In an era of hyper-partisan rhetoric surrounding all layers of government, many Illinois residents are eager to hear about ways their elected officials are working together across the aisle to bring about improvements to Illinoisans daily lives.

A recent example of strongly bipartisan legislation was a measure sponsored by State Representative Norine Hammond (Macomb) to require health insurance plans to provide coverage for proton beam therapy cancer treatment.

“Will you please stand for the National Anthem?,” is a universal indicator heard all over the United States that an event will be starting soon. Everyone stands, removes their hats, places their hands on their hearts and faces the American flag. Following our nation’s anthem, the event begins.

The tradition of playing the National Anthem before sporting events comes from the World War I era, in 1918 during the first game of the World Series, between the Boston Red Sox and our very own, Chicago Cubs. Prior to this game, occasionally a live military band would play the National Anthem, but it was not a tradition yet.

In the first half of the year, lawmakers spend a lot of time in Springfield during the legislative session and not as much as they would like in their districts. So, it is important when they are home in their districts to make the most of every minute available to connect with people in their communities.

According to the National Institute of Justice, recidivism is defined as a person’s relapse into criminal behavior. Recidivism rates vary in Illinois, but according to the Illinois Department of Corrections, the rates are generally between 38 and 44 percent.  

One of the ways the State of Illinois works to reduce recidivism is through the Illinois Correctional Industries program. This initiative provides vocational training to incarcerated individuals and helps them obtain valuable job skills and experience. This program does not involve any extra costs to taxpayers. 

Illinois House Republicans and thousands of concerned Illinois residents are working as part of statewide and local grassroots efforts to keep strict California Emission Standards from being enacted by radical Illinois Democrats. These emission standards would eliminate the production and use of gasoline-powered vehicles and force drivers to buy electric vehicles in Illinois in the near future.

Governor delivers largest budget proposal in state history. House Republicans respond. Governor JB Pritzker delivered his State of the State and Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly this week.

Governor Pritzker introduced the largest budget proposal in state history. The Governor’s FY25 proposed budget would spend $52.7 billion, which is a $2.3 billion increase over the FY24 enacted budget – a 4.5% increase.

The Governor delivered his annual budget address today in Springfield, setting Illinois on a course to spend $2.29 billion more than last year and increase taxes by $910 million. It is largest budget proposal in state history. The Governor’s proposed budget will spend $52.7 billion, creating a $775 million shortfall.

Here’s what some of our legislative members are saying:

Deputy Republican Leader Norine Hammond (Macomb)
“Today we saw Governor Pritzker introduce the largest budget proposal in state history. The Governor’s FY25 proposed budget spends $52.7 billion, which is a $2.3 billion increase over the FY24 enacted budget – a 4.5% increase.

Exports are a staple of the economy in Illinois, which is the fifth-largest exporting state in the U.S. and largest in the Midwest. International trade supported more than 1.6 million jobs in Illinois in 2022 as the state exported over $78 billion worth of goods. Jobs supported by trade represent over 20 percent of the total jobs in Illinois. 

Coming off the COVID-19 downturn of 2020, Illinois exports rebounded with an increase of 24 percent to $65.9 billion in 2021. Over $27 billion in exports in 2021 went to two countries, Canada ($18.4 billion) and Mexico ($8.9 billion). Top exports overall by category in 2021 included Chemicals ($14.2 billion), Machinery ($11.2 billion), Computer and Electronic Products ($7.2 billion), and Transportation Equipment ($6.3 billion). 

The Chicagoland area serves as the nation’s hub for food manufacturing workers, along with being home to the largest and most innovative food industry corporations. The region has direct access to productive farmland, in addition to a vast array of transportation options. Chicago’s location in the Midwest also plays a large role in enhancing its ability to transport products across the U.S. 

On Wednesday, Governor J.B. Pritzker will deliver the State of the State and Budget Address from the chambers of the Illinois House of Representatives to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly.

