State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Il House could vote on Madigan pension proposal

May 1, 2013

The Illinois House could vote this week on a new pension proposal. Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan has come through on a promise of a comprehensive overhaul.

State AFSCME deal could be null and void

Apr 30, 2013

Illinois' largest public employees union will take a new vote on a contract deal it had ratified in late February.

IL State Rep. fights fraud charges

Apr 30, 2013

Attorneys are coming out with their defense for an indicted Illinois state representative charged with bank fraud. IPR’s Tony Arnold reports.

State Representative LaShawn Ford was indicted late last year on 17 counts of bank fraud and lying to the bank.

Ten old hotels, homes, and bridges all built at different times in Illinois' history.  The structures might be different, but for 2013, they have something in common. IPR’s Chris Slaby reports.

The sites span from the state's northern border to Madison County, outside St. Louis. They make up this year's "Ten Most Endangered Historic Places" list released by Landmarks Illinois, a state organization that promotes preserving sites.

State Farm secures naming rights for Assembly Hall

Apr 29, 2013

It’s not Champaign’s Assembly Hall any more.

Federal flood damage assessments in IL

Apr 29, 2013
Illinois Department of Transportation, District Four

Federal officials started to assess the damage to Illinois homes and businesses Monday from the recent floods.  The head of Illinois’ Emergency Management Agency says the state wants tens of millions of dollars from the federal government to help pay for flood damage.  Governor Pat Quinn says homeowners and businesses who suffered flood damage could qualify for loans to get back some of the money spent on clean-up. “It’s important that we assess all of the expenses and the damage that occurred because of the floods.

Kindergarten bill before IL House

Apr 29, 2013

Most Illinois school districts have all-day kindergarten classes.  A proposal before the Illinois House would require all districts to have such programs.  But funding issues are getting in the way.  The Illinois Federation of Teachers says nearly 90-percent of school districts have all-day kindergarten but that leaves 80 districts without. Representative Chris Welch, a Democrat from Hillside, says improving early education means students would be better-prepared for secondary education.

Last week, Congressman Aaron Schock announced that he will seek re-election rather than run for Governor. Expect more announcements in coming months. But first, incumbent officials have to make their decisions. IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports.

Plenty of posturing and fundraising has gone on as candidates interested in being the states' chief executive look ahead to the 2014 elections. But it's like dominos. A lot of politicians' decisions are based on someone else's.

What Governor's tax returns say about him

Apr 29, 2013

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's latest tax returns give some insights beyond how much he paid in taxes. IPR’S Amanda Vinicky has more.

It may be that Illinois' executive in chief has a tendency to procrastination. His tax returns are signed and dated April 14th, a day before the filing deadline. Last year, he filed the day his taxes were due. And rather than filling out the forms online, he does it by hand.

Gov. Quinn's salary increases

Apr 26, 2013

Governor Pat Quinn's tax returns show he made more money last year but he gave less to charity than he did in 2011. IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports.

State program helps flood victims

Apr 26, 2013

Flood victims who need extra financial help can use a state program to secure a better interest rate. In the Disaster Recovery Linked Deposit program, Illinois deposits money when a local bank approves a flood-related loan. The individual is then charged a lower, state interest rate and the bank gets to keep its charges and fees. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford says it can help individuals while they're waiting to settle insurance claims. 

Gov. Quinn not ready to back raising the speed limit

Apr 26, 2013

This week, Senators gave their okay to raising the speed limit on Illinois highways, but Governor Pat Quinn isn't so sure. IPR’S Amanda Vinicky reports. 

Drivers could legally put the pedal to the metal a BIT more under a measure recently approved by the state Senate. Cars could go 70 miles an hour on most interstates and tollways, rather than 65.

Gov. Quinn says he's not worried about state's image

Apr 26, 2013

Governor Pat Quinn says other governors trying to poach Illinois companies are all just ``showboating.'' At least five governors, all Republicans, have recently tried to lure away Illinois businesses. But the Chicago Democrat says he's not worried about Illinois' image.

A group of addiction and drug specialists Thursday called on the Illinois Senate to reject the medical use of marijuana. IPR’S Brian Mackey has more.

Opponents of "medical marijuana" don't even like that phrase.

Five people murdered in Manchester

Apr 25, 2013

A longtime pastor in the small, west central Illinois community of Manchester says he’s trying to figure out what to tell parishioners on Sunday after five people were murdered Wednesday morning just blocks away from the church. The suspected gunman is also dead, following a chase and shootout with police. Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky has more.

Wildlife also impacted by flooding

Apr 25, 2013

Flooding in Illinois displaced thousands of people this spring. It also forced wildlife out of their habitat. That could lead to more animals roaming near roads. Tim Schweizer is a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:

Flash mob measure passes IL Senate

Apr 24, 2013

Anyone convicted of using social media to plan or incite a mob attack could face tougher punishment under legislation approved by the Illinois Senate.

West Central IL towns fight rising waters

Apr 24, 2013

The Illinois river continues to rise as towns in west central Illinois fight off the water. IPR’s Rachel Otwell has more: 

New technology fights the flood

Apr 24, 2013

One of the most-used tools to combat flood water are sandbags. But in west central Illinois a relatively new technology is being utilized to stave off flood waters. And as IPR’s Bill Wheelhouse reports that technology has been used in military combat as well.

Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan sleep behind bulletproof barriers used as shields against attacks. Those same barriers are now being used as shields against the river.

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.