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Business
10:59 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Local Company Expands In China on WUIS/SJR Business Report

Tim Landis talks about the efforts of Brandt in Beijing on this weeks WUIS/SJR Business Report.

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Harvest Desk
9:40 am
Tue April 28, 2015

The Bird Flu Explained

The turkeys in this barn on Noel Thompson’s farm in central Iowa are tested routinely for disease, including avian influenza. No bird flu has been found in the commercial poultry industry in this country. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

Wild birds are believed to be behind the first major widespread outbreak of bird flu in the United States, with the virus confirmed in the animals in 10 states. Here are some questions and answers about how wild birds remain healthy even when carrying the virus and spread it to backyard and commercial flocks of chickens and turkeys. 

HOW DID THE VIRUS ARRIVE STATESIDE? 

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Statehouse
6:08 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Frerichs Puts Scholarships On Hold

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs at his inauguration in January. He is celebrating his 100th day in office this week.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A scholarship program run by the state treasurer's office is on hold. For about a decade, the treasurer's office has given out scholarships. It's a program associated with the Bright Start college savings program.

Treasurer Michael Frerichs ordered an independent review upon taking over the office in January. The report found there aren't proper rules to determine how the treasurer should award the scholarship money.

On top of that, he says there was no follow up. Only about half of the scholarships have been used.

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Statehouse
5:48 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Zell Opens Wallet For Rauner's Turnaround

Credit flickr/borman18

  Illinois' second-richest man is backing Gov. Bruce Rauner's agenda, according to a campaign contribution filed on Monday.

Rauner is amassing enough money to dwarf that of his political foes.

Sam Zell sat out of Rauner's race for governor. State records show no listing of Zell giving any money leading up to the election last November.

But now Zell, a Chicago real estate and investment mogul, has come through with a record-setting $4 million contribution. Not to the governor himself, but to his new "Turnaround Illinois" Political Action Committee.

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economy
10:08 am
Mon April 27, 2015

What is a privatized DCEO

As talk swirls at the State Capitol about privatizing the state's economic development agency, here are some interesting perspectives from Crain's on the topic.

Click here to read

Lincoln
9:02 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Lincoln's Assassination: (Some Of) A Nation Mourned

We've all heard how the United States was sent into a period of shock and grief when word of Abraham Lincoln's murder spread.  Newspapers reported it that way.  But what about the average American, North or South, white or black?

Martha Hodes set out to learn more from their letters and personal notations.  The NYU Professor wrote a book on the subject.  "Mourning Lincoln" brings their intimate thoughts to light in the months after Lincoln died.

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Lincoln
9:10 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Tweeting Lincoln's Death

The nation went into mourning when, just after the Civil War had finally ended, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. No one alive today can remember, but a class project may make you get a sense of what it was like, or at least what went on. Students at the University of Illinois Springfield began "live-tweeting" on April 14 - the date that that Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater back in 1865. They've continued, tweeting in real time -- 150 years after the fact -- about the pursuit of John Wilkes Booth, and the funeral cortege from Washington, D.C. to Springfield.

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Health Desk
4:57 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Will Cameras Mean Safer Nursing Homes?

Credit flickr/Pictures By Ann

Illinois could join a handful of states that allow cameras to be installed in the rooms of nursing home residents. 

Supporters say it would give families peace of mind to have electronic monitoring of the care their loved ones receive.   But there are also concerns, especially when it comes to privacy:

"Nursing homes, a lot of people tend to forget... that is their home," Hinsdale Republican Representative Patti Bellock said.

Supporters say the cameras would only be installed when the resident or family agrees.  They would also have to cover the cost. 

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The Scene
4:26 pm
Sat April 25, 2015

Interview: What's Up With The Lincoln Funeral Recreation?

1865, the train with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln carried his body from Washington, D.C. to Springfield
Credit Library of Congress

If you live in Springfield and ever pick up a newspaper, listen to the radio, or watch local TV- chances are incredibly slim that you don't already know about the Lincoln Funeral Recreation that will be done in town on  Saturday, May 2nd. But there's been a certain amount of confusion over what exactly will transpire. Will there be a train car that replicates the one which carried his body from D.C. to Springfield? (Answer: Yes, but it won't ride the rails as previously planned.) Where should you park and plan to enter at?

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State Week
3:16 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Listen to State Week - April 24, 2015

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

This week, the Illinois legislature worked to restore some of Governor Rauner's social service cuts and convened a oversight committee to examine the reasoning behind them.  Meanwhile, Governor Rauner continued his efforts to eliminate public sector "fair share" union dues.  Also, a bill decriminalizing possession of certain amounts of marijuana moves from the House to the Senate.  Jamey Dunn of Illinois Issues magazine joins the panel discussion.

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Statehouse
2:37 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

House Votes To Spare Foster Care Programs From Rauner Cuts

Gov. Bruce Rauner proposes cutting off some programs through the Department of Children and Family Services for young adults once they turn 18 years old.

