SPRINGFIELD…Today, the Illinois Farm Bureau unveiled new legislation aimed at improving the Illinois Estate Tax. House Minority Leader Tony McCombie (Savanna) has spearheaded efforts throughout her tenure to address this problematic “death” tax, one that has disproportionately hurt family farms but also small businesses and manufacturing in Illinois. McCombie and members of her leadership team stand in support of the recently unveiled bipartisan proposal.

The Great Blizzard of 1978 paralyzed parts of the Midwest, including northern Illinois, for several days. The snowstorm caused significant damage and disruption and brought life to a standstill for thousands of people. The storm disrupted transportation and communication systems and caused widespread power outages. Travel was nearly impossible, and many small towns were dealt with impassable roads and downed phone and power lines. 

Chicago-based Levy has evolved into a leading sports and entertainment hospitality company. With more than 300 venues in North America, Levy provides food and beverage services for 112 professional sports teams. Levy serves four major stadiums/arenas in the Chicago area, including Wrigley Field, United Center, Guaranteed Rate Field, and Now Arena. Levy also has premium catering and concession contracts at 25 professional sports facilities and racetracks, along with six for general concessions. 

Cold winter days are a normal part of life every year for drivers in Illinois. There are some well-established truths, but also time-honored myths, about the best ways to safely warm up your vehicle on those cold days.

Beyond warming up the cabin or defrosting the windshield, letting the vehicle sit idling for an extended period of time is not recommended. This practice can lead to wasting fuel and generating needless emissions into the atmosphere. Older engines weren’t well lubricated with oil, so in the past warming up the car through several minutes of idling was the norm. But today, modern cars have improved technology and engines are fully lubricated within 20 to 30 seconds. 

The Illinois Department of Revenue will begin accepting 2023 state individual income tax returns on Monday, January 29. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also begins accepting federal income tax returns on this date. For the most up-to-date information, forms, schedules, and instructions for the 2023 tax season, visit the IDOR’s website

House Republicans Renew Call for Ethics Reform. As the tangled web of Democrats’ corruption continues to unwind over and over in federal court, Illinois House Republicans have renewed calls for needed ethics reforms. The list of convictions continues to pile up, and the silence from the Democrat side of the aisle is deafening.

Earlier this week, State Representative Amy Grant announced a major advancement in easing the process for obtaining a driver’s license in Illinois. After numerous complaints from constituents about Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) procedures, Rep. Grant took decisive action by filing House Bill 1528.

Illinois is home to several well-known supermarkets and grocery stores. Some are larger chains, while others are more regionalized and neighborhood focused. Jewel-Osco is headquartered in the Chicago suburbs, as are IGA, Aldi, Mariano’s, and Caputo’s. In downstate Illinois, Quincy is home to Niemann Foods, which includes County Market and Save-A-Lot stores. Sullivan’s Foods operates 11 locations in northern and central Illinois.

On January 27, the world commemorates the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Holocaust was the state-sponsored persecution and mass murder of millions of European Jews, Romani people, intellectually disabled, political dissidents, and homosexuals by the German Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945. 

Every winter season, snow brings magic to the Illinois landscape and its numerous state parks. From ice climbing and cross-country skiing to frozen waterfalls and snow-filled canyons, there are fun adventures to be found at state parks. Here are some parks worth exploring during the winter months. 

As the tangled web of Democrats’ corruption continues to unwind over and over in federal court, Illinois House Republicans have renewed calls for needed ethics reforms. The list of convictions continues to pile up, and the silence from the Democrat side of the aisle is deafening. 

As the Illinois General Assembly has kicked off the 2024 legislative session, State Representative Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) has filed legislation to end a cumbersome requirement for Illinois residents aged 75 and older. Illinois is the only state in the nation that requires drivers 75 and older to retake a driving test as a condition of renewing their driver’s license. Keicher’s legislation, House Bill 4431, would end this practice.

Winter in Illinois can bring about all kinds of unpredictable weather, from extreme cold and wind to blowing snow, snow drifts, and ice. As temperatures rise above and below freezing, wet ground can become very slick. Winter slips and falls can range from minor to extremely dangerous, and injuries can occur. Consider the following safety tips to help you stay safe and avoid injuries while out shoveling or walking in snowy conditions. 

New Legislative Session Convenes. The Illinois General Assembly convened in Springfield this week for the beginning of the new legislative session.

To start off the new year and new session, the House Republican caucus welcomed two new members: State Representative Nicole La Ha and State Representative Brandun Schweizer. Leader McCombie proudly welcomed them to the chamber this week!

