State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed legislation that would have prevented the state from limiting which elderly and disabled Illinoisans qualify for state-subsidized help.  
Illinois uses what's called the Determination of Need score to determine eligibility. The greater the need, the higher the score.
The proposal codified a qualifying score of 29. Rauner had previously proposed raising it to 37 to help free up resources. But advocates say that would've kicked off some 34,000 people.  

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that makes marijuana possession in small amounts punishable only with fines and no jail time.
The governor's office announced that Rauner signed the legislation Friday.
The new law means possessing 10 grams or less of marijuana will be punishable with a fine of up to $200. The governor's signature makes Illinois the 17th state to treat possession of marijuana in small amounts as a civil offense rather than a criminal one.
The legislation also sets a standard for what's considered too high to drive.

The governor describes the stopgap budget as a bridge to reform. But it could also be called an excavator — digging the state’s fiscal hole deeper.

Hillary Clinton had all week to convince delegates who’d backed Bernie Sanders to get on board with her campaign. By the end of the Democratic National Convention, she'd partially succeeded.

Most of Illinois’ delegates were all gussied up for the convention’s finale.

Alison Squires, a Sanders delegate from Sugar Grove, used black makeup to paint lines across her mouth, as if it’d been sown shut.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr

One person is dead and another wounded following two separate shootings by Chicago police. The police shootings happened less than an hour apart early last night on the city’s South Side.

Police say a little before 7:00 P.M., officers responding to a robbery in progress saw a man fleeing with a weapon near Ogden Park. When he did not follow their orders to drop it,  they shot him twice in the legs. He was taken to the hospital in stable condition.

berniedup / Flickr/Creative Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - A giant fish that once swam from the Gulf of Mexico to Illinois is making a comeback.

Biologists are restocking alligator gar in several states where it disappeared about a half-century ago, partly in the hope that it will be a powerful weapon against Asian carp. That invasive species has been swimming almost unchecked toward the Great Lakes for decades. 

It turns out that alligator gar have a taste for carp - and also dwarf the invaders. Asian carp can grow to 4 feet and 100 pounds; alligator gar can grow more than 9 feet and 300 pounds.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS

Last night, a woman born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, accepted the Democratic nomination for President. In roughly 100 days, voters will decide whether Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump will be the next president, which means it’s the beginning of the end for President Barack Obama. Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky reports, from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.


Rep. Tammy Duckworth / Twitter

The Illinois Attorney General's office says a settlement in the workplace retaliation lawsuit against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth is final and the plaintiffs can't back out even if no paperwork was signed.  

The two women who sued Duckworth said this week they wanted out of the agreement because they felt the congresswoman was tarnishing their reputations by calling their allegations false. But Attorney General spokeswoman Maura Possley said Thursday the agreement reached last month with a judge is final.

Labor's Ire for Rauner On Display at the DNC

Jul 28, 2016

There’s been one theme that’s come up day-after-day at the Illinois delegation’s morning events this week in Philadelphia: Bruce Rauner’s stance on unions.

The Illinois governor has advocated for a number of policies in the legislature, in court, and in contract negotiations - that labor unions see as a threat to their very existence.


And this week - Illinois Democrats have heard about that fight over and over. Tony Arnold reports.



Illinois Democratic delegates have heard from - by my count - 20 union leaders during breakfasts this week.


And I can’t play you just one clip from one of these speakers to give you an idea of what they’ve been saying all-week-long about Governor Bruce Rauner. There’s just too much to pick from.

State officials are officially seeking a new private manager for the Illinois Lottery after moving to terminate Northstar Lottery Group's contract last year.  

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced the release Thursday of a request for proposal on a 10-year $300 million contract. He says proposed contract changes eliminate past problems.

Illinois awarded Chicago-based Northstar a contract in 2010. The company was criticized about its management style and not meeting revenue goals. Under September's termination agreement, Northstar continues operations until 2017.

Illinois’ senior U-S senator is *considering* a run for governor.

Dick Durbin said this morning at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia that he’s focusing on the presidential race, and will make an announcement when the election’s over.              

Chuck Kennedy / Executive Office of the President of the United States

A member of one of the most famous political families in Chicago says politics are changing and not for the better. Illinois Public Radio's Lauren Chooljian reports.

Bill Daley was the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama. He’s also run for Illinois governor.

Daley says politics have changed so much in the last four years.  They’re nastier, and harder to predict. He says he doesn’t have a clear idea of which Illinois Democrat should run for governor, a popular topic in Philadelphia this week.

Hillary Clinton was born in Chicago in 1947, and raised in the suburbs. Sixty-eight years later, she’s making history as the first woman to be nominated for President by a major party.

Following, a handful ladies in Illinois’ delegation reflect on Clinton’s candidacy and on what it’s like to be a woman in politics.

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says unions have been a crucial​ part of establishing a successful middle class. He’s against plans like those promoted by Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan addressed his party for the first time all week today in Philadelphia. The crowd of Illinois Democrats gave Madigan a 15-second standing ovation.