A proposal to continue government services for young adults in foster care passed the Illinois House on Thursday. Some believe it's a foreshadowing of future budget negotiations.

The state currently provides educational assistance, job training and counseling for wards of the state aged 18 to 21. But Gov. Bruce Rauner didn't include those services in next year's proposed budget.

Rather than allow the cuts, the House passed House Bill 3507, which would guarantee the programs stay. Advocates say the young adults need certainty.

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Statehouse
2:11 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

License Plate Camera Regulation Passes House

Credit wikimedia commons

Cameras that collect information on license plates are thought by some to be an overreach of government. A proposal in the Illinois legislature would regulate the automatic license plate readers.

Some police officers use automated cameras that track vehicles' license plates. In Illinois, there are no regulations on them and the data collected. House Bill 3289 would impose limits, such as how long the data can be kept.

Democratic Rep. Scott Drury says the proposed regulation doesn't go far enough.

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Illinois Issues
12:55 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Data Trackers: License Plate Scanning Technology Raises Privacy Questions

License plate readers are mounted on two Springfield police squad cars.
Credit Garrett Brnger

It doesn’t take much time at all, fractions of a second, to be marked and mapped, recorded and reported.

The automatic license plate reader cameras don’t look like much — just a pair of strobe lights on the back of a squad car, or maybe a cartoon character, depending on whom you ask.

“We had little kids call them ‘Wall-E,’” says Springfield Police Sgt. Charles Kean, whose department has been using the technology on two squad cars since 2013. The reference is to a lovable animated robot, the titular character from a 2008 Disney film.

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Education Desk
11:59 am
Fri April 24, 2015

There's More Than One Way To Skin A School Budget

These students are pictured on Cairo School District's website.

I should begin with a word of warning: This story contains several F-words -- and by that, I mean facts, figures and school funding formulas. These have been known to befuddle the very state officials in charge of understanding this stuff. For example, here’s Curt Bradshaw, a third-year member of the Illinois State Board of Education (commonly referred to as ISBE), thinking out loud at the last board meeting: 

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House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana
7:52 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Fine, But No Jail Time For Low-Level Pot Smokers

Credit BrettLevinPhotography / Flickr

Low level marijuana users may soon catch a break in Illinois. Rather than going to jail, it'd be more like getting a speeding ticket.

The repercussions for having pot vary; Rep. Kelly Cassidy says there's a patchwork of more than 100 different local ordinances all over the state.

"And the outcome from this patchwork system puts in place an unjust and confusing system wherein where you live and what you look like dictates whether or not you'll be arrested for extremely low-level marijuana possession," she says.

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The Scene
4:31 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

The Scene: Punk, Psycho-Billy & Gypsy Jazz

The Scene is Rachel Otwell & Scott Faingold telling you their picks for what to do this coming weekend and beyond. There will be no show next week, so this installment includes a few picks from the first weekend in May as well. Tune in:

Events discussed include:

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Statehouse
3:28 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

State Preservation Office Lands On List Of Threatened Sites

The Arnold-Crowe House in Chicago
Credit John Morris / Landmark Illinois

 A statewide preservation group says that Illinois’ historic landmarks could be threatened by the potential closure of the State Historic Preservation Office.

The budget cuts in the current fiscal year have cut the staff at the office, which falls under the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), from 33 to 14, causing a backlog of paperwork necessary to officially recognize historic sites and authorize local citizen organizations to begin the work of restoring sites in their communities.

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Leadership Blog
3:24 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Legislative Force With Lucas, Obama Museums

An architectural rendering of the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which may be built on Chicago's lakefront.
Credit LMNA Architecture Renderings / Lucas Museum of Narrative Art press kit

The force of the Illinois legislature is behind bringing George Lucas's museum and Barack Obama's presidential library to Chicago.

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Statehouse
2:49 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Students Learn Kernel Of Truth About Government

Fourth graders at Chatham Elementary pose with Sen. Sam McCann (R-Carlinville).
Credit Chatham Elementary School

Chatham Elementary School students had a lesson Thursday in how government works. Their proposal to make sweet corn the official state vegetable passed the state Senate.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 800, Republican Sen. Sam McCann from Carlinville, says not all responses have been positive.

"I had a couple of emails from folks around the state saying that... while the city walls are seemingly crumbling, why are you focusing on something like this?" he said. "And of course the answer couldn't be more clear. We have to invest in the future leaders of our state and our nation."

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Let's Talk Kids
12:50 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Let's Talk Kids - "The Intense Child"

Credit mattpenning.com 2010 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

He refuses to brush his teeth, adamantly opposes wearing clothes, and falls to the floor with a tantrum when you ask him to pick up his backpack.

And that’s all before breakfast.

Some children experience everything in their lives with such intensity that their reactions understandably exhaust parents.

At the same time, other children move through their days with little reaction at all.  These easy-going kids take life as it comes and rarely throw a fit.

