State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Federal prosecutors in the case of a former physics student charged with the kidnapping and killing of a University of Illinois scholar from China say they don't object to delaying the trial now that the government is seeking the death penalty.

Six transgender inmates are suing the Illinois Department of Corrections in federal court, alleging inadequate medical care at state facilities.

U.S. Department of State / Public Domain / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A central Illinois sheriff who's the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett says he's gearing up to donate $1.4 million to pay for wide-ranging expenses from new software at the Macon County Jail to drug-related autopsies. 

The state's education agency wants to hire a "storyteller" to relay "amazing" stories from Illinois' public schools while lawmakers are still trying properly fund them. 

At least three Democratic congressmen from Illinois are boycotting President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address. 

A congressman representing a large portion of downstate Illinois will be listening closely to President Trump’s State of the Union address tonight.

Illinois Democrats want to raise the legal age for smoking or chewing tobacco from 18 to 21.


A 36-year-old local piano teacher was arrested Tuesday in Normal on allegations he sexually assaulted an underage girl who was apparently one of his students. Police say there are likely more victims.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has claimed his top accomplishment of last year was transforming the way Illinois funds public schools. But the dollars pledged by that new law haven’t been distributed. Instead, Rauner and state agencies have been focused on implementing and expanding a tax credit program for private schools, added to the bill at the last minute to get the governor signature.

Daniel Schwen / Adapted by Peoria Public Radio / CC BY-SA 4.0 / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner presents his state of the state address in Springfield Wednesday. Those who watch it might notice one color in particular being worn by those in attendance. Illinois Public Radio's Rachel Otwell explains. 

Illinois attorney general hopeful Erika Harold said she wants to increase efforts to stop public corruption while simultaneously staying away from partisan politics—a difficult balancing act for a Republican office holder in a blue state.

During his first year in office, President Donald Trump has rescinded or repealed many of his predecessor’s policies aimed at curbing climate change and protecting the air and water from pollution.

Those rollbacks — along with funding cuts to state environmental protection agencies — have concerned Jennifer Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council (IEC).

“We’ve seen that whether it’s in Flint, Michigan, or… the lead in water in East Chicago, Indiana, these are issues states can’t necessarily deal with on their own,” Walling said. If Illinois were faced with an environmental crisis, it may not have the resources needed to address it.

Many research labs across the country use animals for testing products such as make-up or medicines. For the past decade, advocates have pushed to get more of these animals — especially research dogs — adopted after they are no longer needed. Just a handful of states have policies in place. Illinois just recently joined that list.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says "no private business was conducted on public property" when he met with a former business partner at the Executive Mansion in May 2015.
But the Republican didn't answer directly Monday. The Chicago Tribune editorial board asked whether discussion with Harreld "Kip" Kirkpatrick included disbursing $67 million from a 2011 investment with Rauner.  
That's key because Rauner promised when elected in 2014 that he would have no day-to-day dealings with investment decisions.

A proposal at the Illinois statehouse aims to hold lawmakers accountable in cases of sexual harassment and discrimination. The measure is sponsored by state Representative David McSweeny. He says it would prohibit taxpayer money from covering settlement payouts in cases of harassment by state legislators:

“Somebody that is guilty of sexual harassment should be punished, and they should pay for it themselves.”

The Republican candidates for Illinois governor met before the Chicago Tribune editorial board Monday for their only joint-appearance of the primary campaign.

Governor Bruce Rauner called Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan a crook when the editorial board asked about his inability to build a relationship.

RAUNER: What hurts all of us is to take the focus away from Madigan and his network of corruption.

Rauner’s primary challenger - State Representative Jeanne Ives responded by calling Rauner’s tenure as governor “embarrassing.”

For the past month, the Rauner Administration has been working to implement a tax credit program for individuals and corporations who choose to donate up to a million dollars to private schools. But one state senator has proposed legislation to shift the focus to public schools.

Governor Bruce Rauner delivers his annual State of the State address this week. Political watchers expect it to focus on issues critical to this year's elections.

Political analyst and Illinois Lawmakers host Jak Tichenor says in an election year, leaders in Springfield try to play it safe – they don't want to upset their base or any potential swing voters. He expects this year's State of the State address to follow that trend.

Advocates for the poor in Illinois are pushing state lawmakers and the Rauner administration to act quickly on a program that funds hospital care.

Safety Net Hospitals provide care for thousands of people who rely on Medicaid. Through the state's assessment program, hospitals in Illinois are taxed – and then that money is used to access federal matching funds.

State Representative Natalie Phelps Finnie points to Hardin County Hospital in her deep southern Illinois district. She says a loss of funding for that facility would be devastating on multiple levels.

President Donald Trump’s administration has been in power for a year now. “State of Trump” is our series discussing what’s changed in Illinois, and what might be ahead

Taylor Bennett / CC BY-NC 2.0 / Flickr

Residents of Illinois should soon start paying less for their electricity and natural gas. The Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates public utilities, has ordered 22 companies to reduce their rates or show why they shouldn't have to.

As Democrats and Republicans try to make local property taxes into an election-year political issue — state lawmakers are looking to cut tax rates for senior citizens.

The Democratic candidates for governor appeared in the first of several televised debates, an unsealed lawsuit reveals Gov. Bruce Rauner has been more involved in his personal finances than he let on, and an audit finds the administration could not properly account for more than $7.11 billion in Medicaid payments to private insurance companies. 

The Illinois Department of Human Services has hired a Boston-based company to run an opioid help hotline despite receiving proposals from at least three Illinois providers.

University of Chicago faculty and students are protesting an invitation to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon to participate in a debate on immigration and globalization.

A 2020 jury trial date has been set for a transgender inmate suing Illinois Department of Corrections officials for alleged abuses.

Sen. Silverstein Cleared Of Sexual Harassment By Inspector

Jan 26, 2018

The inspector general for the Illinois General Assembly says a top state senator did not sexually harass a woman whose legislation he was sponsoring last year.

An effort is underway in Illinois that would let the terminally ill choose to end their life.  


A controversial holding cell at an Illinois women’s prison is still being used, over one year after the head of corrections vowed to take it down. 

Guards and inmates at Logan Correctional Center in central Illinois call it the “crisis cage.”

The Illinois Department of Corrections says it’s 8 feet tall and 7 and a half feet wide.

It’s used when guards believe a woman is at risk of harming herself or others.

Former prisoners say it’s barbaric and inhumane. Even the head of the Illinois Department of Corrections says it’s a problem.

A survey shows many school districts across Illinois have seen substitute teacher shortages.
The data collected by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools was based on a survey of more than 500 superintendents.
Some school officials are recruiting substitute teachers by posting on social media, attending job fairs and asking parents for help. Several are offering substitute teachers more money.
The association suggests policy changes at the state level could help schools recruit more substitute teachers.