The longtime state party chairman thanked the crowd for their cooperation this week.

A person familiar with the selection process says an exact location for President Barack Obama's presidential library has been chosen.

The individual says Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have selected Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side for the library and presidential center.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the individual wasn't authorized to discuss the choice before a formal announcement.

Sanders Delegate Wants Party To Be More Welcoming

Jul 27, 2016
Lee Milner, WUIS

An Illinois delegate for Bernie Sanders says he wishes leaders of the Democratic party would be kinder to Sanders supporters.

Sanders delegate Michael Harrington says he’s loved talking to other delegates in Philadelphia who are regular folk, as he calls them. But when it comes to Illinois party leaders he says he and other Sanders supporters have been getting the cold shoulder.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says the state's doing everything possible to reduce the risk of further contamination by legionella bacteria at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.

Rauner visited the home Wednesday, a day after state officials reported two residents have new cases of Legionnaires' disease.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Nirva Shah said at a news conference that both affected residents have been treated and released from a hospital.

Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois Michael Madigan says he knows nothing about abrupt resignation of one of his vocal critics.

Republican State Representative Ron Sandack of Downers Grove suddenly stepped down earlier this week.

Madigan -- in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention -- had little to say about the scandal.

Illinois Board of Elections officials say Auditor General Frank Mautino didn't file amended campaign disclosure reports and could face a public hearing.

Election board Executive Director Steve Sandvoss says Mautino didn't file the amended reports by Monday's deadline. The hearing would look into Mautino's use of campaign money while serving in the Illinois House.

Canvas bags have suddenly become a popular accessory in Philadelphia... for delegates to the Democratic  National Convention, anyway. Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky is in Philly, and can explain the trend.


CHICAGO (AP) - Attorneys are scheduled to address issues surrounding the resentencing of imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, including whether he will be allowed to attend the hearing in Chicago in person.

An appeals court ordered the resentencing after tossing five of Blagojevich's 18 corruption convictions. He has served four years of the original 14-year sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge James Zagel in 2011.

Prosecutors want that sentence preserved. The defense wants it slashed to five years. Zagel is set to resentence the 59-year-old Blagojevich Aug. 9. A status hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says her father’s job as Speaker of the House continues to be a factor in her political future.

Lisa Madigan’s name is floating around the Illinois delegation in Philadelphia as a possible candidate for Governor.

But Madigan says right now her party shouldn’t be focusing on anything but electing Hillary Clinton.

“There is going to be plenty of time after the November elections to have this conversation and as you can see here in this room, just as we saw last night, the Democratic bench is deep,” Madigan said.

A Cook County judge is ordering the state of Illinois to reconsider adding irritable bowel syndrome to the list of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana.

The suit was filed anonymously against the Illinois Department of Public Health. The anonymous man’s attorney, Michael Goldberg, says the condition can be painful and embarrassing.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has pushed back the date it expects former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert to be released from prison in his hush-money case.
Bureau of Prisons spokesman Justin Long told the Chicago Sun-Times that the reason for the adjustment "is not public information." Hastert's legal team declined comment.
The agency originally predicted Hastert would be released July 23, 2017. The bureau has since changed that to Aug. 16, 2017.

Police in suburban Chicago have released a report filed by former state Rep. Ron Sandack over an "internet scam," but it's almost completely blacked out.
Downers Grove police released the report Tuesday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Associated Press. Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican, announced his resignation Monday after six years in the Legislature. He cited a fight he had over "cybersecurity" issues. He told The Chicago Tribune Monday that someone harassed him with fake social media accounts.

Federal prosecutors say statements by imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich prove he isn't "deserving of leniency."
A resentencing hearing is scheduled next month for Blagojevich, who is hoping a federal judge will give him a five-year sentence instead of his original 14 years. Blagojevich has been in a Colorado federal prison since 2012 after jurors convicted him of 18 corruption counts, including attempting to sell the vacant U.S. Senate seat once occupied by President Barack Obama.

Chris Kennedy mulls bid for Governor at the DNC

Jul 26, 2016
University of Illinois

Chris Kennedy - of the famous political family - is entertaining the idea of running for Illinois governor.

Kennedy is the son of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy - addressed the Illinois Democratic delegation in Philadelphia. He admits he’s introducing himself to a lot of Illinois Democrats - as he considers running for office, including governor.

In his speech - Kennedy pivoted from talking about the American criticizing incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner for prioritizing his Turnaround Agenda.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says her father’s job … as speaker of the Illinois House ... is a factor in whether she’d ever run for governor.

Madigan did not elaborate. But she stepped back from a possible 2014 bid, saying it would not be good for

Illinois to have two members of the same family in those positions.

Anyone seeking the governor’s office is asking to take on acute fiscal problems brought on by a political stalemate, piled on top of chronic underfunding and massive pension debt.

Illinois voters like labor unions, but generally find Governor Bruce Rauner's approach to labor negotiations to be unfavorable, according to a new poll.