State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Cong. Shimkus has a challenger

28 minutes ago

DANVILLE, Ill. (AP) - State Sen. Kyle McCarter says he'll challenge 10-term U.S. Rep. John Shimkus's re-election bid in the Republican primary in Illinois' 15th Congressional District. The conservative lawmaker from Lebanon says Shimkus has been in Washington too long after promising to serve no more than six terms when he was first elected in the district covering all or parts of 33 counties in eastern and southern Illinois.

Governor blames Democrats for budget impasse

17 hours ago

Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is picking up where he left off a few months ago: delivering a campaign-style stump speech as the state continues without a budget. 

At least sixteen of Illinois' 97 public health departments have laid off employees or cut back service hours, and more are expected unless the state comes through with funding.  

FAA proposes $2-million fine for drone photography

17 hours ago

The owner of a Chicago-based aerial photography company is calling the Federal Aviation Administration’s proposal to fine his company almost $2 million dollars ridiculous.  

An advisory board voted to add eight health conditions to the list of illnesses that can be treated by marijuana in Illinois. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner has sought to increase pressure on majority Democrats to end Illinois' unprecedented budget stalemate.

An association representing nearly 100 local health departments says the state budget impasse is "eroding" the ability to respond to public health emergencies. 

Is This Finally The Year For The Cubs?

21 hours ago
John / Flickr

The Chicago Cubs are in the Major League Baseball playoffs for the first time since 2008.  Illinois Public Radio's Brian Moline spoke to Brett Taylor from the Cubs website Bleacher Nation about their chances in tonight's wildcard game.

More budget impasse rhetoric

23 hours ago

OAK LAWN, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Bruce Rauner is trying to ramp up pressure on Democrats who control the Illinois Legislature to end the state budget stalemate. The Republican is scheduled to discuss the impasse - now in its fourth month - during a Wednesday speech before a business group in the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn. Rauner wants Democrats to agree to some of his legislative priorities, such as curbing public-worker union rights, before he'll sign off on a budget deal that includes a tax increase.

ROCKFORD, Ill. - Rockford airport is losing its connection to the New York City area just weeks after the service began.  The airport announced this week that Elite Airways will cancel the flights to Newark Liberty International Airport because of poor ticket sales. The service from Chicago Rockford International Airport began on Aug. 27. The last flight will be Oct. 19. The small airline also connects Rockford with Fort Collins, Colorado. That route will continue operating. Elite told customers in an email that it would reimburse them for Newark flights already booked.

Ailment List Could Grow

23 hours ago

COUNTRYSIDE, Ill. (AP) - A panel of medical experts is meeting to consider adding eight more ailments to the list that can be treated by marijuana in Illinois. The state's Medical Cannabis Advisory Board meets Wednesday in suburban Chicago. The group expressed frustration last month when Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration rejected its first suggestions for expanding the list of medical conditions. Board chair Dr.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois Department of Agriculture says that both the corn and soybean harvests are about 50 percent complete.  In its weekly crop report on Tuesday, the department said 50 percent of the state's corn and 49 percent of its soybeans have been harvested. Illinois is forecast to be the country's No. 1 soybean producer this year and No. 2 corn producer behind Iowa. The state report indicates that 55 percent of the corn harvested so far in Illinois is in good to excellent condition.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The state of Illinois is reducing fees on its Bright Directions 529 college savings plan to help families put more of their investment toward rising tuition costs. According to the Illinois treasurer's office, the change eliminates a $10 setup fee and $3 quarterly maintenance fee, and cuts management fees by 43 percent.

The House Republican Conference is scheduled to select its candidate for speaker Thursday to replace John Boehner, who’s leaving Congress at the end of the month. The rifts in the Republican Party that led to Boehner's departure are reflected in the thinking of House Republicans from Missouri and Illinois.

Low-income, working parents are fighting to once again have help from the state for childcare.  Since July, Illinois has drastically reduced who's eligible for the state's daycare assistance program. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner says he made the change to save money. 

