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Election 2014
4:29 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Republican Attorney General Candidate: Pension Changes Unconstitutional

Republican candidate for attorney general Paul Schimpf
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  The Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General is criticizing incumbent Lisa Madigan for defending the state's pension overhaul law, which he thinks is unconstitutional.

A clause in the state's constitution says that once earned, pension benefits shall not be diminished.

The pension law, passed last year, law reduces cost of living benefits paid out to state employees and public school teachers. That, and other changes, haven't actually taken effect yet; a lawsuit challenging the law is ongoing.

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Education Desk
12:22 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

With GED, Illinois Bundles Job Training

A new approach to adult education in Illinois puts GED instruction in the context of job skills, such as nursing, welding or operating a forklift.
Credit Mike Mozart (flickr.com/jeepersmedia)

Illinois is trying to expand educational opportunities for adults who didn't finish high school. That means moving beyond the GED.

The Census Bureau says average monthly earnings of a high school grad are nearly 10 percent higher than those of someone with a GED. And while a third of high school grads eventually earn a bachelor's degree, the GED number is 1 in 20.

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Viral Video
12:12 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Trucker Questions: Are Police Above Illinois' Traffic Laws?

A screenshot of the video Brian Miner posted of being pulled over in June by an Illinois State Trooper.
Credit Brian Miner, You Tube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-dJgFdfl3I)

It has been just over half a year since Illinois made it illegal to talk on your phone while driving without the use of a hands-free device. There are some exceptions: you can hold your phone if your car is stopped -- say at a railroad crossing for a freight train -- and in park or neutral, or if you pull off onto the shoulder. The law also makes an exemption for law enforcement. A recent YouTube sensation that raises the question: should police get special treatment?

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Statehouse
6:53 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Fire Closes State Building Today

Credit wandtv.com

The Illinois Secretary of State's office has closed its Howlett Building in Springfield for the day because of a small fire.

Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker says the fire happened about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday in a mechanical room at the building, which is part of the Illinois State Capitol complex.  

He says firefighters quickly put out the blaze but the air conditioning in the building isn't working and crews need to work on mechanical issues.  

Druker says the agency hopes to reopen the office building on Wednesday.  

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Education Desk
6:47 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Houston Says District 186 Needs To Build Credibility Before Asking For Tax Hike

Credit montanapublicmedia.org

WUIS is asking the candidates for Springfield mayor to talk about education issues facing the community. Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says he's concerned that most new single family homes in the area are in suburban school districts.   He says an increase in funding for District 186 is probably needed, but says the school board needs to build credibility first.

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Guns
12:06 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Attorney General Wants To Send Concealed Carry Cases Out Of Court

Credit flickr

Illinois gun owners who've been denied a concealed carry permit can appeal. But instead of going through the courts, Illinois' Attorney General wants a state panel to decide those cases.

There are about 200 concealed carry denials before Illinois courts, brought by people who say they shouldn't have been deemed dangerous or a threat to public safety by Illinois' Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board.

Until recently, applicants didn't actually know why they were rejected.

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Harvest Desk
1:46 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Crop Insurance Programs Subject Of Intense Farm Bill Lobbying

Mark Crawford stands at his farm near Danville, Ill. Crawford, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat on his large farm, said the crop insurance programs are important parts of the risk-management safety net for farmers. (Darrell Hoemann/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting)

After two years of debate, the U.S. Congress passed a Farm Bill this year that replaced direct subsidies to farmers with an ever increasing multi-billion dollar federal crop insurance program.

During that time, at least 80 groups spent more than $50 million in lobbying efforts that included ensuring their interests in the often criticized program were well-represented.

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Election 2014
5:26 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

No School For Kids On Election Day

Credit wikimedia

Illinois students could get a day off of school come election day. Schools are often at the heart of a community, metaphorically, if not literally. That's part of the reason they've long been voting sites.

But with shootings at schools across the country, some lawmakers are concerned the practice is dangerous.

Most of the time visitors need to sign in before entering a school; they say allowing anyone in on election day is asking for trouble.

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State Week
3:53 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Listen to State Week - July 18, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner proposed more ways to fix the state's budget woes.  Also, a state legislative commission has pushed back the investigation into Governor pat Quinn's controversial Neighborhood Recovery Initiative until October.

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Regional
3:39 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

25 Years Since Chicago Bound Flight Crashed In Iowa

It has been 25 years since the passengers on United Flight 232 braced themselves for impact and prepared to die.  

Back in 1989, the jetliner carrying nearly 300 people from Denver to Chicago lost all hydraulic power after the rear engine exploded. It crash-landed in Sioux City, Iowa, cartwheeling down the runway in flames and breaking apart in a cornfield.  

