State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Illinois insurance regulators are reminding customers of Land of Lincoln Health that they must enroll in a new health insurance policy with a different company by the end of the month or they'll have a gap in coverage.  Land of Lincoln began shutting down in July after crippling financial losses. 

The Illinois State Board of Education is drafting a plan to implement the federal law that’s replacing No Child Left Behind. Educators have hailed the flexibility in the Every Child Succeeds Act. But Illinois state superintendent Tony Smith says the federal Department of Education is undermining the law's intent by writing regulations that limit that flexibility.

Illinois voters this fall will have a chance to amend the state constitution.

The governor refuses to say whether he supports the change. 

Illinois has gotten into the habit of using money that was supposed to be used to fill pot holes, and instead using it to fill holes in the budget.

Road contractors and construction workers got sick of it; they came up with an idea:

Put road money in a sort of "lock box." Amend the constitution so it has to be used on transportation needs, and nothing else.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library digitized a rare copy of a 1956 presidential primary debate. What does it have to say about American politics today?

A review of suburban Chicago school labor contracts show that at least a dozen districts are offering post-retirement bonuses to teachers and administrators. The bonuses are largely used to reward educators for staying with a district for a long time and to offer higher earnings after the state limited educator salary increases.

A record number of youth have been killed while in the care of Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services, many of them victims of Chicago's gang violence.  11 youths died during a two-year period that ended June 30, 2015. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Mark Goebel

Federal money will pay for restoration work at Abraham Lincoln's law office in Springfield.  Illinois Historic Preservation Agency officials say the site's exterior has visible deterioration and the $166,000 grant will fund facade work, window repairs and new doors, among other improvements.

Teachers in the nation's third-largest public school district have overwhelmingly voted in support of a strike, though the earliest one could occur is mid-October.   95% of the Chicago Teachers Union's voting members favored strike authorization.   The support was expected. About 88% supported a strike during a similar December vote. 

Data from industry experts and the state of Illinois show video gaming has generated about $785 million in state and local tax revenue since the machines were legalized four years ago.  The number of establishments in Illinois that allow the machines has grown as well - with 5,600 businesses having machines.

niXerKG / Flickr/Creative Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - Plans to ask a grand jury to consider charges against Chicago police in the Laquan McDonald case have been delayed.

Special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes on Monday received more time to prepare. A judge in the case hoped to empanel a grand jury Monday, but Holmes needs time to collect the thousands of pages of documents in the case. She says she hopes she can present evidence to grand jurors by the end of the year.

A white Chicago police officer has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the black teenager's October 2014 shooting death. Officer Jason Van Dyke is accused of shooting the teen 16 times.

Teen pregnancy rates are going down in Illinois and across the nation because teens are having less sex, and when they do, they’re using contraception more often. The reasons behind these changes in behavior are harder to pinpoint.  

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - University of Illinois police say they're searching for suspects after two shootings over the weekend left one dead and four injured.

University Police Department chief Jeff Christensen says one of the injured victims was a student. Authorities have identified the man who died early Sunday as 22-year-old George Korchev of Mundelein. Authorities say Korchev and the four injured were not involved in the shootings. Those injured had non-critical wounds.


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - A suburban Chicago man shot dead on the University of Illinois campus was planning to start a career as a nurse.

Officials at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville say 22-year-old George Korchev of Mundelein was expected to start Monday as a registered nurse. He recently passed his nursing board exam.

Internet Archive Book Images / Flickr

Illinois is more than a year behind on payments to people who’ve been wronged by state government. Such individuals can seek compensation through the Court of Claims, which hears cases ranging from injuries caused by state workers to people unjustly imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.
Chief Justice Peter Birnbaum says the court has not let the budget impasse interfere with its work.

"I made the decision for the court: Let’s issue these orders, enter these awards. Because we felt that the claimants deserved to know that they won."

U of I Students React to Weekend Shootings

19 hours ago
Sean Neumann / Illinois Public Radio


Students at the University of Illinois reacted with shock and sadness to the shooting early Sunday morning in Champaign that left one person dead and five others injured. Christine Herman reports.

