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School safety
4:48 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

School Security Task Force Never Formed, Could Get Second Chance

Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  When tragedy strikes, politicians often line up to say they'll do something to make sure it doesn't happen again. But the follow-up can lag early promises. That's what happened after the 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

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Election 2014
2:53 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Brady Says His Debate Remark Was "Insensitive"

Sen. Bill Brady
Credit ilga.gov

Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bill Brady says he was ``insensitive'' when he said out-of-work people don't want jobs because they enjoy collecting unemployment benefits.

The state senator from Bloomington told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register Wednesday he ``didn't take into consideration there are a number of people out there looking for jobs who don't want to be on unemployment.''  

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Statehouse
10:52 am
Thu February 6, 2014

ACA Navigator Program Under Question

Credit ilga.gov

Republicans are calling for a review of the state’s management of Affordable Care Act navigators. Lee Strubinger has the report.   

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Local Bands
10:51 am
Thu February 6, 2014

The Complaint Line: Love, Marriage And Rock & Roll

http://thecomplaintlinemusic.com

It's no secret that marriage, disagreements, and nagging can sometimes go hand-in-hand.

And, with lyrics highlighting the challenges of romantic relationships, a local wedded pair has started a band together - calling it 'The Complaint Line'.

The duo is joined by two others who complete the rock set. The group (Shawnda Phillips on bass and vocals, John Phillips on guitar and vocals, Dayton Cripe on guitar and vocals, and Randy Anderson on drums) recently joined Rachel Otwell in the Suggs Studio for this performance and chat: 

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Regional
6:00 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Springfield's Fight Against Panhandling

Credit wuis.org

Springfield's effort to reduce panhandling in the downtown area is facing a legal challenge.   While business owners say a city ordinance has worked, critics say it infringes on free speech rights.
 

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Regional
5:39 am
Thu February 6, 2014

New Lincoln Stamp To Be Unveiled Feb. 12

Credit presidentlincoln.illinois.gov

A new commemorative stamp will be released to mark Abraham Lincoln's 205th birthday.  

U.S. Postal Service officials will be on hand Feb. 12 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield for an unveiling ceremony for the new stamp, which features an image of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.  

Lincoln and his family lived in Springfield for more than two decades before he was elected as the country's 16th president in 1860. Lincoln worked out of the capitol building as both a lawyer and a politician.  

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Statehouse
4:58 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Cullerton Taunts GOP Over Budget Delay

Senate President John Cullerton
Credit Illinois Senate

The campaign for governor seeped into a debate in the Illinois Senate Wednesday. It let senators get into a little partisan elbowing.

Legislators were in town for just two days of session this week, and they only passed one bill. It lets Gov. Pat Quinn delay his budget address from mid-February to the end of March. The administration says it needs the delay to continue crunching numbers.

Republicans, however — like Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale — say Quinn has something else on his mind.

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Education funding
3:21 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Manar: Public School Funding Needs Overhaul

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)

  Illinois schools have seen state funding cut again and again in recent years. A Democratic lawmaker wants to change how that money is distributed. But it remains to be whether they can get more money in the system.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) says inequality is basically guaranteed by Illinois' complicated education funding laws. That's because it's based on property taxes, so schools in impoverished areas can struggle to get by.

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Minimum wage for personal service workers
3:06 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Home Health Workers Ask For Higher Wages

Tressa Wilson (far left) and Charlotte Cronin (middle) present boxes full of postcards to Gov. Pat Quinn's spokesman, Dave Blanchette. Wilson and Cronin traveled to Springfield to urge Quinn and the General Assembly to pass a higher wage law for personal service workers.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  There are thousands of personal support workers in Illinois — home care workers who provide support to developmentally disabled people, and those with other special needs. Advocates say the average wage for the field is just over nine dollars and they're calling for an increase.

Tressa Wilson is one of the thousands of personal support workers in Illinois who see to the needs of those with disabilities — needs ranging from feeding and bathing to companionship and general care.

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Education
9:48 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Girls On The Run Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

Girls On The Run of Central Illinois combines being active with self awareness.  The after school program for girls in 3rd through 8th grades has been in the area for 10 years. 

Jennifer Sublett is Executive Director.  She said the program has now served over 3,400 girls.  

"They're learning all about themselves. They're learning about self esteem," Sublett said.  Community is also a big part of the curriculum.  Participants complete a community service project.

