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Regional
6:56 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Three Locals Among Those Charged With Medicaid Fraud

Credit ago.mo.gov

Three area residents are among more than two dozen Illinois residents who have been charged with health care fraud stemming from federal investigations.

Federal prosecutors Thursday announced charges against 29 people who allegedly abused a health care program funded by Medicaid. 

The program pays for personal assistants to help Medicaid recipients stay in their homes.   The Feds says the defendants allegedly submitted false claims for hours worked when they had other full time jobs, were in jail or the client was hospitalized.

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Statehouse
4:43 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Legislator Pay: Too Much or Too Little?

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A state senator and candidate for higher office on Thursday sought some attention for giving up a portion of his pay. This comes after Illinois lawmakers — for the first time in years — did not vote to symbolically cut their own pay. This form of salary self-denial has become popular in Illinois, but its roots are much deeper than that.

The base salary for a member of the Illinois General Assembly is $67,836 a year.

During the Great Recession, when Illinois’ finances were tanking, lawmakers decided to give some of that back.

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Health Desk
4:57 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

St. John's Hospital To Lay Off 43 Managers

Credit St. John's Hospital

St. John's Hospital in Springfield has announced it will lay off 43 managers over the next few months.  

President and Chief Executive Charles Lucore  says cutting management costs will help preserve the quality of patient care.  

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register quotes him as saying the decision was driven by financial pressures from the Affordable Care Act as well as the lower reimbursements.  

The 43 positions represent about 1 percent of the hospital's workforce.  

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Regional
3:58 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Intent of Inspector General To Curb Corruption In City Operations

Credit springfield.il.us

Springfield officials are considering adding a position that will take a closer look at misbehavior in city government.

The description of the investigator general job is still pretty vague, but the city has hired a consultant to outline how it will work.   City council members pointed to incidents such as the police file shredding scandal to show the need for the post.  

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Grandstand
11:11 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Robin Thicke Coming To Illinois State Fair

Robin Thicke on the cover of Blurred Lines.
Credit the artist

Pop singer Robin Thicke will perform Sunday, Aug. 17 at the Illinois State Fair Grandstand.

The booking, announced Thursday, is the latest in a lineup that already includes Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen, Steely Dan, and Pitbull.

Thicke is known for hits such as "Blurred Lines," "Lost Without U," and "Give It 2 U."

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Voting
11:04 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Legislation Aims To Preserve Schools As Polling Places

Credit wikimedia

  Illinois lawmakers are looking to keep schools available as polling places on election day. It comes as some election authorities move to what critics say are less accessible locations.

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Regional
9:57 am
Thu June 5, 2014

SOHO Expands In Multiple Directions

Credit SOHO Facebook

SOHO music festival will take place in downtown Springfield this weekend.  It's the tenth year for the festival.  Lee Strubinger sat down with Eric Welch, the executive director of SOHO music festival.  Charity is the main caveat for SOHO.  And Welch says the theme this year is "bigger."

Here's a link to SOHO information and here's the line-up.

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Arts
7:17 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Jazz Trio Wins Award For Springfield Recording

Credit Credit http://werticocainandgray.wordpress.com

A Chicago-based jazz trio has earned an award for an album recorded live during a performance at a Springfield theater.  

The trio of Paul Wertico, David Cain and Larry Gray recorded their album ``Sound Portraits'' last summer at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. It won top honors for a live performance at the annual Independent Music Awards given out on Tuesday.  

Wertico is a seven-time Grammy Award winner who teaches jazz studies at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He says the performance was 100 percent improvised and came ``spontaneously from the heart.''  

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Harvest Desk
6:38 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Canada Jonesing For Piece Of American (Hemp) Pie

Canada legalized hemp in 1998 and many companies there are anxiously awaiting cultivation in the U.S. At Centennial Seeds in Colorado, growers have started planting.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. market for foods and beauty products that contain hemp is growing, but American manufacturers that use hemp have their hands tied. The crop is still illegal to cultivate, according to federal laws, which means the current American hemp industry, estimated at $500 million per year, runs on foreign hemp.

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Legislation Would Make Charter Schools Follow State Law On Special Ed, ELL

The Illinois General Assembly has approved legislation intended to make charter schools follow state laws for special education. But some lawmakers see this as the latest attack on charter schools.

  Charter schools already have to follow federal laws on special education and for students who are just learning English. But according to the Illinois State Board of Education, a "handful" say they were exempt from stricter state requirements.

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Regional
9:00 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Juvenile Sex Trafficking Happening Here

Poster for Our Children Are Not For Sale awareness campaign.
Credit chicagodrugwar.info

When you hear about sex trafficking, often times what comes to mind is international smuggling of women. That may be happening, but there is also a problem of local teenagers getting used in sex trafficking within Illinois.

