State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

FBI data shows Illinois has recorded 38 gun-related domestic violence homicides since 2006, but the number is likely higher because the data is incomplete. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner has rejected legislation to reopen the Illinois State Museum, but says it may operate again if the museum can find its own funding through entry fees, donations and partnerships.

About 3,200 artifacts will be removed from the Rock Island Arsenal Museum's collection amid an upcoming reduction in staff.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has announced proposals he says would help shrink Illinois government and its costs. The proposals include legislation allowing voters to decide whether to dissolve units of local government. 

Commentary — Might we be seeing light at the end of the tunnel? Or is it the headlamps of the ongoing train wreck that is Illinois, picking up speed? Such questions came to mind listening to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address last week.

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Authorities in Illinois are asking Super Bowl revelers to make plans now for designating a sober driver.

Illinois State Police Col. Tad Williams says DUIs are responsible for nearly a third of all fatal crashes in the state. 

Faculty and others plan to rally at Eastern Illinois University as the school prepares to lay off about 200 employees as part of a plan to get through the state's budget stalemate.

Rauner has until Sunday to reopen State Museums

Feb 4, 2016

Time is running out for Gov. Bruce Rauner to act on a plan that would reopen the Illinois State Museum System.  

Deere and Company hopes Congress will ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership. The company announced its support Wednesday after the US and 11 other countries signed the trade agreement.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the upcoming delivery of almost 800 new stun guns will ensure that every police officer will have access to a Taser, following a series of high-profile fatal shootings in the city.

A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit to proceed that seeks to stop "Star Wars" creator George Lucas from building a $400-million museum along Chicago's lakefront.

Chicago State University trustees have declared a financial emergency at the troubled school that could make it easier to lay off employees.

The owner of the Chicago Tribune is receiving a $44-million cash infusion from a Chicago investor with a stake in the rival Sun-Times.

Jury deliberations are underway in the first-degree murder trial of a former Quincy prosecutor and University of Illinois football captain accused of killing his wife on Valentine's Day in 2006.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he wants to add lanes to part of I-55. But those individual lanes may be toll roads - with the fees changing based on how much traffic there is.

Jim Durkin lives in the southwest suburbs.

He often has to get downtown - and he says I-55 backs up a lot.

“I take Ogden Avenue. You wanna follow me into the city? I know all the routes. I’ve been doing this for years,” Durkin said.

Durkin’s I-55 commute is sometimes to downtown - but also - sometimes - to Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is forming a legislative panel to discuss changes to how Illinois funds its schools. 

Madigan says the bipartisan Education Funding Task Force will meet through the spring to craft legislation designed to ensure schools are funded equitably throughout the state. He made the announcement Tuesday. 

 The panel will be led by House Democratic Leader Barbara Flynn Currie. Panel members will get input from educators statewide. The first meeting will be Feb. 16 at the Capitol in Springfield.  

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A new Illinois law aims to help victims of human trafficking. It requires certain businesses post information and a hotline number for suspected cases. 

Human trafficking knows no boundaries.  It can include people from foreign countries as well as U.S. citizens. American girls who run away from home are more likely to become part of the sex trade. 

A national organization that runs the hotline says there were 122 human trafficking cases in Illinois reported last year.

A Midwest environmental group is questioning the ability of the country's largest coal producer to guarantee it has enough money for future cleanup of its Illinois mines.

The Chicago-area's Metra commuter railroad says it will miss a 2018 deadline for installing safety technology on all routes.

Several months after the deal was first announced, Deere and Company now owns the European leader in precision planters. 

No free tuition for NIU football fans

Feb 3, 2016

There is no student winner in a contest for free tuition at Northern Illinois University.  Last semester, NIU offered one lucky student the chance to win free tuition for the spring semester if they attended all six home football games. 

Rauner creates new department to attract jobs

Feb 3, 2016

Governor Bruce Rauner is creating a public private partnership with a goal of attracting jobs to Illinois.  The new department will work within the state's existing economic development agency, but will be funded with private money. 

Illinois is continuing to approve patients to use medical marijuana, with about 400 more approval letters sent in January.

There is increased attention on water quality across the nation as a result of elevated levels of lead in Flint, Michigan.

For the past several years, the unincorporated community of Wedron, in LaSalle County, has been dealing with its own water woes.

EPA: Wedron Groundwater Contamination Site

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says the income tax rate in Illinois would need to double from its current rate to combat growing debt. She says Illinois is on pace to spend an additional $6.2 billion dollars more than it brings in.

Last year, the income tax rate dropped in Illinois – from 5 percent to 3.75 percent. Speaking in Rockford, Munger says the tax rate would need to be in the range of 7 to 8 percent.

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CHICAGO (AP) - A federal judge has stripped a "GoTopless Day" activist of her core argument against a Chicago ordinance barring women from baring their chests in public. 

Sonoko Tagami sued after police ticketed her in 2014 for violating the ordinance during an annual protest of such bans nationwide. The protest was organized by the Las Vegas-based group GoTopless. The ticket cost Tagami $150.    

Tagami's lawsuit argues Chicago's ban infringes on her free-speech and other rights.  But the judge in Chicago rejected that in a Tuesday ruling.

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CHICAGO (AP) - A nonprofit research group says poverty rates in Illinois are up to three times higher for racial minorities. 

 The Chicago-based Heartland Alliance's research arm released a report Wednesday outlining significant racial disparities for income, unemployment, birth rates and housing, among other things. The 44-page document is called "Racism's Toll: Report on Illinois Poverty," and looks at institutional racism in the state.  The report says unemployment rates are 1.4 to 2.4 times higher for minorities than for whites.  

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will appear at a public event next month at the University of Illinois in Champaign.

The university's College of Law says Sotomayor will conduct a wide-ranging hour-long discussion with Professor Robin B. Kar. The March 7 event is free, but tickets are required.

 Sotomayor joined the Supreme Court in 2009. She is the country's first Hispanic justice.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s trying to find a way for the state to take over Chicago Public Schools, even though that seemingly requires a change in the law. 

Governor Bruce Rauner says he wants to change the way the state buys goods and services.  Illinois Republican lawmakers say making state purchasing more efficient would generate savings that could help fund higher education.