State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Travis Stansel / Illinois Public Radio

 

The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to review a case regarding the constitutionality of hospital tax exemptions.  The court announced Wednesday it will hear arguments in a case involving Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. The case could affect all Illinois hospitals. No date was set for when the court will hear arguments.

The 4th District Appellate Court ruled in January that a 2012 state law allowing hospitals to avoid taxes is unconstitutional.  That law set guidelines for determining the non-profit status of hospitals based on their level of charity care.

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The number of overdose-related deaths in Illinois could be higher were it not for drugs that can save a person from opioid abuse. But that is just the beginning of a long road to recovery. Illinois Public Radio's Jenna Dooley looks at some of the resources to help those who are battling addiction.

 

A potential new state budget barely passed the Illinois House last night,  but Governor Bruce Rauner is already signaling a veto.

  The number of social service groups suing Illinois is growing. Eighteen agencies are joining a lawsuit against the state to get paid -- since they haven't received $130 million due to the budget impasse. One of the latest groups to sue is notable because of who's in charge.

An attempt to reach a deal on Governor Bruce Rauner's pro-business, anti-labor demands isn't working out for House Democrats, who are set to go it alone on a new state budget. That's the takeaway from a meeting between Rauner and the legislative leaders Wednesday morning.

Republicans -- led by Rauner -- say they won't increase taxes to balance the budget until they get fundamental economic changes.

Illinois House Democrats failed to overturn a veto from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on a bill that would let an arbitrator settle state-employee wages and working conditions if union negotiations stall. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Tony Webster

Illinois State Board of Elections officials say they're working with legislators to address logistical concerns raised in an automatic voter registration proposal.   The state's election authority opposed the bill over questions about cost and how the plan involving five state agencies would be implemented. 

Good-government advocates are criticizing the head of an agency that manages state construction projects for asking builders to lobby lawmakers to restore funding.  Jodi Golden is the executive director of the Gov. Bruce Rauner's Capital Development Board. 

Illinois Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is proceeding with his own budget proposal in defiance of Gov. Bruce Rauner's wish for a compromise that includes pro-business, union-weakening reforms to settle a nearly yearlong stalemate. 

Social service providers working without state payments for nearly a year are accelerating a lawsuit against the state by seeking immediate payments and adding plaintiffs.  Pay Now Illinois filed an amended complaint in Cook County on behalf of 82 groups. The lawsuit includes 18 new providers seeking payments for contracts over 60 days unpaid.  

A measure that would give Illinois adoptees more information about why they were adopted is heading to the governor's desk.   The plan sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Ann Williams and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson would require state adoption agencies to give adoptees age 18 and older information detailing the reasons for the adoption.

Wiretapped conversations show Drew Peterson planning a prison celebration after arranging for another inmate's uncle to kill the prosecutor who helped convict him in his ex-wife's death.  Peterson can be heard telling Antonio Smith "there was no turning back" on the hit. He is also heard saying he hoped to get "some booze" to "celebrate that night."

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers have approved a measure designed to prevent people with mental disabilities from owning guns.  

A proposal sponsored by Democratic Sen. Julie Morrison and Rep. Michael Zalewski strengthens existing law by requiring circuit court clerks to report the names of people a judge deems mentally disabled to the Illinois State Police at least twice a year. 

 

The House overwhelmingly approved the plan on Tuesday. The measure heads to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner next.

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You wouldn't have to be sick, to take a sick day under legislation approved by the Illinois House Tues.

It sounds like cheating.  But that's not what this is about, says Representative Andrew Skoog -- a Democrat from LaSalle.

"This is an effort to address the challenges facing 1.7 million caregivers in Illinois that juggle the work and caring for loved ones at home," Skoog said.

The measure allows sick time to be used to care for a close relative, like a child, spouse, or parent.  If a company offers sick time, that is. The proposal doesn't mandate that.

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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says it will work with local officials to seek new proposals for redeveloping the shuttered resort at the Eagle Creek State Recreation Area on Lake Shelbyville. But the current building will have to go. 

