News

Bruce Rauner
brucerauner.com

Illinois legislators are taking a weekend break, though there are major issues unresolved heading toward their May 31 adjournment.

After long last, a handful of Gov. Bruce Rauner's initiatives were just introduced -- term limits, restrictions on where lawsuits can be filed, minimizing what companies are responsible for when it comes to workers' compensation claims, and a property tax freeze.

"It's time that we get down to business and really start making a difference in how we do business in the state," Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said.

State Week logo with capitol dome
Brian Mackey / WUIS - Illinois Issues

As the May 31st deadline for passing a new budget looms, Governor Rauner and the Legislature continue to bicker.  John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel this week.

Brent Bohlen

Just over the border into Indiana sits the town of Vincennes.  The relatively small community boasts a big name as its favorite son.  Comedian Red Skelton hailed from Vincennes and, if you visit, you can learn a lot about his life and career.  An interactive museum shows off props from some of his most favorite characters. 

flickr/borman18

As Illinois lawmakers grapple with a budget shortfall, a measure to impose a tax on millionaires' income came up short.

Adding a surcharge to income over a million dollars to raise more money for Illinois schools was a concept Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan introduced last year, but there wasn't enough support.

Now, as Illinois faces a $6 billion budget gap, he's brought it back.

"We're simply asking those that have done well in life to help our educational system," Madigan said.

But his effort came up short, by three votes.

public domain

Bobcats, beware. Illinois lawmakers have renewed their call to lift a ban on hunting bobcats.

Former Governor Pat Quinn vetoed a previous attempt in one of his last acts as governor.

Bobcats are off limits to hunters now. Democratic Sen. Linda Holmes of Aurora wants to keep it that way.

"There isn't a need to get rid of this animal, which is a native predator species in the state," Holmes said.

She says the bobcat population is fragile, and unlike hunters' other prey, which carnivorous eaters can turn into a meal, bobcats are solely hunted as trophies.

PARCC Chop

May 21, 2015
Milo Skalicky / for WUIS

  

School administrators are typically too polite to say “Told ya so!” but they have every right to when it comes to the PARCC test -- the new standardized test associated with the Common Core curriculum. The chief complaint about the test, implemented this year, was that it took 10 hours. Schools had to suspend their normal schedules for up to a month at a time, as they shuttled classes into and out of computer labs. One section was given in March, and another in May, making a double dose of disruption.

The Illinois Senate has voted to reduce the penalties for carrying small amounts of marijuana. The legislation would make possession a ticketable offense, rather than one requiring jail time.

The sponsor, Democratic Sen. Michael Noland, says it would save the state money.

"I'm really looking forward to taking the $29 million a year that we're going to save on prosecuting these cases and actually using it for drug treatment for harder drugs," Noland said.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Tune in to this week's version of The Scene - Scott Faingold & Rachel are joined by special guest host, local singer/songwriter Tom Irwin.

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com / WUIS / Illinois Issues

The London Daily Telegraph reported research about kids asking questions.  One study showed preschoolers ask the most questions, with four-year-old girls weighing in with an astonishing 390 questions per day.

WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he will not consider new revenues for next fiscal year until the legislature approves some of his agenda.

Students at statehouse.
Joanna Klonsky / VOYCE

A measure that would limit the way schools hand out discipline has made its way through the Illinois legislature and is awaiting Governor Bruce Rauner's signature.

Two things that may sound strange together: Broadway musicals and mental illness. Next To Normal isn't your average, kid-friendly show.

WUIS

By the end of this month, Illinois legislators are slated to be done with their work. That means passing a new budget. Amanda Vinicky checks in with how that's progressing -- including in the eyes of the state's new governor. 

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has stayed out of the public eye for the past couple of days. But he's making his feelings on the budget known in an op-ed that came out late Wednesday night.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Central Illinois and other places in the Midwest can sometimes be isolating to those in the LGBT community - that is those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. But for the past five years in Springfield, Pride Fest has been drawing them together with their friends, families, and allies. Politicians, drag queens, and many others in between have been involved. 

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers are debating whether the wealthy should take on a bigger tax burden.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan first surged the idea before last year's election, when .01-percenter Bruce Rauner was just a candidate.

Now, with Rauner as governor and calling for widespread cuts, Madigan has brought it back. He proposes adding a three-percent surcharge on all income over a million dollars, with the revenue going to schools.

