State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

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.

Tax information linked to federal health care law

Apr 15, 2013

It's tax day and for the first time, the information you provide the government will have implications for the federal health care law.  IPR’S Amanda Vinicky reports.

 

You may have noticed on your W-2s this year that there's a new entry for how much your employer spends on your health coverage. It's one of the first signals of the link between your taxes, and the new federal health care law. Kathy Pickering is director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block.  

"The big thing that people need to know right know is that the 2012 tax return is what's going to be used to determine your eligibility for a subsidy on the exchange."

Illinois’ newest representative in the U-S House was sworn in Thursday afternoon. Robin Kelly fills the seat long held by Jesse Jackson Junior. 

 

Under the direction of Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois is closing another state facility for people with severe developmental disabilities.  He shuttered the Jacksonville Developmental Center last year.  Next, is the Murray Developmental Center, in Centralia.  But he admits, he has never been to either.  

Governor Pat Quinn was walking toward the Capitol Thursday when he was confronted by Rita Winkeler.

Members of the Illinois House say the services of the lieutenant governor are no longer needed. They're not targeting current officeholder Sheila Simon, but the actual job itself. 

It's often been attributed to John Nance Garner that the job of vice president "is not worth a bucket of warm spit." Members of the Illinois House of Representatives seem to have similar ideas about the office derisively called the "lite guv." They voted 83-28 to eliminate the job from the Illinois Constitution.

Gun-control advocates rally in Springfield

Apr 11, 2013

As Illinois lawmakers consider lifting the concealed-carry ban, activists rallied to call on legislators to also enact new gun regulations. A court has given the state until early June to pass a law allowing people to carry guns in public.   While gun-control advocates like Senator Dan Kotowski have accepted that, they say Illinois can still enact restrictions. 

Quinn questioned on closing state facilities

Apr 11, 2013

Under the direction of Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois is closing another state facility for people with severe developmental disabilities.  He shuttered the Jacksonville Developmental Center last year.  Next, is the Murray Developmental Center, in Centralia.  But he admits, he has never been to either.  IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports.:  Governor Pat Quinn was walking toward the Capitol Thursday when he was confronted by Rita Winkeler.

Cigarette makers promote tobacco in Springfield

Apr 11, 2013

  Cigarette manufacturers were in Springfield Thursday urging lawmakers to promote other forms of tobacco as an alternative to smoking. But as IPR’s Brian Mackey reports, public health officials say it's a dangerous message: 


Students in Illinois who commit hazing against classmates face fines, probation, and even time behind bars. A proposal that advanced in the Illinois legislature Wednesday would extend those penalties to school personnel who fail to report such incidents to police. 

Representative Martin Moylan, a Democrat from Des Plaines, says his legislation follows an incident in his district earlier this year. A high school soccer coach was fired when several freshmen were allegedly beaten and sexually assaulted as part of a hazing ritual.

Governor Pat Quinn says Illinois will "soon" move the first residents out of the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia. Addressing a rally of "community care" activists Wednesday, Quinn said getting people out of large institutions and into smaller group homes provides a better quality of life.

Members of the Illinois Senate clashed with gambling regulators Wednesday over a plan to put a casino in Chicago. What started as policy disagreements turned into personal attacks.

Chicago's casino would have a feature that Gaming Board officials say is unique in America: the city would own it. Construction and management decisions would be made by a special "authority" - like the ones that run White Sox park, Navy Pier and McCormick Place.

A multi-millionaire exploring a bid for governor attempted to win over lawmakers during a visit to the state's capital city Wednesday. 

Bruce Rauner hasn't officially declared his candidacy for governor, yet. He's got an exploratory committee, though, that his spokesman says has taken him on nearly 30 stops  so far, from East St. Louis, to Champaign, Rockford to Vandalia. The spokesman confirms: his latest stop was in Springfield where sources say he met with nearly two dozen state legislators. 

The sponsor of a plan that would legalize medical marijuana in Illinois says a vote in the House could come as soon as this week. Representative Lou Lang, a Democrat from Skokie, says he expects to call the measure next week at the latest.

 

Young adults who have never been through a drivers' education program may have to take an online class in order to get a license.   

There was consternation last week when the latest federal job numbers showed a tenth of a percentage point increase in the national unemployment rate. But Illinois' rate remains much worse than that. 

Retired Illinois employees could soon receive an extra 500-dollars a month, as long as they find their own health insurance. A proposal in the state legislature would compensate retirees who pay for private health insurance before they're old enough to qualify for Medicare.

  Retired Illinois employees could soon receive an extra $500 a month, as long as they find their own health insurance.  A proposal in the state legislature would compensate retirees who pay for private health insurance before they're old enough to qualify for Medicare.  House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie says the measure could save Illinois about $37 million dollars a year. "They get an incentive. So we're not paying for their insurance, but we are paying them to decide to go someplace else. " The measure comes as retirees will soon be forced to pay health insurance premiums.

More than 100 documents related to Abraham Lincoln have been found overseas in the last year, and they're now being examined by the Springfield-based "Papers of Abraham Lincoln” project.Stacy McDermott says the discoveries were made in several countries, including Japan, Switzerland, and Portugal.

Legislators’ two-week spring break is over; members of the House are back in Springfield Monday, and Senators will join them on Wednesday.

The same, overriding issue that flummoxed lawmakers last spring remains this one – pensions.Illinois’ money is increasingly going toward state employees’, teachers’ and university workers’ retirement benefits, mostly because in the past, the state put off making its pension payments.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is taking his call for new state gun regulations to the church pulpit. 

Pages