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Congress
6:00 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Durbin Pushing To Extend Unemployment Benefits

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin speaks with reporters Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, outside his home in Springfield.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin continues to push for an extension of unemployment benefits. He says it’ll be the first priority when the U.S. Senate reconvenes next week.

Durbin says 83,000 Illinoisans lost unemployment benefits on January first.

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Durbin supports Obama in NSA scaleback
5:29 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Durbin Praises Obama For NSA Scale Back

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

  Illinois' senior U.S. Senator says he supports President Barack Obama's changes for the National Security Agency.

President Obama has seen a split within his own party since Edward Snowden's revelations about how the U.S is gathering intelligence.

But at least one Democrat — Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin — says Obama is taking the right steps in balancing privacy with keeping America safe.

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State Week
3:16 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Listen To State Week - January 17, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Among this week's topics: Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's statements on whether or not he used his clout to get his daughter into an elite school, Tio Hardiman's challenge to Governor Pat Quinn as the possible Democratic candidate for governor, and also new political endorsements from Illinois unions.

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Born To Run
12:25 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Shoes Off! Barefoot Running Author To Take A Lap In Springfield

Credit wikipedia.org

  If you're in downtown Springfield Saturday morning, don't be surprised if you see a pack of runners jogging around town -- barefoot. Christoper McDougall, author of the acclaimed book "Born to Run" is the featured speaker for the Springfield Road Runner's Club annual awards dinner on Saturday night. WUIS's Amanda Vinicky will be there, in her trusty Nikes, but after reading McDougall's book and speaking with him about it, she just may try taking them off ... when it gets warmer.

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Nation/World
10:56 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Obama Backs Limits On NSA Phone Surveillance

Credit npr

President Barack Obama is ordering changes to the government's massive collection of phone records that he says will end the program ``as it currently exists.''
 
 Obama says in a speech prepared for delivery at the Justice Department Wednesday that intelligence officials have not intentionally abused the program to invade privacy.
 

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Election 2014
6:17 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Primary Challenge To Gov. Quinn Can Continue

Tio Hardiman
Credit uic.edu

A Democratic challenger to incumbent Governor Pat Quinn says he received the "best news in the world" Thursday morning, he gets to remain on the ballot. 
Not anyone can run for office in Illinois.  Getting on the ballot requires turning in paperwork, including signatures of registered voters.
Tio Hardiman, the former director of the anti-violence group Ceasefire, says he did that.

"We put a lot of work into this campaign. We've traveled the entire state, it's not like we just jumped up overnight and said let's run for governor," Hardiman said.

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Election 2014
5:58 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Unions Take Aim At Rauner In GOP Primary

Bruce Rauner
Credit wuis

A major organized labor coalition says it plans to ``do everything possible'' to oppose Republican Bruce Rauner's bid for Illinois governor.  
The Illinois AFL-CIO announced Thursday that its board approved a resolution to engage union members to defeat the Winnetka businessman.

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Harvest Desk
5:48 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Midwest Takes A Look At Labeling GMOs

Labeling advocates in Colorado are hoping to get an initiative on the 2014 ballot that would require the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Credit brdavid/flickr

Last year, we counted between 20 and 30 state legislatures considering bills that mandate labeling on genetically engineered foods or foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Still a hot-topic, many labeling laws are working their way through statehouses all over the nation – even in farm country.

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Regional
11:32 am
Thu January 16, 2014

FutureGen Gets Key Federal Approval

The FutureGen site
Credit WUIS

The U.S. Department of Energy has given the long-running FutureGen clean-coal project one of the final OKs it needs to start building.  

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Statehouse
8:23 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Illinois Delays Start Of Tax Filing

Credit flickr/jmorgan

Illinois revenue officials say residents won't be able to file their 2013 income taxes until the end of January _ a two-week delay.  

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Regional
4:52 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Search Of Judge's Pike County Cabin Turned Up Drugs, Guns

Former Judge Michael Cook
Credit booking photo

A search by federal agents of a cabin owned by an Illinois judge turned up drugs, guns and ammunition.  
The search of former Judge Mike Cook's Pike County hunting cabin came two months after Associate Judge Joe Christ died last year of a cocaine overdose in the cabin's bathroom. Cook was in custody at the time of the search.

