I have lived most of my life in Illinois. Had I not grown up here, I don’t think this state would be on my list of great places to live. First of all, the weather takes some getting used to. I enjoy the changing of the seasons, but I don’t enjoy how extreme they can be. Today’s temperature is forecast to be a high of 19 degrees and a low of -8 degrees. That is the temperature, not including the wind chill. The summers here can be nasty, too. We have terrible roasting summers with over the top humidity. Fall, like this past year, can be beautiful and unseasonably warm or it could snow in October. Spring is just as unpredictable.

Illinois politicians are laughable. We are now known as the state where the governors make our license plates. Our state legislature has just approved the largest state tax increase ever – 66%. They tell us it will only be for four years and then it will drop down to 3.75% which will only be a 25% increase. Right! Last year, signs popped up all over the local schools that Illinois owed them money. I thought the lottery was supposed to cover the schools. Oh, I guess they found something else to use the money for.

In early November, right after election time, I was working on a Christmas genealogy project for my parents. I sent away to the State of IL archives for four death certificates. The most recent death certificate was from 1957. I obtained the right forms, filled them out, made a copy of my driver’s license to prove it was me and mailed them first class mail. It was supposed to take four to six weeks to get them back – plenty of time for Christmas. Four weeks went by and then six. I checked the mail on Christmas Eve, and it was still not here. The check was not cashed. By January, I assumed it was lost in the mail.

Yesterday, I received a large envelope in the mail from the IL Department of Health. It contained my forms, copy of my driver’s license and my check. It also had a rejection letter with a red circle around the form’s directions and my expiration date on my license. My state issued driver’s license said it expired in 2008. However, Illinois puts a sticker on the back of the license stating it is good for four years after the date on the front of the license. My driver’s license is still valid, but the IL Department of Health doesn’t think so. So now, I have to find another photo id (which I don’t have) that shows my address, or I can send my own birth certificate (which has my maiden name!) and copies of credit card bills, utility bills, etc. I can’t just send a copy of the back of my license with standard sticker from Jesse White because there are no identifying marks on the back. I could just as easily send them the back of my husband’s license. All of this, not to mention another 10 weeks, just to get a copy of some distant relative’s death certificate. I wonder if they ran into the same problems in their day with our great state of Illinois.

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