Statehouse

Statehouse
3:36 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Anti-Violence Program Director, Others Subpoenaed

Credit WUIS/Brian Mackey

Illinois legislators have voted to subpoena seven former state officials to answer questions about a troubled 2010 anti-violence program started by Gov. Pat Quinn.  

A subcommittee of the Legislative Audit Commission voted Monday. They were initially considering just one person for subpoena, but Democrats on the committee said they'd decided to hear from everyone at once. The matter requires a signature from a co-chairman, state Rep. Frank Mautino, a Democrat who wasn't at the meeting.  

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Statehouse
3:14 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

New U of I President To Be Named In December

Retiring U of I President Bob Easter.
Credit U of I

University of Illinois officials say they plan to announce the next president for the state's flagship institution by December.  But the process is only just getting started.

President Bob Easter will retire next year.

The search committee in charge of recommending a replacement to the U of I's board of trustees must sift through around 120 candidates.    Some candidates are nominees, and others are those who are qualified to fill the position but already hold a significant post elsewhere.

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Statehouse
9:20 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Lottery Contractor Likely Short Of Target

Credit Illinois Lottery

Illinois' lottery contractor will likely be $200 million short of the money it promised the state this year when the fiscal year ends next week.
 
Northstar Lottery Group has never reached the profits it signed onto when it
took over in 2011.
 
The contract says falling short of goals by 10 percent two years in a row is
reason to end the partnership, and this year would be the second consecutive
year it hasn't made its goal.
 
Northstar CEO Tim Simonson says that his company has achieved higher profits

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Election 2014
8:43 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Quinn Fundraising Appeal Tied To Bill Signing

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks to reporters in this file photo.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Voters will get to weigh in on whether Illinois should raise its minimum wage for adults to $10 an hour. Gov. Pat Quinn approved the ballot question Sunday, and wasted no time campaigning on the issue.

The question is just advisory — lawmakers don’t have to heed the people’s advice — but supporters of the increase say they hope it’ll pressure reluctant legislators to go along.

Critics say this is a ploy to get more Democrats to the polls — since turnout tends to be lower in non-presidential election years.

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Illinois Medal of Honor
4:51 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Sixteen Officers Receive Medal Of Honor

Illinois State Trooper Brad Williams, one of 16 recipients of the states's Medal of Honor this year.
Credit Screengrab via YouTube

  Sixteen police officers from across Illinois were awarded the state's Medal of Honor Friday in Springfield. One officer had previously been honored as state trooper of the year.

In April 2013, State Trooper Brad Williams responded to a five-victim homicide in the tiny village of Manchester, in Western Illinois. Traveling by motorcycle, he chased the suspect for miles, joined by dozens of other officers along the way.

In the end, the suspect stopped his car and shot at police. Williams pulled his weapon and fatally shot the man.

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State Week
4:42 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Listen To State Week - June 20, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Citizen initiatives on redistricting and term limits are facing challenges on their way toward inclusion on the November ballot.  Governor Quinn signs legislation undoing cuts to the Medicaid program.  Also, Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam loses his bid to join the House leadership team in Washington D.C.

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Inspector General Report
3:50 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

IBHE Leader "Abused Public Resources," Got $48K

Former Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Dr. George Reid
Credit Illinois Board of Higher Education

A just-released investigation by Illinois' Inspector General's office found that the former head of the state board of higher education abused public resources and wasted state funds, among other findings.

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Statehouse
7:44 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Power Outage Caused Secretary Of State Computers To Go Down Thursday

Credit cyberdriveillinois

The Illinois Secretary of State office's main computer briefly stopped working, halting transactions for about three hours.

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Statehouse
4:07 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Illinois Overuses Nursing Homes: AARP

Credit flickr

The AARP says Illinois has improved opportunities for elderly people to remain in the community. But it says there are still too many living in nursing homes who need not be.

There are good reasons for helping seniors to stay independent, or at home, getting help -- and out of long-term care facilities.

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Statehouse
5:16 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Term Limit, Political Map Lawsuit Unfolds In Court

The near-70,000 page term limit petition is wheeled onto a semi truck in April.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The decision of whether two November ballot measures dealing with term limits and redistricting are constitutional is in the hands of a Cook
County judge.
 
Oral arguments were Wednesday in a lawsuit attempting to keep both measures off
the ballot.
 
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva says she'll issue a written decision by noon on June 27.
 
Mikva has said she wants to expedite a ruling because it will affect the November election. Ballots are certified in August.
 

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Eavesdropping law
5:10 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Lawmakers Work To Replace Illinois' Eavesdropping Law

Credit Wikimedia Commons

  Since the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state's eavesdropping law in March, it's been legal to record audio of someone without asking permission. But legislators are working on a replacement.

