State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Illinois Democrats remain divided over how to address the state’s financial crisis.

Democrats Divided as Budget Deadline Approaches

11 hours ago

The Illinois General Assembly is just three days away from the traditional deadline for passing a budget.  The Democratic majority in the Illinois House is wrestling with what to do.  State Representative Jay Hoffman, from Swansea, says his fellow Democrats are divided about what to cut and whether to raise taxes.

A group of military veterans in southern Illinois hopes their Memorial Day weekend effort to play the longest non-stop baseball game ever was successful.  The marathon game ended about 10:20 a.m. today after 74 hours, 26 minutes and 52 seconds. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Matt Stoller

An Illinois man accuses Dennis Hastert in a new lawsuit of sexually assaulting him when he was a fourth-grader, at least the fifth such allegation against the former House speaker who will soon be released from prison in a hush-money case.

The Illinois House has approved a plan that prevents what advocates say is harassment of undocumented immigrants.  The so-called TRUST Act was approved 62-49. It requires a criminal warrant before federal authorities pursue undocumented immigrants. 

One of Illinois' oldest conservation groups is marking 120 years since its founding. The Illinois Audubon Society says it'll gather next month at Chicago's Field Museum to celebrate the anniversary.   The nonprofit organization was established in 1897, dedicated to the protection of birds. 

The Illinois House has unanimously approved changes to state purchasing laws that tighten changes enacted in 2009 after former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached and imprisoned for political corruption. 

A suburban Chicago mayor is joining Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in calling for a permanent freeze on property taxes.  Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau says he is committed to keeping property taxes low while maintaining services. 

Flickr Creative Commons/NEC Corporation of America

The number of medical school graduates who stay in Illinois after graduating from the state's public universities is plummeting.  Crain's Chicago Business reports school officials offer different reasons why, but some point to Illinois' two-year budget impasse.

Paul Coussens

Illinois school chiefs are pressing lawmakers to pass a budget that fully funds schools before the legislative session draws to a close this week.  School district superintendents from across the state will convene at the state Capitol on the General Assembly's Wednesday deadline to urge lawmakers to produce the state's first complete budget in two years. 

The Illinois Legislature has overwhelmingly endorsed a plan to automatically register qualified voters.  The proposal would register eligible individuals automatically when they visit Secretary of State's offices and several other state agencies unless they opt out. The House endorsed it 115-0. It now returns to the Senate for agreements on changes.

U.S. Navy / Creative Commons

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) - Illinois State University is getting a $3 million boost for its new cybersecurity program that'll start this fall. 

AARP

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Unsung heroes at least 50 years old who are making contributions to communities and improving cities and neighborhoods are eligible for recognition by AARP Illinois. 

Katherine Johnson / Flickr/Creative Commons

 SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House plans to continue debating a proposed income tax increase as the Senate returns to the question of a property tax freeze. 

Illinois’ top election officials say the nearly two-year budget stalemate could interfere with preparations for next year’s election. The warning came at a budget hearing Sunday afternoon.

QC Mental Health Treatment Reaches General Assembly

May 29, 2017

A bill that would allow Illinois and Iowa mental health patients to get treatment across the border is now headed to Governor Bruce Rauner's desk.

Democrats in the Illinois Senate today made another attempt to meet the demands of Governor Bruce Rauner’s economic agenda.  The Republican governor has said the expense of workers compensation insurance has driven businesses out of the state.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is again saying today he needs a property tax freeze to end the budget impasse.  His comments came as Rauner and House Democrats can’t even agree to meet in private.  There are five days left before state lawmakers are supposed to adjourn for the year.  And Rauner is criticizing the Senate Democrats for not yet agreeing to a property tax freeze even though they’ve at least been meeting with Republicans to negotiate.

Legislation aimed at reducing the cost of workers' compensation insurance for Illinois employers has won Senate approval.  One measure sponsored by Evanston Democratic Sen. Daniel Biss creates a government insurance company to compete in the policy-writing market. It was approved 32-20 Friday. It goes to the governor. 

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has granted five petitions for clemency and denied 197 others.  The Illinois Prisoner Review Board says the granted cases involve attempted burglary, theft and drug charges.  A petitioner granted clemency is allowed to go to court to seek expungement of a criminal record. Each person granted clemency has undergone a background check.

Chicago universities and community leaders have launched efforts aimed at addressing mental health concerns unique to immigrants living in the country without legal permission.   The Coalition for Immigrant Mental Health convened an inaugural summit Friday, saying issues have been exacerbated in the wake of a presidential election where anti-immigrant rhetoric was rampant. 

An Illinois university is taking aggressive measures to recruit new high school students to its campus.  Eastern Illinois University announced it will open its application process next week for the fall 2018 semester and waive its $30 application fee for incoming freshman and transfer students until Oct. 2.

A Chicago jail has started offering gourmet Italian pizzas to inmates.  For the past few weeks, inmates have been able to order a pizza made by fellow inmates in a fancy $16,000 pizza oven.  It's part of a training program designed to give inmates skills that can land them jobs when they are released. Inmates pay no more than $7 per pizza.

Illinois officials say Memorial Day visitors to Starved Rock State Park should monitor social media for reports on traffic delays and parking closures.  Department of Natural Resources officials say large crowds are expected at the recreation area near Utica in LaSalle County. 

Public schools would have to provide free feminine hygiene products in girls' bathrooms under legislation approved in the Illinois General Assembly.

By a vote of 10-3, an Illinois House committee has approved a controversial bill that would imprison repeat gun offenders for up to 14 years.

Opponents argue there’s no evidence the proposal would do anything to reduce gun violence.

Lavender Country is the name of a band and an album that came out in 1973. It rattled some conservative cages, and then for a long while it seemed to be erased from the history books. Patrick Haggerty is the singer/songwriter, he had help with production from the Gay Community Social Services of Seattle. "At the time that we made Lavender Country we knew very well what it was. We also knew that the audience that was going to hear it was going to be out (of the closet), or coming out, and that the rest of the world was going to reject gay country music," says Haggerty.

As budget negotiations continue, one big piece of the puzzle is school funding. We check in with our Education Desk reporter to see which bills are on the table, what they would do, why some “news” outlets say districts would lose money, and whether there’s any chance a bill will pass.

 

For most high school seniors, the month of May is all about preparing for graduation and the future.  It's also a time to reflect on the past dozen years of school. In Galesburg, those memories include a trip back to the school where their education started.

Douglas Coulter / Flickr/Creative Commons

Native Illinoisans would have an easier time changing the gender on their birth certificates, under legislation approved today in the Illinois House.  Under current law, only people who’ve had gender reassignment surgery can ask to change their birth certificates.  

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