Illinois House concluded Wednesday afternoon, there are still a number of priorities that House Republicans are looking ahead to solve in the coming weeks. One of those, is addressing Senate Bill 76, which was vetoed by the Governor this summer. The bill would lift the 36-year ban on new nuclear energy construction permits.

More than 1,000 federal COVID-19 relief loans for struggling businesses went to city of Chicago employees. And while the city’s Inspector General said in a recent report that some of the loans had been obtained legitimately, a substantial number of the identified loans have indicators of potential fraud. 

Chicago City Hall Inspector General Deborah Witzburg said her office examined more than 350,000 federal COVID-19 loans approved in the Chicago area. Of those, she found more than 1,000 loans that city employees got from the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Disciplinary proceedings have started against a Streets and Sanitation Department worker who allegedly falsified tax records and reported fake business income for a hair salon.

For 150 years through five generations, Vaughan and Bushnell Manufacturing Company has been hand-making high-quality hammers and hand tools in Illinois.  Founded in Peoria and now located in Bushnell in McDonough County, Vaughan has been committed to producing hand tools that proudly state, ‘Made in the USA.’ Many of what are now accepted as basic hammer designs, from the distinctive curve of the claw to the set of the handle and the shape of the head, were introduced by Vaughan. 

Due to the TRUST Act, which was enacted in 2017, Illinois has become a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants. Law enforcement agencies are prohibited from cooperating with federal immigration authorities to detain or deport these individuals. 

The crisis at the southern border can no longer be ignored. In September alone, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended more than 200,000 migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully. 

Ghosts of the Library,” presented by AT&T, is a high-tech immersive exhibition at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in downtown Springfield. The purpose for this exhibition, which debuted in 2005 when the museum opened, was to explain to the audience what goes on in a presidential library. 

In Ghosts of the Library, the public walks into a theater and is greeted by a live actor who shares information about strategically placed artifacts in the museum. As the actor continues to talk, ghostly holographic images appear out of smoke and help to explain and capture the audience’s attention. An example would be an actor reading the Gettysburg Address as an image of Abraham Lincoln appears and finishes the reading. 

Illinois may be home to the third largest city in the U.S., but along with Chicago are nearly 1,500 other municipalities. More than half, or 763 towns, have fewer than 1,000 residents. The two smallest towns in Illinois are Valley City and Burton, each with a listed population of 13. Over 1,100 Illinois towns have a population less than 5,000 people. 

The controversial abolishment of cash bail in Illinois is having far-reaching affects already, with the majority of Illinois’ 102 counties facing disparate resource challenges. By law (which hasn’t been updated since 1949), only counties with 35,000 or more residents are required to set up offices of public defender in Illinois. And those are not required to be full time. 

More than half of Illinois’ counties do not have full-time public defenders. In August, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an order allowing pretrial hearings to take place remotely for six months. Without this ability to use technology for pretrial hearings, many small counties would not be able to comply with the Pretrial Fairness Act’s requirement that arrestees appear in front of a judge within 48 hours. 

Illinois General Assembly to convene for fall veto session. The first of two weeks of the General Assembly’s fall veto session will begin on Tuesday, October 24.Lawmakers will consider not only Governor Pritzker’s vetoes of bills enacted in the spring session, but also new legislative business. As completely new legislation must be approved by a supermajority vote during veto session, minority Republicans could have a voice in any new legislation that moves forward.

A federal judge ruled on October 11 that corrupt businessman James T. Weiss will serve 5 ½ years behind bars for bribing two Illinois Democratic lawmakers and lying to the FBI. Weiss was found guilty during a federal trial that wrapped up in June.

In handing down the sentencing at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago, U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger didn’t mince words. Judge Seeger called corruption “an embarrassment to the great city of Chicago,” and added, “Mr. Weiss, you added another star to Chicago’s walk of shame on the sidewalk of corruption.”

Illinois Republican Everett McKinley Dirksen had a long and storied career as both a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Dirksen was first elected to U.S. House in 1933 and served 16 years representing central Illinois. Dirksen then won election to the U.S. Senate in 1950, where he served until his death at age 73 in 1969. Senator Dirksen rose through the leadership ranks of the Republican Party, eventually serving as Minority Leader from 1959-69. 

Chicago’s Chess Records is not just a record label, it’s an iconic institution that shaped the course of American music. Chess Records, which rose to national prominence at the height of the blues revolution in the 1950s, propelled music forward and immortalized a generation. 

More than anywhere else in the world, Chess Records in Chicago was famous for popularizing the blues and helping introduce it to the mass market – both domestically and overseas. This introduction, according to many in the music industry, literally changed the course of music history. 

Fall seasonal beers drive sales and growth for retailers, and next to Oktoberfest releases, pumpkin beers are still the most popular of fall flavors. Every October, the spike in interest for pumpkin beers has increased. According to one organization that tracks trends and online communication, social conversations about pumpkin beer were up nearly 70 percent last year. 

In Illinois, the Pumpkin Smasher beer from Big Muddy Brewing Company in Murphysboro is among the most popular and best rated. Pumpkin Smasher is brewed using real pumpkins and pumpkin spices giving hints of natural cinnamon and nutmeg. 

According to research by Magnum Economics, data center incentives in Illinois have rejuvenated the Chicago-area cloud ecosystem, helping the state attract more than $4.2 billion in new investment. The incentives helped Illinois attract 13 data center projects, which have created more than 8,000 jobs for construction workers. Newly announced projects are poised to bring an additional $4.3 billion in investment into the Greater Chicago market, which includes clusters of data centers downtown and in the suburbs near O’Hare Airport. 

