State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Testimonies at a legislative hearing have revealed investigators with Illinois' child welfare agency face high caseloads and feel pressured to quickly wrap up abuse investigations.  A panel of experts and lawmakers spoke about issues at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

The Illinois Senate has approved a $5 billion income tax increase to fund what Democrats say would be a balanced, $37.3 billion budget.

A Democratic majority pushed the measures through despite opposition from Republicans.

SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE / Wikimedia Commons

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - President Donald Trump's administration says it's time for state and local governments to pay for cleanups of iconic but polluted waterways such as the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound.

 

 

The Illinois Senate passed a budget package Tuesday after a similar plan failed last week. The difference was several new “yes” votes from liberal Democrats. No Republicans supported either plan.

The Illinois Senate could take up some lingering issues related to the "grand bargain" budget compromise.  Senators are looking at a possible vote on changes to the workers' compensation system. It's one of the "structural" changes Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has demanded during the two-year budget stalemate. 

Sotheby's

An Illinois woman's bag of moon dust brought to earth by Apollo 11 astronauts will be auctioned off later this year.  Nancy Lee Carlson of suburban Chicago bought the moon dust for $995 at a 2015 government auction. 

A real estate developer in Springfield has floated grand plans for downtown Springfield. The crux of Chris Stone's plan is a 1,200-employee casino in the capital city to generate tax revenue and draw tourists to the places Abraham Lincoln lived and worked. 

Illinois Republican Congressman Peter Roskam has told the White House he opposes a Trump administration proposal to eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  Roskam has sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency opposing the administration's proposed elimination of the initiative, calling proposed cuts completely unacceptable. Trump in March proposed cutting funding to the EPA by 30%.

Senate Democrats are paring back on the services that would be subject for the first time to the Illinois sales tax.  The Revenue Committee discussed changes to a revenue measure that's not been called on the Senate floor. 

Illinois will receive over $1.2 million from an $18.5 million multi-state settlement with Target Corp. to resolve a probe into the discounter's pre-Christmas data breach in 2013.  Target's breach, which occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 of 2013, affected more than 41 million customer payment card accounts and exposed contact information for more than 60 million customers. 

An investigation conducted by two news outlets found that red-light cameras acquired nearly $67 million last year for 86 Chicago suburbs and the companies that operate the lights.  Nearly 90 Chicago suburbs have red-light cameras sending out more than 770,000 tickets a year.  From the 10 suburbs with the highest revenue totals, nine have contracts with Chicago-based SafeSpeed LLC. 

Creative Commons

Democrats in the Illinois Senate are preparing to go it alone on a budget plan. On Tues. morning, they’re set to consider both spending cuts and tax increases. 

Sen. Durbin Not Ready to Talk Impeachment -- Yet

May 23, 2017

Several of Illinois' Democratic candidates for governor are calling for president’s Trump’s impeachment. But the state’s senior U-S senator, Dick Durbin, isn’t going there — yet.
 
It began last week with a statement from candidate J.B. Pritzker, who says impeachment is necessary to “preserve our democracy.”

That sentiment was echoed by fellow candidates Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar and state Sen. Daniel Biss, from Evanston.

But Durbin says not so fast.

Officials say they're changing mowing routes along interstates to help protect dwindling populations of the monarch butterfly and other pollinators.  Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says the agency is one of the state's biggest landowners and has a responsibility to "act as steward of the environment."

The state of Illinois is urging farmers and others who use or produce pesticides and other agrichemicals to save the containers to be recycled.  The Department of Agriculture says it plans to collect the containers in July and August. They will be recycled to make products such as fence posts, shipping pallets and plastic lumber. 

Lawyers for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich have asked for another hearing before the same three-judge panel that affirmed his 14-year prison sentence last month.  Blagojevich's attorney petitioned the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday to rehear his case. 

The state is again racking up unpaid utility bills for its Springfield offices. City Water, Light and Power spokeswoman Amber Sabin says Illinois owes about $3.5 million in past-due payments.  The state was as much as $12 million behind on its electricity and water bills last year.  

University officials in Illinois and the United Arab Emirates have signed a deal to let students study at schools in both places and get engineering degrees.  The University of Illinois' new program with the American University of Ras Al Khaima allows engineering students to get a bachelor's degree from the school in UAE and a master's from Illinois.

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says talk of impeaching President Donald Trump is premature.

That's at odds with positions taken last week by at least three of the Democrats running for governor in Illinois.

As state lawmakers again consider expanding the number of casinos in the state, Springfield could wind up in the mix. 

An investigation has determined that a suburban Chicago college student was not paying attention to the hammer throw at a track and field meet last month when he was struck and killed by an errant throw. 

onechi.org

Chicago has launched a campaign hailing the contribution of immigrants amid a harder line taken by President Donald Trump on immigration issues.  The campaign is called "One Chicago." Its stated aim is to assure immigrants they're welcome in the nation's third largest city. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Dan Moyle

Officials of a 30-year-old housing agency, originally intended to stop white flight in northwest Chicago, say it's seeing renewed interest, partly due to anxiety about a proposed apartment complex.  The Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program launched in the 1980s. It allows members to get property appraisals and pays for shortfalls when owners sell their houses, as long as they lived there at least five years.

Flickr Creative Commons/Fibonacci Blue

The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline and a feeder line leaked more than 100 gallons of oil in North Dakota in March.  A state Health Department database shows 84 gallons spilled at a pipeline terminal in Watford City March 3. Dakota Access developer Energy Transfer Partners says the line is operated by a connecting shipper.

Heavy rainfall across much of Illinois late last month has left many corn farmers wondering what will become of their crops.  Most of the corn has been planted around the state but there is a concern that the flooding of some fields caused by more than a foot of rain, particularly in southern Illinois, will force them to replant their fields.  

A new partnership between the Chicago Department of Public Health and community providers has already served 3,600 people living with HIV.  The department partnered with the University of Illinois at Chicago and Harvard Brown Health to provide four times as many individuals with HIV treatment services in its first year.

Authorities have charged a suburban man with arson after he allegedly started a fire at a hospital on Chicago's South Side.  23-year-old Marcus L. Allen of Harvey is charged with one felony count of aggravated arson.  The fire happened Thursday night at Jackson Park Hospital. 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Senate's "grand bargain" budget compromise comes down to three pieces of legislation.  

Democratic State Sen. Andy Manar, of Bunker Hill, is accusing Gov. Bruce Rauner of trying to kill his school funding legislation. He says the administration fed erroneous information to a Republican operative's website.

The story in question appears in the Kankakee Times, one of a dozen community news organs created by Dan Proft. Proft runs a political action committee supported by Rauner.

The rate of positive test results for workplace drug testing is on the rise, both in Illinois and nationally.  But drill down a bit and you’ll notice regional differences in which drugs are more likely to show up.

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