State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

The coats of around 20 animal species go from brown in the summer to white in the winter.  Researchers are studying whether climate change is causing those animals to adapt.

Just days after Moody's warned of a potential credit downgrade for Illinois' public universities, Standard & Poor's took action to lower the credit of a couple - and placed three on a negative watch list.

The campaign to restore the governor's mansion in Illinois is getting close to its $15 million goal less than two years after private fundraising began as an alternative to traditional appropriations for state construction.
Gov. Bruce Rauner says private donors have raised about $14 million for the Illinois Executive Mansion. He says he expects to reach another million "in the next couple of weeks."
The goal is to complete restoration of the 162-year-old mansion in time for the August 2018 bicentennial of Illinois statehood.

Advocates Oppose AT&T Proposal To Eliminate Land Lines

Apr 19, 2017

A coalition of consumer rights groups is urging Illinois lawmakers to vote against two bills that would allow AT&T to eliminate phone service on traditional landlines.

House and Senate members are considering proposals to let the telecommunications company convert to a modern Internet-based system.

Citizens Utility Board Director of Governmental Affairs Bryan McDaniel says the measures would leave many in the Metro East with cable television companies as the only option for a fixed-line phone.

The continuing lack of a state budget in Illinois is affecting upkeep and repairs at Illinois state parks.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Wayne Rosenthal visited Olson Lake in Rock Cut State Park on Tuesday. The lake was closed last month due to reduced water quality. Rosenthal promised to dredge the lake near Rockford but offered no timetable and said his department has an $800 million backlog of deferred maintenance expenses. He said the source of the problem is the lack of a budget.

Peoria Public Radio

Federal prosecutors say former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock shouldn't get more information about a confidential informant in his corruption case.
The prosecutors made the argument in a 60-page motion filed late Tuesday. They also say the Peoria Republican shouldn't receive any additional material from the grand jury that investigated him. Schock was indicted in 2016 after resigning from Congress.
In the filing, prosecutors accuse Schock of trying to avoid trial by engaging "in an increasingly aggressive search for some governmental misconduct claim."

An abortion-rights group says Gov. Bruce Rauner broke a campaign promise when he pledged last week to veto legislation to expand coverage for abortion and ensure the procedure remains legal in Illinois.
Personal PAC on Wednesday made public a questionnaire the Republican completed as a candidate for governor in 2014.
In it, Rauner said that if elected he would sign legislation to ensure access to abortion if federal law allowing it is overturned. Rauner also said Illinois should cover abortions for state employees and Medicaid recipients.

U-S Representatives Darin LaHood and Rodney Davis are out touring their districts together in Central Illinois. With a capricious president leading the party, the congressmen are part of a Republican majority looking for a path forward. Illinois Public Radio's Tom Lisi caught up with them at an event in Springfield.

LaHood and Davis are joining forces to make Route 66 a Historic National Trail. One problem? President Trump’s budget would gut the National Park Service. Republicans seem to be pulling in all directions these days. Here’s LaHood speaking on healthcare:

Six of Illinois’ state universities have been put on notice for credit downgrades. It’s the latest knock on state government after more than 21 months without a full budget.

Tony Ernst / Flickr/Creative Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - A bee has halted a multimillion-dollar road project in suburban Chicago that's designed to ease traffic congestion. 

Flickr Creative Commons/prsa-ny

A lawsuit alleges two former prosecutors conspired with a Chicago police sergeant and others to fabricate evidence that led to a wrongful murder conviction.  The lawsuit seeks $60 million in damages for Armando Serrano. He and co-defendant Jose Montanez were released last summer, after more than two decades in prison, when prosecutors dropped charges.

Actress Patricia Arquette is a keynote speaker during a week of science and technology events at Illinois State University.  University officials say the events at the campus in Normal this week will include a professional development dinner and a conference on women in leadership. 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the dragging of a dentist off a United Airlines flight by airport security officers show they shouldn't be allowed to carry guns.  Cellphone video of the incident sparked widespread outrage.  Emanuel called what happened to Dr. David Dao totally, all-around unacceptable.

Jurors have awarded $350,000 in damages in a lawsuit brought by the mother of a black teen fatally shot by Chicago police.  The jury found the July 2013 shooting of 17-year-old Christian Green unjustified. 

