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Question of the day

Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013

* The 2013 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Illinois State Senator - Democrat wasn’t even close. Sen. Kwame Raoul

The man ate crow on concealed carry and pension reform after his Leader spent all of his time trashing previous proposals, and he did it in order to get important pieces of legislation passed. And he did it with class. That’s a statesman.

* Runner-up is a popular freshman…

Senator Manar has a very diverse and geographically large district but manages to cover it from north to south and east to west with his town hall meetings. I have attended two of these meetings and still have not seen the Senator fail to answer a question thoroughly and responsibly. His depth of knowledge of issues (especially downstate) and how to get things done are true assets to his district. The new water line for Stonington and his hearings on equitable education funding are prime examples. Downstate is fortunate to have an experienced and strong voice.

* The 2013 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Illinois State Senator - Republican goes to Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno. I don’t usually give this award to chamber leaders, but some of you pointed out that she was particularly deserving this year…

She leads that caucus in the right direction more often than not, and does it with more than her fair share of misfit toys. Pension reform doesn’t happen without her efforts. She beat back Madigan & Cullerton’s push for the pension cost shift, even while business interests and IPI supported it. She’s having more impact than she should be having under this map with 19 members. And like, Raoul, she does it with class.

Agreed. Some were skeptical that she could hold that caucus together on pension reform, particularly with Dillard jumping ship, but she did it.

* Runner-up goes to another popular freshman…

[Sen. Jason Barickman] voted for SSM because he believed it was the right thing to do. Despite the fact that he has a largely rural district. Despite the fact that he was Bill Brady’s attorney in 2010. He has also kept his head down and worked hard. He is clearly smart and a bright future ahead.

I also appreciate that he is willing to take risks. People forget that he was an appointed State Rep when he decided to challenge a sitting State Senator without a net. Granted it was Shane Cultra, but that takes a lot of guts. Something in short supply in Springfield.

* OK, instead of a question today, let’s move to the next category…

* Best Statewide Officeholder:

* Best Illinois Congresscritter

As always, make sure to explain your answers to both questions in comments, please. Drive-by and name-only votes won’t count. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Empty Chair - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 9:34 am:

    I don’t know how best statewide office holder can be anyone other than Pat Quinn. Pension Reform. Gay Marriage. Fracking compromise. This was a big year for him legislatively. On top of that, he (effectively) has cleared the field of Democratic primary challengers to his reelection bid. Not only were the other statewide officeholders more-or-less inactive this year (Rutherford, Lisa, Shiel….wait who?) but some were even tarnished by their ties to allegedly corrupt politicians in their organization (White). JBT always seems to be in the running for this award due to her general competence and well run shop, but I think that PQ deserves the credit this year after accomplishing big things and playing a big role in the process.

  2. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 9:45 am:

    The best Congressperson is Adam Kinzinger. He really sticks to his guns and is willing to buck the party and right wing lines. I appreciated his adult approach to the shutdown and aftermath. In this day and age of partisan sniping and a divided Congress in total, it is nice to know there are still some grownups left in our delegation.

  3. - Rahm'sMiddleFinger - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 10:01 am:

    Has to be Pat Quinn. He deserves a lot of credit for pension reform. Just like the tax increase, he may not have been instrumental in the drafting, if it wasn’t for his political courage in sounding the alarms it wouldn’t have happened.

    He was also all-in a gay marriage. Remember, he wasn’t willing to be for civil unions during the 2010 primary. As a practicing Catholic, his views, like those of the nation, have evolved. He deserves a lot of credit for all the work he put into getting this done.

    This is also a good time to aknowledge his legislative staff. Gary Hannig, Jay Curtis, and the unsung Jessica Bruskin are top notch.

    Best congresscritter is a tough one this year. I’ve been most impressed with Tammy Duckworth. Her experience working in government allowed her make a seamless transition. She works harder than just about anyone I know.

    Peter Roskam has also been a reasonable voice in Washington, fighting back the crazies.

