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Statehouse
1:32 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Springfield's William Cellini Out of Prison

William Cellini
Credit WBEZ

Politically connected Illinois businessman William Cellini  has been released from federal prison.  
A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons says the Republican insider snagged in the corruption scandal involving former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was released from the federal lockup in Terre Haute, Ind., on Oct. 31. 

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Gay Legislator Proposes
12:06 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Governor: Will Sign Same-Sex Marriage "Pretty Soon"

The same-sex marriage legislation approved yesterday, Nov. 5, by the Illinois General Assembly will become law by the end of the month.

Gov. Pat Quinn hosted a party last night at the executive mansion in Springfield to celebrate. The festivities morphed into an engagement party when one of a handful of openly gay legislators, Rep. Sam Yingling, D - Grayslake, proposed to his partner.

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Tax Credits
6:46 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Legislators Set To Give Tax Breaks ... But Not Yet, ADM

Director of Illinois' Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity testifies at the House revenue committee about tax incentive options offered to companies looking to locate to Illinois, or threatening to leave the state.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  State legislators are advancing a measure that attempts to lure chemical plant jobs to Illinois, but broader plans to offer companies like ADM incentives are not ready just yet. 

Archer Daniels Midland is the highest-profile case of a company looking for a tax break from the state, in exchange for creating jobs. In ADM's case, the company is looking to move its global headquarters from Decatur to ... maybe Chicago, maybe a city in another state.

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Harvest Desk
6:38 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Garden City: Tending To A Cultural Crossroads In Kansas

Sister Janice Thome at a local Garden City school. Thome teaches several classes, including a teen parenting class at the Garden City alternative high school.
Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Sister Janice Thome’s office is a 2003 brown Ford Focus with a backseat piled high with paperwork and a prayer book.

Thome puts 125,000 miles a year on this car, picking up boxes from the food pantry, finding a mattress for a newcomer, delivering a sick soul to a doctor’s appointment. All the while, she fields emergency calls on her flip phone, responding to her mission to serve the poor of Garden City, out on the plains of southwest Kansas.

This day, Thome is teaching her teen parenting class at the alternative high school.

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Statehouse
1:38 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Marriage Debate Hinges On 'Freedom'

Gov. Pat Quinn was on the floor of the Illinois House for the debate on same-sex marriage. The Chicago Democrat says he'll sign the marriage legislation.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Same-sex marriage will soon be legal in Illinois. The House narrowly approved legislation Tuesday, and Governor Pat Quinn says he'll sign it into law.

The vote came after months of intense lobbying, in which both sides claimed they were fighting for individual freedom.

It's been a busy year for people who care about same-sex marriage in Illinois. Supporters had an early victory on Valentine's Day, when the state Senate approved what backers call "marriage equality" legislation.

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Statehouse
6:59 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Obama Applauds Illinois Legislature

Credit BarackObama.com

President Barack Obama is praising the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in his home state of Illinois.   Obama, who served in the Illinois state Senate, released a statement saying he
was ``overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois.''
 
The president is commending members of the Legislature for approaching the
issue in an ``open and fair way.'' He says the nation's journey is not complete
until gay men and women are treated equally under the law.
 
Same-sex marriage legislation passed the state House on Tuesday, nearly nine

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Statehouse
5:17 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Cross, 2 Other Republicans Help Pass Same Sex Marriage In House

Rep. Tom Cross
Credit ilga.gov

Former House minority leader Tom Cross is among three House Republicans who voted in favor of legislation allowing same-sex marriage in Illinois.  

The Oswego Republican hadn't indicated how he'd vote prior to Tuesday when the House approved the bill 61-54. He currently is seeking higher office with a run for Illinois treasurer.  

He says in a statement he consulted several people before his decision, including his retired minister father. He says supporting same-sex marriage is consistent with his belief in individual freedom, equality and limited government.  

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Statehouse
3:35 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Lawmakers Send Same Sex Marriage Measure To Governor

Illinois is set to become the 15th state and largest in the heartland to allow same-sex couples to marry.  
State senators approved technical changes Tuesday to a measure legalizing gay weddings, shortly after a historic favorable vote in the state House. The bill now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he'll sign it into law.  
Illinois will start allowing same-sex marriages next summer.  
Fourteen states plus Washington D.C., currently allow same-sex marriage.  

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District 186
2:09 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Students Lacking Immunizations Out Of School For 3 Weeks & Counting

About five hundred Springfield students were forced out of the public schools last month for failing to have required physicals and immunizations. The number has since dropped to 87 kids missing classes. The deadline was October 15th. School board member Mike Zimmers says the policy should be changed for next year to have the deadline before school gets underway.

"Parents just need to plan, you know when they start thinking about ... we need to get school clothes or school supplies -- in your mindset just think, we need to get physicals, we need to get shots,” said Zimmers.

