State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Five of the Democrats running for Illinois governor met at a debate Wednesday night in Springfield. Among the prime topics was House Speaker Michael Madigan’s handing of harassment in his political organization.

Palmetto State Armory

The gun debate continues at the Illinois state capitol. 

Sen. Ira Silverstein is targeting weapons like the AR-15, a popular semiautomatic rifle used in the recent Florida school shooting.  

“I don’t know why people need these guns in the first place. They’re highly sophisticated powerful guns.”

But his plan goes further.  It classifies several guns and attachments as “assault weapons.” Todd Vandermyde, a pro-gun lobbyist, says the title is misleading.

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) - Southern Illinois University's chancellor is facing two ethics reviews over complaints that he hired his family and used part of his relocation allotment from the university to help cover costs of his daughter's move.
Carlo Montemagno became chancellor for the Carbondale university in July.

CHICAGO (AP) - A growing number of Illinois Democrats are calling for an independent investigation of misconduct within longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan's political and state operations.
Madigan, who's also chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, has dismissed two campaign workers in recent days following complaints of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior.
Several Democratic lawmakers and candidates say they have questions about how Madigan handled the complaints.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s considering moving some residents out of a state-run veterans’ home troubled by Legionnaires’ disease.

That’s after the state announced in the past week four more residents have tested positive.

Southern Baptist minister Billy Graham died at the age of 99 today.  He was well known for the scope of his ministries, as well as providing spiritual counsel to several U.S. Presidents. His alma mater, Wheaton College, opened the Billy Graham Center in 1981. Executive Director Dr. Ed Stetzer says Graham will be difficult to match theologically.

Biss Calls For Financial Transaction Tax in Illinois

14 hours ago

All the Democratic candidates for governor except Robert Marshall support a graduated state income tax in Illinois. But only Tio Hardiman and State Senator Daniel Biss support another way of taxing the wealthy --- the so-called LaSalle Street tax proposal. That’s a proposal to tax financial transactions, such as the buying and selling of stocks.

Speaking on the talk show The 21st, Biss says his support of a financial transactions tax sets him apart from the other front-running candidates.

An Illinois proposal has been drafted in response to the deadly shooting at a Florida high school last week. The newly filed measure would ban so-called "ghost guns." 

Senate Democrats blasted Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration for failing to appear to answer questions about a report showing a possible fix for a veterans' home beset by Legionnaires' disease would cost far less than what officials have repeatedly said.

The Illinois Senate is endorsing a plan to require children to ride in rear-facing car seats until age 2.

The application system is scheduled to reopen next week for Illinois families wanting to apply for the state's new private school scholarship program.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says state fishing licenses for the year go on sale March 1.

An Illinois man will get mental health treatment and substance abuse counseling after pleading guilty to making online threats against President Donald Trump.

As the death toll climbs for opioid-related overdoses in Illinois, state leaders are looking for solutions. Advocates have highlighted a Whiteside County Clinic as a state leader in its outpatient drug rehabilitation program. WNIJ's Jessie Schlacks went to Rock Falls to tour the facility:

Whitney Miller is case manager of the Medication Assisted Treatment program - or MAT - at the Whiteside County Clinic.

Downstate Debate Cancelled After Pritzker Declines

Feb 20, 2018
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The only televised debate outside of Chicago between the Democratic candidates for governor has been cancelled, WCIA-TV said Monday. That’s after candidate J.B. Pritzker would not commit to attending the debate in Springfield. Speaking on WILL’s The 21st, Pritzker said he’s already done almost 50 forums and joint appearances.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights has set up a new hotline for victims of sexual harassment.

Matt Streb, chief of staff to Acting NIU President Lisa Freeman, says Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed allocation for higher education ignores even a minimal 1.9 percent increase requested by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Instead, it keeps cuts made in last summer’s budget deal.

“The [university] presidents,” he said, “including Acting President Freeman, have argued that the institutions in the state should revert to the Fiscal ‘15 year allocation, which was the last year that we had a full budget before FY ’18.”

This week, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual Budget Address before the General Assembly and House Speaker Michael Madigan fired a long-time campaign worker due to sexual harassment allegations.

Gatehouse Media's Doug Finke joins the panel.

Senator Tammy Duckworth / Facebook

Breaking barriers is nothing new for Sen. Tammy Duckworth, and that's the way she likes it.

The Iraqi War veteran, who lost both legs when her helicopter was shot down, is an Asian-American woman in the mostly-white, mostly-male Senate.

With a baby due in April, she'll become the first senator to give birth while in office.

Chicago Zoological Society

Scientists from the Chicago Zoological Society and a team assembled by the Reproductive and Behavioral Sciences Department at the St. Louis Zoo are using artificial insemination in an effort to improve the genetic diversity of the Mexican wolf population.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the wolves have been endangered since 1976, when only seven were left in the wild. Now, scientists at Brookfield Zoo are utilizing new reproductive tools and technologies to advance the recovery of the Mexican wolf.

Ted Eytan / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

A state legislative proposal would make sure schools teach about LGBTQ people who made history. Equality Illinois, an LGBTQ advocacy group, says many of the state’s school-aged children who don’t identify as heterosexual feel left out of history lessons. Mike Ziri is the group’s Public Policy Director.

An ex-campaign worker for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's Democratic organization has been arrested for allegedly violating a protective order.

An appellate court has ruled that Democratic attorney general candidate Scott Drury can remain on ballots for the March 20 primary.

The court ruled Friday. A judge had previously determined that the state legislator running for statewide office couldn't be on the ballot over paperwork issues. Drury immediately appealed.

The case is one reason that early voting has been delayed in parts of the state with election officials awaiting a final decision before they print ballots. 

A former math professor who reported income of less than $35,000 last year is campaigning as a middle-class candidate in an Illinois governor's race that includes a couple millionaires and a billionaire.

Early voting will be delayed at least one more day in Lake County.

Jurors in Peoria have convicted a 21-year-old woman of participating in a robbery that left a 63-year-old man dead.

Health officials across the country report flu cases are starting to match numbers seen from the H1N1 outbreak nearly a decade ago.

Rachel Otwell / WUIS / NPR Illinois

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, as well as the 2016 election, have sparked renewed passion for electing women to office in Illinois.

It's a cold, slushy weeknight as about 50 people pour into the community room of a Springfield grocery store on the west end of town. They're making protest signs for the second annual Women's March. Two friends sit in a corner using cutout letters and permanent marker. Business owner Katie Dobron is writing, "Vote women in."

Zcdrrm /

      CHICAGO (AP) - A suburban Chicago high school student has been arrested after posting photos on social media showing him holding an assault-style rifle.

     The 15-year-old was arrested Sunday, charged as a juvenile with a felony count of disorderly conduct and taken to the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago.

     The Cook County Sheriff's Department reported at least one of the photos had a caption making an apparent threat against Alan B. Shepard High School in Palos Heights.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy said this week House Speaker Michael Madigan should at least temporarily step down as head of the Democratic Party, while state Sen. Daniel Biss said he hopes Madigan’s firing of the aide accused of harassment isn’t just political damage control. Frontrunner J.B. Pritzker has been more tentative in his response.