  4. - A guy... - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 10:02 am:

    Best Statewide….Judy. Just because. OK. She keeps her nose to the grindstone and does it with panache.
    Best Congresssman: Seriously, no one. Congress had a lousy year and no one from here made it any better. No one stood out. The battle for worst one this year would be far more intriguing. I’m not being sarcastic, I just wouldn’t give this award to anyone this time around.

  5. - Nonplussed - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 10:10 am:

    Pat Quinn. At the center of once in a generation legislation such as Pension Reform and Gay Marriage. Populism doesn’t make you popular, but he wins this in a landslide.

  6. - Baltimoron - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    Judy Barr Topinka - she may be the last truly genuine person in politics. Her offer to be a flower girl at upcoming gay weddings won me over!

  7. - Anon - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 10:23 am:

    The ADM coup sans a tax subsidy gives Quinn an edge. Quinn showed leadership on issues that mattered to him and deserves some credit when they pass,(even if we disagree with him on one issue in particular.)

    Best congressman? Sen. Durbin. Suddenly the Senate has become efficient, since Dems belatedly invoked the nuclear option. Putting an end to mindless GOP obstruction of every appointment and every judicial nomination. For that he deserves credit.

  8. - Anon - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 10:44 am:

    One more word for Quinn. We all applaud Sandack, Sullivan and Barickman for standing up to their party’s powerful interest group, and rightly so. Well, Quinn also demonstated political courage in standing up to the public employee unions. Alhough I think the pension bill is unconstitutional, still, there is precious little political courage demonstrated in Springfield. When we see it, we should recognize it, as we did with the three Republicans.

  9. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 10:53 am:

    Agree with Anon @ 10:44. Besides that issue, Quinn bucked the Catholic hierarchy and never backed down from his support for SSM…you might not agree with his principles, but at least this Governor has some…he also held his nose and signed Concealed Carry.

    I have derided the legislature many times on this blog, but must tip my hat to them this year…I can’t help but think that this is due to the fact that many long time legislators retired of late, and some new faces and dare I say brains being present…well done ladies and gents!

  10. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 10:56 am:


    Judy, Judy, Judy: We can count on her to tell the simple truth, without the political messaging, massaging, and cheap shots. She has common sense. She works hard. She treats other people with respect. When we get confused on just where the state fiscal house stands, Judy sets us straight.

    Congresscritter: Mixed feelings. Standing up strongly for what I believe is usually what I prefer, but in this Congress it is a disqualifier, if it means being unwilling to compromise.

    Quigley, for taking strong, consistent stands. For personal integrity. For willingness to listen to all, and to compromise when necessary.

  11. - OurMagician - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 11:14 am:

    Best Statewide Officeholder: Judy Baar Topinka. In 2006, what were we thinking? Does her job, provides the public information on what is going on and doesn’t rely on cheap stunts to gain public good will.

    Best Illinois Congresscritter-Mark Kirk for the courage he has shown each one of us in recovering from his stroke and walking up those Capitol steps.

  12. - Connor - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 11:31 am:

    Absolutely agree with OurMagician @11:14

    My votes go to Judy Baar Topinka and Mark Kirk.

  13. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 11:33 am:

    Statewide, no surprise that I’m for PQ. Dragging Illinois out of the mess left by previous administrations and legislatures hasn’t been pretty, and it hasn’t made him the most popular leader, but he shrugs off the arrows and keeps dragging.

    Say what you want about the man, but he’s not willing to sell out the state’s best interests, and he doesn’t get hustled by big city mayors or big time CEOs. He’s been instrumental on major issues like the tax increase, pension reform, SSM, etc., but he also doesn’t overlook the small stuff like the free museum days.

    That’s the kind of leader I respect.

    Congress, have to go with Durbin. Calm, intelligent voice of reason that understands the struggles of everyday people. I may not agree with him every time, but barring a disaster he has my vote until he no longer seeks it.