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Statehouse
3:25 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Prosecutors Say Blagojevich Attorneys Misread Ruling

Prosecutors responding to a new argument in Rod Blagojevich's appeal say the former governor's lawyers have misrepresented a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in another case.  

Blagojevich's lawyers say an April ruling by the high court found that soliciting contributions is corruption only when a politician makes explicit promises to take official action for a donation.  

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Regional
7:23 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Illinois Among The Highest Risk For Earthquakes

Credit State of Illinois

Illinois and Missouri are on the list of states with the highest risk for earthquakes.

A new federal earthquake map dials up the shaking hazard just a bit for about one-third of the United States and lowers it for one-tenth of the nation.  

The U.S. Geological Survey updated Thursday its national seismic hazard maps for the first time since 2008, taking into account research from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast and the surprise 2011 Virginia temblor.  

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Statehouse
5:22 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Supreme Court Won't Take Up Term Limits

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

  An effort to institute term limits in Illinois has hit a major road block. The state Supreme Court says it will not rush to hear the case.

 The Supreme Court's decision could be the end of Republican Bruce Rauner's term limits initiative.

Limiting how long legislators can be in Illinois' General Assembly has been a staple of his campaign for governor.

That takes a change in the constitution. Rauner's group collected over a half million signatures so that question could be put to voters on the November ballot.

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Harvest Desk
4:47 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Decatur Vies For Ag Research Center

Credit Richland Community College

Decatur is among the finalists for a national agriculture research center.  

The (Decatur) Herald & Review reports Thursday (http://bit.ly/1yyldBp ) that the National Corn Growers Association wants to create a facility to support and develop farming research.  

Richard Vierling is head of the Corn Growers research and development team. He said Thursday that Fargo, North Dakota, is the other city in the running for the National Agriculture Genotyping Center.  
The facility would translate scientific discoveries into production improvement.  

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Election 2014
2:50 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Rauner Proposes Tax Changes

Bruce Rauner
Credit WUIS

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner has presented a plan he says will help grow Illinois' economy and create jobs.

The Winnetka businessman spoke today at a family-owned manufacturing company in Schaumburg. 

Rauner wants to eliminate the income tax increase Democrats approved in 2011, phasing the rate back to 3 percent from 5 percent. He also says he would freeze property taxes and impose a sales tax on services such as charter flights, travel agencies and sewer service.  

Rauner says Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has been ``a failure on job creation.''  

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Sports
2:22 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Glenwood Grad Named New UIS Softball Coach

Shannon Nicholson
Credit UIS

The University of Illinois Springfield has announced Shannon Nicholson will be the school's new softball coach. 

Nicholson is from Chatham.  She spent the past six years at Illinois State, most recently as the pitching coach there.

“Being a head coach at such a great Institution is a true privilege and I can’t wait to get started," Nicholson said in a news release. 

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New Law
6:52 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Illinois To Require Bulletproof Vests

Credit flickr.com/appleswitch (Creative Commons)

A new law signed Wednesday is intended to keep police officers safe, by requiring they get protective gear.

A bulletproof vest will become part of an officers' standard equipment issue. Contingent on money, of course.

The new law includes provisions to help ensure there is funding.

It law requires communities and the state apply for a federal grant, that provides matching funds specifically for the purchase of bullet proof vests.

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Neighborhood Recovery Initiative
6:02 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Election-Year Fight Over What's Next In Probe Of Quinn's NRI

After a day-long meeting Wednesday, a legislative commission will meet again Thursday morning in Chicago. They're set to begin with a call to the U.S. Attorney's office. Democrats and Republicans are at a standstill over what to do next in their probe of Gov. Pat Quinn's controversial anti-violence program.

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Neighborhood Recovery Initiative
12:31 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Republicans Call "Contempt" As Witnesses Fail To Show At NRI Hearing

A legislative hearing convened to probe a troubled anti-violence program run by Gov. Quinn is underway in Chicago. Federal prosecutors have asked lawmakers to hold off taking testimony, because it may obstruct their investigation. 

It all goes back to a program called the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which debuted in 2010, when Quinn was in the midst of a tight race for governor against Republican Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington. A state audit showed it was rife with mismanagement, and Republicans say that's because Quinn was trying to use it to boost his campaign.

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Neighborhood Recovery Initiative
9:36 am
Wed July 16, 2014

How The NRI Hearing Could Play Out For Quinn's Campaign

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Pat Quinn's troubled anti-violence program will be in the spotlight today (7/16) when a bipartisan legislative commission meets in Chicago.  

It's not yet clear how lawmakers will proceed, given that the federal government wants them to put a hold on their investigation until mid-October, just before the November election, when Quinn will face Republican Bruce Rauner.

Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown says that's what Quinn's campaign wants.

