Two years ago, lawmakers were sworn in at a January ceremony as they always are. But things changed quickly when, minutes later, new lawmakers took their first vote -- to impeach then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
This year, the 97th General Assembly was sworn in today surrounded by a little less political drama. But with a state in financial disarray and the economy dogging Illinoisans' personal finances, state officials' challenges in governing don't get much bigger.
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"Boy, it's not a job I'd particularly want right now," said Matt Streb, a political scientist at Northern Illinois University.
As the new group goes forward, how it handles the budget, economy, and whatever other big issues arise in the next two years will define it.
And most of the heavy lifting will once again be on Democrats' shoulders who still control both chambers, but their majorities have shrunk.
There will be new faces among the rank-and-file, but much of the leadership remains in place from the last two years.
"Springfield won't look that much different the day after the new legislature is sworn in," Streb said.
Chicago Democrat John Cullerton was re-elected as Senate president. He promises to focus on improving education and reducing worker's compensation costs.
Michael Madigan, another Chicago Democrat, returns as House speaker.
Madigan says the last session was among the most contentious and also most productive sessions in Illinois history.
Here's a look at the suburban delegation:
Mark H. Beaubien Republican, Barrington Hills 52nd District 1996-present Beaubien is the House Republicans' point person on the state budget and has served as assistant Republican leader.
Linda Chapa LaVia Democrat, Aurora 83rd District 2003-present
Franco Coladipietro Republican, Bloomingdale 45th District 2007-present
Sandy Cole Republican, Grayslake 62nd District 2007-present
Michael Connelly Republican, Lisle 48th District 2009-present
Fred Crespo Democrat, Hoffman Estates 44th District 2007-present
Tom Cross Republican, Oswego 84th District 1993-present Cross is the House Republican leader, head of the minority party and responsible for setting the GOP tone on issues from taxes to spending and many in between.
Keith Farnham Democrat, Elgin 43rd District 2009-present
Mike Fortner Republican, West Chicago 95th District 2007-present Fortner has studied how legislative boundaries are drawn, an issue that will get a lot of attention from lawmakers this year.
Jack Franks Democrat, Marengo 63rd District 1999-present
David Harris Republican, Arlington Heights 66th District 1983-1992, 2011
Since Harris' first stint in the Illinois House in the 1980s and '90s, he's worked as the adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard and as a vice president for the Illinois Hospital Association.
But now he returns to Springfield to find a General Assembly that operates a little differently.
"When I was there, we dealt in paper," Harris said. Legislation and amendments were often stacked feet-high on his House desk.
But now, Harris says, he can review dense legislation immediately because it's available on the Internet.
Still, Harris said, the process of passing legislation isn't different in that he has to work hard to find votes and allies if he wants to get anything done.
"What hasn't changed is the process," he said.
Republican, Yorkville 50th District 2009-present
Sidney Mathias Republican, Buffalo Grove 53rd District 1999-present
Rita Mayfield Democrat, Waukegan 60th District 2010-present Mayfield took over for the late Rep. Eddie Washington following his death in June.
Tom Morrison Republican, Palatine 54th District 2011
Morrison says he has to be tight with the budget for his business, SERVPRO, a disaster cleanup business. He hopes to bring the same kind of money sense with him to Springfield, trying to keep in mind that people shouldn't spend more than they make.
"If we don't do that, our business can go under," he said.
Morrison said he's been talking to former and current lawmakers to try to prepare for his first term in the General Assembly. But he knows that unlike at his business, many of the final decisions in Springfield won't be his alone.
"I don't think any one person can get their arms around it," he said.
Rosemary Mulligan Republican, Des Plaines 65th District 1993-present Mulligan speaks often from the House floor and can be expected to be active in human services issues.
Michelle Mussman Democrat, Schaumburg 56th District 2011
Mussman did not use a law or political background to get to Springfield. She was simply a "mom on a mission," she says.
The Schaumburg Democrat said it was her time on the Parent-Teacher Association that inspired her to take her community service to the next level.
"I think it is important that we all bring different experiences because that reflects the communities we're representing," Mussman said. "You're able to think about topics and issues that affect your community in different ways."
While Mussman said everything comes down to fixing the state's fiscal problems, she does not want to ignore other legislative areas such as education and environmental issues.
"Special needs law in education is very critical right now," Mussman said. "It's another area I think the state has a lot of room for improvement on."
Nybo is new to Springfield, but he is not to politics. He served as an Elmhurst alderman since 2007 and most recently as vice chairman of the city's public affairs and safety committee.
