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  A House committee has endorsed automatic voter registration in Illinois, but that exact measure will not move to the House floor.   The Executive Committee approved the idea Sunday. But the sponsor, Rep. Robyn Gabel, an Evanston Democrat, has proposed additional changes at the request of the agency most affected by the legislation - the secretary of state's office.   The plan would allow residents interacting with state agencies to get automatically registered. Getting or updating a driver's license from the secretary of state would be the main place.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Bradley University’s new women’s basketball head coach hasn’t unpacked her bags, but she’s already planning ahead for the upcoming season. Andrea Gorski officially took the position last month. 

As colleges and universities across Illinois feel the pinch of the state budget crisis Gorski says she plans on bringing some dollars -- and fans -- to the school this season.

“What’s going to sell tickets is having an exciting brand of basketball, where fans want to come and watch, and it’s an exciting game, fast, uptempo. To me that’s what’s going to sell tickets,” Gorski said. 

City Initiative Sheds Light on Dark Alleys

10 hours ago
Rob Lambert / Flickr/Creative Commons

The City of Peoria is hoping a new initiative will make alleys a little less frightening.

The Peoria Alley Light Program is for homeowners who want a free, 20-watt light to install on their house or garage -- to brighten up a dark alleyway.

Those interested in getting a free light are required to submit an application to City Hall.  Eligibility information and application is available here. The City says the 40 lights are available for eligible applicants. 

Where Illinois’ Medical Marijuana Program Stands

11 hours ago
Jeff Bossert / Illinois Public Media

Illinois’ medical marijuana program is just getting started.  The first stores opened last fall and some 6,000 people are now approved to buy cannabis through the pilot program. That number is much smaller than what many advocates say is needed to create a viable business.  There are a number of factors behind the slower-than-expected rollout of a pilot program scheduled to expire in January 2018.

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A rash of shootings on Chicago area expressways has authorities promising that they will keep an especially close eye on the roadways on the Memorial Day weekend. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget director is warning of "devastating" consequences if lawmakers don't agree on a spending plan for another year.   Tim Nuding says he's concerned about providing electricity and food at Illinois' prisons and homes for veterans and disabled residents.

Drew Peterson's attorneys rested their case after calling three inmates to testify in the former suburban Chicago police officer's murder-for-hire trial.  The inmates testified that the prosecution's star witness is untruthful and a scam artist. 

The Illinois Senate has approved a second method for revamping school funding just days before the Legislature's scheduled adjournment.  The proposal by Democratic Sen. Kimberly Lightford of Maywood would rewrite the state-aid formula beginning with the 2017-2018 school year with an interim funding and fairness boost for his fall.   The interim plan would establish a funding "foundation" for each district. 

Deadline for budget just four days away

May 27, 2016
Flickr Creative Commons/Daniel X. O'Neil

Illinois' top lawmakers say budget talks are on the verge of collapse with the deadline for next year's budget just four days away.  Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is calling on rank-and-file legislators to pressure Democratic leaders.  

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A judge has approved a settlement over the copyright to photos shot by a Chicago nanny dating back to the 1950s and profiled in an Oscar-nominated documentary.  Vivian Maier took more than 150,000 photographs during her spare time in Chicago and New York.

Memorial Day Remembrances Planned in Peoria Area

May 27, 2016
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As of this week, the Defense Department reports 4,424 US soldiers have died in the war in Iraq. 2,349 soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001.  

Several events are are going on in the Peoria area for Memorial Day to honor fallen American soldiers.

Saturday, May 28, 2016:

10:30 The American Mausoleum in Peoria is hosting a service.

11:00 East Peoria’s observance is at the Fondulac Cemetery off of  Washington Road.

Sunday, May 29th, 2016:

Procurement compromise needs more work

May 26, 2016

Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner says the state needs to change how it purchases products and services as part of a budget deal. But Senate Republicans say a compromise that passed out of committee yesterday needs more work.  

Flickr Creative Commons/Kyle May

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration says it will spend the next six years trying to maintain and improve a deteriorating transit system.  The $11.2 billion, six-year program released by the Illinois Department of Transportation is actually rosier than expected. 

