State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

There have been numerous rallies since the election in November.  Most have been protests of the new administration.  Saturday in Springfield, a March 4 Trump event will bring together supporters of the new president.  

The Illinois Senate has adjourned without pushing its stalled budget compromise further. But a Senate Democrat filed legislation today spelling out services that could be subject to the state sales tax to battle a budget deficit. 

A day after the Illinois Senate failed to vote on its “grand bargain,” lawmakers are wondering how to pick up the pieces.  Democrats were angry when most Republicans refused to vote on the budget deal.  They blamed it on the intervention of Governor Bruce Rauner, who’s reportedly been meeting with Republicans this week.  Rauner says the deal isn’t good enough.

Flickr Creative Commons/Jobs For Felons Hub

Cook County prosecutors will no longer oppose the release of some detainees who are held on nonviolent offenses because they can't afford to pay cash bonds of up to $1,000 at a time.  Sheriff Tom Dart's policy chief, Cara Smith, quickly praised the decision. Dart has focused on the issue for the past two years in order to reduce the county jail's population.

Facebook/Carter Solberg

A northern Illinois man has died after being struck by a tree during a powerful Midwestern storm, raising the death toll for the regional storms to four.  Peoria County's coroner says 31-year-old David A. Johnson of Ottawa died Wednesday of severe head trauma at a Peoria hospital.

The Illinois Senate’s so-called grand bargain was put on hold Wednesday. After months of negotiations and a deadline from their own caucus leader, Senate Republicans say they aren't quite ready to vote.

Democrats blame the last-minute withdrawal on interference by Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

The last day of February once again brought tornados to Southern Illinois.

Harrisburg endured a lot of damage in 2012…

This time it was a few counties west in Northern Rural Jackson County.

Western Illinois University wants to do more to help the Quad Cities area create new  businesses and expand existing companies. In January, the university opened its second Small Business Development Center on its riverfront campus in Moline. WIU also opened a new, International Trade Center.

Hoping to be included in the Trump Administration's future spending on infrastructure, mayors from cities and towns long the Mississippi River are meeting in Washington. And the group includes Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch and Roy Buol from Dubuque.

The Illinois Senate is still planning to vote today on a so-called grand bargain to end the budget stalemate.

Senators passed the relatively easier parts of the “grand bargain" yesterday. Today come the more complicated votes, like cutting government pensions, freezing property taxes, and raising income taxes.
The tax hike in particular has prompted a couple of conservative activists to attack Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno. They say, in effect, she's selling out.

Proposed Law Would Limit Augmented Reality Games

Mar 1, 2017
Flickr Creative Commons/Nate Pesce / Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office

Milwaukee, Wisconsin recently passed a law saying augmented reality game developers like Niantic, the creators of Pokémon Go, must have a permit in order to use parks as game landmarks. A similar Illinois bill is in the works.

Ottawa is recovering from a tornado that struck Tuesday afternoon, killing an elderly man.

Michael Puente / Periscope

Some top law enforcement officials in Chicago are weighing in on what they would want the federal government to do to quell the violence.

At a forum prior to Trump’s speech, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says he would welcome federal money for mental health programs and economic development. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says if funds are reduced for mental health programs, that would hurt efforts to stem the violence. In his speech to a joint session of Congress, President Trump said more than 4-thousand people were shot in Chicago last year.

The Cook County state's attorney is investigating whether a former Chicago police sergeant tainted far more convictions than those he has been held accountable for.  State's attorney spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said the office's Conviction Integrity Unit is reviewing any cases of incarcerated individuals where former Sgt. Ronald Watts was substantively involved.

The Illinois Senate has moved forward on pieces of a budget compromise. But the tough votes are scheduled for tomorrow.  The Senate approved non-contentious parts of what's called the "grand bargain" today. It's an effort to find a breakthrough on a two-year stalemate between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Legislature. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration has made it easier to find temporary workers in case a major public-employee union strikes.  The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees state council says hiring replacements would be illegal.

