Veterans drivers’ licenses; SAT testing being implemented

National Guard and Reserve Veterans Eligible for Driver’s License Designation
Illinois now has drivers’ licenses with a designation indicating that the license-holder is a veteran of the National Guard or Reserve. Those who served in the Guard and Reserve but did not have any periods of active duty other than for training are now eligible to receive “Veteran” on their driver’s licenses.

Last year, the Governor signed Senate Bill 2173 which allows those who served in the National Guard and Reserves to obtain an Illinois driver’s license with the veteran identifier. An eligible veteran interested in obtaining a license with that designation will need to present a copy of their certificate of release or discharge from initial active duty; certified and stamped by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA); to the Secretary of State.

In order to receive this stamp the applicant must provide documentation that they completed the time they were contracted to attend monthly drills and annual training. The documents listed below will be accepted as proof of service:

1. Army or Air National Guard NGB 22 Report of Separation and Record of Service
2. Army Reserve DARP FM 249-2E Chronological Statement of Retirement Points
3. Navy Reserve NRPC 1070-124 Annual Retirement Point Record
4. Air Force Reserve AF 526 Point Summary Sheet
5. USMC Reserve NAVMC 798 Reserve Retirement Credit Report
6. Coast Guard CG 4175 Coast Guard Reserve Annual or Terminal Statement of Retirement Points.

For assistance obtaining the necessary documents, veterans can contact or visit a local IDVA office. To find the closest Veteran Service Officer (VSO) go to or call 800-437-9824.

Illinois State Board of Education continues transition to SAT testing
Illinois is in the process of moving to use of the SAT exam as a universal test for all Illinois high schools to use as a measurement of high school performance and scholastic aptitudes. The use of one standardized exam for measuring such statistics will generate standardized measures that can be used to track the progress of students and their schools.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recently put in place the SAT scores that it will consider to be “minimum proficiency” scores. ISBE is recommending that all students and their schools achieve a minimum proficiency, and average aggregated group minimum proficiency, of 540 in math and 540 in literacy (reading/writing).  These minimum proficiency scores will be referenced in future reports on school and school district performance.

How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $16,536,545,077 in unpaid bills to state vendors. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is estimated to be more than $100 billion.

Three Illinois universities make Top 60 in U.S. News rankings
Each year, U.S. News and World Report issues its rankings of the best colleges and universities around the nation. Over the years, their rankings have become a widely-consulted measurement of the schools around the country. Prospective students and their families, as well as advisors and elite faculty consult the list and use it to inform their decisions on which school to choose or recommend.

This year’s “Best Colleges Ranking” for 2018 included three Illinois schools in the top 60 nationwide. In a tie for the third-ranking in the nation is the University of Chicago, tied with Yale University. Northwestern University in Evanston was in a 3-way tie for #11, along with the Ivy League’s Dartmouth and Baltimore’s John’s Hopkins.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) came in tied for #52. UIUC earned this ranking along with its fellow Big Ten school, Penn State. The flagship University of Illinois campus was ranked ahead of several other Big Ten universities, including Ohio State (#54), Purdue (#56), Maryland (#61), Rutgers (#69) and Indiana (#90). The U.S. News rankings are based on several factors, including the entering student body’s high school GPAs, entrants’ high school test scores, and the college’s application acceptance rate.

Total archery deer harvest about the same as last year, but percentage of bucks increases
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) reported that the numbers reported by licensed hunters indicate no significant changes in the overall number of deer being taken by archery hunters this year. The percentage of bucks was 34% last week, up from 31% the week before. As of the fourth Sunday in October, bow hunters had taken 11,396 deer, a slight increase from the 11,335 taken by bow by this point last year. The approaching annual rut is, as in past years, increasing the movement of buck deer and their vulnerability to hunters in stands.

Did You Know?
The flagpole atop the Illinois State Capitol building flies both the Stars and Stripes and the Illinois State Flag. There are also flagpoles on the roof over the House chamber and the Senate chamber. These poles fly the state flag on days when either chamber is scheduled to be in session.