The day after the deadly shooting near the University of Illinois, the incident was still foremost for many students on campus.


Chris Williams said while he’s used to hearing about shootings in his hometown of Chicago - having it happen in Champaign was unexpected.


The owners of the Chicago Cubs are trying to prevent small time vendors outside the park from selling counterfeit goods during the team’s playoff run. The Cubs and Major League Baseball filed a federal lawsuit yesterday against three dozen people for allegedly selling counterfeit Cubs gear around Wrigley Field.  

Facebook/Madison County Sheriff's Office

Investigators who believe a missing teenager and her newborn were kidnapped by the teen's stepfather have released new details that heighten concerns about the baby and mother's health.  The Madison County Sheriff's Office says the stepfather is an outdoorsman and left the area equipped with tents, suggesting they are living in poor conditions. 

Chicago police say they have arrested more than two-dozen people in connection with sales of heroin laced with the painkiller fentanyl, which is being blamed for a sharp increase in overdose deaths.  Police say a series of raids took place throughout the day Thursday led to 25 arrests by late that night. 

An attack on an Illinois state senator has led to murder charges in the death of a Georgia man.  Former NFL player and Democratic Sen. Napoleon Harris was attacked Sept. 6 as he made a pizza delivery from his restaurant in Harvey.

The Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois is assembling an exhibition of art from Africa's Swahili coast.  Organizers say it demonstrates the interconnectivity of East Africa, the Arab world, and Asia. The exhibition is titled "World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean." It opens in the fall of 2017.

The independent candidate for Congress in Illinois' 13th district has appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court in an effort to finally get his name back on the ballot.

Illinois’ Public Health Director has been ordered to add post-operative chronic pain as a qualifying condition for the state medical marijuana program.  Cook County Circuit Judge Neil Cohen has given Nirav Shah thirty days to act. 

The Illinois Supreme Court Thursday issued an opinion striking down a law that cut civil juries in half. The law would also have hiked juror pay.

When they passed it during veto session in late 2014, legislators argued that having fewer jurors made the higher pay affordable.

That, they said, was good for justice: People may be more willing to serve if they got paid $25 versus as little as $4.

A lawyer for a former Chicago court staff attorney fired after donning a robe and hearing real cases on the bench, says a grand jury could indict her soon.   Rhonda Crawford's lawyer, Victor Henderson, says an impaneled grand jury could indict her before November's election. Crawford is running for a judgeship. 

Attorneys representing the widow of Ernie Banks have withdrawn from a lawsuit over the late Chicago Cubs great's estate.  Elizabeth Banks has been contesting a will that Banks signed three month before he died in January 2015. It left his inheritance to Regina Rice, a longtime friend who took care of his financial affairs.

An agreement shows that a privately funded renovation of the Illinois Executive Mansion in Springfield will follow wage and bidding rules required of traditional taxpayer-funded construction projects.

The former president of Chicago State University will receive half of his $600,000 severance package by Oct. 1.  Under Thomas Calhoun Jr.'s deal he will receive the other payout in January. The school's trustees approved a separation agreement with Calhoun on Friday. 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is asking hunters to be on the lookout for possible cases of a virus that can cause die-offs of white-tailed deer.  Wildlife officials are especially interested in reports of sick or recently dead animals from which staff might be able to collect samples to test. 

Illinois Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court today issued an opinion striking down a law that cut civil juries in half. The law would also have hiked juror pay. 

When they passed it in 2014, legislators argued that having fewer jurors made the higher pay affordable. But critics say really, it was a thinly-veiled parting gift to trial lawyers from Democrats while they still controlled the governor's mansion.

The thought being, that smaller juries would be prone to paying out higher awards in personal injury cases. 

Pension Prospects?

Sep 22, 2016

Lawmakers haven't touched state pension benefits in the nearly year-and-a-half since the Illinois Supreme Court ruled their last attempt unconstitutional. But Governor Bruce Rauner says he's "pretty excited": He thinks they will pass a new law this winter.