He said that during his time as alderman he learned communication is key, which is why he is setting up a committee of constituents he plans to meet with periodically during his term.
"I think part of the problem with state government is that there is not a good information source as to what takes place down in Springfield," Nybo said. "The Legislative Advisory Board will be a group of district residents that will serve as a source of new ideas and a group I can meet regularly with."
Residents of the 41st District can apply to be a member of Nybo's board at his website, www.chrisnybo.com.
JoAnn Osmond Republican, Antioch 61st District 2002-present
Sandra Pihos Republican, Glen Ellyn 42nd District 2003-present
Randy Ramey Republican, Carol Stream 55th District 2005-present
Republican, Elmhurst 46th District 2007-present
Angelo "Skip" Saviano Republican, Elmwood Park 77th District 1993-present
Timothy Schmitz Republican, Batavia 49th District 1999-present
Darlene Senger Republican, Naperville 96th District 2009-present
Carol Sente Democrat, Vernon Hills 59th District 2009-present
Ed Sullivan Jr. Republican, Mundelein 51st District 2003-present
Michael Tryon Republican, Crystal Lake 64th District 2005-present
Pamela Althoff Republican, McHenry 32nd District 2003-present
Kirk Dillard Republican, Hinsdale 24th District
Dan Duffy Republican, Lake Barrington 26th District 2009-present
Susan Garrett Democrat, Lake Forest 29th District House: 1999-2003 Senate: 2003-present Garrett has focused on ethics issues recently, a topic that's been popular in the General Assembly as of late.
Don Harmon Democrat, Oak Park 39th District 2003-present
Linda Holmes Democrat, Aurora 42nd District 2007-present
Tom Johnson Republican, West Chicago 48th District House: 1993-2003; Senate: 2011
Johnson is taking a trip across the Capitol rotunda he never expected.
"This was not anything I was seeking at all," Johnson said.
Though he did not ask to serve out the remainder of former Sen. (now U.S. Congressman) Randy Hultgren's term, Johnson said he is glad he was appointed the district, which includes the area he represented in the Illinois House from 1993-2003.
In his 10 years of service in the House, he said it was his first year that most reminds him of the challenges he faces now.
"This reminds me very much of 1993 when I first came in, we we're over the cliff," Johnson said. "In 1995 we took a lot of bold actions and it has to be done with Medicaid, education and pensions. I understand the need for revenue, but revenue without change is useless."
Dan Kotowski Democrat, Park Ridge 33rd District 2007-present
Chris Lauzen Republican, Aurora 25th District 1993-present
Terry Link Democrat, Waukegan 30th District 1997-present
Link is the Senate Democrats' top gambling expert, and he often sponsors legislation concerning elections.
John Millner Republican, Carol Stream 28th District House: 2003-05 Senate: 2005-present
Matt Murphy Republican, Palatine 27th District 2007-present
Michael Noland Democrat, Elgin 22nd District 2007-present
Carole Pankau Republican, Itasca 23rd District House: 1993-2004 Senate: 2005-present
Christine Radogno Republican, Lemont 41st District 1997-present
Radogno is the Senate Republican leader and this term has 24 GOP members, enough to break Democrats' formerly veto-proof majority.
Ron Sandack Republican, Downers Grove 21st District 2010-present
Sandack started a bit early, taking his Senate seat at the end of the November from Dan Cronin, who left after being elected DuPage County Board chairman.
Since then, Sandack says he's just been trying to learn how Springfield works. "I've been trying to be very observant," he said.
Sandack has been a prolific user of Twitter to follow news and let his views be known. And for the next several months, he'll be balancing his job in the Senate with the last couple months of his term as Downers Grove mayor.
Sandack said he's coming to grips with how bad the state's budget is, and how hard it'll be to fix.
"Trying to spread the pain, it's difficult," he said.
Suzi Schmidt Republican, Lake Villa 31st District 2011
Schmidt knows that going from chair of the Lake County Board to a senator in Springfield will take some adjusting on her part. She goes from leading the board of a large county to one of 59 members of the Illinois Senate.
"As county board chair, I had some control," Schmidt said. "I'm just one of many down there."
She says, though, that because of her experience in local government, she knows the potential impact decisions made in Springfield can have hundreds of miles away. Schmidt said she'll focus on legislation that doesn't erode local governments' control.
Schmidt spent 10 years as chair of the county board and worked as a Lake Villa Township trustee in the 1980s.
Arthur Wilhelmi Democrat, Joliet 43rd District 2005-present