  14. - Jan Fan - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 11:35 am:

    A strictly partisan vote for Schakowsky. No one in the Democratic delegation works harder to elect more Dems to congress.

  15. - From the 'Dale to HP - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    Best Statewide Officeholder: Judy Baar Topinka, she speaks the truth and sticks to her guns about the reality that the state is in financially and with its back log of bills. I don’t get the Quinn love here… while I give him credit with SSM, I don’t see how he ‘won’ with pensions; pensions seems to have happened in spite of him and his antics more than anything else. He looked like a fool during much of the months/years long process. And MJM made it clear that he got the deal done.

    Congress: Durbin by default. Agree with @A guy, no one really deserves it.

  16. - Springfield Wesite - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 11:48 am:

    Best Statewide Officeholder: Pat Quinn or JBT. Both showed that they were fearless this year on multiple issues - SSM just being one of the biggest.

    Best Congressctitter: Senator Kirk. He made national headlines numerous times this year and each time was for a great, positive thing that he had done. I didn’t vote for him in 2010, but have no complaints now.

  17. - John - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    PQ for best statewide office holder!

  18. - PA - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 12:05 pm:

    Best Statewide Officeholder: JBT is a strong spokesperson for fiscal responsibility. She runs her office smoothly and is surrounded with well-regarded staff. She brings transparency with The Ledger State and The Warehouse. JBT works towards realistic solutions. She is a common sense leader who is not shy from speaking her mind. JBT works for what is best for Illinois. We are lucky to have her.

    Best Congressctitter: Senator Kirk. He is truly inspirational.

  19. - ZC - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 12:06 pm:

    Best statewide officeholder: Strange to say it, but yes Pat Quinn on paper had a very impressive year. Man does he wobble but he has yet to fall down.

    For best congresscritter, I will second Mike Quigley, who so far looks like the rising star to beat in the next generation of IL’s Democratic House delegation. He started off 2013 with a bang by winning IL’s seat on Appropriations. Currently in the minority, he can work with both parties, particularly right now on ethics and fiscal restraint, while still being a strong voice for social progressivism and not shying away from calling out the Tea Party for its antics. He seems to have mastered the sweet spot of being a strong partisan and being politically effective, while not seeming overly partisan or political. There aren’t enough Reps in DC who can marry political smarts with just being really smart in general, but Quigley can walk and chew gum.

    My runner-up nominee yes would be Senator Mark Kirk; in terms of what 2013 will be remembered for long-term, no question gay marriage will be a biggie, and any Republican willing to forthrightly speak out in support of it gets a nod from me.

  20. - Obama's Puppy - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 12:16 pm:

    Statewide: Judy Baar Topinka
    Congress: Senator Durbin

  21. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 12:21 pm:

    Pat Quinn. No one likes him, and yet he gets stuff done.

    Congresscritter: Durbin

  22. - countyline - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 12:42 pm:

    -he also held his nose and signed Concealed Carry-

    Quinn actually threw a hissy and vetoed CCW, then the GA overrode him.

  23. - Greatplainser - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 12:56 pm:

    Congresscritter: Rodney Davis. Rodney has made waves in DC being an effective advocate for his district. He sits on conference committees for the FARM Bill and WRRDA. Those are both huge issues for thr 13th and Illinois. On top of that he has managed to position himself as a strong member of Congress pressured from the right but still keeping shape with his district. Together thats all pretty impressive for a freshman in this Congress.

  24. - Superanon - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 1:35 pm:

    P Quinn, lots of stuff got done despite squeezy, taking pay from the legislature, brutally boo’d at hawks rally, yet he keeps on truckin.
    Congress- Agree not one had a postive year. At least Jessie went to jail, the rest have no excuse for thier behavior.

  25. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 2:24 pm:

    Statewide: Judy Baar. Not even close. She runs a good, clean shop, spends our money like it was her own, and speaks her mind loud and clear. She knows as we do that she shoulda been Gov but doesn’t carry the grudge like most of us would.
    Total class act and one of a kind.

