Horseradish is a spicy root vegetable commonly made into a pre-packaged sauce. The strong, biting flavor of horseradish sauce adds a kick to any dish, and it is an important ingredient for shrimp cocktail sauce. In Illinois, this specialty crop is mainly grown in the American Bottom areas in St. Clair, Madison, and Monroe counties, with Collinsville serving as the hub location. With more than 60 percent of the world’s horseradish supply grown in this area, Collinsville is known as ‘The Horseradish Capital of the World.’ 

The year 2023 saw stadiums, arenas, parks, bars, and all concert venues in between packed throughout Chicagoland and Illinois. While other entertainment sectors may be struggling to fill seats to the level they did before the pandemic, there was no such issue for concert venues in Illinois in 2023. The list of marquee acts to hit the stage was impressive, including Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran breaking records at Soldier Field. 

Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25 and is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. December 25 has been a federal holiday in the U.S. since 1870. Christmas traditions include gift exchanges, decorating Christmas trees, attending church services, sharing meals with family and friends, and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. 


Meet our newest legislators. This week the House Republican Caucus welcomed Nicole La Ha and Brandun Schweizer to its ranks. The two new legislators were appointed to fill vacancies created with the retirements of State Representatives Michael Marron and John Egofske.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa Claus’ progress in delivering Christmas presents to children since 1955. NORAD, which is responsible for protecting the skies over the United States and Canada, activates its tracking system at 6 a.m. Eastern Time each year on Christmas Eve.

This week the House Republican Caucus welcomed Nicole La Ha and Brandun Schweizer to its ranks. The two new legislators were appointed to fill vacancies created with the retirements of State Representatives Michael Marron and John Egofske.

On Wednesday, Nicole La Ha took the oath of office to become State Representative of the 82nd District, which includes the communities of Willowbrook, Burr Ridge, Willow Springs, Darien, Western Springs, Homer Glen, and Lemont.

Tamales have been a staple in Mexican culture for centuries, dating back to the times of the Aztecs, Mayans, and Olmecs. Tamales are regarded as a sacred food for the gods and eaten on special occasions, including holidays. Eating tamales during Christmas time is a deep-rooted tradition for many Mexican families, and that tradition has become a part of the culture in other areas of the world as well. 

In 2024, Illinoisans will see more than 300 new laws take effect. Here are few notable new laws:

Rep. Meier - Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Awareness 
Public Act 103-119, House Bill 1156
Increases awareness of a free service by requiring long-term care facilities to post prominently on their website information about the free Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

Rep. Windhorst - Admissibility of Medical Records in Juvenile Court Hearings 
Public Act 103-124, House Bill 1434
Changes the Juvenile Court Act to allow the admissibility of certified hospital or public or private agency records in adjudicatory hearings on abused, neglected, or dependent minors.

In the post-pandemic era that includes ultra-high inflation and exorbitant interest rates, Americans are spending more than ever for the convenience of having groceries, meals and household items delivered to their homes. The average delivery service customer is spending over $400 a month in 2023, up from $157 a month in 2021 according to a recent survey from LendingTree. 

In less than three years, the United States will commemorate its 250th birthday, or Semiquincentennial, celebration. The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, with the nation’s 250th birthday officially being recognized on July 4, 2026. The journey toward this historic milestone is an opportunity to pause and reflect on our nation’s past, honor the contributions of all Americans, and look ahead toward the future for the next generation and beyond. 

Christmas time is a time to unwind, enjoy the company of friends and family, cherish gift giving, and partake in traditions, both new and old. For some, Christmas traditions remain orthodox, and others offer quite a twist. From eating a holiday delicacy, to watching a beloved Christmas film, to driving around the town looking at decorations and lights, all traditions are a special time for bonding and reflection of the year. Considering the holiday season, some members of the House Republican Caucus have shared a few of their favorite Christmas traditions.

Bipartisan nuclear power plant bill signed into law. The new Public Act 103-584 applies to small modular reactors which, by scale design, cannot generate enough heat to breach containment. Advocates say that small modular reactor technology are one class of devices that point the way towards a future for Illinois’ energy supply, particularly as Illinois’ coal-fired and natural-gas-powered generating plants move through their operating life cycles.

As the holiday season begins to unfold, towns and communities across the state compete to put on the best holiday celebrations. Cities and towns fully embrace the Christmas season and continue to foster the magic of Christmas through various events allowing community members to gather during the month of December.

In northwest Illinois, the city of Galena ranks first among Christmas towns in Illinois. Galena encompasses the Christmas season and spirit through its packed event calendar, from a model train show to breakfast with Santa Claus. Galena is known for its Night of the Luminara and Living Windows event. This event allows businesses and shops downtown to light up the streets with more than 5,000 candles and living window displays. 