And, they run.

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Springfield
5:58 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Winslow Expected To Get Police Chief Job

Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

After more than 6 months as Acting Springfield Police Chief, Kenny Winslow has been nominated for the job on permanent basis.  

Winslow assumed his role July 29th, after Robert Williams resigned following a file shredding scandal.  
Winslow says there are several things at the department that need to be done. 

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Statehouse
4:04 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Big Revenue Drop If Income Tax Rate Falls

Rep. John Bradley
Credit housedem.state.il.us

Illinois lawmakers are beginning to confront the huge hole expected in next year's state budget.
The temporary income tax increase of a few years ago is set to roll back at the end of this year. Lawmakers are being told Illinois will have $1.58 billion less to spend next year.

"The budget is going to be one of the, if not the big issue, as it generally is," said Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion).

Bradley is chairman of the House Revenue Committee.

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Statehouse
3:59 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Illinois House GOP Wants To Restrict Lame Duck Sessions

Retiring Rep. Kay Hatcher says she's astounded how often people tell her it's okay to vote for bill because she isn't running.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Republican members of the Illinois House are trying to head off a post-election tradition... taking up  controversial legislation when it's too late for voters to do anything about it. 

Rewind to January, 2011.
Newly-elected members to the General Assembly were about to be sworn in.  But before the turnover, the old General Assembly took a few final votes.  Support from retiring legislators and those who'd lost their elections helped pass laws, like one that abolished the death penalty, and another that increased Illinois' income tax.

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Harvest Desk
3:37 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

U.S. Senate Approves Farm Bill

After more than two years of debate on Capitol Hill, a new farm bill is poised to become law after both the U.S. House and Senate approved it.
Credit andrewmalone/Flickr

The U.S. Senate passed the farm bill Tuesday by a vote of 68-32, sending it to the president’s desk and ending years of political wrangling.

Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk were among the 68 "yea" votes.  To view Durbin's video statement on the farm bill vote, click here.

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Regional
2:34 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Springfield's Road Salt Supply Runs Low

Credit springfield.il.us

It's been a hard winter for area residents.  Governmental agencies in charge of keeping streets cleared of snow and ice have also felt the impact.

In Springfield, Public Works Director Mark Mahoney calls it a return to normal.

"In some ways, we've got a little bit spoiled. The last couple of winters have been very mild.  Over the past several years, we haven't had the type of winters we had a few decades ago," he said.   

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Regional
11:57 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Weather Cancellations

Schools Closed Thursday

A-C Central

Auburn

Ball Chatham Schools

Capital Area Career Center

Jacksonville Public Schools

Jacksonville Routt

Lincoln Public Schools

New Berlin

North Mac

Pawnee

Pleasant Plains

PORTA

Riverton

Rochester

Sangamon Valley

Sacred Heart Griffin

Springfield Catholic Grade Schools

Springfield Christian School

Springfield District 186

Tri City

Waverly

Williamsville

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Gambling
5:23 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Video Gaming Pays Off For Local Towns And Businesses

Credit flickr/roundnoon

If proceeds from video gaming were a coconut cream pie, Illinois municipalities would only get a taste. But if you added up those nibbles every month, it may be enough to notice an increasing waistline.

In December alone, Illinois municipalities that offer video gaming shared $1.8 million.

Video gaming machines starting spewing out the green in the fall of 2012. Illinois started with a few hundred gaming terminals. By the end of last year, there were more than 13,000 terminals in the state.

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Harvest Desk
7:13 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Colorado Creates Food Safety System For Marijuana Products

A marijuana plant glows purple under grow lights at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, Colo.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Colorado made history when it opened up licensed marijuana retail shops this year. Aside from just legalizing the purchase of smoke-able marijuana, it also means pot brownies have the potential to be big business. Food products infused with marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, are available in stores across the state.

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Election 2014
5:34 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Treasurer Employee Resigns, Citing Sexual Harassment

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford on Monday denied allegations of harassment at a meeting of the Chicago Tribune editorial board.
Credit Chicago Tribune via YouTube

A man who says he was a victim of sexual harassment by Treasurer Dan Rutherford has submitted a letter of resignation.

The man, who does not want to be identified, submitted the letter Monday, but did not release a copy of it.

The alleged victim describes unwanted advances by Treasurer Rutherford, and accuses him of trying to force state employees to work on behalf of his campaign for governor.

