State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Illinois attorney general candidate Sharon Fairley is outlining steps she would take to root corruption as the state’s top attorney.

Fairley says if elected she’d create a hotline for reporting corruption - and push legislation to strengthen the state’s legislative and executive watchdogs - among other proposals.

FAIRLEY: "I don’t think there’s enough energy, focus or attention right now in the office. And there’s a lot of work to be done."

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The Illinois State Board of Elections voted to allow Scott Drury, a Democratic candidate for Attorney General, to remain on the ballot.

Drury is a state representative and that's where confusion arose. 

Seth Perlman / AP Photo

Illinois lawmakers appeared to act swiftly when they approved new ethical standards for sexual misconduct during the national flap over the issue last fall.
 
House Speaker Michael Madigan introduced legislation to add sexual harassment to a list of punishable charges. But the process revealed new problems along the way.
 
Questions surfaced about why past misconduct hadn't been addressed and who was monitoring lawmakers. The process also was clouded by a complaint against misconduct against a sitting state senator.
 

Increases in admission fees have been approved for the Museum of Science and Industry and Chicago History Museum starting Feb. 1.
 
The Chicago Park District Board approved the hikes on Wednesday to help offset increased building maintenance and operations costs at both museums. It's the first fee increases for the Museum of Science and Industry since 2013. The Chicago History Museum's fees were last increased in 2016.
 

This year’s campaign pits a multimillionaire incumbent against a field that includes a multibillionaire in what could be the costliest governor's race in U.S. history.

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New details are emerging about the Obama Presidential Center including design revisions for a taller and sleeker museum tower and hundreds of new trees.

The changes are part of the plans that the Obama Foundation submitted to city of Chicago officials on Wednesday. Other changes for the estimated $350 million project include more green space, 400 new trees, more links to an existing science museum and underground parking.

The facility will be built along Lake Michigan on Chicago's South Side.

The Congressional Bi-Partisan Heroin Task Force laid out its 2018 agenda aimed at battling drug addiction.

The task force’s 16 priority bills address a wide variety of opioid-related issues, including expanding access to treatment, better ways to detect illegal drugs at the nation’s borders and improved monitoring of prescriptions.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-17, sponsored one of the priority bills, which would require the Department of Agriculture to join the effort against a problem disproportionately affecting rural America.

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Two teenage boys who pleaded guilty in the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl that was streamed live on Facebook have been sentenced to five years of probation.

In a plea deal with Cook County, Illinois, prosecutors, the teens pleaded guilty to child pornography in November.

The victim, now 16, and her mother looked on from the rear of the courtroom as Judge Patricia Mendoza sentenced the boys on Wednesday. Both teens were originally charged with aggravated sexual assault and manufacturing and dissemination of child pornography.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White will run uncontested in the Democratic primary after state Sen. Michael Hastings dropped out of the race.

Another building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds is in need of emergency repairs in order to avoid a potential roof collapse.

New details are emerging about the Obama Presidential Center including design revisions for a taller and sleeker museum tower and hundreds of new trees. 

The curator at the Lincoln Heritage Museum at Lincoln College has been selected as its new director.

Northeastern Illinois University has named four finalists for president, a post that has been vacant since fall 2016.

The field of Democrats vying for the chance to replace U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez is narrowing. 

Millions of women responded to allegations of sexual harassment against entertainment industry figures, members of Congress and prominent male journalists through the hashtag #MeToo. Workplace experts say the focus on sexual harassment has yet to spotlight another common problem affecting mostly women: bullying bosses. 

A popular rap musician is now free, after being released from a prison in the Quad Cities on Wednesday.

The Illinois Supreme Court has heard arguments over a state law that forbids sex offenders whose victims were children from entering public parks.

Lawyers for a transgender woman say Illinois' Department of Corrections has agreed to move her from her current male prison where she says she's suffered brutal abuse by guards and inmates.

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Gov. Bruce Rauner's former communications director is suing the administration over emails on the signing of a controversial plan allowing taxpayer-funded abortions. The Cook County lawsuit was filed last week. Rauner hired and fired numerous employees over the summer, including several from the conservative Illinois Policy Institute. Among them was Diana Rickert, who left Rauner's office as a communications director following the flap over an institute political cartoon critics called racist.

The lights stayed red on wreaths at many Illinois fire departments this holiday season.  This was good news.

There were plenty of fires across Illinois from around Thanksgiving to New Year’s but, for many fire departments, there was a bright spot: the Red Wreath Program.  Dixon Fire Chief Tim Shipman said his department has been doing the community-awareness drive for the past 24 years.

The Rockford Public Library is settling into what will be its temporary downtown home for the next few years.

The Hart Interim Library in downtown Rockford has been a great success and, in some ways, an improvement, according to Bridget Finn. She’s the library’s Director of Marketing & Communications.

“It’s a great space,” Finn said. It’s a smaller footprint, but it’s a real study in excellent design.”

While a new Illinois law allows for easier voter registration, potential voters should still double-check their status. 

Authorities say they've arrested the former hotel owner of what was Peoria's Four Points at Sheraton. 

Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said the entire community is proud of the Illinois Veterans Home and the care its residents receive from the facility's more than 500 employees. He said that's evident from the more than 12,000 volunteer hours donated to the state-run facility last year.

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

  CHICAGO - The Democratic Illinois attorney general candidates vying for their party's nomination are vowing to fight policies enacted by President Donald Trump's administration, including on immigration and marijuana.

Seven of eight Democrats participated Monday in one of the first forums before the March primary. The candidates discussed their views supporting legalizing marijuana and Illinois' immigrant-friendly laws.

  Governor Bruce Rauner has boasted that fixing Illinois inequitable school funding formula was his top accomplishment of the past year. But Monday, he struck down a measure needed to implement that reform. Our education reporter Dusty Rhodes explains.

Stones15woon / Wikimedia Commons

  AURORA, Ill. - Libraries throughout the Chicago suburbs are making efforts to welcome and accommodate people who are homeless.

Libraries in Aurora and Naperville have joined others across the country in receiving training from Ryan Dowd on how to work with homeless patrons. Dowd is the director of Hesed House, a shelter in Aurora.

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Aurora officials will host a major ultimate Frisbee event this summer when USA Ultimate brings its 2018 Masters Championships to the area. The July 20-22 event will be at the Stuart Sports Complex in Montgomery.

USA Ultimate is the national governing body for the sport and a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee. It's working with the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau , the Aurora Area Sports Alliance , Ultimate Chicago and the Fox Valley Park District.

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Advocates for youth are urging Illinois to end the incarceration of young people in large facilities. They say these settings do not address their needs and safety concerns. Stephanie Kollmann is with the Children and Family Justice Center's legal clinic ​at Northwestern’s law school. She says the state should consider moving toward small-scale community settings that offer a more personal approach.

 “The number one goal of adolescent development is to be able to get youth toward adult independence and successful, thriving lives. Prisons unfortunately build  walls between youth and community, and that’s exactly the resources that they will need in order to move on successfully.” Kollman says. 

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