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Statehouse
3:27 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down 'Amazon Tax'

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday struck down the so-called "Amazon tax." The decision could pave the way for businesses to make more money online.

The law was intended to force Internet retailers to collect Illinois sales tax.

Even if such companies didn't have an office or physical store here, they might have had Illinois "affiliates." That would be a website that linked to a product on, say, Amazon.com, and got a small kickback for every sale.

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Statehouse
1:50 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

State Week In Review: October 18, 2013

On this edition of State Week in Review, our panel previews the upcoming fall session of the Illinois General Assembly.  From pensions to same sex marriage to gun crime sentencing, we discuss what may or may not occur. 

Also, the impact of the federal shutdown on state government.   Our guest this week is Gatehouse Media's Doug Finke.

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Education
12:28 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Governor Suspends Charter School Group's Funding

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has again suspended state funding to the United Neighborhood Organization, the state's biggest charter-school operator.  
Quinn spokeswoman Sandra M. Jones told the Chicago Sun-Times the final $15 million of a $98 million state school-construction grant the Illinois Legislature promised UNO in 2009 is being withheld.  
Quinn previously suspended funding for UNO in April, after reports the organization gave $8.5 million of business to companies owned by the brothers of then UNO executive Miquel d'Escoto.  

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Education
9:24 am
Fri October 18, 2013

ISBE Warns Of School Funding Cuts

Credit flickr/LizMarie_AK

School administrators in Illinois are being warned to prepare for even less state funding for the next fiscal year.  
The Springfield Bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/16g1Hjd ) the Illinois State Board of Education is telling school districts to prepare to receive about 85 percent of the normal general state aid payments.  
This year, the qualifying districts are getting 89 percent of the money.  

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District 186
7:00 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Search Firms Tells 186 School Board It's Uniquely Political

District 186 needs to warn superintendent candidates of the highly political atmosphere that’s become business-as-usual for the Springfield school board.

That’s what the search firm the board hired to help find a new superintendent is telling them, based on feedback the firm gathered from members of the community and staff. 

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Bedrock 66 Live
6:31 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Robbie Fulks - October 18, 2013

Credit David Landis

  Robbie Fulks/The Old Fashioneds

October 18, 2013, 8 p.m. 
Show#8 
Hoogland Center for the Arts

With his fourth performance at WUIS' Bedrock 66 Live, Robbie passes the Bottle Rockets for most appearances.  Face it, we love Robbie & Co.

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Federal Budget
6:30 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Illinois Did Not Lose Money Under Default Threat: Rutherford

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford is seen in this August 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

With the federal shutdown over and a government default averted, investors are breathing a sigh of relief Thursday. That includes the people responsible for investing billions of dollars on behalf of Illinois state government.

The state of Illinois has about $10 billion in investments. That money is the responsibility of Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who says about $1.2 billion of Illinois' portfolio is in the form of U.S. Treasury Bills.

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Election 2014
5:24 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Congressman Rodney Davis Defends His Vote

Cong. Rodney Davis

13th District Congressman Rodney Davis doesn’t believe he abandoned his principles by voting to reopen the government.
The Taylorville Republican says he didn’t get all the victories he wanted out of the measure approved late Wednesday, but says there were some, including a change in the Affordable Care Act that requires verification of income.  Davis says that provision could save taxpayers billions by giving federal subsidies to those who actually deserve them.

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Statehouse
5:16 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Governor Urged To Act On Steidl Pardon

Randy Steidl
Credit uis

Attorneys for the Center for Wrongful Convictions have sent an open letter to Gov. Pat Quinn in an attempt to push the Democrat into acting on a pardon for Gordon ``Randy'' Steidl.  
The letter dated Wednesday seeks action on an 11-year-old petition.  
The letters says, ``This matter has lingered for far too long. Please do the right thing.''  
It says at the least, Quinn should meet with Steidl in person to explain why he has not acted on Steidl's request while deciding thousands of other clemency petitions since taking office in 2009.  

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Fundraiser - October 31
1:41 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

WUIS Honors NPR Correspondent Kelly McEvers

Kelly McEvers with Tanks
Glen Carey NPR

Join WUIS in honoring Kelly McEvers for her world class reporting on international affairs October 31, 2013 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.  

Learn more about Kelly and read her recent stories.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS or call 217-523-2787.