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Statehouse
4:43 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Gov. Quinn Wants To Delay Budget Address

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Pat Quinn has asked for more time before he delivers his budget address in part to prepare a five-year spending blueprint.  
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said Monday that the governor would like to delay his annual budget speech from Feb. 19 to March 26.

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Higher Ed
2:39 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

IBHE Requests Level Funding

Harry Berman
Credit uis.edu

The Illinois Board of Higher Education will recommend at its meeting tomorrow that Governor Quinn at least keep state funding for colleges and universities level for the coming fiscal year.

The board is putting out a number of funding options for the governor's office to consider. The first one, and the one likely to be the most realistic, calls for the same funding amount as the current year. However Harry Berman, the board's Executive Director, says, "An increase in funding for higher education is justified, would be warranted, and in the long run would be beneficial."

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Harvest Desk
10:57 am
Mon February 3, 2014

What Weather Will 2014 Bring?

Still plenty of uncertainty about the 2014 planting season, though the latest drought outlook paints a bleak picture for sections of the Great Plains.
Credit Climate Prediction Center/NOAA

  What you call “crazy weather,” Colorado state climatologist Nolan Doesken calls “climate variability.”

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Regional
9:59 am
Mon February 3, 2014

How Efficient Can Government Be?

Norm Sims

Last month, a local panel put together a list of recommendations designed to make Sangamon County governmental units work better and, in some cases, save money.  Voters helped create the Citizens' Efficiency Commission of Sangamon County through an earlier referendum.  They have another chance to keep the effort going in the March election.

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Quinn Proposes Drastic Dip in Filing Fee
6:05 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Businesses: LLC Fee Drop A Drop In The Bucket

Credit Amanda Vinicky

  There are more than 200,000 limited liability corporations operating in Illinois. The governor has a proposal he says will add more. But business groups are skeptical it will help.

To file as an LLC in Illinois, you have to pay the state at least $500.

During his state of the state address, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed lowering the fee to $39.

"This small but important step will encourage entrepreneurs to start their business and put more people to work right here in Illinois," Quinn, a Democrat, said.

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Harvest Desk
5:00 am
Mon February 3, 2014

For Farmers With High Cash Rents, 2014 Could Be A Tough Year

Cash rents for non-irrigated cropland are highest in the Corn Belt
USDA NASS

With the price of farmland at record levels across the Corn Belt, many farmers have been renting acres to plant. Now, with the price of corn and soybeans in free fall, farmers that depend on renting risk big losses if they’re unable to negotiate lower rents.

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Illinois gets high marks on traffic safety
4:46 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Illinois Ranks First In Highway Safety, Helmet Laws Aside

Credit flickr/theeggplant

  Illinois ranks first in a nationwide study surveying traffic safety laws. The new report card by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety gave Illinois’ collection of traffic laws a very high grade with just one caveat: llinois does not require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet.

Jackie Gillan, president of the lobbying group, says this is the biggest factor precluding Illinois from a higher grade.

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State Week
4:12 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Listen To State Week - January 31, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, a discussion of Governor Pat Quinn's State of the State address.

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The Legacy
3:22 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Last Chance To See Hedwig And The Angry Inch’s Gender-Bending Rock

Patrick Russell as Hedwig. Photo by John Muchow of Muchow Photography.

(We're revisiting this year-old interview since the musical has made a return. Friday and Saturday are the final performances at The Legacy Theatre in Springfield. Tickets here.)

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Education
2:59 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Unclear How Quinn Will Pay For Early Education

Senator Pamela J. Althoff

Governor Pat Quinn says expanding Illinois' early childhood education programs should be one of the state's top priorities, but he hasn't detailed how to pay for them. Some lawmakers say Quinn's  "Birth to Five'' initiative's success is tied to the ongoing tax and spend debate that's expected to dominate this year's legislative agenda. 

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Sports
1:38 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Company Tied To Rams Owner Buys L.A. Land

Credit pasa47

A company tied to St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased a prime piece of land in Los Angeles amid speculation the NFL franchise is considering a return to the city it left for the Midwest nearly two decades ago.  

Team officials on Friday provided a written statement confirming the recent purchase of a 60-acre site near the Forum indoor arena in Inglewood, Calif. The statement from Kroenke's corporate side said no decision has been made and ``we will look at all our options'' with the land. The Los Angeles Times first reported the purchase.  

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