Engineering consultants hired by the IDNR said in an assessment survey released Tuesday that that fixing up the Eagle Creek facility would cost nearly $18 million. IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal says with that in mind, it’s best to demolish the old building and start over.

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Champaign is among the nation's faster-growing cities. 

 The city is the only one in Illinois to reach that distinction. Of the others, 74 are in California, 47 are in Texas, and 17 are in the Carolinas.  From July 2014 to July 2015, the Census found Champaign grew by 1.5 percent, to just over 86,900. It's now the 380th-largest city nationally and No. 10 in Illinois.  

Champaign's sister city, Urbana, grew by 140 people, pushing its population to just over 42,300.  

Just who can use what bathroom has garnered headlines across the country. Illinois senators are calling for a ban on unnecessary government travel to two states with bathroom laws targeting transgender individuals.

The end of the month -- and a major deadline for getting a state budget passed -- is getting ever closer.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is standing firm. He says he'll agree to raising taxes, if Democrats agree with his pro-business, union-weakening agenda.

Lawmakers continue to negotiate those items in private.

Representative Dan Brady, a Republican from Bloomington, is part of the talks.

He says the issues are "tender."

Nuclear energy representatives are in Springfield today in a last-ditch effort to save two of Exelon's Illinois plants.  The energy behemoth says unless legislators pass a law by the end of this month, it will shut down the plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities.  

Flickr Creative Commons/Garry Knight

A coalition wanting to change the state's redistricting process has cleared a big first hurdle.  But it has another one ahead.  The state board of elections says the group Independent Maps did collect enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.  Enough of them passed a sample test by the elections board.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has lately been critical of efforts to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, saying it’s not “what matters” in Illinois government. Our reporter has been closely following the governor’s overall efforts to improve Illinois’ criminal justice system, and was struck by Rauner’s comments on pot. So he decided to talk to someone who can explain how decriminalization fits into that broader effort.

The TSA is concerned that new leadership of passenger screening at Chicago O'Hare won't make long checkpoint lines won't go away.  The Transportation Security Administration ousted its head of security operations Kelly Hoggan after reports that thousands missed flights because of lengthy wait times.

Authorities have identified a man found dead after two FBI agents were shot and wounded while trying to serve an arrest warrant at a suburban Chicago home.

Secret recordings between Drew Peterson and an inmate he's accused of trying to enlist to help kill a prosecutor show that the former suburban Chicago police officer discussed selling drugs in Mexico if he gets out of prison.

Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been named to the board of directors for the museum that "Star Wars" director George Lucas hopes to build along Chicago's lakefront.

The Chicago Fire Department now has on the street its first ambulance outfitted with a pressurized plastic tent so that it can transport patients suffering from infectious diseases. 

Even in a normal year - getting an Illinois state budget approved is complicated. But this is no normal year. On top of that, lawmakers have just a week left to get it all done.

Given that lawmakers never approved a budget last year, they now  have not one, but two state spending plans to finish up a budget for last year - and a budget for NEXT year.

That means figuring out where to make cuts, and maybe where and how much to raise taxes.

A Springfield State Representative says he's not overly optimistic a full budget deal can be agreed to before the scheduled end of the legislature's spring session May 31.

Republican Tim Butler says 11 months into the budget impasse, some of the same obstacles remain.

It's been a year since the state Supreme Court found Illinois' big pension law unconstitutional, and an attempt to get a new law passed is stalled.

Lawmakers' goal is to reduce the state's expenses for its vastly underfunded pensions.

The court says it's illegal to do it by reducing an employees' retirement benefits.

Senate President John Cullerton and Governor Bruce Rauner think they have a way around that.

U of I employees eligible for overtime pay

May 23, 2016

The University of Illinois is one of the state’s largest employers and one that will be affected by new overtime rules announced last week by the U.S. Department of Labor. Under the new rules, many salaried employees will be eligible for overtime pay for any time worked past 40 hours per week, if they make $47,500 or less.  That’s nearly double the current threshold.  

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