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An Illinois proposal would provide funding for police body cameras.

The measure creates procedures for arrests and traffic stops, including pedestrian searches. Incidents like officer-involved shootings and arrests would have a standard protocol across Illinois, and the proposal would require more police training.

Funding would come from an increase in fines for traffic tickets.

Democratic Rep. Elgie Sims says when police officers wear body cameras, both the community and police benefit.

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois House overwhelmingly approved a plan that seeks to curb the abuse of heroin and painkilling drugs.

State Sen. Kwame Raoul
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday began taking up parts of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s pro-business agenda. They’re just as quickly taking them out.

Illinois Issues-WUIS

Democrats are going it alone on the budget and the bills are flying. How can you keep track of all the budget legislation out there? By using this handy list. 

Helping Kids In Foster Care Track Their History

May 27, 2015

Lacy is eight years old, though that’s not her real name. Lacy’s adoptive mom, Rebecca McClintock, asked us to disguise her daughter’s identity because we’re going to be talking about her past, and a lot of it is painful.

Brett Levin/Flickr

Plans to build a medical marijuana facility in the south-central Illinois city of Litchfield have run into obstacles.
 
 Department of Agriculture officials say the permit in that district is now under review. Department spokeswoman Kristi Jones declined to provide details.
 
 In February, Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration named Compass Ventures as the  winner of the lone permit to grow marijuana in the four-county district.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Heavyweights from each of Illinois' public universities gathered for a rare meeting at the state Capitol yesterday.

It's thought to be the first time leaders from all nine state schools have collectively met with the governor's office and the leaders in the General Assembly.

House floor
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Democrats are moving forward with a new state budget. The House passed a huge chunk of it on Tuesday.

The Democrats' budget includes funding many programs the governor planned to cut, even though Illinois is short about $3 billion to pay for all of that spending.

Public Domain

Higher education will see a funding cut next year, but Democrats want to lessen the impact compared to what the Republican governor called for.

Gov. Bruce Rauner suggested a more than 30 percent reduction. Democrats are proposing a 6.5 percent cut to universities.

Republicans voted against the Democrats' measure in committee. GOP Rep. Mark Batinick from Plainfield says the cost of doing business in Illinois is too high. That includes the business of higher education.

Dry casks containing radioactive waste
WUIS/Illinois Issues

With the legislative session nearing a close, the plug has been pulled on efforts to prop up renewable, coal and nuclear power.

A lot of, well, energy was put into energy policies this legislative session.

Timothy Killeen
Bill Wheelhouse / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Timothy Killeen, the new president of the University of Illinois, met with reporters on the Springfield campus last week. Flanked by the chancellors of the university’s three campuses, Killeen said they were touring the state as part of a strategic planning process that would culminate next spring in a “statement of shared vision.”

The train controls that were lacking in Philadelphia will be in place when Illinois high speed rail happens... if the state will spend the money.

2014 General Election Total Votes
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Despite overwhelming support from voters at last fall’s general election, an increase in the minimum wage appears to be dead in the spring session of the Illinois General Assembly.

Illinois Democrats have begun to unveil their new state spending plan, which looks a lot like the current one. That's despite Illinois having billions of dollars less, thanks to a rollback of the income tax rate in January. Even before the details were made public, Gov. Bruce Rauner's office was out with a statement tearing into the proposal, and its architect, House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Democrats are moving forward with a new state budget-- one that closely mirrors the current one. However, it does make cuts nearly across the board, save for education through high school. The Republican governor is already expressing his frustration.

The issue is, Illinois' income tax rate has dropped, so the state's missing out on billions of dollars. Gov. Bruce Rauner had proposed massive cuts to make up for it.

Las Vegas in the 1970s
flickr.com/roadsidepictures

The politics of "tough on crime" were born of a culture of fear in the 1960s and '70s. In Illinois, that was exemplified by the public statements of then-Gov. Dan Walker, who both described aspects of Illinois prisons that are still problems today, while at the same time arguing for policies that would leave Illinois’ criminal justice drastically overcrowded.

Illinois legislators are back in session Monday as they look toward a May 31 adjournment date. Gov. Bruce Rauner recently sent a direct, and public, message to them about how he wants things to go.

In a recent op-ed penned in the capital city's newspaper, Gov. Bruce Rauner wrote that "Illinois needs a turnaround." He went on to say, "The public understands that, but it appears many state elected officials do not."

That column was a way for Rauner to speak to his supporters.

Ferguson demonstrators
Chris McDaniel/St. Louis Public Radio

In the wake of officer-involved deaths in Ferguson, Baltimore and New York City, Springfield is looking at how to change Illinois laws regarding police officers.

In the final days of the General Assembly's session, Rep. Elgie Sims, Jr., a Democrat from Chicago, says he'll sponsor legislation that would require police wear body cameras. He says the package would also ban law enforcement from using chokeholds.

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.

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.

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 / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

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.

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