State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Illinois House members will soon consider a measure that clarifies whether graduate research assistants have the right to unionize.  But, Wednesday's Human Services committee hearing took quite a detour. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to reinstate the death penalty for certain violent crimes and other changes he made to gun legislation will get a House hearing. 

(Updated: 11:00am 5/18/2018) -- The broken water line at the Rend Lake Conservancy District has been repaired.

The Intercity Water Plant is pumping water into the system with two high service pumps. The lake intake and the treatment plant have returned to service.

The system will be on a boil water order until Intercity Water receives test results showing the water is safe to drink.

Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department emergency preparedness director Ronda Koch says residents need to let their water run for a couple of minutes before boiling it.


Dixon High School’s school resource officer is being lauded for stopping a student who showed up with a gun Wednesday.

Dixon police have identified the officer as one of their own, Officer Mark Dallas. Dallas is a 15 year veteran of the police department, serving the last five as the high school’s resource officer.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner this week added sweeping changes to a piece of gun legislation, in a move some state legislators called “political gamesmanship” and “unconstitutional.” But the lawmaker behind the original bill isn’t backing down, announcing Wednesday he's asking the Illinois House to agree with those changes.

After weeks of feuding within the Illinois Republican Party an unusual agreement has been reached with hopes of bridging the divide.

Earlier this week Governor Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto of gun legislation and added his own ideas, including a plan to reinstate the death penalty in certain cases. It would apply to mass shooters and those who kill police officers.

Illinois lawmakers have two weeks to get together a spending plan. Officials from cities across the state are going on the offensive to keep lawmakers from balancing the budget by raiding their pockets.

Illinois Republican Party officials say they've reached an agreement to share leadership of the party, heading off a weekend fight between moderates and conservatives over who should be the next state GOP chairman.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says the state will spend about $3 million to help build a new water source in a western Illinois community where Legionnaires' disease has contributed to the deaths of 13 residents of a state veteran's home.

A measure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment got approval from an Illinois House committee Wednesday, in what could be the final step before it's called for a decisive vote in that chamber.  

The measure has already passed the state Senate. Opponents argue it could mandate government funded abortions and force co-ed prison populations.

Chief sponsor and Democratic representative from Skokie, Lou Lang, says two of his colleagues told him they're worried a "yes" vote could be used against them in future campaigns.

Judge Who Scolded Trump Confirmed

May 16, 2018

  CHICAGO (AP) - A U.S. district judge who scolded Donald Trump as he testified in a 2013 civil trial on the sale of condos at Chicago Trump Tower has been confirmed for a seat on the Chicago-based 7th U.S. District Court of Appeals. 

  DIXON, Ill. - A police chief says a school resource officer saved lives when he confronted an armed 19-year-old former student at a high school in northern Illinois.

About 114 million people visited Illinois last year, setting a new state record. That’s according to the latest state tourism data released on Tuesday.

Suicide A Driver Of Gun Deaths In Rural America

May 16, 2018

The national conversation around gun violence generally centers around mass shootings, school shootings and gang activity. These problems need to be addressed, but may overshadow the largest group affected: suicide victims.

Shooting At Dixon High School

May 16, 2018

DIXON, Ill. - Officials say a police officer working at a northern Illinois high school shot and wounded a former student who fired a gun at him.

  SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois lawmakers are considering whether graduate-student researchers can form unions.

     The House Labor & Commerce Committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday to continue discussing a measure allowing all graduate students to collectively bargain. State law says students who work as teaching assistants can unionize but not those who work as research assistants.

Update 5/16/18: The Senate approved the measure 35-18. 
After Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a proposal to license gun dealers, several legislators are suggesting a new, bipartisan approach in hopes of getting his support. 

K2. Spice. Black Mamba. Research chemicals. Potpourri. New psychoactive substances.

Sulfur / Creative Commons/Wikimedia

  CHICAGO - The Chicago Park District says it may remove up to half its outdoor drinking fountains after tests found high levels of lead in the water.


The district said Monday it has removed about 100 of its roughly 1,250 fountains. Approximately 550 other fountains in low-traffic areas will remain shut off until they've been remediated or removed.


Chicago Will Have An Amazon Go Store

May 15, 2018

  NEW YORK - Amazon, which opened a cashier-less store in Seattle this year, plans more locations in Chicago and San Francisco.


The company confirmed Monday that Amazon Go stores would open in the two cities, but didn't say when. The store openings were first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle and The Seattle Times.


Last month, about a dozen people gathered in the basement of a church in Champaign, Ill., to learn how traumatic experiences affect the lives of children and young adults, and what they can do to mitigate its effects.

Karen Simms, a mental health counselor and trauma expert, led the presentation, which was part of a free 40-hour training called “Healing Solutions.”

Illinois legislators are taking up a measure to change the way police gather information for gang databases. It comes after more than a year of controversy surrounding the Chicago Police Department’s data collection practices.

Update: The measure heads to Governor Bruce Rauner's desk. Sponsor state Sen. Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) has not yet heard whether the governor will support the idea. The Governor's Office did not respond for comment. 

Lawsuit Seeks to Block Obama Center

May 15, 2018
the Obama Foundation.

  CHICAGO (AP) - Public park advocates have filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago seeking to stop construction of the Obama Presidential Center.



The federal lawsuit by Protect Our Parks Inc. seeks a court order barring the Chicago Park District and other city agencies from approving the building of former President Barack Obama's center in Jackson Park. The group also wants to bar the city from giving control of the center's site to the Obama Foundation.


Google Maps

  YORKVILLE, Ill. - Officials in northeast Illinois have approved plans for a historical marker to commemorate the original location of the state's northern boundary.


The aluminum cast marker will be installed in Yorkville's Town Square Park this summer.


Alice Fellers of Crystal Lake created the idea when she was researching a project for the Illinois Bicentennial and found the original marker between Plano and Sandwich was missing. She says the original border would've put the Chicago area in Wisconsin.

Department of the Navy. Fourteenth Naval District.

  BATAVIA, Ill. - The families of two sailors with Illinois ties who were killed during the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are preparing for their burials.

Military officials say DNA testing helped identify remains of the sailors who were among 429 killed when the USS Oklahoma sank.

His name was Devon McClyde, and he was 16 years old when he was caught in the crossfire of an argument while playing basketball one evening in a local park in Danville on June 8, 2016.

He died three days later – the victim of another gun crime in Central Illinois.


Kewanee Prison Tests New Program to Lower Recidivism Rates

May 14, 2018

Since opening last year, the Kewanee Life Skills Re-entry Center in western Illinois has taken a different approach to prison. Inmates participate in classes and activities designed to help them succeed after they’re released.

Speaking on the talk show “The 21st,” Illinois Department of Corrections director John Baldwin says it’s clear that investing in these programs leads to better outcomes.

Macon County Favors Solar Farm

May 14, 2018
Creative Commons

DECATUR, Ill. - Officials are favorably eyeing Macon County's first solar farm. The Macon County Board approved a special-use permit for a 20-acre solar farm project near Oreana. It's about nine miles (14 kilometers) northeast of Decatur.