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Statehouse
9:32 am
Tue November 5, 2013

State's Mayors Want Pension Overhaul

Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg
Credit Loves Park City Website

The new head of the Illinois Municipal League wants lawmakers to remain committed to a pension overhaul. Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg was recently named president of the organization. Lindberg says the group has not put its support behind any one plan, but is paying attention to work being done by the bipartisan pension panel.

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Harvest Desk
6:40 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Noel, Mo.: Schools Build Safety Net For Immigrant Children

At the primary school in rural Noel, Mo., teachers and staff function as educators about as often as they do de facto social workers.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Noel, MO - It’s almost 9 a.m., and Noel Primary School teacher Erin McPherson is helping a group of Spanish-speaking students complete English language exercises. But it’s tough going.

One student in a bright blue T-shirt – 9-year-old Isac Martinez – has not yet picked up his pencil. He’s clearly sick. When McPherson asks him what’s wrong, Isac’s small voice is barely audible in between coughs. He says he threw up four times last night but did not go to a doctor.

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Activists Pushing For Graduated Income Tax

A group of activists are working to end Illinois' flat income tax. They say they've gathered more than 150-thousand signatures so far, and are making their case to Illinois lawmakers.

Income in Illinois is taxed at a uniform five percent, whether you're working at a drive-thru window or you're the CEO of a multi-national corporation.

The people pushing what they call a "fair tax" would have wealthy people pay more, while middle- and lower-income people would pay less. That's already how federal income taxes work.

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Statehouse
4:56 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Opposing Views Of Same Sex Marriage

Some of the volunteers making calls during the Macomb phone bank in support of same-sex marriage.
Credit Rich Egger

Whether or not House lawmakers in Illinois vote on same sex marriage this week, those on differing sides of the issue have been working to make their case.

Supporters

The group Illinois Unites for Marriage has organized phone banks to target state representatives who’ve not made up their mind or who have not announced how they will vote.

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Regional
3:39 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Shaking Was Quarry Blast, Not An Earthquake

Credit USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey says the shaking with a measured magnitude 3.2 in northern Illinois was a blast and not an earthquake.  

USGS geophysicist Don Blakeman also says it appears Monday afternoon's blast came from within a rock quarry but that the exact location of the blast had not yet been determined. He says that all indications so far leads experts to believe that the blast came from the quarry. That includes that the epicenter is in an area close to the quarry.  

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Statehouse
12:56 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Car Dealers Push To Change Leasing Tax

Credit Flickr user oldbrochures

The price of leasing a car in Illinois could be lowered under a proposal before the Illinois General Assembly. Automobile dealers say leasing in Illinois has lagged behind other states.

If you were to lease a car today, chances are you'd be charged for tax on the full value of the vehicle, just like if you were buying it.

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Harvest Desk
12:55 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Area Farmers Reflect On Summer Crop, Look Ahead

Springfield shoppers who connect with local growers each summer at the Old Capitol Farmer's Market have stocked up for the cold months ahead. 

In these Oct. 26 interviews, Peter Gray caught up with a few vendors at the last Saturday market downtown to hear their thoughts on the summer harvest.

INTERVIEWS from the Old Capitol Farmer's Market:

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Business
6:22 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Greg Baise: Illinois Has To Compete For Jobs

Greg Baise
Credit IMA

A key Illinois business leader says the state is facing tough competition when it comes to keeping jobs.  Greg Baise is President of the Illinois Manufacturer's Association.  He says controversial legislation in Illinois that would offer tax breaks to certain firms is an effort to keep pace.

Among the firms, agribusiness leader Archer Daniels Midland, which wants to move it's corporate headquarters from Decatur to a larger city.  Illinois and other states are wooing the company with promises of tax incentives.

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Same-Sex Marriage Vote Possible
6:22 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Heavy Veto Session Agenda

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat from Northbrook, is a member of the conference committee tasked with negotiating a pension deal.
Credit ILGA.gov

  Illinois legislators are scheduled to finish out their veto session this week. Their back-loaded agenda ranges from dealing with budget matters to social issues.

The first week of the veto session late last month went by with little of substance accomplished.

But what the General Assembly didn't touch then is back now.

Like tax packages designed to keep companies, like Archer Daniels Midland, headquartered in Illinois.

It also appears the sponsor of stalled same-sex marriage legislation is leaning toward calling it for a vote in the House.

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Business
5:57 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

State Farm Could Move Some Jobs From Central Illinois

State Farm building in Bloomington
Credit wikipedia

State Farm Insurance Co. says it will likely move at least some of its claims services employees out of Bloomington.  

State Farm spokeswoman Holly Anderson said Friday that the company told employees this week that the potential move is being studied.  

The Bloomington-based company wouldn't say how many workers could be involved, where the jobs could be moved to or when. The Pantagraph newspaper in Bloomington reported that as of 2011 1,600 people worked at the center where the claims workers are based.  

