State News

State News
7:25 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Former Il Gov comments on legislative session

A former Illinois Governor says he's watching Illinois lawmakers closely as this legislative session draws to a close. Jim Thompson says he’s disappointed with “the partisan rancor” in Springfield, but doesn’t blame the usual suspects:

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State News
7:17 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Senate Democrats to meet on concealed-carry legislation

Senate Democrats are planning to meet Monday to figure out how to respond to concealed-carry legislation passed by the House on Friday.

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State News
7:14 am
Mon May 27, 2013

House passes measure allowing internet gambling on horse racing

Internet gambling on horse racing would once again be legal in Illinois under legislation approved Sunday by the Illinois House of Representatives. IPR’S Brian Mackey has more.

Online and telephone horse betting has been illegal in Illinois all year.  A law authorizing it expired on Dec. 31. The practice, known as "advanced deposit wagering," was a $122 million business in Illinois last year.

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Government
5:43 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

IL House approves concealed carry plan

Credit Brian Mackey, IPR.

The Illinois House Friday approved legislation that would let gun owners carry concealed firearms in public.  But as IPR’s Brian Mackey reports, the governor says he'll work to "stop it in its tracks."
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State News
9:22 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Why are gas prices higher in Chicago?

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and people are hitting the road. Drivers are paying more for gas. The Lundberg Survey says the price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose sharply in the last two weeks because of outages at Midwest and West Coast refineries. Gas prices in Chicago are often higher than New York, Los Angeles -- even Hawaii. Why does this happen when we aren’t far from oil-rich Canada and we have a huge refinery right next door. Illinois Public Radio’s Michael Puente reports.

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State News
7:12 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Judges left out of pension conversation

Illinois lawmakers remain at odds over how to handle the state's 100 billion dollars of pension debt. But there's a chance that this spring the General Assembly may finally do something about it. After years of no major action, there are not one, but two major packages designed to reign in Illinois' retirement costs.  The House and Senate passed competing plans.  Both of them seek to save Illinois money by cutting current and retired government workers' benefits.

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State News
7:03 am
Fri May 24, 2013

House to consider concealed-carry legislation

A measure that would allow Illinois residents to carry concealed firearms is heading to the House floor after lawmakers approved it in committee Thursday. The legislation prohibits concealed-carry in many public places, like public transit, sports arenas, schools, and street festivals. Some of these have been sticking points for gun-rights advocates, who would prefer universal carry.

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State News
6:57 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Senate approves creation of health insurance exchange

The Illinois Senate took a key step Thursday toward implementing the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare." Senators approved the creation of a "health insurance exchange." But as IPR’S Brian Mackey reports, it's still a long way from becoming law. 

A health insurance exchange is at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. It's a marketplace where people who don't otherwise have insurance, like through an employer, are supposed to be able to find it. 

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State News
6:45 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Measure closing "tax loopholes" heads to the House

A measure that would close three so-called “corporate tax loopholes” in Illinois is beginning to make its way through the House. Governor Pat Quinn’s office says Illinois could bring in as much as 445-million dollars by ending the tax breaks.

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Government
8:38 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

IL Senate approves cellphone driving ban

The Illinois Senate has voted to ban the use of cell phones while driving. But there are a few exceptions.  

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Government
1:49 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Lawmakers want study for east-west rail corridor through Peoria

A group of Illinois lawmakers are encouraging the state to study the feasibility of an east-west passenger rail corridor.

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State News
6:53 am
Thu May 23, 2013

Law to increase the speed limit heads to Governor

The Illinois House has votes to raise Illinois' top speed limit to 70 miles-per-hour. Currently, cars and trucks are limited to 65 miles-an-hour on most Illinois highways. 

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State News
6:45 am
Thu May 23, 2013

Sex ed measure heads to the Governor

Schools that have sexual education classes would have to go beyond "abstinence-only" under a measure Illinois legislators sent the governor. As IPR’S Amanda Vinicky reports, the plan seeks to ensure students are getting medically accurate and age appropriate information.

The measure does not require schools to offer sex ed courses. But if they do, the legislation mandates that middle and high schools include information about birth control. Senator Linda Holmes is a Democrat, from Aurora:

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Government
5:54 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Illinois’ bill backlog drops by billions

Illinois' backlog of bills has dropped to under six billion dollars, down from $8.5 billion dollars at the start of April. That's thanks to residents and companies paying their taxes last month. Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says that's good news, at least for Illinois' "new normal." She warns that lawmakers should not get "cozy" as they draft a new spending plan.

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Politics
4:23 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Lawmakers override Quinn veto of ‘Smart Grid’

The Illinois General Assembly has overridden Governor Pat Quinn's veto of legislation that addresses so-called "Smart Grid" technology.

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Courts
2:42 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

‘Amazon tax’ issue heard in IL Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case challenging the state's so-called "Amazon tax." The decision could change the way Illinois websites make money online. IPR’s Brian Mackey reports: 


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State News
7:17 am
Wed May 22, 2013

Senate overrides Governor's veto of smart grid legislation

The Illinois Senate Tuesday voted to override Governor Pat Quinn's veto of so-called smart grid legislation. As IPR'S Brian Mackey reports, it was yet another display of ComEd's power over the Illinois General Assembly.