The Illinois Department of Corrections says a man accused in a 2012 Chicago expressway killing was released on parole in an unrelated case because the department wasn't informed he should be held.  The Department of Corrections released Garrett Glover on Friday after he was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for an attempted armed robbery in 2014. Glover had been in custody since 2014.

Flickr Creative Commons/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

Federal officials are delaying a proposal for a new line of defense in the Chicago area to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was scheduled to release a draft plan today for installing new technologies or taking other steps to block the invasive fish's path at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois.  No new release date has been set.

Flickr Creative Commons/Ruth Hartnup

Spring has sprung early in much of the U.S., bringing celebrations of shorts weather mixed with unease about climate gone askew.  Scientists say this could potentially be a record early spring.   From Arizona to New Jersey, lilacs and honeysuckles are popping up earlier than usual, and birds are flying about.

Paul Bischoff / Flickr

Updates

12:00 P.M.- Tazewell County officials report the 911 system is back online. Please call 911 in the event of an emergency. 

9:00 AM - Due to a technical problem, the Tazewell and Mason county 911 phone systems are temporarily out of service. For emergencies, officials are asking the public to call the alternate landline numbers for any medical, fire, or police emergency until further notice. An estimated time for repairs was not available this morning, but according to Mason County officials, the issue lies with landline service provider CenturyLink.  

Members of the Illinois Senate return to Springfield  tomorrow. They’re once again expected to vote on a deal meant to end Illinois’ budget stalemate.  The top Republican and Democrat in the Senate have been working on this compromise since December.

Chicago Public Schools officials are seeking a preliminary injunction barring the state of Illinois from disbursing education funds until it adequately funds the state's largest school district.  Faced with a huge deficit and an upcoming teacher pension payment, CEO Forrest Claypool says the Chicago school year could end three weeks early on June 1 if the state doesn't come through with funds.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration is seeking to offer more Medicaid services through managed-care programs. The plan involves choosing a vendor that'll provide managed-care services to 80% of Medicaid clients.  That's up from 65% now. 

Flickr Creative Commons/jetzenpolis

The large plastic buckets that Illinois Tollway drivers usually toss change into to pay tolls soon will be eliminated.  Tollway leaders have approved a deal to replace the buckets at toll booths with updated machines. The new machines would have touch screens that can accept credit cards or bills as well as coins.

A former Cook County clerk employee who pleaded guilty to lying about an alleged bribe to a company run by the clerk's husband has been sentenced to three years of probation.  Sivasubramani Rajaram pleaded guilty to making a false declaration to a grand jury. The maximum sentence was five years prison. 

United Airlines says it's adding new destinations in smaller cities this summer including Champaign. The Chicago-based company announced that it'll start flying dozens of new daily roundtrip flights.  Starting on June 8, there'll be three daily flights between Willard Airport in Champaign and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.   The last time United Express operated through Willard was 1993. 

Flickr Creative Commons/tanjila ahmed

An influential doctors group is beefing up warnings about marijuana's potential harms for teens amid increasingly lax laws and attitudes on pot use.  Dr. Seth Ammerman says that many parents use the drug and think it's OK for their kids, but teen brains are still developing.

The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs will hold its 26th Anniversary Desert Storm Remembrance Ceremony on Tuesday. Each year, the department honors soldiers from the state killed in the first Gulf War. 

Members of Congress return to Washington on Monday after a week-long work sessions in their home districts.

Like some other around the country, St. Louis-area representatives are catching criticism for not using the break to host town hall meetings to hear from constituents.

There was one exception; Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., held a listening session Friday in Hillsboro regarding pension funds.

So where are your representatives, and why aren’t they holding public meetings? Here’s what they said.

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, Ill.

Illinois Lawmaker Aims To Lift Noise Suppressors Ban

Feb 27, 2017

An Illinois lawmaker is looking to legalize the possession of noise suppressors in Illinois in order to reduce the risk of hearing damage from firing a gun.

The State Journal-Register reports the bill proposed by Democratic Sen. William Haine of Alton is among dozens of firearm-related bills that have been introduced by Illinois lawmakers this year.

Haine says noise from firearms is a public health concern for hunters and those who shoot for sport.

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