In 2003, popcorn gained special status in Illinois. After the state ran a contest seeking ideas for an official state snack food, Joliet teacher Fran Hollister and her second and third grade students went to work as part of a class project. Lawmakers made it official in August, passing legislation that declared popcorn the official snack food of Illinois

There are 333 Illinois farms that grow popcorn on 47,000 acres, making Illinois the third largest grower of the product. Mason County grows more popcorn than any county in the U.S., and only Indiana and Iowa produce more popcorn annually than Illinois. 

Popcorn growers in Mason County sell to a variety of wholesalers representing nationwide brands as bagged popcorn seeds, microwave popcorn, or prepared popcorn. Their products are also sold to local grocers and farmers markets. 

Illinois, along with Indiana and Michigan, has received a $1 billion federal funding award from the U.S. Department of Energy for the Midwest Hydrogen Hub. The Hub is a network that enables decarbonization through strategic hydrogen use and will reduce carbon emissions by nearly 4 million metric tons per year. 

A moratorium on new nuclear reactor construction that had been in place since 1987 was lifted by Illinois lawmakers late in 2023, paving the way for small nuclear reactor construction after January 1, 2026. The bi-partisan legislation will help address the demand for energy with downstate coal and gas plants scheduled to shut down in future years. 

The new law, which was passed during the fall veto session, will allow the state to build 300 megawatt reactors, known as Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), throughout Illinois. The legislation allowed a study to be conducted on the state’s role in guiding the development of SMRs and allows the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to regulate SMRs. 

State Representative Amy Elik’s (R-Alton) initiative signed into law last June accomplished what it was intended to accomplish. It helped retain jobs and spur major investment in Illinois, most recently in East Alton. Wieland Rolled Products (formerly known as Olin Brass) announced their plans today for investment and job retention at its East Alton facility.

Childcare costs in Illinois are among the most expensive in the nation when compared against incomes, costing the average single mother more than a third of her pay. This lack of affordable childcare is keeping workers, especially women, out of the labor force. 

Daycare programs can be important tools for many families. They allow parents to go to work or school while leaving their kids in safe hands. Unfortunately, daycare programs can be extremely expensive and take up a huge amount from a family’s budget. Daycare centers can include childcare programs, after-school programs, infant care programs, and preschools. Daycare facilities can offer games, lessons, and activities for children, in addition to any educational offerings. 

As cold air settles in outside, it’s vitally important to keep your house as warm and safe as possible. Winter weather can be brutal in Illinois, especially in the northern part of the state. There are a number of tips and tricks for homeowners to be aware of to save on those winter heating bills. Consider these do’s and dont’s of keeping your house warm and safe during the winter months:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. always chose courage and determination when fighting for civil rights in the face of ignorance, oppression, and violence. Dr. King never chose fear, and he stood by his goal of achieving rights for all through peace and nonviolent protests. 

Dr. King’s leadership played a key role in ending segregation for African Americans in the U.S. and paved the way for the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 


Illinois General Assembly set to convene for start of 2024 spring session. The Illinois House of Representatives will reconvene on Tuesday, January 16. Primary business of the House during its first week of the 2024 session will be to hear newly introduced bills on “first reading” for assignment to House committees.

House members are pushing to get their bills drafted and introduced for consideration this spring. The House bill introduction deadline is Friday, February 9. Bills introduced by the deadline date can be assigned to standing committees.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that occurs in every state, including Illinois. Statistics show that Illinois ranks in the top 10 nationwide in human trafficking cases. In 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline identified 243 cases in Illinois, with 355 victims reported. 

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. These acts involve victims of all ages, races and genders, and the victims can be lured into these situations by violence, manipulation, false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships. 

Starting this month, the Illinois General Assembly will return to session, with a scheduled conclusion in May. During session, legislators spend a significant amount of time in Springfield. This can make it difficult for residents to engage with the legislative process, but there are options to stay involved.

More than 70 percent of motorists admit that they do not have their cars winterized in preparation for inclement weather, according to a survey conducted by the Car Care Council. This can prove extremely dangerous if your car breaks down due to a lack of preventative maintenance.

Properly maintaining your vehicle will not only ensure its safety and dependability, but it may also increase fuel efficiency as well as help maintain your vehicle’s value. It is recommended to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual and follow its preventive vehicle maintenance schedule. 