An Illinois state trooper has been sentenced to one year of court supervision for a roadside strip search. The incident was captured on his patrol car's dashboard camera.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says he plans to stay in his job as long as he can.  This a day after a group of mostly black aldermen called for him to step down.

A bipartisan panel has selected longtime state Rep. Frank Mautino to serve as Illinois' next auditor general.  The Legislative Audit Commission voted to recommend the Spring Valley Democrat to replace retiring Auditor General William Holland.

Illinois has notified more than 100 jails, health departments and family planning programs that it no longer will provide free testing for sexually transmitted diseases at state labs.

Verizon on the move

Oct 6, 2015


NEW YORK (AP) - The owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other newspapers is offering buyouts to employees. Tribune Publishing announced the "Voluntary Separation Program" in a memo to employees. The memo says the newspaper publisher needs to reduce costs. The company has been in turmoil after the firing of Los Angeles Times publisher Austin Beutner in early September.

Measuring Campus Safety

Oct 6, 2015

ELGIN, Ill. - A suburban Chicago community college has been recognized by state officials for completing a campus safety initiative. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency announced on Monday that Elgin Community College received the "Ready to Respond Campus" designation. The goal of the program is to help students, administration and faculty prepare for hazards and emergencies, including campus shootings. To get the status, a college or university has to develop a violence prevention plan and start a campus outreach and education campaign, among other things.

Sports Reporter Details Abuse From Social Media

Oct 6, 2015

Sports reporter Julie DiCaro recently wrote an article for Sports Illustrated detailing the abuse that she and other female sports reporters receive regularly on social media.  She discussed the article with Illinois Public Media's Brian Moline.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Good news for anyone who ever wanted to get their kicks on Route 66. Three auctions - two on-site and one online - are scheduled for the collection that William "Bill" Shea put together and displayed at Shea's Gas Station and Museum in Springfield. Shea died at the age of 91 in December 2013 and in a statement on the museum's Facebook page his family said it could not "run or maintain" the museum that Shea opened 20 years ago.  Collectors will be able to bid on such items as vintage gas pumps and a 1952 Airstream Cruiser. The first on-site auction will be held Oct.

(Part 2 of 3)

Earlier this month, a new anti-heroin law went into effect in Illinois. The measure requires first responders to carry the opiate overdose antidote naloxone and expands the amount of addiction treatment paid for by Medicaid. But how the drugs and treatment will be paid for is unclear. State funding for addiction treatment is also in limbo as Illinois enters its 13th week without a budget.

Meanwhile, there have been a number of legislative attempts in recent years aimed at fighting the heroin epidemic in Missouri. But the only bill to become law is a measure allowing law enforcement to carry the overdose antidote. And so far very few police departments have taken advantage of the law.

Leaders of several state universities and community colleges are sounding the alarm as they begin month three of receiving no money from Illinois. State support for Illinois’ 12 public universities and its 49 community colleges is the largest part of the state government that isn’t being funded during Springfield’s budget impasse. 

The CEO of Commonwealth Edison says the utility is continuing to push for changes that failed to win legislative approval in the spring.  Anne Pramaggiore told an audience at the City Club of Chicago that a 2011 so-called "smart grid" law has led to savings and a more reliable power network.

Though Illinois has gone over three months without a budget, state government is anything but shutdown. Court orders and existing law have made it possible for the largest chunks of the state's financial obligations to be paid, except for the state's 12 public colleges and universities.  

The Chicago police chief sent his "best Guy" into a deadly neighborhood known for it's shootings.  Commander Glenn Evans sharply reduced shootings in the Grand Crossing area. Evans won gratitude from families who finally felt safe enough to sit on their porches.

Illinois Schools to be Graded

Oct 5, 2015

Schools and school districts across Illinois will be subject to a rating system that was recently signed into law and is scheduled to launch this school year.  The system will grade the schools and districts much like students taking a traditional classroom test are graded - on a 100-point scale with labels ranging from "exemplar" to "unsatisfactory."  30 percent of a school or district's score will depend on student achievement and academic progress. That will include state exam scores and graduation rates.