In his address, the Governor will signal his spending priorities for the 2025/2026 fiscal year. However, it will ultimately be up to the members of the General Assembly to appropriate the funding for those priorities. 

There have been 46 Presidents of the United States, dating back to George Washington, who served as the first President from 1789 to 1797. Of those 46, four have direct ties to Illinois and can claim it as their home state. One President, Ronald Reagan, was born in Illinois and graduated from Eureka College before moving out of state to pursue a broadcasting career at age 21.


House Republicans Respond to Latest Madigan Era Sentencing. On Monday, February 12, former Speaker Mike Madigan’s Chief of Staff was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for making false declarations before a grand jury and obstruction of justice. The sentencing for Tim Mapes came after defense attorneys pushed for a lenient sentence of community service, which was denied in federal court by Judge John Kness in the Northern District. Instead, Mapes was held accountable for his wrongful attempt to guard the corrupt ways of Mike Madigan.

State Representative Amy Elik introduced legislation to encourage small businesses to reinvest earnings in their communities.

The legislation—HB 4669 would create small-business savings accounts, allowing businesses to put aside up to $50,000 per year for future business investments.

At a press conference on February 7 in Springfield, Rep. Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) and Rep. Tim Ozinga (R-Mokena) announced a plan to combat opportunity deserts and provide solutions to high property taxes paid by all Illinois property owners and provides the greatest relief to those in low income communities. Also participating in the press conference was former state representative Mark Batinick of Plainfield.

In late 2022, Martin Hubbard was convicted of eight counts of predatory sexual assault and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Earlier in the year he had been found guilty of two counts each for sexually assaulting four children under the age of 5 years old while they were in the care of his wife's Effingham daycare.

But that’s not the entire story, nor is it the only harm these young children had to endure. Because in order to get the conviction that would put the predator behind bars, these young children had to re-tell and re-live their stories over and over again. It was cruel beyond words.

In this episode of Capitol Crimes, Dean Abbott recounts the steps taken by lawmakers to consider the rights of defendants and protect the well-being of child victims when they testify against their abusers.

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To conclude her annual Valentine's program, House Minority Leader Tony McCombie delivered hundreds of Valentine’s Day cards to area veterans. McCombie launched her ‘Valentines for Vets’ program last month and received countless cards created by students, local groups, and area residents to then distribute to veterans on February 14th.

Chicago and other areas of the Midwest celebrate a delicious Polish tradition every year known as “Paczki Day.” This day-before-Lent celebration occurs on what is commonly known as “Fat Tuesday” during Mardi Gras.

In Poland, paczki are traditionally made on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. However, many Polish Americans now combine the celebrations with Mardi Gras on Fat Tuesday. If you are wondering what a paczki is, one Chicago baker sums it up succinctly – “essentially a cream-filled donut, but on steroids.” 

Today former Speaker Mike Madigan’s Chief of Staff was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for making false declarations before a grand jury and obstruction of justice. The sentencing for Tim Mapes came after defense attorneys pushed for a lenient sentence of community service, which was denied in federal court today by Judge John Kness in the Northern District. Instead, Mapes was held accountable for his wrongful attempt to guard the corrupt ways of Mike Madigan.

Although Abraham Lincoln was not born in Illinois, he is generally regarded as one of the state’s most influential and famous historical figures. Illinois is known as the ‘Land of Lincoln,’ and Lincoln’s footprint can be found all over the state, especially in and around the capital city of Springfield.

Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States in 1861. He moved to Illinois at age 21 in 1830. Lincoln’s adult life and rise to the presidency took place in Illinois. His story is told through historical sites, museums, exhibits, and his former places of residence in the state. Lincoln’s life and legacy are on full display in Illinois.


House Republican leaders discuss budget priorities. House Minority Leader Tony McCombie and Republican Budgeteers discussed their priorities for the Fiscal Year 2025 State Budget at a press conference in Leader McCombie’s Capitol office Thursday.