Kelly previously reported for WUIS and, when vesting family recently, agreed to do this event as a fundraiser to help support her home town public radio station.  There are two ticket levels:

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9:56 am
Thu October 17, 2013

A True Fulks Hero

Lead in text: 
Friday (10/18) the WUIS Bedrock 66 Live concert series presents Robbie Fulks with local guests The Old Fashioneds. Illinois Times Tom Irwin previewed the show in the latest issue. Don't miss what is always a highlight of the Bedrock season, a Robbie performance. BUY TICKETS NOW at 217-523-2787.
The latest piece of provocative songwriting and innovative instrumentation from Chicago-based musician and artist Robbie Fulks, Gone Away Backward, received critical and fan acclaim for the folk-bluegrass playing and the honest portrayal of characters that has supported and populated many of his best works.
Harvest Desk
7:32 am
Thu October 17, 2013

The Long, Slow Decline Of The U.S. Sheep Industry

Once a staple part of the American diet, we’re eating a lot less lamb. The U.S. sheep herd today is just one-tenth the size it was in the 1940's.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Over the last 20 years, the number of sheep in this country has been cut in half. In fact, the number has been declining since the late 1940's, when the American sheep industry hit its peak. Today, the domestic sheep herd is one-tenth the size it was during World War II.

The decline is the result of economic and cultural factors coming together. And it has left ranchers to wonder, “When are we going to hit the bottom?”

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Pensions
6:04 am
Thu October 17, 2013

AFSCME's Henry Bayer Talks Pensions

Henry Bayer
Credit Afscme31.org

Henry Bayer is the Executive Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.  The role puts the union leader in the middle of several battles over benefits and working conditions.  That includes the current dispute involving public pensions.

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Statehouse
5:41 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Ill. Supreme Court Will Hear Lawmaker Pay Dispute

The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to hear Gov. Pat Quinn's appeal of a ruling that his veto of money for lawmaker pay was unconstitutional.
The court issued its one-page order Wednesday without additional comment. A hearing date has not been set.  Quinn vetoed money for lawmakers' salaries in July because he said they didn't deserve to get paid until they address Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.  

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Election 2014
5:27 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Rutherford Expects No Backlash For State GOP Candidates

Credit danrutherford.org

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford doesn’t think he will see a backlash against Republicans in next year’s race for governor. Some recent polls have shown most Americans disapprove the way congressional Republicans handled the budget.
Rutherford says he doesn’t think the conflicts in Washington, D-C will be a factor in a race closer to home - like his bid to win the Republican nomination for governor.

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Statehouse
3:48 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

State Defends Hiring After Madigan Referral

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

Gov. Pat Quinn's administration says there should be no doubt about the qualifications of a former Metra transit employee hired by the state after a referral by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.  
Central Management Services spokesman Mike Claffey  says Patrick Ward worked for 25 years in Chicago's personnel department and has a master's degree with an emphasis in labor relations.  

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Politics
9:27 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Fmr. Congressman Lane Evans Honored

Evans' childhood friend Don Lind, unveiling the sign in Rock Island
Credit WVIK

Former Illinois Congressman Lane Evans has been honored by his hometown. Tuesday, Rock Island re-named a street in the neighborhood where he grew up "Lane Evans Drive." 

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Regional
9:07 am
Wed October 16, 2013

WUIS / SJ-R Business Report: October 16, 2013

Credit SJ-R

The State Journal-Register's Tim Landis talks with Peter Gray about the state's latest work to prepare rail lines near Springfield for higher speed trains, new renderings for residential re-development and progress for retail on the south end of town.

Read the latest business stories in the SJ-R.

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Regional
8:55 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Marking The Former Home Of The Concordia Seminary

From l-r: Stuart Fliege, Rev. Mark Miller and Ralph Woehrmann
Credit WUIS

Longtime residents of the Springfield area will recall the Concordia Theological Seminary.  For about 100 years, it taught those who would become leaders of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  The seminary moved to Indiana in 1975.  

Today, the Department of Corrections uses the buildings for training.  The site also housed what was once known as Illinois State University, during Abraham Lincoln's time.

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Regional
8:33 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Study Reports Numerous Violations At Nuke Plants

Clinton nuclear plant
Credit nrc.gov

A study determined that six Illinois nuclear power plants logged hundreds of safety violations from 2000 through 2012, most of them considered low-level.  
The Government Accounting Office report, based on Nuclear Regulatory Commission figures, shows the number safety violations at nuclear plants across the country vary dramatically from region to region.  
Illinois plants, with 11 reactors, had 1,118 violations, 17 of them considered high-level. By contrast, there were 1,885 mostly low-level violations in the Southeast region, home to 33 reactors.  

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Statehouse
7:58 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Quinn Outpacing GOP Counterparts In Fundraising

Gov. Pat Quinn has $2.9 million in his 2014 campaign fund - more than all four of his Republican rivals combined.

Reports filed with the state late Tuesday show the Chicago Democrat raised about $813,000 during the three-month period ending Sept. 30. He has no major challenger in the March primary since Bill Daley abandoned his bid.

