State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

For elected officials in Illinois, attending Donald Trump's inauguration Friday is a political event. And their presence or absence is a political statement.

Several congressmen who represent parts of Chicago are skipping the Inauguration, but their reasons vary depending on who you talk to.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez gave a whole list of reasons in a speech on the House floor for boycotting -- from Trump’s comments on sexually assaulting women, to blaming the outcome of a court case on the Mexican heritage of a federal judge.

Flickr Creative Commons/Chicago Architecture Today

Illinois Republicans are reviving plans to sell and redevelop the James R. Thompson Center, claiming their proposal for the 16-story Chicago building, housing state employees, could generate hundreds of millions of dollars.  Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner first announced plans to sell in 2015, calling the building inefficient.


Organizers say about 50,000 people are expected to attend a women's march in Chicago the day after Donald Trump's inauguration.  The Women's March on Chicago is scheduled to begin with a rally in Grant Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The march through downtown is set for 11:30 a.m.

Chicago officials are expressing disappointment in a federal court ruling that says city restrictions on publicly accessible gun ranges violated the Second Amendment.  The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that restricting shooting ranges to manufacturing areas and bans on minors at the ranges were unconstitutional provisions.

Flickr Creative Commons/Matt Stoller

Imprisoned former House speaker Dennis Hastert wants one of his sexual abuse victims to return the $1.7 million in hush money the Illinois Republican paid him.  A filing in a suburban Chicago county court this week made that request on Hastert's behalf in an ongoing civil case.  The 75-year-old is serving a 15-month sentence in federal prison for violating banking laws as he sought to silence the victim. 


University of Illinois system trustees have endorsed a plan to increase enrollment at its three campuses by 15% over the next five years.  University of Illinois President Tim Killeen presented the plan to the Board of Trustees. The plan's goal would have more than 93,600 students enrolled at the school's campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. 

The last time the General Assembly tried to make school funding more equitable across Illinois, the legislation got derailed largely due to a fight over teacher pensions. Now pensions have cropped up again, this time in a bipartisan commission working to overhaul the school funding formula.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing is among those attending the US Conference of Mayors in Washington D.C. She says a common idea being heard is that municipalities are crucial in providing innovation and fiscal stability. In Illinois she says that's particularly true given the nearly 2-year impasse preventing a state budget.

Part of a potential compromise at the statehouse would make Illinois the first state with a tax on sugary drinks, like soda. 

President Barack Obama is leaving office without granting early prison release to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  Obama released a list of his final acts of clemency today and the list didn't include Blagojevich. 

Rauner: Obamacare Replacement Needed

Jan 18, 2017

Governor Bruce Rauner said Wednesday he is opposed to a repeal of Obamacare  without a replacement. It’s a rare comment from the governor about national politics.

  Gov. Bruce Rauner's office estimates a Senate proposal to break a nearly two-year Illinois budget deadlock would still leave the treasury billions of dollars in the red.

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office is suing the nation's largest student loan company, alleging unfair and deceptive practices with lending and debt collection.

 FOX RIVER GROVE, Ill. (AP) - Organizers of a ski jumping competition in northern Illinois have had to postpone the event for the first time in more than a century.

Two proposals on raising Illinois' minimum wage will be tackled by the new Illinois General Assembly.

Ray Cunningham / Flickr/Creative Commons

Governor Bruce Rauner says the people he’s been talking to about serving as University of Illinois trustees are “incredible” and “extraordinary”. But he says he can’t give out their names just yet.

The terms of three U of I trustees are expiring this month. Rauner has said he wants to take the university to a new level, once the state budget dispute is settled. And he says he hopes to have an announcement soon on new trustees who can help him do that.

Beth Cortez-Neavel / Flickr/Creative Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois judges will undergo training to be able to present school programs that offer a positive image of the judiciary. 

Rauner Hopeful for Federal Infrastructure Money

Jan 17, 2017
Flickr Creative Commons/jennie-o

Governor Bruce Rauner is hopeful Illinois will receive money for transportation from Donald Trump’s administration.

Chicago State University is getting a whole new slate of leaders.  The school has struggled financially for the last few years due in part to the state’s budget impasse.  The majority of the South Side university’s students are African-Americans.

Facebook/Women's March on Washington - Tucson March

Along with the presidential inauguration, another big event is planned in Washington this week. It's called the Women's March and Illinois will be represented.  The rally is set for Saturday, the day after Donald Trump is sworn in as president.  

Chicago police and firefighters are getting additional training on how to better respond to mental health emergencies.  The training comes in the wake of the U.S. Justice Department report on the Chicago Police Department that criticized those efforts as deficient. 

The result of the presidential election has caused many people to get more involved politically. On January 21st, the day after president-elect Donald Trump is to be officially sworn in as commander-in-chief, thousands of activists are expected to gather in Washington DC for what's being called the "Women's March on Washington." / Renewable Energies Agency

The greenhouse at the University of Illinois Energy Farm will soon be receiving environmentally friendly heat during winter months.  A new "biomass boiler" from Germany will be replacing the greenhouse's currently used propane gas. 

When the issue of dog behavior is discussed, you’ll often hear certain misbehavior attributed to dominance. But one University of Illinois expert says the science doesn’t back that up. 

Dr. Kelly Ballantyne is a board-certified veterinary behaviorist with the University Of Illinois College Of Veterinary Medicine. Illinois Public Radio’s Brian Moline spoke with Ballantyne about some of the misconceptions about dominance in dogs.

IvoShandor / Wikimedia Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois will get roughly $3.6 million in federal grants for local governments to increase public access to outdoor parks and recreation. 

Quad Cities residents gathered at Augustana College over the weekend for a community celebration and musical tribute to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Missouri's U.S. senators are renewing efforts to get the legendary riverboat the Delta Queen cruising again on the Mississippi River and its tributaries.  Legislation filed by Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Roy Blunt would reinstate an exemption for the Delta Queen to a federal law that prohibits overnight excursions on wooden vessels. 

Several Chicago aldermen want the federal government to follow its report on the city's police department with a review of City Hall lawyers.  The aldermen recently sent a letter to the Justice Department asking for a review of Chicago Law Department practices. Law department lawyers represent officers accused of wrongdoing in civil cases. 


Gov. Bruce Rauner and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth were among those volunteering to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Illinois.  The Republican governor and Democratic senator were at Chicago's Marie Curie High School for an event hosted by the nonprofit group City Year Chicago. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Chris J

President Barack Obama is celebrating the World Series champion Chicago Cubs before he leaves office.  Cubs players filed into the White House East Room on Martin Luther King Day for Obama's final ceremony for a championship sports team. Even sweeter for Obama is that the Cubs hail from his hometown.