Illinois

Illinois Senate approves pension measure

Mar 20, 2013

 Teachers would have to make a major decision about their retirement benefits under a measure the Illinois Senate approved Wednesday.  IPR’s Amanda Vinicky has the latest on lawmakers' attempts to overhaul the state's pension systems. 

   The legislation would require any teacher working at a downstate or suburban public school to make a choice:

AFSCME votes to accept state contract

Mar 19, 2013

By a margin of 96 to four, members of the state's largest public employees' union voted to ratify a new contract with the state.  AFSCME and Governor Pat Quinn's administration reached a deal in late February.  But in order for it to take effect, a majority of the union's more than 35,000 members had to agree to it.  AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says this may have been the toughest negotiations the union's ever experienced.

Providers of ambulance and other emergency services in Illinois face a shortage of money. Some patients use on Medicaid, Illinois' low-income health insurance, to pay for trips.

Republicans are fighting the idea that Downstate and suburban schools are the only ones getting a "free lunch" from Illinois state government. House Speaker Michael Madigan has has used the phrase in describing how local school districts should have to pay the employer's share of pension costs for teachers. That expense is currently covered by the state for all school districts, except Chicago.

Madigan supports fracking moratorium

Mar 13, 2013

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan doesn't want Illinois to allow fracking, a controversial process that injects a mixture of water and chemicals deep underground to reach oil and natural gas reserves.  IPR’s Amanda Vinicky reports. 

 Companies are longing to access the oil and natural gas laced in the rocks of the New Albany Shale, in southeastern Illinois.

Illinois education board asks for more funding

Mar 12, 2013

A week after Governor Pat Quinn suggested lawmakers slash the state's education budget -- Illinois school officials are asking them to instead increase spending on schools. IPR’s Brian Mackey has more: 

 The chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, Gery Chico, says public schools can't afford any more cuts. He says they're already eliminating extracurricular activities, getting rid of staff, and shortening the school day.

A coalition of environmental groups accuse other advocates of selling out when it comes to the drilling technique known as "hydraulic fracturing."  IPR’s Amanda Vinicky has more.  

 Environmentalists have warned of the dangers of "fracking" - a process that extracts natural gas or oil by pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals deep underground.That's why it was a big deal a couple weeks ago that the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council stood with business leaders to announce they'd reached an agreement that could pave the way for fracking in Illinois.

Group explains Illinois’ lagging economy

Mar 12, 2013

Illinois' economy usually rises and falls with the rest of the country. But a government forecasting group says as the nation slowly emerges from the recession, Illinois isn't. IPR’s Chris Slaby reports.

Illinois, SEC reach settlement

Mar 11, 2013

Illinois has reached a settlement with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused the state of misleading investors about the depth of its pension problems.

  The Obama administration is urging the U.S. Supreme court to take a legal stance that could affect Illinois’ same-sex marriage fight.

Groups reach fracking agreement in Illinois

Feb 21, 2013

Environmentalists and business groups have reached an agreement that paves the way for "fracking" in Illinois. IPR's Brian Mackey has more on Thursday's announcement.  

It was an unusual sight: supporters of the oil and gas industry sharing a podium with environmental activists. They've agreed on legislation that would regulate the oil and gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking."

Jack Darin, with the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club, says fracking is coming to Illinois, so it's better to compromise on new rules than to do nothing.

State moving on passing concealed-carry law

Feb 19, 2013

   Illinois is moving forward to meet a deadline to pass a law allowing people to carry guns in public. IPR’s Brian Mackey has more. Illinois is the last state without any form of concealed-carry, and a federal court says that has to change. It gave lawmakers until early June to do so. Gun-rights enthusiasts filled a hearing room in Springfield as a House committee heard from activists on both sides of the issue.Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association, made several demands for the concealed-carry law.

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