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Business
12:15 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Sangamon Employers Bullish

Local employers seem to be optimistic about the Sangamon County economy in the year ahead.

The twice yearly survey gives researchers a read on what local leaders think about the economy. 

Ashley Kirzinger with the U of I Springfield's Survey Research Office says the latest report shows a big jump in the expectations of local employers and a 36 point increase in  the overall economic outlook from four years ago.

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Statehouse
7:10 am
Thu April 23, 2015

House Committee Approves Privatizing Economic Agency & Putting Lincoln Library Under Its Own Board

 A House committee has approved a measure that would
privatize the state's economic development agency and turn the Abraham Lincoln
Library and Museum into a stand-alone institution.
 
 The House executive committee on Wednesday unanimously passed legislation
merging two ideas from House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner.
 
 Madigan has pushed for the Lincoln Library to be a stand-alone agency instead
of under the Historic Preservation Agency, which would be eliminated under the

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Statehouse
4:40 am
Thu April 23, 2015

Proposal Would Ban Red Light Cameras In Some Cities

A red light camera in Oregon.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Lawmakers are hoping to put an end to red light cameras in some places in Illinois.

A proposal in the Illinois legislature would ban red light cameras in non-home rule cities.

Opponents say red light cameras, which are designed to stop drivers from running red lights, actually cause more accidents from cars abruptly stopping.

Republican Rep. Steven Andersson is a local prosecutor. He says some people receive tickets even though they weren't the one driving the car.

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Budget FY15
8:25 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Coins Under The Couch Cushions And False Hope

Daniel Gorog (right), a 23-year-old man with autism stands new to his father, Dan Gorog, who on Tuesday thanked a Senate committee for voting to restore money to autism programs that he credits with helping his son. But it may be false hope.

There's a hold-up over efforts to programs dealing with autism, drug prevention, and more from ending. It seems like advocates should be celebrating.

After Gov. Bruce Rauner says he was forced to earlier this month suddenly pull $26 million worth of state grants, the Illinois Senate used the legislative version of searching under the couch cushions for change.

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Statehouse
7:54 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Proposal Would Put Limits On Campaigning

Sen. Darin LaHood talks about the amendment to Senate Bill 1058 with Sen. Jason Barickman.
Credit Lisa Ryan/WUIS

A measure in the Illinois Senate would prevent elected officials from promoting new programs and grants before an election.

The proposal is in response to an audit of the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative or NRI. Former Gov. Pat Quinn started the $50 million anti-violence program shortly before the 2010 election.

Republican Sen. Darin LaHood calls the program a "failure." He, along with the auditor general, say the program lacked proper oversight.

"How do we make government and this program more effective, efficient, accountable and ethically sound?" he asked.

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Fair Share Dues
3:43 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Rauner Wants Teachers Exempt From Fair Share

Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses the Citizens Club of Springfield.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Public school teachers and their unions may be next, as Gov. Bruce Rauner seeks to loosen requirements on collective bargaining dues.

The vast majority of state employees are unionized. But even those who choose not to join still have to pay what are known as "fair share" dues. That's basically a fee to cover the work unions do to benefit all workers, members and non-members alike. Things like wage hikes, and health care coverage that unions secure in negotiations. But Gov. Rauner alleges the money's also used for political advocacy.

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Regional
1:59 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Springfield's Condell House Makes List Of Most Endangered Sites

Credit Landmarks Illinois

One of Springfield’s oldest homes faces demolition unless a new owner is found.  The Condell House on South Fourth Street has been vacant for about 30 years.

Steve Myers Vice Chairman of the Springfield Historic Sites Commission says the goal is to find a new owner soon before a part of history is gone.

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Past Due
12:20 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

House Panel Wants More Details On Governor's Cuts

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A budget oversight panel created by Illinois House Speaker  Michael Madigan grilled members of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration about cuts to the current budget and his plan for next year. 

  Democratic members of the committee demanded more information about how the governor is choosing which programs to cut and, in some cases, eliminate. They say the process the administration used to decide what to cut lacked transparency  and argued that some of the choices, like eliminating services to people with autism, were wrong.

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Past Due
11:51 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Cost Of Burying Poor Might Shift To Local Governments

Credit Jaegar Moore / flickr.com/97408355@N06

Bruce Rauner froze several state grants in order to balance the budget for the current fiscal year. Now lawmakers are asking what will happen to the people who relied on those programs even after their deaths. 

One of the grants provided money to cover burial of the poor. Under the program, funeral homes provide the services and bill the state to cover part of the costs.

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The Scene
11:47 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Sustainable Springfield Wants Earth Day Everyday

April is known in some circles as "earth month" - a time for conservationists to spread messages about reducing waste and becoming better stewards of our world. A group called Sustainable Springfield is working to make people in the city more focused on waste reduction and recycling, among other efforts. On Wednesday night, Earth Day, it will honor local sustainable businesses with an event, something the group plans to continue. Harv Koplo is the treasurer of the group.

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