The Supreme Court found the old law overly broad. It was a crime even to record in public, where people shouldn't really have an expectation of privacy. Because of that, Illinois' law was considered one of the strictest in the nation.

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Election 2014
4:24 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

"Fair Maps" Group Gets Some Latitude In Fight For Ballot Spot

Twenty-seven feets' worth of voter signatures may still not be enough for a redistricting group's effort to make it on the November ballot.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

A struggling effort to change how Illinois draws its legislative districts will live another day. State election authorities Tuesday (6/17) voted to give it some extra time to prove it deserves to make it on the November ballot.

Supporters were joyous last month when a semi-truck pulled into the state board of elections' parking lot in Springfield.

A campaign to overhaul the state's redistricting process was dropping off a 27-foot-long document, filled with a half million signatures.

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IEMA
12:20 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Illinois Test Runs Earthquake Response

IEMA Director Jonathon Monken
Credit http://www.iema.illinois.gov/about/Director.asp / IEMA, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Monken

The Midwest isn't typically thought of as a place at risk of a major earthquake. Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathon Monken says the chances are higher than most people would estimate. He says the U.S. Geological Survey says that in the next 50 years, there is a 10-percent chance that Illinois could experience an earthquake of the magnitude emergency responders are running practice exercises for this week. It's meant to test capabilities in the event of a quake in the New Madrid and Wabash Valley seismic zones.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
4:50 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Department Of Public Health To Test For New Genetic Disorder In Newborns

Credit Wikimedia Commons

  Babies born in Illinois are already tested for dozens of disorders. Now the state public health department is adding more to that list.

Newborns will be tested for SCID, a rare genetic disorder that makes babies especially susceptible to bacterial and viral infections.

Every baby born in the state of Illinois gets a tiny pinprick on the heel of their foot. The blood drawn is then sent to an Illinois Department of Public Health lab, where it's tested for dozens of genetic disorders.

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Patronage
1:40 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Judge Lifts Federal Oversight On Chicago Hiring

Chicago City Hall
Credit flickr/MKFeeney

A U.S. district judge has agreed to lift federal oversight of whether Chicago hiring practices are corrupted by political favoritism.  

Monday's historic ruling means the court accepts that the nation's third-largest city now has mechanisms in place to stamp out illegal patronage.  

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Statehouse
11:32 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Consumer Group Wants Regulators To Look Into Price Spike

Credit Citizens Utility Board

Consumers who buy their electricity from alternative energy providers have been seeing some price hikes lately.  A consumer group is asking state regulators to look into it.

The Citizens Utility Board says the rate spikes are a recent trend in the four years of open competition in Illinois. CUB Executive Director David Kolata says he thinks the companies are unnecessarily trying to pass their extra costs from the harsh winter onto the customer.

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Illinois Outlaws Police Ticket Quotas

Credit flickr.com/appleswitch (Creative Commons)

Police ticket quotas are now illegal in Illinois. Over the weekend, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law prohibiting the practice.

The backers of this change say there are better ways to evaluate a police officer than on how many tickets she writes.

They say quotas create divisions between the police and they communities they’re supposed to serve.

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State Week
4:57 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Listen To State Week - June 13, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner chimes in on how to fix the state's budget woes.  Also, State Representative Derrick Smith loses his seat after his conviction on Federal corruption charges, and new developments in the case leveled against state Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

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Statehouse
4:38 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Conservative Jack Roeser Left Imprint On State Politics

The Illinois Republican Party says longtime conservative activist Jack Roeser  has died. He was 90. The wealthy businessman spent years on the outside, fighting the party establishment.

Roeser became a rich man from the company he founded: Otto Engineering. It makes, among other things, radio components for police and military use.

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Smoking on college campuses
4:27 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Illinois Could Prohibit Smoking On College Campuses

  Smoking could be banned at all of Illinois' public colleges under legislation passed by the General Assembly. Though several campuses have already gone smoke-free, this measure would make it illegal to smoke anywhere at the state's 12 public universities, plus its community colleges.

Though the final vote mostly fell upon party lines — Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed — some lawmakers crossed ideological boundaries.

Rep. Donald Moffitt (R-Gilson) says the mandate is about the health of young college students.

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Election 2014
4:43 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Quinn Campaign Distances Itself From Supporter After KKK Reference

The Reverend Walter “Slim” Coleman was one of several clergy who endorsed Quinn at an event on the South Side this morning.  Coleman talked up the importance of registering “unlikely voters” - people who feel isolated from the political process.

But then, with the Democratic governor silently at his side, Coleman warned against another kind of “unlikely voter.”

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Election 2014
4:25 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Bruce Rauner Offers Savings Ideas; Quinn Labels It A "Prank"

Bruce Rauner (left) and Governor Pat Quinn
Credit WUIS

Republican Bruce Rauner is presenting a few ideas of how he’d run the state if he becomes Illinois governor.

Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn has liked to rib his Republican rival over not presenting a budget plan yet.  Rauner today didn’t unveil a budget… But did address some specific areas he sees where the state could save money - or at least embrace some good government reforms.

"What’s crystal clear, crystal clear, is there is major, major savings to be had. This first list of 10 is a great step in the right direction," he said.

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Statehouse
1:53 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Lawsuit: Rutherford 'Coerced And Intimidated' Employee Into Political Work

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford speaks with reporters in this file photo from August 2013.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A former state employee on Thursday filed more allegations of political and sexual harassment against Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford. He's also expanding the list of defendants to include Mitt Romney's presidential campaign organization.

Edmund Michalowski quit the treasurer's office and sued Rutherford shortly before this year's Republican primary, driving his boss to last place in the race for governor.

His initial lawsuit was dismissed last week, but he was allowed to file another version.

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Wildlife
4:57 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Rare In Illinois, Black Bear On The Move

A black bear is seen near Genoa, in DeKalb County, on the morning of Wednesday, June 11, 2014.
Credit DeKalb County Sheriff’s Dept. via Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources

A black bear has been spotted in northern Illinois, heading east across the state. The species was once well represented in Illinois, but they've been quite rare for more than a century.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says a bear hasn't been spotted in Illinois since 2009. Now there have been multiple sightings in the last week or so — from outside Galena, through Rockford, and most recently near Genoa, in DeKalb County.

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Life after prison
12:06 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Ex-Offenders Get Job-Ready At DOC Opportunity Expo

Daniel Gordon poses for his new state I.D. photo at the expo on Tuesday. Gordon served 17 months in Jacksonville Correctional Center for a third DUI conviction and is trying to piece his life together, starting with a more stable job.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  In Illinois, 25,000 men and women are released from state prisons each year. Ideally, that means 25,000 people entering the job market. But Illinois already has higher-than-average unemployment, and a criminal record can make it even harder to find work. That's why the Illinois Department of Corrections is trying to lend a hand to ex-offenders through a series of specialized events.

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Statehouse
10:29 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Six Months Into Speed Limit Increase, Driver Fatalities Down Observers Say

Credit senategop.state.il.us

Six months after state law increased interstate highway speeds from 65 to 70 miles per hour, transportation officials say there have been fewer fatalities on the road.  

Opponents of the bill said the increase in speed would lead to an increase in accidents.

Priscilla Tobias, state safety engineer with I-DOT, says while numbers are down, it's hard to discern whether the number is a trend.  As of Monday, Tobias says there's been 341 vehicle fatalities this year.

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Statehouse
12:47 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Illinois Lawmaker Convicted Of Bribery

Rep. Derrick Smith found guilty
Credit Peoria Public Radio

A federal jury in Chicago has convicted Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith of bribery for taking $7,000 from a purported day care operator.

Jurors returned with their verdict Tuesday after deliberating about four hours over two days.  

At trial, prosecutors played secret recordings of the 50-year-old Chicago Democrat allegedly accepting 70 $100 bills in exchange for a letter supporting a state grant. But it was all part of an FBI sting.  

The recordings of Smith were made by a campaign worker-turned-informant.  

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Statehouse
5:53 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Governor Approves Supplemental Budget For Current Year

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation allowing the state to spend an additional $1.8 billion in the current budget year.  

The measure passed the Legislature before the General Assembly adjourned for the spring last month.  It adds to the $35.4 billion 2014 budget lawmakers approved last May.  

Rep. Greg Harris is a Chicago Democrat and a House budget negotiator. He says the state had higher-than-projected revenue, thanks to an improved economy that generated more sales and income tax than was anticipated.  

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Mon June 9, 2014

After Some Juvenile Arrests, A Fresh Start

Credit Flickr.com/banspy

A new law will automatically clear certain arrest records for juveniles when they turn 18. It’s meant to keep arrests that did not result in criminal charges from following kids into adulthood.

The law applies only to arrests for lesser crimes — mostly non-violent. Sex offenses and top felonies will stay on the books, as will any arrest that resulted in formal criminal charges.

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70 years since D-Day
2:24 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Local WWII Vets Honored At D-Day Memorial

88-year-old Jim Hofstetter was 18 on D-Day, the day he enlisted. Hofstetter says he rejects the nostalgia of the "Greatest Generation" and says he sees huge potential for millennials.
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

It's been 70 years since allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in one of the turning points of World War Two. A memorial service in Springfield Friday told stories of the young men on the front lines.

The young men of 1944 are old men now. But they still remember.

Springfield resident Jim Hofstetter was 18 on D-Day, the day he enlisted. He knew it was the height of the war, but he also knew he had a job to do for his country.

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