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Crime & Punishment
4:30 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Shirley Skinner, 78, Asks Governor To Commute Murder Sentence

From left: Penny Watkins, mother of victim Steven Watkins; Andrea Lyon, a DePaul University law professor representing Skinner; Debbie Webster, Skinner’s daughter; and Kenneth Skinner, Shirley’s husband of 61 years.
Brian Mackey/WUIS

An elderly woman convicted in a notorious murder case is asking the governor to let her out of prison. At a hearing on the matter Wednesday in Springfield, family and friends of the victim were uniformly opposed.

Shirley Skinner is just a few years into her 55-year sentence. A jury convicted her of murdering her granddaughter's estranged husband, Steven Watkins, shooting him in the back of the head. He had come to their house in Ashland to visit his daughter.

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Regional
5:02 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Archdiocese Of Chicago Apologizes To Abuse Victims

Credit wikipedia.org

The Archdiocese of Chicago is apologizing to the victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Bishop Francis Kane offered the apology during a news conference Wednesday to discuss church files on sex abuse cases that are being released.

The documents involve 30 former priests with substantiated abuse claims against them. The files are being handed over to attorneys for victims as part of a settlement.

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Statehouse
4:52 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Lawmakers Say "No" To Further Video Gaming Restrictions

Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

A state legislative committee has rejected rules aimed at tightening who sells contracts for video gambling terminals and who can do business with Illinois.

But Illinois Gaming Board chairman Aaron Jaffe  says he'll try again. He said Wednesday that he'll bring the issue back to the panel or to the General Assembly this year.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted unanimously Tuesday to deny rules that would also create a list of businesses and individuals Illinois won't work with. It's similar to what the state does with casinos.

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Regional
3:18 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

ADM Donates $50K For Farm And Food Exhibit At Springfield Kids Museum

Kidzeum of Health and Sciences

The non-profit group planning to build a new children’s museum along East Adams Street in downtown Springfield has received $50,000 from Archer Daniels Midland Company to install what museum organizers are calling a Farm to Market exhibit.

CLICK HERE to view the latest concept art for the Kidzeum of Health and Science (subject to change)

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Transportation
1:33 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Few Citations Issued For Violating New Cellphone Law

Credit npr

Illinois police departments say officers are using discretion about whether to cite drivers who are breaking the state's new ban on hand-held cellphone use while driving.  

The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports law enforcement agencies appear to be giving drivers latitude if they're caught violating the new law.  
The measure took effect Jan. 1.  

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Statehouse
1:30 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

1,200 Immigrants Get Illinois Drivers Licenses

Credit wikimedia

Hundreds of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally now have Illinois driver's licenses.
 
The Illinois Secretary of State's office says more than 1,200 immigrants have
received licenses since December under a new state law.
 
Immigrants can currently take license tests at 14 locations across the state.
Secretary of States spokesman Dave Druker says 36 locations will offer license
tests by the end of the month.
 
The licenses are valid for three years and may be used only for driving. They

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History
12:45 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Author Brenda Wineapple Brings To Life An 'Ecstatic Nation'

We often think about the 1800's as a backward period,  an era of slavery and war.   But Brenda Wineapple wants you to take a different view.   She'll speak in Springfield this week.

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Local Bands
10:00 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Mulligan Munro Fuse American & Irish Folk

Mulligan Munro
Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Mulligan Munro is a folk band consisting of Mark Butler, Maureen Douglas, Don Wright, and Mark Hudson. The group brings an eclectic set of influences to the table, resulting in a repertoire of pub-friendly songs that sound uniquely their own. Mulligan Munro recently joined WUIS in the Suggs Studio for this performance and interview: 

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Arts
9:30 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Millikin Choir Weekend Concert In Springfield

Credit Millikin University

The Millikin University Choir makes another appearance in Springfield this weekend.   The concert will take place Sunday January 19 at the Central Baptist Church at 501 S. Fourth Street. 

Under the direction of Dr. Brad Holmes, the nationally recognized choir travels across the country and has performed abroad. 

But central Illinois is home base.  

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Local Government
8:24 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Springfield Aldermen Question Email Change

Credit springfield.il.us

Springfield aldermen raised questions last night regarding their city email accounts.  Alderman Cory Jobe says an email from a constituent was forwarded to him from the City Communications Director's account.   Nathan Mihelich holds that position. He says it's due to how the email program is set up.

“The way the computer works, it may list me as the administrator for the program.  And that's why you're seeing it like that.  But I'm not cc'd on any of those emails,” Mihelich said.

