State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

School Bus video passes IL Senate

Apr 24, 2013

The Illinois Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would allow for videotaping cars that pass stopped school buses. IPR’s Chris Slaby has more.

The measure would allow school districts to install cameras on buses to make sure cars stop when students are being picked up or dropped off.

Concerns for Menard Correctional Center

Apr 24, 2013

An Illinois prison watchdog group says conditions are tense at Menard Correctional Center, in southern Illinois. Wednesday a man was charged with murdering his cell-mate last month. IPR's Brian Mackey has more.

That was the third inmate murder at Menard this year.The prison has more than 3,600 men well over the capacity for which it was designed. And it's a rough crowd, with more than half the inmates in for murder.John Maki, director of the prison-monitoring John Howard Association, says that combination is at the heart of Menard's long list of problems.

Governor Pat Quinn has reiterated his support for a concealed-carry law that gives local communities the option to impose their own restrictions. Lawmakers have until June 9th to legalize concealed carry after a federal appeals court ruled Illinois' ban unconstitutional. Last week, House members defeated a plan last week that would have established a way to allow qualified gun owners to carry concealed weapons.

Senate approves raising the speed limit

Apr 24, 2013

Lawmakers are giving serious consideration to raising the speed limit on most Illinois highways. IPR’S Amanda Vinicky has more.

The fastest a car is supposed to go in Illinois is 65 miles an hour. Drivers could legally accelerate to 70 under a measure approved by the state Senate.

Gay rights groups weighing in on immigration reform

Apr 24, 2013

Some Illinois gay rights groups are now applying their own political pressure in the fight to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. IPR’S Alex Keefe reports.

Bi-partisan cooperation was the order of the day as Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan plugged their immigration reform ideas at a downtown luncheon on Monday.

Illinois' top judge says years of budget cuts mean there aren't enough probation officers monitoring criminals. Thomas Kilbride is the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. He says the murder of Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot days after singing at President Obama's inauguration, could have been prevented. Kilbride says one of the suspected shooters violated parole three times -- and should have already been in custody.

Georgia truck driver charged in state trooper's death

Apr 24, 2013

A Georgia truck driver has been charged in the death of an Illinois State Police trooper. Kyle Deatherage was killed last November when he was struck by a tractor-trailer. IPR’S Brian Mackey has more.

Prosecutors are charging Johnny Felton Jr. of Georgia with reckless homicide. They say he was driving his semi north on I-55 near Litchfield when he allegedly hit and killed Deatherige, who had stopped another motorist. Chris Matoush is the Montgomery County state's attorney.

Flooding preparations south of Peoria

Apr 23, 2013

The river is still rising on the stretch of the Illinois River south of Peoria.  IPR’s Bill Wheelhouse reports:

The Illinois House isn’t in session this week , and it still needs to develop and approve a budget for the coming year. Two bi-partisan think-tanks released an online tool to let you try to put together a state spending plan. 

Governor Pat Quinn has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help with flood damage assessments in Illinois. He spoke in Meredosia, along the Illinois River, which has flooded to record levels. Quinn says the state is working to get federal assistance to help Illinois communities recover from last week's flooding.

Nine Illinois universities and colleges including Heartland Community College in Normal will take part in a new disaster preparation initiative.  

Rick Perry aims to lure away IL businesses

Apr 22, 2013

The governor of Texas is messing with Illinois, or at least he's trying to. Rick Perry is in Chicago this week, in part to try to lure companies to relocate to Texas.  IPR’s Brian Mackey has more: 

School zones may be put into effect more often

Apr 22, 2013

Drivers in Illinois would have to slow down near schools a lot more frequently under legislation making its way through the General Assembly. 

Students who are HIV positive could keep that information private under a measure before Illinois' General Assembly. 

U of I President wants to renovate hospital in Chicago

Apr 22, 2013

The president of Illinois' flagship university says he hopes to renovate the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago.  

Concealed carry plan fails in the House

Apr 19, 2013

The Illinois House Thursday night voted down a concealed carry plan backed by gun-rights activists. Legislators are under a court order to pass a law by early June that will allow people to carry guns in public.