    Critter: Mark Kirk. A great and strong recovery.

  26. - Downstate - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 3:06 pm:

    Statewide - Rutherford. I don’t like him for governor. But he’s figured out how to thread the needle on a variety of issues - while still being well liked.

    Congress - Rodney Davis. Got the nomination by a whisker. Won the election by a whisker. The hard work that he showed to secure both the ballot position and the election victory were indicative of his work ethic in Congress.

    It’s the reason that he’s looking so strong in the primary. Strong work ethic - on the campaign trail and in congress.

  27. - Dirty Red - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 3:39 pm:

    I disagree with his politics most of the time, but I know where John Shimkus stands. In my dealings with him, I have found him to be someone who generally does not dismiss an argument with cheap party line rhetoric. He will actually debate the issue in a way that gives me a better understanding of why he votes a certain way.

    Not to mention that the longer he has that seat the longer Jason Plummer stays home.

  28. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 4:16 pm:

    Congress: It’s hard to say a good word about the train wreck that is Congress. But in hopes of nurturing the hopefully growing backbone in the House GOP caucus, I vote for both Rep. Schock and Rep. Kinzinger.

    They’re both targeted by the misanthropic Club for Growth as being not conservative enough (can you believe these guys?). Had enough, boys? Put the wood to them. They’re phonies and bullies and will lead the GOP and country to nowhere but the abyss.

    I had planned to vote for Kirk for his support of gay marriage and challenges to the NRA, but he’s starting to creep me out carrying the water for the Likud Party in the Senate for a strike on Iran. I’ve seen that movie. Let’s not be in a hurry for another war in the Middle East, okay?

    For statewide, I love JBT for standing up, forcefully and joyfully, in defense of gay marriage. That was true leadership in the GOP and should be rewarded. God knows they need more like her. Salud.

  29. - Hack - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 4:36 pm:

    Pat Quinn. Reached compromises on fracking and medical marijuana, and got pensions and marriage done. ‘Nuff said.

  30. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 4:51 pm:

    Best Statewide Officeholder

    When you look at the statewide officers, I choose one that has consistantly served the state with its best interest at heart. While all of the statewides work very hard for the people, this statewide has tried to be the adult in the room when all around many forces continue to make politics first, and governing second.

    Judy Baar Topinka deserves this Golden Horseshoe for coninuing to be a statesman and not just an office holder for any party. Topinka, day after day, stands up for her convictions, and plainly tells us all what needs to be said.

    I, for one, can appreciate a person trying to point out not all is well, and I understand that by doing so, she is not letting down her state. Judy Baar Topinka is trying to save her state, and we are all pretty lucky she is in our corner.

    Topinka is willing to go against her party on the political side to do what she feels is right too. We find ourselves looking to politics to reinforce a belief, Judy Baar Topinka is leading the way to help all in her party to learn what is the right thing to do; be inclusive. Judy Baar Topinka understands that one plank does not dictate who anyone is, or how they can be defined in any party, includig her own.

    The example that Judy Baar Topinka sets every day should be the standard we hold all our elected officals; Tell it straight, and be willing to do what is right every chance you can.

    While there are very worthy statewides to choos from this year, looking at the entire year from the governmental and politcal angles, I can only vote for one.

    I vote for Judy Baar Topinka.

  31. - anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 5:05 pm:

    The Catholic Church has not evolved.

    Some of you are only hearing voices in your head or imagining what you want to hear. Consider something that the Speaker or the Governor did not reference from the Bishop of Rome:

    “Defend the unborn against abortion even if they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court or kill you.” - Pope Francis celebrating the Pro-life Mass at the Vatican.

    Sounds traditional Catholicism to me.

  32. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 5:08 pm:

    Best Illinois Congresscritter

    This is a tough choice, and there really isn’t one in the Delegation where you find yourself sayting “They are Illinois!” Potomac Fever, Leadership positions, the wonky style of Washington has taken some of the charisma out, and added a great deal of partisan in, and that is not good at all.

