State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Illinois lawmakers continue to negotiate a bill to ban minors from receiving life sentences in prison. It comes nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the practice unconstitutional. 

The sponsor of a plan that would prohibit talking on cell phones while driving says he plans to change it, so first-time violations carry a lesser penalty. The measure would have considered first-time offenses as moving violations. Penalties included a fine AND mention on a criminal record, which could lead to higher insurance rates.

IL House approves flash mob measure

May 10, 2013

The Illinois House has approved legislation that would impose tougher punishment on anyone convicted of using social media to plan or incite a mob attack.

Madigan: downstate schools should pay pension costs

May 9, 2013

The leader of the Illinois House of Representatives says Downstate school districts will eventually have to pay for their employees’ pensions. 

Quinn speaks on Madigan’s pension plan

May 9, 2013

Governor Pat Quinn says House Speaker Michael Madigan's pension-reform plan is “comprehensive” and deserves a vote in the Senate.  The House approved Madigan’s measure last week. It would require employees to pay two-percent more toward retirement benefits. 

Clean up continues after last month's floods

May 9, 2013

Clean-up continues after last month's floods. IPR’S Jenna Dooley has more on efforts in LaSalle County where hundreds of students are still in temporary classrooms:

JoEllen Fuller laughs nervously when asked how last month's floods damaged Marseilles Elementary School:

Il Senate to vote on pension overhaul

May 9, 2013

The Illinois Senate is expected to vote Thursday on the latest proposal to fix the state's drastically underfunded pension systems. Many aspects of the plan have been put forth before in what's become a multi-year pension debate. But as Illinois Public Radio’s Brian Mackey reports, it has one element that makes it unique. 

A U.S. Senate committee is expected to vote Thursday on a plan to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of people living in the United States illegally. The Senate immigration reform bill includes a special provision for farm workers that shortens the waiting period for legal residency. Illinois Public Radio’s Sean Powers explores how that section would impact Illinois’ agricultural workers.

An Illinois Senate committee has approved a proposal that would allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The Senate Executive Committee voted ten to five Wednesday to send the measure to the full Senate. The proposal allows physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients who have been diagnosed with certain medical conditions. Democratic Senator Bill Haine, from Alton, says marijuana can relieve continual pain without causing the harmful side effects of some prescription drugs.

The sponsor of a plan that would allow a video gambling corporation to monitor games across Illinois says he expects a final vote by the end of the week. Illinois issues a contract with a private company to make sure video gambling games follow state guidelines. State law currently prevents a game manufacturer from filling that role. But Representative Frank Mautino says Scientific Games, a national gaming corporation, submitted the bid before that law went into effect.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is following through on his promise to try and relieve the state from having to pay for teachers' retirement benefits.  IPR’S Amanda Vinicky explains.

The two chambers of the General Assembly are focused on competing proposals that seek to reduce the state's pension costs. What both plans have in common, though, is what they lack. Neither shift the cost of downstate and suburban public schools teachers' pensions from the state to the school districts that employ them.

Callis running for 13th Congressional District

May 8, 2013

A former chief judge in Madison County says she’s motivated by public service, and wants to use her experience to help people in new ways. Democrat Ann Callis resigned from the post Friday, and has announced she’s seeking the Democratic nomination for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District. Callis cites her efforts to set up Illinois’ first veterans’ court, and was inspired by her son, who recently finished officer candidate school in the U.S. Army after earning a degree:

Possible replacements for Pat Brady

May 7, 2013

Illinois Republican Party bosses say they already have a few dozen candidates who want to be the next party chairman.  Pat Brady resigned that post Tuesday - following controversy around his support for same-sex marriage.  IPR’s Alex Keefe reports:

State frees 120 inmates on early release

May 7, 2013

The Illinois Department of Corrections has freed 120 inmates as part of a new early-release program. But the director of the department says letting more inmates out is not the answer to overcrowding in prisons. 

Head of Illinois Republican Party steps down

May 7, 2013

The head of the Illinois Republican Party has resigned. Chairman Pat Brady’s public support of same-sex marriage had sparked controversy among GOP leaders. 