When the Chicago-land electric utility ComEd did not like the way the state regulator was handling its request to charge customers more money, it pleaded its case to the legislature. Lawmakers obliged by superseding the regulator, but earlier this month, Gov. Quinn vetoed the legislation.

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State News
7:03 am
Wed May 22, 2013

Analysis: little savings in union-backed pension overhaul proposal

A state pension overhaul backed by government employee unions may save only half of what advocates had promised.  That underscores an ongoing battle between the House and Senate over pensions, with only ten days left in the legislative session.  IPR'S Amanda Vinicky reports. 

There's general agreement on this much: that Illinois' public pension systems have $100 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities.  That's a fancy word that *basically* means "debt." It's a big number that's getting Illinois in trouble with bond houses and eating into the state's budget. And the House and Senate have different plans on how to drive that number down.

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State News
6:47 am
Wed May 22, 2013

Lawmakers consider expanding Medicaid

The Illinois House is advancing a measure that would significantly expand Illinois' health care for the poor. Under this legislation, Medicaid would for the first time cover adults who do not have children.Representative Sara Feigenholtz, a Democrat from Chicago, says in a way, we're already paying for these people's health care.

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State News
6:41 am
Wed May 22, 2013

Democratic Senator apologizes for Hitler remarks

A Democratic state senator who compared Governor Pat Quinn to Hitler is apologizing for his remarks. Senator Donne Trotter, who's from Chicago, made the comment to Illinois Public Radio on Monday. He was expressing his frustration with Quinn's support for the director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Julie Hamos. Trotter, along with other members of the black and Latino caucuses, is calling for Hamos' ouster.

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State News
2:15 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Funding for Rural Development Program up in the air

Staunton, Ill., Mayor Craig Neuhaus (left) checks out the town’s new water plant with Hank Fey, a public works director. (Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media).

As Congress fiddles with major farm legislation, there’s a portion of it that gets very little attention. Yet supporters say it is a difference-maker for job creation in small rural communities and provides a boost those towns need. Harvest Public Media’s Bill Wheelhouse reports: 

House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill passed out of the ag committees in Mid-May. The funding status for the various rural development programs remains in flux, though the House bill would eliminate 13 programs and reduce funding levels by more than $1.5 billion over five years.

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State News
2:01 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Lawmakers considering "Homeless Bill of Rights"

The Illinois legislature is considering a measure that would create what's called a "Homeless Bill of Rights." It's intended to prohibit discrimination based on housing status when it comes to things like privacy and employment. But opponents say the proposed legislation could inundate cities with unnecessary lawsuits. 

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State News
12:16 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Il House to take up fracking regulation bill

A measure that would regulate hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” heads to the full Illinois House after Representatives approved it at a hearing Tuesday.

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State News
7:58 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Sandy Hook parents testify at senate committee hearing on ammunition

Parents of two children killed in the Sandy Hook school massacre say it's possible their sons may be alive if the shooter had been forced to reload more often. They were on hand as an Illinois Senate committee Monday approved a ban on the sale of high capacity ammunition magazines. IPR’S Amanda Vinicky reports.


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State News
7:45 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Gov. Quinn confident lawmakers will find compromise on pension reform

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says he thinks lawmakers in the next two weeks will break a stalemate over competing pension reform plans. The General Assembly is scheduled to wrap up its legislative session at the end of the month.

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State News
7:25 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Republicans call Quinn appointment a political arrangement

Republicans in the Illinois Senate say Governor Pat Quinn’s appointment of a state health official is a political arrangement intended to shape a Congressional race next year. Bloomington physician David Gill was named the assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health earlier this month. 

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State News
7:11 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Senators calling for removal of DHFS Director

Two groups of lawmakers in the Illinois Senate are urging Governor Pat Quinn to replace the director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Members of the African-American and Latino caucuses say Director Julie Hamos’ priority lies with cutting the budget  instead of offering medical services for the disadvantaged.

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State News
7:04 am
Tue May 21, 2013

High schools may have to buy "catastrophic insurance"

The Illinois House has voted to require that high schools carry insurance in case student athletes are injured. IPR’S Brian Mackey has more.

Schools would have to buy what's called "catastrophic insurance." The legislation would apply to both public and private schools, and the insurance would kick in once an injured athlete's medical expenses exceed $50,000.

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State News
7:26 am
Mon May 20, 2013

Lawmakers to determine where to cut spending

Despite years of cuts to the Illinois state budget, even more are ahead.  As IPR’S Amanda Vinicky reports, legislators are still deciding where else they can slash spending. 

"Human services" is a legislative phrase that covers ...

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State News
7:15 am
Mon May 20, 2013

Senate committee to vote on gun control measure

An Illinois State Senate committee is expected to vote on a gun control measure today. It's scheduled to hear from some parents whose children died in December’s mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. IPR’S Tony Arnold reports.

Three parents from Connecticut talked Sunday in Chicago about banning high capacity magazines. A proposed bill would make magazines that hold more than 10 rounds illegal. Nicole Hockley’s 6-year-old son Dylan was killed in the Newtown school shooting.

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