Four Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination.

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Statehouse
7:17 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Treasurer's Office Monitoring Risk Of U.S. Debt Default

Dan Rutherford
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford says he's monitoring the debt ceiling showdown in Washington and the impact that it could have on the state's finances.

Congress is still searching for deal that would raise the country's cap to borrow more money in order to pay its bills.  The government has been partially shut down for weeks as Democrats and Republicans haggle over spending.

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Pension Overhaul
5:07 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Quinn Responds To Pension Absence, Begins Reach Out

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks to leading Democrats in September as he seeks the state party's endorsement in his campaign for re-election; critics say the governor has been concerned about politics, rather than policy, when it comes to pensions -- for example by stripping legislators of their salaries as punishment for not passing a bill, even as he was absent from negotiations.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Pat Quinn went months without meeting with members of the special legislative committee formed to draft a new pension plan, but this month he has begun to reach out.

It was Quinn's idea to form a conference committee, to bridge differences between the House and Senate over how to reduce Illinois' $100 billion pension debt.

But the ten members of that panel say other than phone calls welcoming them to the committee, he was absent from their talks from June on, leading to criticisms like this, from Rep. Jil Tracy, a Republican from Quincy.

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Statehouse
1:30 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Cullerton Says Pension Issue Could Bypass Committee

Sen. John Cullerton
Credit Illinois Senate

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says the state's pension problem could be addressed in the fall legislative session even if a committee working on it remains split.  
The Chicago Democrat tells The Associated Press in an interview that lawmakers could bypass the committee and call a vote through another legislative route.  
An AP survey found that five of the pension committee's 10 members still had concerns with a proposed $138 billion savings plan. The Legislature cannot consider a committee proposal unless it is signed by six members.  

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Local Artists
10:33 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Mayosky Plans Cross-Country Trip Painting & Filming About Rt. 66

Mural in Springfield by Mayosky, he's calling it the start of his project
Credit Michael Mayosky

A Springfield artist known for his murals is hoping to embark on a journey across the country, Illinois to LA - painting over 10 murals along the way. His rendering of a young Abe Lincoln adorns the side of a restaurant and bar in downtown Springfield, and Mike Mayosky hopes to share his work with cities along the rest of Route 66. Furthermore, he's hoping to try his hand at documentary film-making with a production about the journey. He joined us to talk about that proposal and what inspired it: 

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Pension Overhaul - Updated
7:23 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Gov. Quinn "AWOL" From Pension Committee's Talks

The ten members of the bipartisan, bicameral conference committee formed to come up with a pension package gather in Chicago in July, for one of the panel's few public meetings. Gov. Pat Quinn did not attend.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

As he runs for re-election, Gov. Pat Quinn is staking a lot on getting something done with pensions. He making a show of asking the state Supreme Court let him cancel legislators' salaries until it's done, and he says he won't deal with other major issues before the General Assembly -- like using tax credits to keep ADM headquartered in Illinois -- until there's what he calls a "comprehensive pension solution." But it's hard to tell just what that means. Most of the ten legislators he tasked with crafting that solution don't even seem to know. They say he's been largely absent ...

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Harvest Desk
1:38 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Shipping Containers Can Open Export Market To Farmers

Agribusiness giant ADM recently opened a 275-acre container shipping rail yard near Decatur, Ill., in part to export more grain.
Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

A huge new rail yard has been buzzing on the outskirts of Decatur, Ill. Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) recently opened the 275-acre facility that would be at home at any major port city on the coast. But it’s in the heart of Illinois farm country because farmers have been taking advantage of a new method of shipping out their products.

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Pensions
3:33 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Pension Committee Divided On A Fix

Credit wuis

The Illinois Legislature's fall veto session is just a week away, but a committee tasked with the solving the state's enormous pension problem is divided.  
An Associated Press survey of the 10-member committee found five Democrats support a plan that would save the state $138 billion over 30 years. The other half consists of four Republicans and one Democrat. They say they have major concerns about the proposal.  
The Legislature cannot consider the proposal unless it's signed by six committee members.  

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Statehouse
11:50 am
Mon October 14, 2013

LINK Card Outage Resolved

Credit dhs

Shoppers in Illinois and 16 other states should be able to use their debit-style food stamp cards after vendor Xerox Corp. restored service following a system outage.  
Januari Smith is spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services. She says people in Illinois began reporting problems using their LINK cards Saturday morning.  

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Statehouse
11:44 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Member Of State Panel Resigns After Hosting Political Fundraiser

Sen. Martin Sandoval

A member of a board that helps choose engineers to
design Illinois roads has resigned after he co-hosted a political fundraiser for the chairman of the state Senate's Transportation Committee. 

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