Chicago was a leader a century ago in nurturing an urban forest. But those days are in the past, and from 2011 through 2021, there was a net loss of at least 69,000 street trees, according to city records. Tens of thousands of ash trees were removed because of the tree-killing Emerald ash borer. The city’s forestry budget had been slashed, and the planting-specific budget plummeted from $3.5 million in 2008 to $173,500 in 2013.  In addition, pine trees have been under attack by pine wilt, which is a serious disease affecting Scots pine and Japanese red pine trees. 

The roots of automobile manufacturing in the United States can be traced back to Illinois, and specifically Peoria. Brothers Frank and Charles Duryea, working in their barn on West Barker Street, are credited as the first Americans to mass produce and market the first gasoline-powered car in 1893. This vehicle included a four-horsepower, two-stroke engine. The Duryea Manufacturing Company in present-day Peoria Heights was established five years later by Charles Duryea, and he began making the Peoria Duryea Motor Trap. In August 1898, the first Duryea was driving in Peoria. 

The days of buying a new vehicle for under $20,000 are nearly over, for now, in the U.S. The average price of a new vehicle is now over $48,000, an incredible 25 percent jump since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. According to the latest figures, only one vehicle, the Mitsubishi Mirage, can be bought for less than $20,000. But despite that low price, sales of the Mirage have been sluggish in the U.S., dropping by 44 percent this year. There is also a possibility that Mitsubishi will stop selling the Mirage by the mid-2020s. 

Thousands of migrants crowd into Chicago without shelter as winter approaches. No plans existed for the more than 25,000 migrants now in the Chicago area who do not have permanent legal status in the United States. The word “migrant” often refers to people who cross the U.S. border, present themselves to law enforcement, and claim status as refugees under what is described as international law. Hypothetically, these persons have a right to stay in the United States. In return for the right to stay temporarily in the United States, people in this category are supposed to be on call as their legal status to be classified as a refugee is adjudicated. The number of migrants claiming refugee status has overwhelmed the ability of U.S. courts of immigration law to adjudicate these cases. Persons in this category now number in the many hundreds of thousands throughout the U.S.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) pipelines are essential components of carbon capture and storage systems which are proposed to reduce atmospheric emissions of man-made CO2, which is a greenhouse gas. Approximately 5,000 miles of pipeline already carry CO2 in the U.S., but a much larger pipeline network likely will be needed to meet national goals for greenhouse gas reduction. Two CO2 pipeline projects that were in the works in Illinois have been withdrawn amidst local opposition, though both project applications could be refiled in the near future. 

December 7, 1941, will be forever known as ‘The Date That Will Live in Infamy’ in the United States. President Franklin Roosevelt uttered those words in response to the heinous and deliberate attack by the Empire of Japan on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack on an early Sunday morning killed 2,403 U.S. service personnel, including 50 servicemen from Illinois. The attack also injured 1,178 people, and included with the deceased were 68 civilians. 

Riddell Sports Group has a long and storied history of innovation when it comes to sports equipment. Riddell is best known for its large collection of football equipment, including helmets and other accessories widely used in the National Football League and NCAA College Football. The company was founded in 1927 by John Tate Riddell in Rosemont. 

No mountains in Illinois? No problem. The Prairie State still has plenty to offer for people who love outdoor winter activities, including skiing and snowboarding. There are five ski resorts in Illinois, including three in the Chicagoland area, along with Galena and Andalusia in the northwest part of the state. Chestnut Mountain, located near Galena, is Illinois’ largest ski resort and offers the highest vertical drop at 475 feet. 

The windy city of Chicago is famous for its sports teams, world-class museums, and vast array of shopping choices. The city remains a popular tourist destination. However, Chicago is also famous as a setting for numerous holiday films. While it may be called the Second City, Chicago is the king of holiday movies. 

There are some obvious reasons why so many iconic Christmas movies are filmed in Chicago. Downtown provides incredible backdrops and lights, and the suburbs offer huge homes and mansions. And then there is the staple of winter weather – snow. And during the winter months, there’s a pretty good chance there is snow on the ground in Chicagoland. There are also tax rebates, cheaper permits, and a large supply of local actors and crew members that can attract filmmakers and producers. 

GOMB projects State budget deficits in FY25 and following years. The "Illinois Economic and Fiscal Policy Report,” submitted in November 2023 by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), contains long-term projections covering spending and tax revenue trends faced by the State of Illinois. The GOMB projects continued compounding increases in the expenses faced by several key areas of State general-funds spending, particularly health care costs, pensions, and mandated education funding increases. The GOMB projects general funds budgeted spending, including pensions, rising from $48.3 billion in FY24 to almost $55.8 billion five years down the road in FY29. This is independent of further spending increases requested by all of the advocacy groups who push for more State funding every year.

The Illinois House Judiciary Committee held a meeting in early November to receive additional input and consider possible solutions to the fast-rising concerns and issues brought about by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Lawmakers heard from experts in the acting industry, academia, legal, and business communities about the exploding growth of AI, with two panels providing testimony and answering questions for over three hours. Comparisons to the rise of social media were made, and lawmakers are wary of making the same mistakes again.