Possible pension showdown in IL House, Senate

May 6, 2013

The long-simmering battle over government-employee pensions in Illinois took another turn Monday The Illinois Senate will be going its own way on a plan to change the drastically-underfunded system , potentially setting up a showdown with the House of Representatives.  IPR’s Brian Mackey has more: 

Cullerton unveils pension proposal

May 6, 2013

Senate President John Cullerton's office has released the first official outline of the pension proposal he negotiated with unions. IPR’s Amanda Vinicky has a rundown.

NRA against IL gun restrictions

May 6, 2013


Gov. Quinn wants to cut funding for school buses

May 6, 2013

Governor Pat Quinn is calling for massive cuts to state spending on school buses.  He says it would stave off further cuts to classroom spending. But critics are asking, what good is classroom spending if students can't get to school? Illinois Public Radio's Chris Slaby reports.

Governor Pat Quinn vetoed legislation Sunday that would have eased the way for increases in electric rates. But it's not the first time he's opposed this sort of thing, and the legislature has so far been able to work around him. IPR’S Brian Mackey has more.

Quinn reviewing airport gaming measure

May 3, 2013

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says he’ll be reviewing a new gambling expansion bill that passed the state senate this week. In particular the part about adding slot machines to Chicago’s airports. IPR’s Tony Arnold reports. 

Close vote on IL toll measure

May 3, 2013

Illinois lawmakers are considering a measure intended to encourage big-time tollway violators to pay their debts. Anyone who owes more than a thousand dollars and has exhausted the appeal process could have their name listed online.  

Illinois' legislators have less than a month before they're scheduled to adjourn.  The Speaker of the Illinois House made some predictions about what may and may not happen before then. IPR’S Amanda Vinicky reports.

                                                                A measure to legalize same sex marriage in Illinois already got state Senators' approval. But the Speaker of the Illinois House says there's not enough support for it to pass in that chamber. Mike Madigan said in March that gay marriage was a dozen votes shy in the House. 

A new report identifies numerous reasons why honey bees are dying off across the U.S. Illinois Public Radio’s Jason Parrott reports.

Police officers from across Illinois gathered in Springfield Thursday to honor colleagues killed in the line of duty. As IPR’S Brian Mackey reports, one officer was killed in 2012.

On the Monday after Thanksgiving, Illinois State Police Trooper Kyle Deatherage was patrolling on his motorcycle on Interstate 55, about 30 miles south of Springfield.

IL House approves pension overhaul

May 2, 2013

A plan that will leave state employees and teachers with reduced retirement benefits made it out of the Illinois House Thursday, potentially paving the way for the pension overhaul that has thus far eluded lawmakers. But it also ignites a faceoff between two of the state's top Democrats with the potential to keep a pension overhaul as elusive as it's ever been. Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky explains.

IL lawmakers want wrestling reinstated

May 2, 2013

Illinois lawmakers are "weighing in" on Olympic organizers' decision to drop wrestling from the summer games. The Illinois House and Senate passed resolutions encouraging the International Olympic Committee to reinstate wrestling as an Olympic sport.  

Proposed refund for sick pet store animals

May 1, 2013

Senators in Illinois voted to give consumer protections to people who unknowingly buy a sick cat or dog from a pet shop.

Dueling pension plans in IL House, Senate

May 1, 2013

Illinois' top Democrats are going forward with competing pension proposals.  One of them is scheduled for a vote Thursday.  Despite unions' strong stance against it, House Speaker Michael Madigan says he expects the House will pass his plan.  It would require state employees stay on the job until they're 67 years old before they could draw a full pension.  It also reduces future pension payouts.  But even as that package was gaining steam, Madigan's fellow Democrat, Senate President John Cullerton, was cooking up a different proposal, this one the brainchild of labor leaders.

IL Senate approves gambling expansion

May 1, 2013

The Illinois Senate has once again approved an expansion of gambling. But it remains to be seen whether Governor Pat Quinn will go along with the plan. IPR's Brian Mackey has more.