As the General Assembly begins a new legislative session and looks ahead to the Governor’s budget address in two weeks, the Republican leaders wanted to set the stage for what they expect to be included in the upcoming FY25 budget proposal.

Frito-Lay is one of the largest snack food manufacturers in the United States. They make some of the most popular potato chips in the American marketplace, including Lay’s, Fritos, Doritos, Cheetos, Tostitos and many others. And farmers in Illinois play a huge role in the production of these Frito-Lay products. 

With Super Bowl Sunday approaching, millions of American television viewers will be enjoying their favorite Frito-Lay snacks while watching the big game. Many varieties of chips and dips are enjoyed on Super Bowl Sunday. 

The Boy Scouts of America provide youth with character development and values-based leadership training, with its founders incorporating outdoor activities to develop skills in young boys to give them values such as a code of conduct for everyday living, fellowship, and enjoyment. The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. 

The first riverboat casino in Illinois opened in September 1991 in Alton. The original Alton Belle Casino was a three-deck, 600-passenger boat that included 296 slot machines and 22 gaming tables. Alton received the first of 10 original licenses from the Illinois Gaming Board. 

Options to gamble legally in Illinois before the establishment of riverboat casinos were limited, with bets on horse races legal since 1927 and lottery tickets able to be purchased since 1974. 

Illinois native Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in the tiny village of Tampico in Whiteside County in 1911. Mr. Reagan died at the age of 93 in 2004. Reagan is most famous for being elected the 40th President of the United States and served eight years in office from 1981-1989.

When it’s your job to ensure the safety of children, failure should never be an option. Yet the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the state agency charged with protecting children, had failed spectacularly time-and-time again. The abuse, torture and subsequent murder of five-year-old Andrew “AJ” Freund at the hands of his parents stunned his community, but it was DCFS’ failure to protect AJ that shook the state.

Every year during the month of February, the U.S. honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation. Black History Month celebrates the cultural heritage, triumphs, and adversities that are part of the country’s history. 

The celebration of Black History in the U.S. began in Chicago with Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian and alumnus of the University of Chicago. Woodson and four others, including A. L. Jackson and minister Jesse Moorland, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in September 1915 at the Wabash YMCA. This organization was dedicated to researching and promoting the achievements of Black Americans and other people of African descent. The group sponsored national Negro History Week in 1926. 


McCombie and House Republicans Back Estate Tax Legislation. This week, the Illinois Farm Bureau unveiled new legislation aimed at improving the Illinois Estate Tax. House Minority Leader Tony McCombie 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 1993 hit movie ‘Groundhog Day’ starred Bill Murray and was one of the most successful films of its era, grossing nearly $71 million worldwide. The movie plot centered around a small Pennsylvania town’s Groundhog Day celebration; however, the movie was filmed in northern Illinois in the McHenry County city of Woodstock. The romance/comedy was rated PG and has a lofty score of 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

First episode streams today

There is a story behind every piece of legislation introduced in the Illinois General Assembly.  Some stories are light-hearted and some are maddening.  And others, like the horrific murders of Pam Knight and AJ Freund, are terribly tragic.  

While you may have heard about Pam Knight and AJ Freund from news accounts, truth-be-told, you haven’t heard the entire story. What’s more, you haven’t heard how lawmakers attempted to prevent future tragedies like these with thoughtful legislation. And, how the majority party blocked those same pieces of legislation, refusing to create new public safety laws. You haven’t heard, until now.

The Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) Program was launched nationally in 2003 by the American Dental Association. Every year, over 6,000 dentists and 30,000 dental team members volunteer at GKAS events to provide free oral health education, screenings, and preventative and restorative treatment to over 300,000 children. GKAS events are held nationally throughout the year, including all across Illinois. The first Friday in February, known as Give Kids a Smile Day, kicks off the program each year.