The deadly and malicious surprise assault on Israel by the terrorist group Hamas has resulted in the death of over 1,200 Israelis and that number continues to rise as the war rages on. Many of the deceased include innocent men, women, and children, and hundreds more reportedly have been taken as captives or hostages. The U.S. State Department, as of October 12, has confirmed the deaths of at least 27 U.S. citizens, and 17 Americans remain unaccounted for. More than 100 Israelis are estimated to be held hostage in Gaza. 


House Republicans speak out against atrocities in Israel. On Saturday, October 7, Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, launched a brutal terrorist attack upon the civilians of the Republic of Israel. This cross-border assault included thousands of rockets fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into Israel and numerous terrorist incursions into the streets and homes of Israeli civilians.

Illinois became the first state in the country to eliminate cash bail as a condition of pre-trial release on September 18. So far, the results have been mixed and there has been a strain on local resources in Illinois’ 102 counties.

McHenry County’s top prosecutor used the words ‘absurd’ and ‘incoherent’ to describe what he witnessed in court on the day the no cash bail law took effect. State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally offered two examples of people he would like to have seen in jail, pending trial, but instead were freed because judges had no choice. The cases involved a man who had an extensive criminal record, including prison time, and was charged for allegedly trying to break the door of his ex-girlfriend’s house. The other case involved a man arrested for a second DUI who should have been detained since he posed a threat to the public. 

A rich black soil additive that is made out of food waste is referred to as ‘black gold. And this black gold improves soil health dramatically, making a positive impact on small home gardens or large community gardens. The process for creating black gold involves composting, which is the biological decomposition of organic matter. Composting occurs naturally, but the process can be accelerated, and it is an economically-friendly method to improve the performance of gardens of all sizes.

Lincoln College in Logan County closed its doors for good after 157 years in operation in 2022, becoming the first U.S. institution of higher learning to shut down in part due to a ransomware attack. The school was named after President Abraham Lincoln and broke ground on his birthday in 1865. It was one of only a handful of rural American colleges that qualified as predominantly Black institutions by the Department of Education.

On Saturday, October 7th, Hamas executed an unprecedented surprise assault on Israel. Thousands of rockets were launched into Israel bombing civilian locations, killing hundreds and wounding thousands of innocent people. At the same time Hamas terrorists invaded Israeli communities, kidnapping approximately 150 civilians including women, children and the elderly. Hamas has threatened to execute the hostages if Israel continues its retaliatory airstrikes in Hamas-held Gaza. 

The Illinois House Republican Caucus strongly condemns the violence in the Middle East and stands with Israel as it defends itself against the heinous acts of violence carried out by Hamas terrorists.  We support and pray for the safety of U.S. troops heading to the eastern Mediterranean to lend assistance to Israel, for the people of Israel and for peace in the region.

The share of adults in America who reported doing at least ‘okay’ financially fell sharply in 2022 and was among the lowest observed since 2016. At the end of 2022, 39 percent of adults stated they were ‘doing okay,’ and 34 percent said they were ‘living comfortably,’ meaning that 73 percent are doing okay or better and only one-third of Americans are ‘living comfortably.’ The ‘doing okay’ financially figure was 78 percent in October 2021 and 75 percent in October 2020. The last time the number was 70 percent or less was October 2016 (70 percent). 

Christopher Columbus has been honored for centuries in the United States, with many states, including Illinois, celebrating Columbus Day on the second Monday of October each year. The U.S. is home to 149 monuments dedicated to Columbus. And while Columbus technically did not discover the ‘new world,’ since millions of people already lived in modern-day America, his journeys marked the beginning of centuries of exploration and colonization of North and South America. \

Hundreds of state employees in Illinois have allegedly committed fraud by improperly obtaining federal pandemic business relief loans. So far, the State Inspector General’s Office has referred 177 cases to law enforcement, with an investigation that began last year focusing on loans of $20,000 or more from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. 

The insurance marketplace in Illinois has traditionally been one of the most competitive in the country, and chances are good that the average Illinois resident is paying lower monthly premiums for most types of insurance than the national averages. There are a number of personal factors, including age, involved in determining insurance premiums and rates, but there are also factors such as population density, weather conditions, crime statistics, and claim data where an individual resides. 

Mycelium is a root-like structure of a fungus consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. In most fungi, hyphae are the main mode of vegetative growth, and are collectively called a mycelium. Mycelia often grow underground but can also thrive in other places such as rotting tree trunks. A single spore can develop into a mycelium. Mycelium is usually hidden from sight underneath soil or rotting logs.

The Mazon Creek Fossil Bed in Grundy County is one of the country’s most pristine fossil caches, located in a shale deposit that was once a tropical river system nearly 300 million years ago. Mazon Creek is distinguished from other fossil beds in the area for its serendipitously perfect conditions, allowing for many rare soft-tissued plants and animals to be preserved in the sediment. 

Illinois is a state where citizens can rack up tickets and fines in certain urban areas, mostly around Chicago. Those fines come from parking tickets, tollway charges, or red-light camera tickets.

A parking ticket is issued for a traffic violation and the ticket is issued to the owner of the vehicle. As the registered owner of a vehicle, citizens have the right to contest the issuance of a parking ticket. Citizens have seven days from the date of the ticket issuance to contest it, and if neither a contest nor payment is received, a second Notice of Violation is mailed allowing 21 days to request a hearing. If there is still no response, a notice will be mailed that the person has been found liable by default. The citizen now has 21 days to appear in person, and once that time period has passed, any ability to contest or appeal has expired. After 25 days, a final determination is mailed that all options to challenge the ticket have been forfeited. A late payment penalty will be assessed.