An appeals court is considering whether Illinois' imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich should get a third sentencing hearing.  

Thousands of high school juniors in public schools across Illinois will also get to take the ACT college entrance exam courtesy of their districts in addition to the free SAT.  According to ACT Inc., New Trier Township High School, Lyons Township High School District 204, Adlai Stevenson and Warren Township are among about 30 public school districts and private schools giving the ACT to their students.

Moody's Investors Service says it will review most of Illinois' public universities for potential credit downgrades over the next three months.  The bond credit rating business also bumped Northeastern Illinois University's credit down two levels. 

Immigration Crackdown Could Harm Illinois Population

Apr 18, 2017

Illinois' population losses are frequently cited in debates over the state's tax rates and business laws.

Last year, Census figures show Illinois was tied for the greatest rate of people leaving the state.

But Sarah Crane, with Moody's Analytics, says a federal immigration crackdown could make it even worse.


"Any reduction in trade or immigration will harm Illinois. ... The state is very reliant on immigration to even maintain its population."


Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Radio


J.B. Pritzker brought his campaign for governor to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana Monday.  The billionaire venture capitalist is trying to establish himself as the progressive choice for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

State Employees, Retirees to Rauner: Do Your Job

Apr 17, 2017

Around 50 protestors gathered in downtown Moline Monday afternoon to protest what they see as Bruce Rauner's failure to pass a budget.

A pair of Illinois State Senators are pushing to fight what they says is discrimination in car insurance pricing.  The effort follows an investigation by Consumer Reports and ProPublica that found people in minority neighborhoods pay up to 30% more than drivers in white areas, even when they have the same accident risk.

Illinois' department of revenue says more than 300 state employees, including two lawmakers, are delinquent in paying their taxes for the 2014 calendar year.  Department of Revenue officials say the 312 state workers are getting their salaries but still haven't filed returns for calendar year 2014, which were due two springs ago.

A rule change governing legal clients' funds made by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2015 has generated more than $1 million for legal help for the poor.  The court adjusted a rule dealing with unidentified funds in pooled client trust accounts handled by lawyers. 

College students and faculty in western Illinois will get more travel abroad opportunities because of a U.S. Department of Education grant.  Western Illinois University officials say the grant of over $400,000 dollars will benefit their school and also Spoon River College in Canton.  WIU officials are directing the grant, which covers three years of academic travel.

Flickr Creative Commons/Yutaka Seki

Some Illinois doctors are traveling to Springfield to help residents enroll in the state's medical marijuana program.  Medical marijuana advocates in Illinois say doctors' willingness to help patients remains the biggest hurdle to long-term success for the pilot program. The program's enrollment since fall 2014 stands at 18,300, and the number of potential enrollees is believed to be two to five times higher.

Illinois Issues: LGBT In The Time Of Trump

Apr 17, 2017

As rapid-fire change comes at the federal level, advocates want  to keep Illinois' status as one of the leading states in offering protections.

Alex McCray didn’t want to believe Donald Trump had won the election. In the words of the transgender nursing student from downstate Sherman: “I was hoping it was all just one terrible nightmare. It felt like my rights were being ripped out right from underneath me.”

Rauner Talks to QC Chamber

Apr 17, 2017

Met by protestors outside and members of the business community inside, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner came to the Quad Cities Monday for the second time in a week.

Flickr Creative Commons/dennis crowley

The Illinois panel tasked with reviewing claims of police torture is overwhelmed with claims, and is short on funding, especially with the state budget impasse.  A recent law change expanded the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission's jurisdiction beyond claims of torture related to disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge to anyone convicted in Cook County based on confessions allegedly coerced through torture.

Flickr Creative Commons/Ron Cogswell

Many of Chicago's recreational softball teams have been displaced from lakefront fields because of damage from a World Series celebration last year. Chicago hosted the parade and rally to celebrate the team's first World Series championship since 1908.

State officials say that they're making changes to Illinois' newly-designed license plates to make them easier to read.  Secretary of State Jesse White's office has received complaints.  The new licenses, designed by White's office, were rolled out in January.