State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

A proposal that would keep teens out of tanning beds is one step closer to becoming law in Illinois.The House voted 67 to 49 to approve the measure, which prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using a tanning bed.

Mayors from several Mississippi River communities joined with members of Congress Thursday to draw attention to the importance of the waterway. The goal of the so-called Mississippi River Platform is to raise awareness of such issues as water quality, community development, and drought and flood preparation. Mayor JoAnn Smiley of Clarksville (Missouri) told reporters at Washington, D.C., press conference that the quality of the Mississippi’s water is a huge issue for her town.

Commonwealth Edison and Ameren customers will be on the hook to pay higher electricity rates under a measure headed to Governor Pat Quinn. Legislators rushed to pass the proposal at the utilities' behest.A state law that took effect two years ago was supposed to have already allowed the companies to charge higher rates.

Illinois House passes pension measure

Mar 21, 2013

Illinois legislators have yet again done what was long unthinkable, the House Thursday passed a measure reducing state employees' and teachers' retirement benefits.   IPR’s Amanda Vinicky has more: 

Rate hike progress for Commonwealth Edison

Mar 21, 2013

Utility giant Commonwealth Edison is on its way to securing a rate hike that will pay for upgrades to the state's electric grid.  As IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports, legislators passed the measure in a hurry:

IL House passes tanning bed measure

Mar 21, 2013

A proposal that would keep teens out of tanning beds is one step closer to becoming law in Illinois. The House voted 67 to 49 to approve the measure, which prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using a tanning bed. 

Governor Pat Quinn wants the Illinois Senate to take another look at his picks for who should sit on Southern Illinois University's Board of Trustees. In a rare move last month, state senators profoundly rejected three individuals Quinn nominated for the board.  None of the nominees received even a single "yes" vote.

The Illinois Senate has passed a pension overhaul, but it only affects suburban and downstate teachers.  It doesn't touch state employees' and university workers' retirement benefits. 

Illinois lawmakers banning smoking, completely, at universities and community colleges.

Illinois Senate approves pension measure

Mar 20, 2013

 Teachers would have to make a major decision about their retirement benefits under a measure the Illinois Senate approved Wednesday.  IPR’s Amanda Vinicky has the latest on lawmakers' attempts to overhaul the state's pension systems. 

   The legislation would require any teacher working at a downstate or suburban public school to make a choice:

The U.S. Postal Service is in the midst of a major cost-cutting effort.  Along with the well-publicized end of Saturday delivery that may happen this year and consolidating major mail centers, there is another  move that is hitting home in rural America.   The Postal Service plans on cutting staff and hours at about 13,000 post offices.   

Early results of a study of Illinois' Medicaid rolls show many recipients don't actually qualify. As part of a broad overhaul of Medicaid, the state's health care program for the poor, Illinois hired a company, Maximus, to verify recipients' eligibility. 

AFSCME votes to accept state contract

Mar 19, 2013

By a margin of 96 to four, members of the state's largest public employees' union voted to ratify a new contract with the state.  AFSCME and Governor Pat Quinn's administration reached a deal in late February.  But in order for it to take effect, a majority of the union's more than 35,000 members had to agree to it.  AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says this may have been the toughest negotiations the union's ever experienced.

Illinois lawmakers looking to reduce the state's costs for employee retirement benefits have scored a victory in a central Illinois court.  

Illinois' economic development wing is fighting to hold on to its existence.  IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports on an effort to essentially privatize the state agency:

 The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity would get quite the overhaul under State Senator Andy Manar's legislation.

High school students going into high-demand fields could get automatic admission to the state university of their choice, under a measure introduced in the Illinois Senate.  Senator Chapin Rose, a Republican from Mahomet, says nearly 20-thousand Illinois high school graduates go out-of-state for college, a trend that needs to be stopped.

Providers of ambulance and other emergency services in Illinois face a shortage of money. Some patients use on Medicaid, Illinois' low-income health insurance, to pay for trips.

U-S Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois says lawmakers continue to make headway on immigration reform.Durbin is part of a bipartisan group of eight Senators developing a national immigration plan. As a guest on Fox News Sunday, the number two Democrat in the Senate said the group is still working through a number of difficult issues.

Illinois legislators say they've reached a deal on the taxes and fees companies that use hydraulic fracturing must pay the state.

In about two weeks, Illinois’ only maximum-security female correctional center will close its doors. 

A pair of pension measures met success in the Illinois House yesterday ... a day after a Senate panel approved two other proposals. Supporters of overhauling the state's underfunded pension systems see it as a sign it could happen this spring.  

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan doesn't want Illinois to allow fracking, a controversial process that injects a mixture of water and chemicals deep underground to reach oil and natural gas reserves.  

Republicans are fighting the idea that Downstate and suburban schools are the only ones getting a "free lunch" from Illinois state government. House Speaker Michael Madigan has has used the phrase in describing how local school districts should have to pay the employer's share of pension costs for teachers. That expense is currently covered by the state for all school districts, except Chicago.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is waiting to see what the General Assembly does before deciding if she'll ask the US Supreme Court to weigh in on Illinois' concealed-carry ban. A federal court has given the state until June to pass a law that will allow people to carry guns in public.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says there's not enough support in the Illinois House to pass same sex marriage. He says it is a dozen votes short.  But the measure's sponsor, Chicago Democratic Representative Greg Harris, says the number's less. Harris says there is still work to do, but he believes when the time comes, it will pass.

Madigan supports fracking moratorium

Mar 13, 2013

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan doesn't want Illinois to allow fracking, a controversial process that injects a mixture of water and chemicals deep underground to reach oil and natural gas reserves.  IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports. 

 Companies are longing to access the oil and natural gas laced in the rocks of the New Albany Shale, in southeastern Illinois.

As the country's economy slowly improves, an economist says there are several reason why Illinois' is not. Edward Boss the chief economist for the state's government forecasting commission. He says Illinois is one of just a handful of states at risk to fall back into a recession.

Illinois education board asks for more funding

Mar 12, 2013

A week after Governor Pat Quinn suggested lawmakers slash the state's education budget -- Illinois school officials are asking them to instead increase spending on schools. IPR’s Brian Mackey has more: 

 The chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, Gery Chico, says public schools can't afford any more cuts. He says they're already eliminating extracurricular activities, getting rid of staff, and shortening the school day.

A coalition of environmental groups accuse other advocates of selling out when it comes to the drilling technique known as "hydraulic fracturing."  IPR’s Amanda Vinicky has more.  

 Environmentalists have warned of the dangers of "fracking" - a process that extracts natural gas or oil by pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals deep underground.That's why it was a big deal a couple weeks ago that the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council stood with business leaders to announce they'd reached an agreement that could pave the way for fracking in Illinois.

Illinois, SEC reach settlement

Mar 11, 2013

Illinois has reached a settlement with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused the state of misleading investors about the depth of its pension problems.