"Our Children Are Not For Sale" is the name of an awareness campaign to make people aware of what could be happening to homeless and runaway youth.   Bill Wheelhouse spoke with Stacy Sloan, Human Trafficking program manager at the Department of Children and Family Services.  She sheds some light on the issue.

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'Credit Negative'
8:46 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Moody's: Budget Could Undo 'Significant Progress'

"I don't know how you can blame us or the governor for a negative bond rating," Senate President John Cullerton says. "The Republicans are the ones saying, 'Don't raise the taxes, we don't need that. Make structural changes,' whatever that means."
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The credit rating agency Moody's says Illinois is at risk of undermining progress toward better finances. It says the failure to extend current income tax rates could lead to a worsening deficit.

Moody's says because lawmakers failed to stop an automatic tax cut scheduled for the end of the year, Illinois could have to increase its backlog of unpaid bills. The state already has the lowest credit rating in the nation.

Republicans say this shows Illinois needs to further reduce costs, but Democratic Senate President John Cullerton says there isn't that much left to cut.

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Harvest Desk
5:34 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Now Appearing: Hemp, For The First Time In Decades

At Centennial Seeds in Lafayette, Colo., Ben Holmes is testing hemp varieties. Holmes made his name distributing and breeding strains of medical and recreational marijuana, but recently has become a prominent figure in Colorado’s fledgling hemp industry.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

A handful of farmers are set to plant the country’s first hemp crop in decades, despite federal regulations that tightly restrict the plant’s cultivation.

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Regional
4:21 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Schock Dedicates Pavillion In Western Illinois, Hopes To Establish National Park

Credit Amanda Vinicky

An effort to create a national park at former town site in western Illinois remains stalled in the US Senate.  Congressman Aaron Schock, a Republican, is part of a bi-partisan group of lawmakers seeking the designation for New Philadelphia.

That site in Pike County marks the first town in the country founded by an African American.  Frank McWorter was a freed slave who created the community in 18-36.
Schock says creating a national park would allow more people to know the story of McWorter.  He says it work in tandem with Lincoln attractions in Springfield.

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Arts
10:34 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Ringing In The 53rd International Carillon Festival This Week

Credit Carillon-Rees.org/SCVB

Springfield will play host to a world class music event starting Wednesday.   The International Carillon Festival brings some of the best on the instrument to Washington Park.  

Springfield Park District Carillonneur Robin Austin will be among the performers, along with Christian McWhirter, who researched music to be performed Wednesday night, a program titled "Lincoln and the Music He Loved."

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Regional
6:22 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Pike County State's Attorney Abruptly Resigns

Credit Pike County

The Pike County State's Attorney abruptly resigned yesterday, prior to a hearing regarding criminal charges against the Pike County Sheriff.

Media reports say that State's Attorney Carrie Boyd left a voice mail for the Pike County Board Chairman resigning. Boyd reportedly cited family and personal issues.

She had filed the charges against Sheriff Paul Petty.   Petty is charged with felony misconduct for allegedly ordering a body to be embalmed before a toxicology test could be performed in a 2012 heroin death.

A special prosecutor will be named for the case.

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Business
5:25 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Ill. Coal Industry: EPA Emission Regulations "Unfair"

Credit flickr/oatsy40

The head of an Illinois coal industry trade group is panning President Barack Obama's plans for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.  

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the proposed regulations on Monday in an effort to cut power-plant carbon dioxide emissions. The Illinois Coal Association's Phil Gonet calls them ``unfair.'' He says the rules could squeeze the supply of U.S. electricity, raising rates.

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Statehouse
5:22 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Term Limits Push Has Enough Signatures, But Lawsuit Still Threatens

Movers load a box containing the nearly 600,000 signatures gathered in an effort to impose term limits on Illinois lawmakers.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois officials say a citizens' initiative to put term limits on state legislators has gathered enough signatures to appear on the ballot. But there are other roadblocks before that can happen.

  Collecting nearly twice the number of required signatures paid off for the Term Limits and Reform group.

Rupert Borgsmiller, director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, says a sample validated roughly 61 percent of those signatures. He says he expects to present those findings to the board for final approval on June 17.

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Election 2014
5:16 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Rauner Says He Won't Push To Repeal Same Sex Marriage Law

Bruce Rauner
Credit WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says Illinois voters should have decided whether same-sex marriage should be legal in the state. But now that it's the law he won't advocate changing it.  
Illinois' law allowing same-sex marriage took effect Sunday. Gay rights groups say Rauner has opposed efforts for the law and has previously vowed to work against them. 

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Statehouse
1:57 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Unfinished Budget To Become Campaign Issue

Senate President John Cullerton speaks with reporters at the close of the Illinois General Assembly's spring session.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

With the Illinois General Assembly’s spring session over, lawmakers aren’t scheduled to return to the Capitol until November. Two months of fierce debate over state spending and taxes culminated in a stalemate, so they passed a placeholder budget that will likely have to be revisited at the end of the year.