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State Week
1:34 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Listen To State Week - November 1, 2013

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, an overview of the Fall Veto Session so far, the possibility of tax breaks for Archer Daniels Midland, and the dustup between House Speaker Madigan and the Better Government Association.

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Harvest Desk
1:03 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Rural Neighbors Split On Wind Energy Lines

In O’Brien County, Iowa, Jay Hofland has agreed to sell part of his land to an energy company for a conver station that would mark the beginning of a high voltage transmission traversing the state.
Credit Durrie Bouscaren/Harvest Public Media

The rolling plains of Midwest farm country are being tapped for their natural resources again. This time, though, the bounty would be wind energy, instead of corn, wheat or soybeans.

Houston-based utility company Clean Line Energy Partners wants to produce a massive amount of wind energy on the plains. To do that, the company plans to build five large-scale high voltage transmission lines that would criss-cross the country, three of which would bring energy from Midwestern windmills to the energy grid to the east.

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Education
9:13 am
Fri November 1, 2013

U Of I To Open China Office

Credit University of Illinois

The University of Illinois plans to open an office in China later this year.
 
Pradeep Khanna is associate chancellor for corporate international relations at
the school. Khanna tells The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1ahCsrT) that the
university plans to hire up to three employees for the new office in Shanghai.
 
A delegation of University of Illinois alumni is traveling to Beijing and
Shanghai next week. The group of about 50 people will meet with alumni and visit
companies and universities that have partnerships with UI.
 

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Film
7:00 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Rt. 66 Film Fest Features Eccentric Mix Of Indie Flicks

A still from the short film 'Wooing Wes Wilson' - directed by Thad Vassmer
Credit vimeo.com

Friday marks the kick off of the Route 66 Film Festival in Springfield. We bring you a conversation with Hugh Moore & Lana Wildman about that and a look at a couple of the films from Illinois that will be featured there:

CLICK HERE for more information about the fest, which runs Friday, November 1st to Saturday, November 2nd. You can also email Route66FilmFestival@gmail.com to get tickets for both days at a reduced price.

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Arts
4:41 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Listen To The War Of The Worlds

Listen to the complete 75th Anniversary re-creation of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre broadcast of 1938.

H.G. Wells' classic tale of invaders from Mars, originally adapted for radio for Halloween in 1938, as performed at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield from the original Welles script and featuring live sound effects.

CAST:  Gus Gordon, Tony Libri, Don Schneider, Johnny Molson, Bob Murray, Flynn Hanners, Jim Leach, and Bryan Boes.

SOUND EFFECTS:  Mary E. Myers and Ryan Mitchelle.

SOUND DESIGN:  Duane Fant

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Statehouse
3:41 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Audit Slams CMS Property Control

Credit flickr/danxoneil

An audit finds the agency that keeps track of all of Illinois state property does a poor job.  
Auditor General William Holland's review Thursday shows the Department of Central Management Services' inventory includes only a fraction of what the state controls. The review says the department has made little progress in developing a computerized list.

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Statehouse
3:32 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Senator Wants Job Commitment From ADM

Sen. Andy Manar
Credit ilga.gov

New legislation would bring jobs to Decatur as a condition for Archer Daniels Midland Company to receive state incentives it wants to keep its headquarters in Illinois.
 
State Sen. Andy Manar introduced an amendment Thursday to require the company
to relocate at least 100 jobs from out of state to Decatur and hire at least 100
new full-time employees a year in the city for five years.
 
ADM announced earlier this year it will move its 100-employee global
headquarters out of Decatur. ADM is reportedly considering Chicago and other
cities.
 

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Historic Home
9:45 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Architecture Tours Planned At Dana-Thomas House

Credit springfield.il.us

A new Frank Lloyd Wright architecture tour is being offered at a Springfield historic site designed by the famed Illinois architect.  

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Regional
9:39 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Inmate Captured In Macon County

After a four-hour manhunt, authorities have recaptured an inmate who escaped from jail in Decatur just as he was to begin serving a prison sentence for aggravated battery.  
Schuyler McCoy escaped from the Macon County Jail at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday by identifying himself to correctional officers as a different inmate who was in the process of being released on bond.  
Macon County Sheriff Tom Schneider says a search began as soon as officers realized the error. U.S. Marshalls took part.  

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Morgan County
9:36 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Federal Report Supports FutureGen

Credit Bill Wheelhouse/WUIS

A final recommendation is still pending but the U.S. Department of Energy has said in a report that the FutureGen project in Morgan County should go ahead.  
The agency released the final environmental study on Wednesday. It says the clean-coal project should receive $1 billion in federal funding. The State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/17uijEH) a final decision on if the $1.65 billion project should come by the end of the year.  

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Education
6:00 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Grade Deflation On School Report Cards

Illinois schools and school districts get report cards Thursday. Many will appear to have suffered a significant drop in student achievement. But state officials say that’s just because they’ve changed how students are evaluated.

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