    That being said, my vote is for the member of the Delegation who has had the most to deal with since being sworn in, and has tried to handle the job, his district, national politics and local feuds the best of them all.

    Congressman Rodney Davis has tried to do what he has felt was right, while dealing with the national scene that may not agree with those back home, making decisions and votes that have nothing to do with the local dust-up many in Congress do not have to face.

    Rodney Davis continues to work hard to be the representative to Congress his district, this state and this country can be proud of, while walking a very fine line of partisanship and independence. Rodney Davis has served his district and this state well, while being a freshman and doing all this plate balancing.

    Rodney Davis is a credit to his district and state, and will continue to be scrutinized in the short term. Illinois in the long term is being served well with Rodney Davis.

    I vote for Congressman Rodney Davis.

  33. - Almost the Weekend - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 6:19 pm:

    For Rodney Davis I have to disagree. It has to be easy going to Shimkus for all political and fundraising help. Not to mention using tens of thousands of dollars of tax payer dollars on franking.

    For Best Congresscritter I would like to nominate Congressman Bill Enyart. Enyart was thrown into a highly contested Congressional Race in late June of 2012 after the previous nominee withdrew for health reasons. Without hardly any name recognition Bill Enyart was able to defeat his opponent, Jason Plummer. (Even though we know from OW JP ran a terrible campaign) Enyart had less than 4 months to put together a solid campaign team and defeat an opponent who had high name recognition from 2010.

    After being sworn into Congress; Congressman Enyart has served his district well. Congressman Enyart is a co-chairman of the Congressional Coal Caucus, a caucus majority of the Illinois Democratic Delegation would have refused to join, especially being from Obama’s home state. If I was from the 12th Congressional District I would be honored to say Bill Enyart was my Congressman. He is somebody who did not run for public office to soothe his ego, but to be a moderate/common sense leader. IL-12 has received excellent representation thus far in the 113th United States Congress and hopefully the 114th United States Congress too.

  34. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 6:56 pm:

    I stand corrected…and Im glad he did…

  35. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 8:16 pm:

    Pat Quinn and Mark Kirk. Pension bill passed–did I just type that? You mean it really FInally happened? Unbelievable William Daley and Lisa Madigan drop out. No intra-Party powerful competition for the incredibly embattled/oft maligned Maverick Governor PQ–again, unbelievable. Plenty more examples others have touched on.

    And for Mr. Kirk JUST TO RETURN, full-time and THEN some, to serve the People of Illinois in the U.S. Senate–after all he went through, not to mention fight nobly for causes he supports (I won’t go into) is MORE than enough explanation for me. I’ll never forget getting choked up seeing him ascend all those stairs to the top of the U.S. Capitol Building. That’s a sheer profile in courage and act of a true American Hero right there alone, folks…!

  36. - Smitty Irving - Wednesday, Dec 18, 13 @ 9:52 pm:

    Statewide - Judy Baar Topinka.

    She continues to make more information available, all while using the system Loleta Didrickson installed in 1997, which was the Windows 95 era.

  37. - A. Nonymous - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 7:18 am:

    Statewide - have to echo all the vociferous votes for Gov. Quinn.

    In addition to the above nods about working to get legislation done when no one thought he was capable and pulling off quiet coups like keeping ADM in Illinois sans corporate welfare… He’s still got an innate ability to rally a crowd and win people over in person (always has).

    But the clincher? Sitting at a cafe across the street from a Lisa fundraiser “just to have breakfast.” Classic stare down politics.

    Congress? I don’t understand all these vote for Sen. Kirk. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy for him that he recovered swiftly and ably, all thing considered. But he has done so with the benefit of the best “ObamaCare-style” care that government health plans could give him.

    That GOP’ers never mention that fact is conspicuous.