Illinois House Republicans are launching automated phone calls blasting Democrats who voted for a state spending plan they say would lead to a $7 billion budget deficit.  The House GOP's campaign organization started the so-called "robocalls" to voters in seven legislative districts where Republicans hope to unseat incumbents in November.

Flickr Creative Commons/Mark Goebel

Illinois Republican leaders say they're encouraged by Democrats' willingness to negotiate a deal to end an 11-month budget stalemate despite House Democrats passing a spending plan the day before that prompted boos from the GOP.   The Republican leaders spoke after meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. 

Drew Peterson's attorney is challenging the credibility of a prison informant enlisted to ensnare him in a murder-for-hire plot.  Peterson's public defender cited several letters in which informant Antonio Smith discussed with another inmate how he'd benefit from setting up the former suburban Chicago police officer.

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The head of Chicago Public Schools says the district has "reached the point of no return" and faces severe cuts without "equal" funding from the state.  Schools CEO Forrest Claypool led hundreds of teachers, parents, and students in a rally in Springfield seeking more state funds for Chicago's schools. The district faces a $1 billion deficit next school year.

Federal prosecutors have charged a former Winnebago County purchasing director with embezzling at least $5,000.  U.S. Attorney John MacKenzie filed a criminal complaint in federal court against Sally Claassen. 

The Fox Lake police pension board will let village officials make arguments when it decides how much money should go to the widow of a suburban Chicago police officer who authorities say staged his suicide.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Jessica Vandrick / Flikr Creative Commons

A federal study says small fish can be trapped in water currents created by commercial barges and pulled through electric barriers designed to prevent invasive Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says tests show that fish swimming near barges can remain caught between them for substantial distances. 

Travis Stansel / Illinois Public Radio

 

The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to review a case regarding the constitutionality of hospital tax exemptions.  The court announced Wednesday it will hear arguments in a case involving Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. The case could affect all Illinois hospitals. No date was set for when the court will hear arguments.

The 4th District Appellate Court ruled in January that a 2012 state law allowing hospitals to avoid taxes is unconstitutional.  That law set guidelines for determining the non-profit status of hospitals based on their level of charity care.

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The number of overdose-related deaths in Illinois could be higher were it not for drugs that can save a person from opioid abuse. But that is just the beginning of a long road to recovery. Illinois Public Radio's Jenna Dooley looks at some of the resources to help those who are battling addiction.

 

Illinois House Democrats failed to overturn a veto from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on a bill that would let an arbitrator settle state-employee wages and working conditions if union negotiations stall. 

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Illinois State Board of Elections officials say they're working with legislators to address logistical concerns raised in an automatic voter registration proposal.   The state's election authority opposed the bill over questions about cost and how the plan involving five state agencies would be implemented. 

Good-government advocates are criticizing the head of an agency that manages state construction projects for asking builders to lobby lawmakers to restore funding.  Jodi Golden is the executive director of the Gov. Bruce Rauner's Capital Development Board. 

Illinois Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is proceeding with his own budget proposal in defiance of Gov. Bruce Rauner's wish for a compromise that includes pro-business, union-weakening reforms to settle a nearly yearlong stalemate. 

Social service providers working without state payments for nearly a year are accelerating a lawsuit against the state by seeking immediate payments and adding plaintiffs.  Pay Now Illinois filed an amended complaint in Cook County on behalf of 82 groups. The lawsuit includes 18 new providers seeking payments for contracts over 60 days unpaid.  

A measure that would give Illinois adoptees more information about why they were adopted is heading to the governor's desk.   The plan sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Ann Williams and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson would require state adoption agencies to give adoptees age 18 and older information detailing the reasons for the adoption.

Wiretapped conversations show Drew Peterson planning a prison celebration after arranging for another inmate's uncle to kill the prosecutor who helped convict him in his ex-wife's death.  Peterson can be heard telling Antonio Smith "there was no turning back" on the hit. He is also heard saying he hoped to get "some booze" to "celebrate that night."

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers have approved a measure designed to prevent people with mental disabilities from owning guns.  

A proposal sponsored by Democratic Sen. Julie Morrison and Rep. Michael Zalewski strengthens existing law by requiring circuit court clerks to report the names of people a judge deems mentally disabled to the Illinois State Police at least twice a year. 

 

The House overwhelmingly approved the plan on Tuesday. The measure heads to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner next.

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