State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Anxious legislators will once again see a deposit from the state of Illinois in their bank accounts. They’re getting paid Tuesday for the first time since July, when their April paychecks came through.

Illinois doesn’t have enough money in the bank to pay all of its own bills. As a result, the comptroller’s office is way behind paying businesses contracted to do work for the state.

The backlog of overdue bills is approaching $8 billion.

Flickr Creative Commons/Jim Pennucci

Enormous rats are making their way through the federal court system. But they're not wet-nosed, living rodents. They're rubber, inflatable ones.  Unions deploy such rat replicas outside businesses they have disputes with.  

cropwatch.unl.edu / Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources/ University of Nebraska-Lincoln

University of Illinois researchers say a new type of corn disease has been found in northern Illinois.  The university says bacterial leaf streak was found in a field in DeKalb County. 

The Department of Human Services is still attempting to collect money from overpayments made nearly 30 years ago from its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, more commonly known as food stamps.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed measures that would increase wages for workers who care for those with developmental disabilities and expand a child care program for low-income families.  The Republican governor says there isn't enough money to support the proposals.

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.

youtube.com

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.

Flickr Creative Commons/InvestmentTotal.com

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. 

Flickr

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.

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