Illinois legislators are moving to revive a home care program for the elderly. The program ran out of funding last month. Democratic Representative Greg Harris of Chicago calls the situation "desperate."

House votes down another measure dealing with firearms

Apr 19, 2013

The Illinois House Thursday rejected yet another piece of legislation dealing with firearms. This one would have forced the state's pension systems to get rid of investments in companies that make guns or ammunition. Representative Chad Hays, Republican from Danville, wondered where the hunt to stop investing in troubling products would end.

15th annual Ebertfest goes on in Champaign

Apr 18, 2013

Two weeks after losing the man who started it all, the 15thannual Ebertfest goes on in Champaign.  

Conversation on "The Midwest Farmer's Daughter"

Apr 18, 2013

Most people are aware that there are fewer farmers today than 30 years ago. But what about the celebrated icon of the farmer’s daughter?   One man who grew up on a multi-generation farm in Iowa and watched what the years have done to his way of life has chronicled these changes in a book titled “The Midwest Farmer’s Daughter”.    And while author Zachary Michael Jack was accurate in his observation that there are fewer farmer’s daughters, he found that the number of female farmers is increasing.  Bill Wheelhouse of Harvest Public Media spoke with him:

Illinois House defeats gun control measure

Apr 18, 2013

A gun control measure was defeated Wednesday in the Illinois House. The proposal, modeled after  New York's law, would have let sheriffs decide whether an applicant has a compelling reason to carry a gun in public. Proponents like Democratic Representative Christian Mitchell of Chicago say it's a way to take regional differences into account.

The department in charge of state employee benefits says Illinois is more than a billion dollars behind on its health insurance payments. IPR’S Chris Slaby reports.

Doctors have to wait as long as a year after they provide health care to a state worker before they're reimbursed by the state. Marcia Armstrong is a liaison between the state's Central Management Services and the Illinois legislature. She says the insurance backlog totals one-point-six billion dollars now -- and could jump another 200-million by the summer.

Seventeen-year-olds accused of committing felonies would be tried in juvenile court under a measure approved Tuesday in the Illinois House. IPR’S Brian Mackey has more. 

The Chicago Marathon moves forward

Apr 16, 2013

  Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the Chicago Marathon will go forward as planned, despite the bombings in Boston. Alex Keefe reports.

Security at City Hall didn’t seem much tougher than usual today, save for a pair of Chicago Police officers on horseback, hanging around LaSalle Street.

The bombings yesterday in Boston has put security agencies on higher alert.  In Illinois, authorities say there have been no specific threats made.   Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford spoke with the state's Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathon Monken about efforts here.


Attorney General Lisa Madigan is maintaining her silence about whether she'll run for governor of Illinois next year. Governor Pat Quinn plans to run for re-election, though last week a New York Times story reported he's the second-least popular governor in the country. Madigan refused to comment on Quinn in an exchange with reporters.

U of I wheelchair program near Boston explosions

Apr 15, 2013

When explosions hit near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon, members of the University of Illinois Wheelchair Athletic program were just a couple of blocks away. Marissa Siebel is an athletic trainer for the athletes. She says their group was returning to their hotel after lunch.

Gov. Quinn on Boston Marathon bombings

Apr 15, 2013

 In the wake of Monday’s bombing in Boston, Governor Pat Quinn says he does not think there's been any warning of a similar threat in Illinois or Chicago. He says he's been in contact with the director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Seed companies fight to keep independence

Apr 15, 2013

As big box stores dominated the retail landscape over the past two decades, some shoppers save found it difficult to find independent stores. It is the same out in the cornfields, where farmers have a lot fewer companies to choose from when they buy the seeds to plant their crops. Many seed companies have been taken over by large corporations such as Monsanto and DuPont. But as Harvest Public  Media’s Bill Wheelhouse reports, one seed company in the region continues to thrive:

U.S. Senator Durbin on background checks for gun sales

Apr 15, 2013

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is unsure whether there are enough Democratic votes to pass a bipartisan plan on background checks before guns sales. The Senate Majority Whip said he has yet to conduct a count. But as a guest on Fox News Sunday, Durbin said moving a bill to expand background checks through the Senate would be a step in the right direction.