State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Bill aims to protect abortion rights on the chance Roe v. Wade  is overturned.

With Democrats in firm control of the Illinois General Assembly, abortion rights might seem to be safe in the state. But what would happen if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal across the country in 1973?

Police say two people have died in a drive-by shooting in the same Chicago neighborhood where separate shootings several hours earlier left five people dead, including a pregnant woman.  The shooting happened late Thursday when a vehicle pulled alongside a van in the city's South Shore neighborhood. Police say a man and woman were shot and the van crashed.

Flickr Creative Commons/Yutaka Seki

Illinois' medical marijuana companies, operating in an industry abounding with rules, now have one less regulation they have to follow.  A federal judge ruled last week that a provision preventing cannabis companies from making campaign contributions in Illinois wasn't constitutional. 

illinois.gov

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed an executive order making the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum a separate state agency.  The order means that the Springfield museum will no longer fall under the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The agency's remaining functions will be assigned to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The effort to overhaul the way Illinois funds public schools has been gaining momentum over the past few years, and yesterday, the latest plan got the green light to be heard by the House of Representatives. Sponsored by State Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood), the plan cleared committee on a 15-1-0 vote, marking the first time in recent history that a school funding plan got bipartisan support.

That's despite the fact that Davis chose not to provide a spreadsheet showing how much money each district would get.

The Illinois General Assembly is considering legislation meant to expand privacy rights on the Internet. Two of the bills cleared procedural hurdles Thursday in the House, but they both have powerful opponents.

If you’ve spent any amount of time online, chances are you’ve been confronted with a long privacy policy. And if you’re like most people, you scroll to the bottom and click “accept” — without reading it.

A $45 million fraud trial has unraveled in Chicago after prosecutors failed to turn over vital grand-jury transcripts to defense lawyers.  Defendants Richard and Maribel Tinimbang pleaded guilty to lesser charges. They were initially charged with submitting inflated Medicare bills for home health-care businesses, then spending the proceeds to fund lavish lifestyles. 

An audit of Chicago State University by Illinois' auditor general has found that the embattled school improperly reported nearly $52 million in federal awards.  State's Auditor General Frank Mautino says the university didn't properly prepare expenditure reports for two loan programs from the Department of Education.  The reports are required by federal law, for federal awards of more than $51.7 million.

CDC.gov

Illinois State University reports that three students have confirmed cases of mumps, meeting the state health department's definition of an outbreak.  Health department officials say the sickened students are recovering and weren't hospitalized.

An Illinois House committee has backed legislation meant to enhance internet privacy rights at a time when federal protections are being rolled back.  The Cybersecurity, Data Analytics & IT Committee endorsed two privacy measures to meet a Thursday deadline, though the Democratic committee chairman said many issues remain to be debated.

 

Yesterday’s “I voted” sticker is today’s ballot selfie. But some voters last fall found out Illinois makes it illegal to take a selfie with your ballot. Lawmakers are trying to change that, inspired by the young people who simply wanted to share their fulfillment of their civic duty on social media.

AP Photo

Governor Bruce Rauner wants a private employer to take over 120 nursing jobs from state prisons. But the Illinois Senate passed legislation that would block the plan on Wed.

Last month, a Springfield police officer named Samuel Rosario beat a resident of east Springfield. It was captured by a body camera. Rosario is facing charges and is on unpaid leave. 

School funding has been one of the most hotly debated issues in the statehouse, but in recent days, there’s been a glimmer of hope. A Democrat filed new funding plan, and a key Republican in the Illinois Senate appeared to endorse it, issuing a statement saying that he was “cautiously optimistic.” Was this the beginning of a bipartisan solution? We decided to do a reality check.

 

It’s been two years since Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled his Republican “Turnaround Agenda.” On Wednesday, a group of rank-and-file Democratic legislators responded with their own “Comeback Agenda.”

It’s been two years since Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner unveiled his Republican “Turnaround Agenda.” Today, a group of rank-and-file Democratic legislators responded with their own “Comeback Agenda.”

State Senator Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, says the agenda grew out of frustration with the fighting and lack of progress in Springfield.

“We wanted to be for something. We wanted to outline a vision of where Illinois could go.”

Illinois Lottery Staff Gets Bonuses

Mar 29, 2017

Illinois taxpayers have funded about $2 million in "retention" bonuses for employees of a private firm managing the lottery despite the firm performing so badly that the state is working to replace it.

The Illinois comptroller has appealed a Cook County judge's ruling that state lawmakers must be paid on time despite their failure to pass a budget.
 
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said Wednesday that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office filed the appeal on her behalf Tuesday. The judge ruled last week in favor of several lawmakers who sued Mendoza's predecessor asking for pay.
 
Mendoza said she would release legislator back pay but also planned to appeal.
 

The President of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale says without a state budget – or stop gap funding – drastic cuts will have to happen soon.

In a letter to the university, President Randy Dunn outlined what must happen in order to make ends meet. The plan includes asking the Board of Trustees to declare a “financial emergency,” cutting an additional 30-million dollars from SIU Carbondale’s budget and borrowing funds from Edwardsville to help Carbondale.

Urbana Mayor Defends City's "Sanctuary" Status

Mar 29, 2017
Jeff Bossert / Illinois Public Radio

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions renewed the call this week to strip so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ of some federal funding, but Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing questions whether that would be legal.

City leaders reaffirmed Urbana’s 30-year old status as a sanctuary city late last year…offering some protections to those living in the country illegally.

Prussing says she’s confident that the Trump Administration can’t withhold federal grant funds… saying Urbana’s sanctuary measure was prepared with solid legal advice:

Georgia Democrats / Flickr/Creative Commons

There are six Democrats considering a run for Illinois Governor and the chance go mano-e-mano with Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner.  On Monday, Cook County Democratic Party bosses heard from each of them in turn as they asked for the party’s endorsement.

Ten years ago, Cindy Bonnet found out she was getting new neighbors in Nora, Illinois: 10,000 cows. It’s what’s known in the industry as a “concentrated animal feeding operation,” or CAFO: basically a big cow warehouse, with a giant trough under it to catch their waste.


illinoislawmakers / Wikimedia Commons

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Democratic speaker of the Illinois House is upbraiding Gov. Bruce Rauner for comments the governor made about him. 

skeeze / pixabay/Creative Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago's leaders say they'll keep fighting against President Donald Trump's promised crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities" despite financial risks.

Bryan Cox / AP Photo

CHICAGO (AP) - A lawyer for the family of a man who was shot and wounded by an immigration agent in Chicago says the shooting was unjustified.

High school basketball in Illinois has always been a popular spectator sport.  But you might not know that from the recent state tournaments.  

Gov. Bruce Rauner was in the Chicago Suburbs Monday pushing to add toll lanes to Interstate 55. He also took the opportunity to attack Illinois Democrats.

Democratic Governor Candidates Attack Rauner Agenda

Mar 27, 2017

Cook County Democratic leaders heard from the six candidates thinking of running for governor today ahead of a potential endorsement later this year, each candidate attacked Governor Bruce Rauner.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin greeted about 500 central Illinois residents at a town hall meeting in Bloomington Friday with the words, "There was good news from Washington today."

Durbin was referring to the failure of the U.S. House to pass a Republican-backed replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

Flickr Creative Commons/Benjamin Lipsman

The wife of a Chicago police officer charged with murder after shooting a teen 16 times has been told she shouldn't train for a job working in the Cook County jail.  Tiffany Van Dyke's husband, Jason Van Dyke, faces murder charges in Laquan McDonald's death. 

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