State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Cook County officials say they expect to issue the 10 thousandth marriage license to a same-sex couple this week.  Cook County Clerk David Orr held a news conference along with state lawmakers and civil right groups to mark the milestone. 

A former Chicago transportation official has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of taking bribes to steer $100 million in red-light camera contracts to a company in Phoenix.  U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall sentenced John Bills today in Chicago. 

The candidates vying to be Illinois comptroller are at odds over whether the office should even continue to exist.

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A new teacher who made a music video to welcome his students has become a bit of a star with his fourth-graders.  Dwayne Reed's video was posted on YouTube this week and has already been viewed more than a half-million times and earned him an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down Remap Proposal

Aug 27, 2016

The Illinois Supreme Court has blocked voters from deciding whether to change how legislative boundaries are drawn.  The proposal was meant to make legislative maps less political.  But the justices who ruled against it focused on one particular reason why the remap proposal can’t appear on the November ballot.

Governor Bruce Rauner says there are still serious issues facing the state, and he hopes a compromise can be reached so that Illinois can move forward soon.

Accessing life insurance benefits in Illinois will be easier, thanks to a new website and state law signed today by Governor Bruce Rauner.  What happens if a family grieving the loss of a loved one is owed life insurance money, but doesn't make a claim for it?  In some cases, the insurance companies held onto the money.

A law going into effect next month will ban zero-tolerance policies in schools and turn suspension and expulsion into disciplinary options of last resort. Districts throughout the state are taking different approaches to prepare for the changes.

Officials with the Teacher’s Retirement System made a decision today that could add another $421 million to Illinois’ annual pension costs.

 

A Decatur woman's ambition to become a nurse has led to new legislation allowing some convicted felons to petition the state for a health care worker license.  Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a measure into law that has personal meaning for 43-year-old Lisa Creason.

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation requiring insurance companies to locate beneficiaries of unclaimed life insurance policies and pay them the money they're owed.  The state also is launching a website to help Illinois residents find out if they are a beneficiary of an insurance policy or annuity left by someone who died.

Armadillos are moving into the state, and some researchers believe they may make it as far north as the central Illinois area. 

Illinois Issues editor Jamey Dunn talked with F. Agustin Jimenez, a zoology professor at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, about armadillos and why they might one day be more prevalent in the state.   

Illinois' contribution to the state's largest public-pension fund is expected to increase by more than $400 million next year after the board overseeing the account lowered its expected rate of return on investments. 

Video gaming machines have been popping up in Illinois bars and restaurants for nearly four years. For the most part, the increase in gaming machines and in revenue across the state has been steady.

Database: Check revenue reports in your community

Illinois State University

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) - Illinois State University says it believes that both its overall enrollment and freshman enrollment will set records for a third consecutive year.

Figures available during this first week of classes are only preliminary, but they show more than 3,600 freshmen and more than 21,000 students in all.

 Illinois State spokesman Jay Groves says official figures will not be available until next week. 

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The debate over Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, can get pretty heated.  But a long-time seller of non-GMO grain says he won’t get worked up over the issue. Illinois Public Radio's Rich Egger reports.

The Illinois Supreme Court has yet to make a decision on whether a constitutional amendment belongs on the ballot, even though election officials are set to certify the ballot tomorrow.

A Bloomington man running for Congress has successfully sued to keep his name on the ballot.

David Gill is running as an independent, and failed to file the number of valid signatures required by Illinois law.

That number is much higher than it would be if he were running as a Democrat or Republican, and a federal judge on Thursday ruled that Gill must remain on the ballot.

Robert Kozloff / Facebook/University of Chicago

Incoming freshmen at the University of Chicago have received a letter from the dean of students informing them of the school's commitment to free speech.  Dean of Students Jay Ellison writes that the university does not condone safe spaces where students can "retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own." 

The candidates for Illinois comptroller, Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger and Democratic Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, are working to show their independence from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. 

The White House is firing back at Sen. Mark Kirk for his comment that President Barack Obama was "acting like the drug dealer in chief" when the administration made a $400 million cash payment to Iran.  The Illinois Republican criticized Obama over the payment, which was contingent on the release of American prisoners. 

The nonprofit Catholic organization SSM Health says it will provide birth control pills at 26 clinics inside St. Louis-area Walgreens stores that it began operating today.  Four groups, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote letters to SSM and Walgreens on Aug. 18, asking whether the clinics would be restricted by religious doctrine from allowing consultations on birth control.

A federal judge has ruled a suburban Chicago terrorism suspect mentally unfit to stand trial on charges he placed what he believed to be a bomb outside a bar.  U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman has concluded 22-year-old Adel Daoud is sincere in his belief that aliens, the Illuminati and Freemasons are conspiring against him.

Insys Therapeutics Inc.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a lawsuit against a Phoenix-based pharmaceutical company for alleged deceptive marketing of an opioid drug meant for cancer patients.  The lawsuit claims Insys Therapeutics Inc. marketed its sublingual fentanyl spray Subsys to doctors who prescribed large amounts of painkillers instead of to cancer doctors.

Transportation officials with the state of Illinois say they'll study flood prevention methods after the Illinois State Fair was swamped this year.  Heavy rains, as much as nearly 5.6 inches on the first full day of the fair Aug. 12, swamped campgrounds and forced fair officials to cancel some events.

Gill Fights To Remain On Ballot As Independent

Aug 25, 2016

Illinois makes running for office much harder for candidates who file as independents than those who identify as Democrats and Republicans. As Brian Mackey reports, that law is being challenged in federal court.

David Gill’s campaign gathered more than 8,000 valid signatures for his independent run for Congress. Although that was way more than the Democrat and Republican had to collect, it wasn’t enough.

In his lawsuit, Gill argues the higher signature requirement is all about protecting the major parties from competition.

The latest statewide averages for ACT scores are out, and for the first time both Missouri and Illinois have a complete picture of how well their students did.

With 100 percent of 2016 graduating seniors participating, Missouri students scored an average of 20.2 and Illinois students scored an average of 20.8 out of 36.

An overhaul of the retirement benefits Illinois gives state employees, public school teachers and university workers has been the subject of talks between state leaders in recent months. Gov. Bruce Rauner said so Wednesday, but he sounded uncertain as to what will come of it.

Chicago police are debunking Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's claim that department officials told him they can reduce crime by being tougher.  During a Monday interview on Fox News' "O'Reilly Factor," Trump said Chicago's police force doesn't have "the right people in charge." He added he met "very top police" who told him if a specific person were put in charge, violence could be stopped "in one week."

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s narrowing his focus to fix the state’s political system.  Because he says there hasn’t been enough progress on other issues.   Governor Rauner has put aside his economic policy initiatives with the passage of a temporary state spending plan. And now says he has a few other issues to focus on.

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