In a move to uphold Illinoisans’ Second Amendment rights, State Representative John M. Cabello today announced the filing of House Bill 4328 (HB4328). This bill would fully repeal the Illinois Assault Weapons Ban which went into effect on January 1, 2024 – despite the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) having yet to approve the rules that implement the ban.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) recently issued reports on the downstate police and firefighters pension funds. "Downstate" in terms of pension funds refers to all areas outside of Chicago. While the reports show Downstate funding levels are not adequate, Chicago's funding of police and firefighter pensions funds are far worse.

State Representative Amy Grant is informing Chicagoland residents of significant updates to Metra’s ticketing and fare structure, effective February 1, 2024. The changes include new fare pricing, different products, closing of ticket windows, and a shift towards digital and vending machine ticketing.

Representative Grant emphasizes, “These updates to Metra’s system are key steps towards enhancing the efficiency and accessibility of public transportation in our community. It is vital for Chicagoland commuters to stay informed about these new changes so transportation authorities can ensure smooth and convenient travel options”

All details surrounding the structure of the plan can be found here.

For more details on the fare changes and the new fare zone map, visit Metra’s Official Website.
National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day was created by multiple organizations in 2015. The group C.O.P.S. (Concerns of Police Survivors) helped establish the day, noting that law enforcement officers have chosen a difficult career path and need to be shown respect and recognition by the people who they protect and uphold the law for. 

The backlash and violence towards police officers that occurred after a series of events in 2014 led C.O.P.S. to move forward to try and help change the negative portrayal of police officers. The day also raises awareness to the importance of understanding the difficult decisions taken by officers are in the best interest of citizens and the law. 

From the Civil War until the 1920s, more meat was processed in Chicago than in any other place in the world. Chicago’s infamous Union Stockyards opened to the public in 1865. The Stockyards were the creation of nine railroads consolidating operations, with seven stock yards opening on Christmas Day that year. 

State Representative Adam Niemerg's first official act of the new year was to honor the first responders who provided invaluable assistance after the tragic accident involving a fatal anhydrous ammonia leak caused by a traffic accident.

On Friday night September 29, 2023, a semi-truck carrying 7,500 gallons of anhydrous ammonia was involved in a traffic accident on Highway 40 in Teutopolis, about 93 miles southeast of Springfield. The accident and subsequent leak of anhydrous ammonia, led to five fatalities and eleven injuries as well as the evacuation of nearly 500 people from the east side of the rural community of Teutopolis.

Madigan trial postponed until October. As pretrial work continues on the approaching corruption trial of former Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, a court has granted a six-month extension with respect to the trial’s opening date. The federal court trial, originally scheduled to begin in April 2024, is now tentatively set to begin on October 8, 2024.

The colder months often bring higher energy bills for homeowners. If you live in the north with harsh winters, heating your home may be more expensive than cooling it in the summer. People also tend to be home more during the winter months, which can drive up energy usage. Shorter days, long and dark nights, holidays and more time off work can also contribute to increased energy usage. 

Natural gas usage has remained a hot topic in Illinois and across the country. The public and media focus has been on the recent Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) rulings that significantly lowered proposed rate increases from several providers. However, behind the scenes natural gas is being targeted and hearings are expected to be held in 2024 to discuss its future in Illinois.

Senate Bill 188, providing important new protections for parents of children with special needs was enacted in the New Year. The legislation introduced in the Illinois Senate by Sen. Steve McClure and sponsored in the House of Representative by Rep. CD Davidsmeyer makes it easier for parents to access the health records of their children.

Under prior Illinois law, parents faced hurdles in accessing medical records and test results for children aged 12-17, resulting in challenges when trying to make critical medical decisions.

A New Year’s resolution is a yearly tradition in which a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their behavior at the beginning of a calendar year. 

The start of a new year is the perfect time to turn a new page, which might be why so many people make New Year’s resolutions. The new year often feels like a fresh start and a great opportunity to change bad habits and establish new routines that will help people grow psychologically, emotionally, socially, physically, or intellectually. However, resolutions are much easier to make than keep, and within a couple of months many are abandoned. In one study, only around 12 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions felt they were successful in achieving their goals. However, another study found 46 percent deemed their resolutions as successful.  

Illinois has a long history of championing recycling and composting programs, but it has a long way to go. Illinois generates about 19 million tons of garbage per year, which is 23 percent more waste per capita than the national average. Also, only 37 percent of that waste is recycled. Current recycling programs divert over seven million tons of useful materials from landfills and save enough energy to heat and light 578,000 homes. Each year, recycling in Illinois reduces water pollution by 21,500 tons of various contaminants and reduces air pollution by 131,000 tons of various contaminants each.