    I have to give my vote here to Rep. Quigley as well - excellent at finding ecommon ground

  38. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Dec 19, 13 @ 8:37 am:

    Best Statewide Officeholder is Pat Quinn, for all the aforementioned reasons. Say what you will, but pension reform simple would not have happened without his focused leadership.

    I do want to throw Senator Kirk’s name in the ring for runner-up. While Topinka has broken from the partisan pack on a number of fronts, Kirk has actually cast some votes that were unpopular with the Tea Party base but necessary for the good of the nation, remarkable leadership in a Washington gripped in a partisan chokehold by the Tea Party and right wing “think” tanks.

    Sadly, we see no such leadership among Illinois’ Congressional Republican Caucus to match Mark Kirk’s. So while I give Quinn and Kirk credit for breaking from their party’s base, I think I will opt to leave this Horseshoe blank for the year.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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        * Jackson County hosts asparagus workshop
        * Williamson County Child Advocacy Center gets re-accreditation
        * John Adams Jr.
        * Anne Otey
        * John Oakley
        * Gipsey Hicks
        * Lavell 'LD' Starrick
        * Charles 'Blue' Perschbacher
        * Norma Rodgers
        * Rob Heuer

        * The 10th District money race
        * Aurora Democrat calls out IHSA
        * Lawyers: Ill. hazing law vague, unconstitutional
        * Ill. House OKs lower-cost hunting bill for seniors
        * Quinn’s running mate takes new consulting job

        * Nuke advocate attacks Obama - Reno News & ...
        * Grant puts AEDs in Clark County - Paris Be...
        * Congressman's staff in Neoga today - Journ...
        * Congressman to visit Renewable Energy Cent...
        * Shimkus Honors 100th Anniversary of Heath ...
        * Congressman to visit with constituents in ...
        * IRS Tax Breaks Available for Disaster Vict...
        * Shimkus accepting Congressinal Art entries...
        * Congressman to host art show at Tarble - D...
        * Shimkus tours EIU Renewable Energy Center ...

        * Loading Koch Industries Website Too Many T......
        * Maryland and DC among worst for food aller......
        * Cleveland State University to reestablish ......
        * Convicted political boss Al Sanchez runnin......
        * Candidates make last filings for local, st......

        * Illinois Lt. Gov. Simon opposes pension le......
        * Dillard Odd Man Out on Pension Deal Reaction...
        * Sen. Mark Kirk sides with Rauner on pensio......
        * Governor's race infighting threatens pensi......
        * SCHOONERS - Home of Everyone's Favorite Be......

        * Obama Administration Tightens Grip On Intelligence
        * Catching gangbangers on bikes?
        * You’d think it was still 20th Century by composition of immigration forum
        * CPS: Emanuel's Air Conditioning Mandate To Cost $100 Million
        * 6th Ward Alderman on CAN-TV's Political Forum
        * Reading the Tea Party Leaves
        * The Brick Stackers
        * Recipe for success
        * Court Critical Of Ohio Law Punishing Campaign Lies
        * Michigan Affirmative Ban Is OK, Supreme Court Says

        * Governor Quinn Promotes Welcome Home Illinois Program at Annual Affordable Housing Conference - Addresses Industry Leaders on State’s Improving Housing Market and New Program for First-Time Homebuyers
        * IEMA Encourages Participation in ‘America’s PrepareAthon!’ on April 30 - First National Day of Action Expected to Draw Millions of Participants
        * Redeploy Illinois Program Diverts Thousands of Youth From Prison System, Saves State $60 Million - New analysis of prison diversion initiative shows 54 percent reduction in juvenile incarceration
        * Illinois EPA Recognized for 40 Year of Graduate Public Service Internship Partnership with University of Illinois at Springfield - Agency Internship Programs Help Students Gain Real-World Knowledge of Environmental Protection and Regulations
        * Governor Quinn Proclaims Tuesday, April 22, Earth Day in Illinois - Urges People Across the State to Go Green and Continue Environmental Consciousness

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