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Students from Chatham Elementary School visited the Capitol on Wednesday to watch the Illinois House pass SB 800, legislation which they initiated and promoted to declare sweet corn as the official state vegetable of Illinois. The Chatham students worked with Sen. Sam McCann and Rep. Raymond Poe to move the bill through the process. With the House joining the Senate in passing the bill, it now goes to the Governor for his signature. Chatham will celebrate the 42nd Annual Sweetcorn Festival on July 17-18.

Click here to see how the sweet corn bill came to be, told by the Chatham students themselves.

Budget – FY16
Illinois lawmakers face finish line in fight over massive deficit. Both the House and the Senate held repeated budget hearings this week to discuss estimated FY16 budget shortfalls of $6 billion to $8 billion, depending on how the red ink is counted.

Governor Rauner submitted a budget for FY16 to the General Assembly in February. Since that time, Democrats have repeatedly attacked budgetary adjustments made in this spending plan, but have neither generated a budget of their own nor issued a projection of State revenues from which a budget can be generated. The General Assembly is required to enact a budget for FY16, starting July 1, no later than May 31.

Lincoln Funeral – Springfield
Legacy of 16th President remembered in Springfield.  The Lincoln Funeral Coalition has organized a series of events to mark the 150th anniversary of the return of President Abraham Lincoln’s remains to Illinois.  Scheduled for May 2 and May 3, the event will include ceremonies, lectures, workshops, and two one-day ceremonial processions featuring costumed reenactors.  Saturday’s procession represents the delivery of the remains from the original railroad line to the Old State Capitol (where Lincoln was viewed on May 3-4, 1865), and on Sunday reenactors will pay homage to Lincoln’s memory as they proceed from the Old State Capitol to Oak Ridge Cemetery.  Their destinations, the Old State Capitol and Lincoln’s Tomb, are State of Illinois historic sites open to the public.   

A resolution sponsored by state Rep. Raymond Poe (R-Springfield) was adopted today by the Illinois House designating this Friday, May 1, as Girl Scout Day at the Illinois Capitol. The resolution honors the 54,000 Girl Scouts in Illinois. On hand to support the resolution were members of Girl Scout Troop 6195 and Brownie Troop 6046, as well as representatives of the Girl Scouts' Illinois state council.

Budget – Infrastructure
·         Statewide discussion on capital spending begins.  Governor Bruce Rauner announced on Tuesday, April 21 that he will soon start an infrastructure Listening Tour in which the Governor will talk to local leaders in at least 30 separate Illinois communities to hear their needs for additional help in maintaining vital local infrastructure.  At the same time, Illinois House budget working groups will be meeting on FY16 budget challenges, including issues of public infrastructure.

Deteriorating roads and bridges are expected to be a particular focus of the Governor’s tour and Illinois House discussions.  Current projections, based on existing trends on motor fuel consumption and taxes paid, have looked at the current six-year Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT planning program.  Current trends indicate that by the end of this six-year program 40 percent of Illinois highways, and one in seven Illinois bridges, will be in unacceptable condition. 

Most of the money raised by motor fuel taxes is deposited in the state’s Road Fund and used for road and bridge repair and replacement.  Illinois transportation infrastructure work will continue in the 2015 construction season, but IDOT has reported to the Illinois House that the State’s asphalt infrastructure is depreciating faster than moneys are being deposited in the Fund.

Abraham Lincoln – 150th Anniversary
·         Illinois House observes 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination and death.  The 16th president was shot in the head by an assassin on April 14, 1865 in Ford’s Theatre, Washington, and died on the following day.  Lincoln’s assassination, which took place less than one week after the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army, marked the end of the Civil War and the start of a period of national mourning and reconciliation. 

The Illinois House has a unique perspective on Abraham Lincoln; this legislative chamber was Lincoln’s first political home and elected position.  The future President served central Illinois in the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th General Assemblies, starting in 1835 and ending in 1842.  These were key years in the history of Lincoln’s home town of Springfield, as the aggressive advocacy of Lincoln and his colleagues was decisive in the selection of the Sangamon River community to be Illinois’ permanent state capital.  The “Old State Capitol,” which still stands in Springfield’s central city, was built in response to Lincoln’s urgings.  A legislator’s desk, believed to be Lincoln’s, has been re-installed in the chamber and is seen by tens of thousands of visitors annually.

Led by Representative Tim Butler of Springfield, who represents an Illinois House district that is descended from Lincoln’s district, the Illinois House held a commemorative observance of the sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s death on Wednesday, April 15.  This was part of overall preparations for the 150th anniversary of the return of Lincoln’s body to Springfield and reenactment of his funeral which will take place on May 2 and 3, 2015.  1,100 reenactors, and thousands of visitors from all over the United States, are expected to join in the observance.      

Rep. Raymond Poe joined other members of the Illinois House today in placing a wreath at the Lincoln statue outside the east front of the Illinois State Capitol in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Today is the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. The House formally marked the occasion with floor speeches and an official tribute to the 16th President, who began his career as a member of the state House.