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Statehouse
7:16 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Quinn Signs Law Designed To Add Accountability To Grants

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation overhauling the state's grant oversight and accountability process.  

Quinn's office said Wednesday that he has signed the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act. The governor says it will give Illinois a comprehensive set of uniform rules for grant applications and make those who receive grants more accountable to taxpayers.

The signing comes on the same day as legislative hearings are to begin on a controversial Quinn program.

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Harvest Desk
1:18 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Out Of Public Eye, A Bitter Farm Bill Fight

K Street in Washington D.C. has long been known as the home to powerful lobbyists. Hundreds of companies and groups lobbied to influence the 2014 Farm Bill. (Creative Commons)

The “who” part of the Farm Bill is pretty clear.

With trillions dollars of government spending up for grabs, lobbyists from all ends of the spectrum – representing environmental interests, biotech companies, food companies, farmers – flocked to Capitol Hill to find their piece of the Farm Bill pie.

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Regional
11:16 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Wabash Avenue Work & A Chili Parlor Back In The Family

Credit nasda.org

The WUIS State Journal Register Business Report.  This week  Wabash Avenue, Jeff Parsons in coourt and a Route 66 landmark to re-open.

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Statehouse
6:07 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Applicants Denied Concealed Carry Licenses Will Learn Why Under New Emergency Rules

Credit http://www.adamsguns.com

  A year after Illinois legalized concealed carry, new rules are out to determine the process for deciding who can't carry a gun in public. The Illinois State Police issued the emergency rules Monday 7/14 afternoon.

Not just anyone can carry a gun right off the bat. You have to get a license, which entails passing muster with local law enforcement and the Illinois State Police; they can deny applicants.

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Harvest Desk
1:15 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Lobbyists Of All Kinds Flock To Farm Bill

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., (in green), watches as President Barack Obama signs the Farm Bill at Michigan State University on Feb. 7, 2014. (Courtesy David Kosling/USDA)

When U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced passage of the Farm Bill in February, she echoed a refrain from a car commercial.

“This is not your father’s Farm Bill,” she said.

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Budget FY15
8:12 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Bill Backlog Improvement Could Be Temporary

Credit flickr/dborman

  The amount of money Illinois owes to companies and organizations that have provided goods and services for the state is at its lowest level since 2010, but that improvement could be short-lived.

At one point, Illinois had a stack of overdue bills totaling about $10 billion.

It took so long for the state to pay back its vendors that some were forced to close their doors - they couldn't pay their bills.

But that was at the height of the recession, and before Illinois' hike in the state income tax.

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Harvest Desk
7:22 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Youth May Hold Key To Grain Safety

Colin Ebbers, 19, of Dakota, Ill. volunteers to be the victim of a grain bin fall during a demonstration by Stateline Farm Rescue, based in Orangeville, Ill.
Credit Jenna Dooley

A 9-year-old boy died in a grain bin last week in southwestern Wisconsin. While every situation is different, agricultural engineers continue to work on new ways to prevent such deaths. Those involved in the training industry say reaching the younger generation will be an important step to prevent entrapments.

   

Rescue Tools

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Election 2014
5:11 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Governor Campaigns Rip Each Other's Records

Paul Vallas
Credit PBS

The candidates for Illinois governor are hammering each other's records on business and caring for the developmentally disabled.
 
Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Paul Vallas blasted
Republican Bruce Rauner Monday after a published news report said a
long-term care company once tied to Rauner faced lawsuits and disciplinary
action over the mistreatment of residents, fatalities and ``deplorable'' living
conditions.
 
Vallas suggests Rauner profited from substandard care and should be questioned

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Politics
4:57 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Services Set For Fmr. Congressman Ken Gray

Ken Gray

Services are scheduled for next weekend for late former U.S. Rep. Ken Gray of southern Illinois.
 
 Gray was 89-years-old when he died Saturday at a Herrin hospital after a long
illness.
 
 The Democrat represented Illinois in Congress for a dozen terms and was known
for his colorful style. His ability to bring $7 billion in federal funding to
his economically depressed district earned him the nickname the ``Prince of
Pork.''
 
 Parker-Reedy Funeral Home in West Frankfort says Gray's services will be at 4

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Local Government
12:42 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Springfield's Mayor Wants Another Term

Mike Houston
Credit City of Springfield

Springfield mayor Mike Houston will seek another term.  Houston made the announcement earlier this morning.  He says he has righted the ship when it comes to city finances.

Houston is expected to face opposition.   
County Auditor Paul Palazzolo and City Treasuer Jim Langfielder have indicated they will run for the office as well.

Houston admits he broke a pledge to only serve one term.  He made that during the last campaign.  But he says some of his projects have taken longer than anticipated to accomplish.
 

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