What they did — and more importantly, what they didn't do — will shape the political conversation heading into this fall’s general election.

This year began with Democrats outlining an ambitious, progressive agenda for Illinois.

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Statehouse
6:56 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Legislative Recap: What Lawmakers Did & Didn't Do

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Legislature adjourned its spring session having passed a new state budget and other key measures, but leaving some business undone. Here's a look at what passed and what didn't:  
     BILLS SENT TO GOV. PAT QUINN:  
Budget: A roughly $35.7 billion budget for 2015 keeps funding flat for schools and most state agencies. Majority Democrats acknowledged the budget is ``incomplete'' because it postpones tough votes about whether to slash spending or find new revenue until after November's election.  

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Arts
10:48 pm
Sun June 1, 2014

42nd Street At The Little Theatre On The Square

Credit thelittletheatre.org

Sullivan, Illinois is quite a distance from Broadway.  But this small east central Illinois community is the unlikely home of the only professional theatre between Chicago and St. Louis.   The Little Theatre On The Square has been home to quality productions for nearly 60 years.  

Starting this week, another great show is on the schedule and it features Springfield's own Gus Gordon.  He'll play Julian Marsh in 42nd Street.  

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Budget FY15
10:10 pm
Sun June 1, 2014

Interfund Borrowing No One's First Choice For Budgeting

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  The budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly does not rely on extending the 2011 income tax hike, as originally planned by Democratic leadership. Instead, it's based on state government borrowing from itself.

Instead of making the five percent income tax rate permanent or chopping away at government programs, lawmakers opted to fill a massive hole in state revenues by doing something called "interfund borrowing."

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Statehouse
2:45 am
Sat May 31, 2014

General Assembly Adjourns With Much Undone

House Speaker Michael Madigan addresses his colleagues at the close of the Illinois General Assembly's spring session.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The General Assembly finished its legislative session shortly after midnight Saturday, approving a billion-dollar road construction program.

Democrats started the session with an ambitious agenda: raise the minimum wage, boost college assistance for low-income students, maybe even change Illinois' flat tax into a graduated one. In the end, none of that happened.

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Statehouse
6:37 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Quinn: Lawmakers "Didn't Get The Job Done" On Budget

Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit WUIS/Brian Mackey

Gov. Pat Quinn says the budget that lawmakers approved ``didn't get the job done.''  

The Chicago Democrat wanted to extend the state's income tax increase to avoid budget cuts, including layoffs. However, lawmakers sent him a spending plan on Friday that Democrats acknowledge puts off tough decisions about whether to slash spending or find new sources of revenue.  

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Statehouse
3:22 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

ALPLM Legislation Won't Be Called For Senate Vote This Spring

Credit ALPLM

Any change in oversight for the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will have to wait.   Legislation that would have taken the facility away from the authority of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has stalled in the Illinois Senate.  

Rikeesha Phelon, a spokesperson for the Senate President, says the measure won't be called this spring.  This decision comes after calls for more study.  The plan could be revived in the fall session, following the election later this year.

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State Week
2:27 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Listen To State Week - May 30, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

As the Spring Session nears its end, the House and Senate agree on a state spending plan, but a decision on keeping the state income tax at its current level will probably be held off until after November.   Also, House Speaker Madigan suggests divorcing the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum from the Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency.

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Budget FY15
12:01 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Republicans Decry Democratic "Playbook," Call For End Of Lame Duck Tax Decisions

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  The budget being expected to be pushed through the General Assembly Friday does not count on extending the 2011 income tax hike. But Republicans say they can "see through" the Democrats' plan to revisit the income tax after the November election.

After Democratic leadership gave up on attempting to keep Illinois income tax at five percent, the House pushed through what Democrats call a "middle of the road" budget. It taps into other revenue sources and relies on delaying payments to vendors in order to keep spending relatively flat.

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Regional
11:47 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Sangamon County Issues First Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Tom and Davyd (signing) Daly get their marriage license.
Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Friday is the first day same-sex couples can get their marriage licenses in Sangamon County.  County Clerk Joe Aeillo says he decided to issue licenses ahead of a new law to accommodate ceremonies taking place this weekend.

Tom and Davyd Daly of Springfield were the first and only couple waiting in line to get their marriage license when the doors at the county clerk’s office opened at 8:30 this morning.  They’ve been together for more than 20 years, and have been in a civil union since 2011.

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Arts
8:00 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Theatre In The Park New Season Begins

Theatre In The Park
Credit Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau

If taking in the arts in the great outdoors interests you, check out Theatre in the Park at Lincoln's  New Salem State Historic Site in Petersburg. The Diary of Anne Frank kicks off the new season Friday night, the first of 6 performances.

Kari Catton is Executive Director of Theatre In The Park.  "It's a piece of history that I believe everybody should know about.  And when we choose our plays out there, we do think about 'Would Abraham Lincoln like to have seen this play?"

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