State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Tuesday vetoed the only gun-control legislation to reach his desk — one month after the Parkland, Florida shooting.

Wednesday, some students from Springfield-area schools will leave class and stand in a common area on school grounds for 17 minutes - one minute to honor each of the lives lost in the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school. It's part of a national push led by young people for stricter gun laws.

Illinois is using emergency spending rules to upgrade the water system at the veterans’ home in Quincy. Outbreaks of the waterborne Legionnaires’ Disease have killed and sickened dozens of residents and staff.

Accusations of harassment from a campaign worker against her supervisor and close aide to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Kevin Quinn, led to Quinn’s firing last month. Madigan is still struggling with the ripple effects from Alaina Hampton’s claims, with some observers predicting this could be the downfall for the powerful politician.

Hampton’s story has also brought attention to how political campaigns deal with sexual harassment.

The Illinois treasurer says he opposes a bill that would take away his office's authority to hire auditors to help recover residents' unclaimed property.

A group of residents is raising money to keep a park district-owned riverboat operating in northern Illinois this summer. 

L. Brian Stauffer / University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

U of I Provost Andreas Cangellaris apologized Monday after criticism of his actions during the recent strike by graduate student workers. The apology came during a meeting of the Urbana campus’s Senate and several days after the Graduate Employees Organization, or GEO, called off an 11-day strike.

Cangellaris says he was criticized by faculty and students over his handling of the negotiations.

Digital currency is becoming a fundamental part of some finance courses at Illinois universities.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a Medicaid funding plan that changes the way hospitals are reimbursed for treating low-income patients.

aeroSoul / CC by 2.0 / Flickr

Illinois Democratic candidates for governor say it's time for the state to legalize recreational marijuana, while Republican candidates oppose the idea.

 

All six Democratic candidates for the March 20 primary favor legalization in some form. They say the move will bring needed revenue into the state and fight what they see as racial disparities in arrests and sentencing.

 

  CHICAGO - A federal judge in Chicago is slated to issue a first-in-the-nation ruling on whether law enforcement stings where suspects are talked into robbing non-existent drugs from non-existent stash houses are racially biased.

Monday's ruling could determine whether agencies nationwide curtail their reliance on such stings.

The stings are overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They typically involve agents posing as cartel couriers.

Ravi Shah / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

It's an alleged bid to harness the luck of the Irish or, at least, the luck of an Irish name.

A watchdog says a Chicago-area lawyer changed his name to sound Irish to improve his odds of winning election as a Cook County judge, from Phillip Spiwak to Shannon P. O'Malley, after losing a 2010 race in a neighboring county.

The Illinois Civil Justice League is releasing its judicial candidate ratings Monday, citing O'Malley's name change for giving him a "not-recommended" rating.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As Illinois attempts to balance its books, it’s dipping into pots of money meant to help cities and towns pay for services. And local officials are looking for options.

One idea is to make it easier for smaller cities to gain home-rule status, which allows those towns to have more flexibility in how they operate. Home rule governments can borrow more money for big road projects, set more zoning rules and institute sales and gas taxes.

 

GEO Strike Ends with New Five-Year Contract

Mar 12, 2018
Graduate Employees' Organization-UIUC / Facebook

Members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, or GEO, voted Friday to ratify a new five-year contract. The contract puts an end to the nearly two-week-long strike that cancelled hundreds of classes and caused dozens more to be relocated.

 

GEO co-president Gus Wood says they weren’t going to give up until they got guaranteed tuition waivers for all graduate workers.

 

Illinois county fair officials say they still don’t have nearly $1.5 million promised to them in the current state budget for fair operations. 
 

You might be feeling the effects of the time change  just like every spring when we lose an hour.  But there’s legislation that just might change that. 

Eastern Illinois University's president says the campus appears to be headed toward a significant increase in freshman enrollment next fall.

WNIJ continues to review important races in the upcoming Illinois Primary Election on March 20. So far, we’ve outlined the crowded races for Illinois Governor and Attorney General. On this week’s Friday Forum, we outline the rest of the statewide offices appearing on the ballot. They include Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Comptroller.

This week, House Speaker and Chairman of Illinois' Democratic Party Michael Madigan faced more criticism over his handling of sexual harassment allegations against party workers and lawmakers.  Also, Governor Bruce Rauner is not saying if he supports gun control legislation in Illinois.

Bernie Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register and NPR Illinois' Maureen Foertsch McKinney join the panel.

What’s In The New GEO Contract?

Mar 9, 2018
Graduate Employees' Organization-UIUC / Facebook

Graduate workers on the University of Illinois Urbana campus are voting Friday whether to ratify a new five-year contract with the University of Illinois.

The Graduate Employees' Organization sent WILL information about what is in the tentative agreement.

Tuition Waivers

The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago

The University of Chicago has announced the October closing of the 121-year-old Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin.

University Executive Vice President David Fithian said Thursday operating Yerkes no longer makes sense for the university from a programmatic or cost standpoint. He says the university hasn't decided what to do with the buildings or the property the observatory stands on.

 
The Illinois House lawmakers are considering a requirement that veterans’ home officials promptly inform families about Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks. The proposal is the latest in a string of measures responding to the state’s handling of an outbreak at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy.

A bill in the Illinois legislature would help friends and family members take action when they see warning signs that could lead to gun violence.

The House could take up the Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act this week. It has already passed the Senate. It would allow courts to temporarily take away guns from people found to be a danger to themselves or others.

The League of Women Voters of Illinois supports the measure. League president Bonnie Cox says—as a therapist—she sees it as a tool that could save lives.

An Illinois House committee has approved a bill that would prevent credit card companies from marketing their products on public university and community college campuses.

Nearly 1,200 school employees in east and central Illinois have been trained on how to stop life-threatening bleeding since last year.

The Illinois House is taking up a measure that requires veterans’ home officials to promptly inform families about Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks. It’s a response to the ongoing health crisis at the Quincy Veterans’ Home.

Sue Scherer joined a chorus of lawmakers who have condemned the Rauner administration's handling of that outbreak, which left 13 veterans dead and sickened nearly 60 others over the past three years

The Decatur Democrat says concerns about her own nursing home-bound mother echo the concerns of those families in Quincy. 

WILL

Following an all-night bargaining session, negotiators with the University of Illinois and the union representing graduate workers on the Urbana campus have reached a tentative contract agreement.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization - or GEO - announced the news on social media earlier today.

They’re calling on members to meet at the Urbana Independent Media Center for a ratification vote today. A second vote set for tomorrow could bring an end to the 11-day strike.

Speaking on "The 21st," GEO co-president Marilia Correa says she was happy to hear the news:

Will the pressure be too much for the long-standing speaker and state party chair?

U of I GEO Strike Evolves

Mar 8, 2018
Graduate Employees' Organization / Facebook

Negotiations between the Graduate Employees’ Organization and the University of Illinois continue this morning as the GEO strike on the Urbana campus heads into its eleventh day. The two sides began negotiations with a federal mediator Wednesday and kept going through the night.

As part of its demonstrations Wednesday, the GEO began occupying the office of Urbana campus chancellor Robert Jones, and continued a similar occupation of U of I President Tim Killeen’s office that began on Tuesday.

brent flanders / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Flickr

A judge has dismissed the Chicago Cubs from a lawsuit filed by a fan blinded in one eye by a foul ball at Wrigley Field.

John Loos of Schaumburg, Illinois says in the lawsuit filed in October he was sitting along the first-base line near the outfield during an August 29 game when he was struck in the face.

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