Flickr/straightedge217

In addition to the Bel-Aire Sputnik getting re-furbished, Tim talks about fundraising for fixes at the Executive Mansion and a Realtor trade group expanding:

David Wilson / davidwilson1949 via Flickr.com

Governor Bruce Rauner's proposed 40 percent cut in Amtrak funding drew objections from 16 university and municipal officials on Tuesday morning. 

 Schools as small as Spoon River College and as large as the University of Illinois flagship in Urbana-Champaign rely on Amtrak trains to bring their students to campus. They say the cut would reduce services and negatively affect enrollment at all downstate schools.  

smoker
Victor Bezrukov / Flickr.com/s-t-r-a-n-g-e

The Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday once again heard arguments over the largest judgment in the state's history. For the second time, Philip Morris is fighting a $10-billion award to people who say they were tricked into thinking "light" cigarettes were healthy.

The class-action lawsuit has been before various courts in Illinois for a decade and a half.

The Illinois House chamber uses a ventilation system that circulates air from columns in the chamber to the attic, where the air is filtered and dispersed over the lawmakers’ desks.
Bethany Jaeger / WUIS/Illinois Issues

With just a dozen days until the General Assembly is set to adjourn, there is a crescendo of partisan accusations. Republican and Democratic legislators both continue to publicly say they hope to reach a bipartisan budget solution, even as both sides accuse the other of bargaining in bad faith.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

A federal judge has allowed Gov. Bruce Rauner's lawsuit over union fees paid by non-union workers to proceed -- without the governor.

flickr/lewismarien

Employees with a dredging contractor are working around the clock to remove sediment from the bottom of Lake Decatur as part of a $91 million project.  

The Decatur City Council approved the six-year project last February. It's being carried out by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock and is expected to increase the lake's capacity by 30 percent.  

The (Decatur) Herald & Review reports that a 220-foot dredge collects sediment and pushes it about eight miles through a submerged pipeline to a 523-acre sediment site in Oakley.  

More than a million people have Illinois drivers' licenses but aren't registered to vote. They would be registered automatically under a measure before the General Assembly.

Democratic Sen. Daniel Biss from Evanston says he thinks it is his responsibility as a public official to make the election process as open as possible.

"I think that we have a challenge in our society right now where participation in democracy feels first of all difficult and second of all, unfortunately sometimes pointless," Biss said.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

A $10-billion lawsuit was back before the Illinois Supreme Court Tuesday. A group of smokers say Philip Morris defrauded them into thinking light cigarettes were safer than regular — but lost the case a decade ago. Now they’re hoping for another bite at the apple.

The case was decided way back in 2005, when a sharply divided Illinois Supreme Court overturned the record $10-billion judgment. The justices ruled that the Federal Trade Commission had approved marketing “light” cigarettes as safer.

Why Do Farmers Burn Their Fields?

May 18, 2015

Farmers burn their fields to remove plants that are already growing and to help the plants that are about to come up. These burns are often called “prescribed burns” because they are used to improve the health of the field.

What tools do farmers need for a burn?

To keep the fire contained, farmers need to clear away burnable matter around the edges of the field, which usually requires a lawn mower or larger machinery. The burn itself can be managed with some simple, specific tools.

Southtown Springfield at Walch Stained Glass Studio.
Rachel Otwell / WUIS / Illinois Issues

If you’re not sure what exactly “Southtown” is – imagine you’re driving down South Grand Avenue in Springfield toward Rochester.

A bill moving through the General Assembly would allow transgender people more rights post-mortem.

Watch Decatur City Limitless

Photo: Gary Price

This year marks the 40th anniversary since the fall of Saigon.  An event coming up tomorrow night will provide accounts of the war:

  • May 19, Vietnam: First Encounters

A panel discussion on the fall of Saigon in April 1975. Panel members include Tom Jones, a Navy Corpsman assigned to the Marines; Tom Bowman, an Army enlisted man; and two Vietnamese boat people, Patrick Lam and Pham Thien Khoc, an officer in the South Vietnamese Army. Moderated by Mark DePue, head of the presidential library’s Oral History Program.

Michael J. Madigan headshot
ilga.gov

This week, Illinois House Democrats defeated Governor Rauner's "Right to Work" agenda.  Also, with the Illinois Supreme Court's decision last week, the future of state pension funding is still in question.

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