Tributes to former President Barack Obama have abounded since he left office last month, but some Illinois lawmakers want to take it to the next level.
Three bills have been introduced in both the Illinois House and Senate looking to add a new state holiday on Obama’s birthday.
Schools and state offices would close, while banks and businesses can, but are not required to close. If Aug. 4 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the holiday would be observed on the following Monday.
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The bills were introduced by Reps. André Thapedi and Sonya Harper, Democrats representing districts in Chicago. Both were referred to the State Government Administration committee, which is scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday.
If signed into law, Barack Obama’s Birthday would join 13 other state holidays, including the birthdays of fellow former president Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Casimir Pulaski.
A bill in the Senate, where Obama once served, would turn Aug. 4 into "Barack Obama Day," a commemorative day on which offices would not be required to close.
The holiday would be "observed throughout the State as a day set apart to honor the 44th President of the United States of America who began his career serving the People of Illinois in both the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate, and dedicated his life to protecting the rights of Americans and building bridges across communities," the legislation reads.
SB55 was introduced by Sen. Emil Jones III, the son of former Senate President Emil Jones, Jr., who played a major role in launching Obama to the U.S. Senate in 2004 and considers himself to be the former president’s political "godfather."
The Senate bill has two co-sponsors, fellow Chicago Democrats Sen. Jacqueline Collins and Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, and is currently in the State Government committee, which is also scheduled to meet Wednesday.
Another resolution in the Illinois House looks to pay tribute to the former commander in chief in an entirely different way.
Introduced by Rep. Rob Martwick, House Joint Resolution 17 would rename Interstate 294 as the "President Barack Obama Tollway" in honor of the man the legislation calls "the pride of Chicago and Illinois."