Get ready to break out some birthday candles — make that lots of birthday candles. Might want to grab a fire extinguisher too: Illinois turns 200 on Dec. 3, 2018.

The yearlong bicentennial celebrationhonoring two centuries of statehood has begun.

Like any milestone birthday or anniversary, bicentennials are a good excuse to look back, look forward and, most of all, have some fun.

In Travel, we're marking the occasion with a 200 To-Do List: two hundred things every Illinoisan should do — or see, eat and drink — at least once in a lifetime. Read more in the Chicago Tribune.

Click here for the first 20 entries in the History category.
House Bill 2388, Supported by Rep. John Cavaletto and enacted earlier in 2017, becomes effective on January 1, 2018. The bill directs the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to establish and maintain an accessible-to-the-public database on key facts involving day care safety and security.

The database shall provide information on whether, within the past five years, a day care center had its license revoked or if its application for license renewal was denied by the Department. Under the law prior to the enactment of this bill, a day care center could win back its license by appealing a decision by DCFS to revoke or to refuse to renew, and DCFS had no legal way to tell the public that the original decision had been made. Enactment of HB 2388 closes this loophole.
Second weekend of firearm deer season shows harvest improvement numbers. The preliminary total tag count is 80,021 deer for the seven days that hunters were allowed to hunt with shotguns in Illinois. This marks an increase of 462 animals from the 79,559 deer harvested in the comparable 2016 season.

Harvested deer by county in the 107th District:
      Bond - 323
      Clinton - 370
      Effingham - 385
      Fayette - 690
      Marion - 898
Key to the successful season numbers was a strong harvest in the second firearm weekend ending December 3, in which hunters were able to drop and tag more than 3,600 additional deer compared with the second weekend of 2016. This enabled the overall season to end up in the black despite a slow statewide start during the first shotgun weekend.

While the shotgun season is now over, additional seasons remain. The muzzleloader-only season is December 8-10; two antlerless-only/CWD deer seasons will follow the muzzleloader season in certain Illinois counties, concluding on January 14, 2018; and deer bowhunters will be able to use their bows until Jan. 14 as well.
Gov. Bruce Rauner today announced the launch of a statewide helpline to provide immediate assistance for those impacted by addiction to opioids and other substances.

The helpline will provide a confidential outlet for individuals experiencing opioid use disorders, their families and anyone affected by the disease 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Helpline specialists are trained in evidence-based approaches to help connect callers with treatment and recovery-support services. To reach the helpline, individuals can call 1-833-2FINDHELP.