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Higher Ed
4:56 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Former U Of I Band Director Pleads Guilty To Theft

Robert Rumbelow
Credit news.illinois.edu

The former director of bands at the University of Illinois has pleaded guilty to stealing musical instruments from the school and sentenced to a form of probation.  

Robert Rumbelow pleaded guilty Tuesday in Champaign County Circuit Court to one count of felony theft. According to The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1doNcdP) he was sentenced to two years of conditional discharge.  
Rumbelow declined comment through his attorney.  

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Harvest Desk
12:28 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Specialty Crop Growers Concerned About Changing Regulatory Landscape

Longtime vegetable farmer and ISGA Chair Harry Alten, Jr.
Peter Gray/WUIS

With snow and ice still blanketing their fields and greenhouses, vegetable and fruit growers around the state met last week at their annual trade show in Springfield to share ideas for the spring.

Harvest Desk reporter Peter Gray spoke with Harry Alten, Jr. of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association about some of the concerns farmers have about government regulations, and what Illinoisans should know about the people who grow products they find at their area farmers market.

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Statehouse
10:14 am
Tue January 14, 2014

More Counties Cleaning Up Voter Rolls

Credit wikimedia

State election regulators say more than a dozen Illinois counties have purged their voter registration rolls to remove the names of people who've died or moved away.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises Newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/19rHR6b ) 17 counties and the city of East St. Louis fixed problems on their lists of registered voters.  
County clerks are required to purge voter rolls every two years. But some counties say there isn't enough money in the budget to cover the sometimes costly review.

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Transportation
8:27 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Springfield Airport Makes Upgrades

Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport underwent $5.3 million in improvements last year.  

Springfield Airport Authority Chairman Frank Vala said Monday that the upgrades were necessary to maintain a ``safe, modern and user friendly facility for all airport users.''  

The State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1eEgDsy) that the improvements included taxiways, roadways, safety fences and restrooms. The airport also added a solar-thermal collection system to reduce water-heating costs.  
The airport plans nearly $7.6 million in improvements for this year.

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Health Desk
8:18 am
Tue January 14, 2014

More Than 61K Illinois Residents Pick Health Plans

Credit Get Covered Illinois

Federal officials say more than 61,000 Illinois residents signed up for health insurance during the first three months of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.  

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Religion
5:44 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Diocese: Allegation Against Former Jacksonville Priest "Credible"

Credit dio.org

An internal church investigation has determined an allegation of sex abuse against an Illinois priest is "credible."

30 years ago, Father Robert DeGrand  worked in a Jacksonville parish.  It was during that time he is alleged to have sexually abused a child.  The Springfield Diocese formed a panel to review the claim.    However, the details of the allegation have not been made public. 

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Higher Ed
4:57 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

U Of I Proposes Tuition Hike For Fall

President Robert Easter
Credit U of I

University of Illinois Trustees have been asked to increase tuition within the rate of inflation for next academic year.

At their meeting in Chicago next week, they’ll be asked to raise it by 1.7 % on the three campuses, the same increase approved for last fall.    A Trustees committee recommended the plan Monday. 

It would raise tuition for in-state students to about $12,000 at the Urbana-Champaign campus, nearly $10,600 in Chicago and around $9,400 in Springfield.  Only incoming students would pay the higher rates.

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Election 2014
10:47 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Third Party Hopeful In 13th District Congressional Race

Josh Dill
Credit Lincoln Liberty Party

A Springfield man wants to join the race for the 13th Congressional District.  Josh Dill wants to run as a third party candidate.  He's formed the Lincoln Liberty Party.  

The 30 year old, who works full time as a Wells Fargo loan officer, says he hears dissatisfaction among voters with both Democrats and Republicans.

"And everyone I talked to said they always vote for the lesser of two evils, for the most part.  What we wanted to do was give everybody an option to vote for someone they actually believed as opposed who was better out of the two," Dill says.

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December Enrollment Still Unknown
7:31 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Another Affordable Care Act Deadline This Week

It has been roughly two weeks since the first batch of consumers who signed up for the Affordable Care Act have been able to use their insurance. There's another deadline this week.

Consumers who signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act by Christmas saw their new benefits kick in Jan. 1.

There's no telling how many Illinois residents that is: the government hasn't released enrollment numbers for December. But insurers and so-called navigators, who are charged with helping people sign up, reported a last-minute rush.

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