News

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner's right-to-work proposal will get a hearing today in the Illinois House. Unions are putting pressure on lawmakers to vote against the proposal.

Though the Illinois House is set to vote on the Republican governor's idea of local right-to-work zones, it's not because Rauner's pushing for a vote.

Gov. Rauner unveiled the concept in late January, during an appearance in Decatur, and has talked about it a lot since. But no actual legislation's been introduced. There are only weeks left in the legislative session.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

The former chairman of Amtrak told Illinois lawmakers Wednesday that service cuts are inevitable should Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed 40 percent funding cut takes effect.

Fifty-six Amtrak trains run daily in Illinois. They run from Chicago to St. Louis, to Carbondale, to Quincy and up to Milwaukee, and more travelers are riding them.

Amtrak's former chairman Thomas Carper says he can't say how many, or which of those routes will be dropped.

But he says that will happen if Illinois doesn't come through with about $42 million.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

The Illinois State Museum, located next to the statehouse in Springfield, is being renamed for the late U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon.

Dixon passed away last year, but he left behind a legacy of service and the ability to work in a bipartisan manner.

Several Illinois leaders gathered for the dedication ceremony. House Speaker Michael Madigan started as a state representative in 1971, when Dixon was a state senator.

"He was always a joy to be with," Madigan said. "Always a laugh, old story, reminiscing about whatever it may be which concerned a bottle of beer."

flickr/dborman

Illinois House Democrats continued to advance budget means that would restore funding to human services programs that the governor proposes cutting.

Republicans continue to question Democrats' motive. They say it's more of a partisan play than a real budget vote.

GOP Rep. Ron Sandack from Downers Grove complained that the measures did not go through typical budget procedures.

"We gotta get past this and actually engage in a budget process that's inclusive, bipartisan and actually moves the needle," Sandack said. "This does nothing but waste time."

WUIS Education Desk logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

All signs point to more charter schools in our future. So I got a crash course from Christopher Lubienski. Click below to listen.

IHPA

If you live in Springfield, you may have noticed there's a lot of empty space downtown that goes unused. But some people are trying to change that, by rehabbing historic buildings and turning them into residential space or businesses. Illinois tops the lists of states that used a federal tax incentive to rehab buildings that are privately owned and on the list of historical sites. Projects last year include an overhaul of Chicago's Wrigley Building, and Peoria's Hotel Pere Marquette. Carol Dyson is a tax incentives coordinator and architect with the state's historic preservation agency.

Grow Springfield

Bringing together those who care about community gardens and urban farming is the goal of Grow Springfield.  A network of organizations are working to support existing community gardens and open opportunities for more.  

Lindsay Record with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Joe Eby of  the Springfield Urban League join us to talk more about Grow Springfield.  Record says it got rolling with a USDA grant:
 

Red Molly 5/22 Bedrock 66 Live!

May 13, 2015

Friday, May 22 at Homespun Republic, 8 pm with Tim Shelton

Click Here for Tickets

"From Day One, Red Molly conjured musical magic. A decade later, they've honed their songwriting, their covers, their playing and, above all, their harmonies into something joyful and sublime."
-John Platt, WFUV FM, Sunday Breakfast

Illinois State Senator Pat McGuire headshot
ilga.gov

High school students taking advanced placement exams know they have to score at least a 3 on a 5-point scale to pass. What they don't know is which Illinois universities will give them credit for that score.

Credit Little_brown_bat;_close-up_of_nose_with_fungus,_New_York,_Oct._2008._(5765048289).jpg

Illinois wildlife officials say a fungal disease that's killed millions of bats in the U.S. has turned up in Adams, Carroll and Pike counties.  

 That brings to 11 the number of counties where white-nose syndrome has been confirmed since it was first found in Illinois two years ago.  

Named for the white fungus that appears on the animals' noses, the disease was first detected in New York in 2006. It's extremely lethal, killing 90 percent or more of hibernating bats in some caves.  

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Even though John Cullerton went along with the pension law that on Friday was found by the state's high court to be unconstitutional, the Illinois Senate President had always favored another approach. Now he's saying (well, not exactly in these exact words ... ) "I told you so." In this episode of The Players -- a podcast about who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to -- Amanda Vinicky spoke with the Senate's top Democrat about his plans to try again.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Illinois House today held a special hearing known as a committee on the whole, centered on part of Gov. Bruce Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda" -- this time, centered on what business interests call "tort reform." Critics say it's tort deform.

Sangamon Auditorium

As the founder of The Byrds, Roger McGuinn is firmly established as an indisputable industry icon.

From his signature twelve-string Rickenbacker sound to his instantly recognizable vocals on hits like “Turn, Turn, Turn,” “Eight Miles High” and “Mr. Tambourine Man," McGuinn didn’t just make music; he made history.

That feeling continues today as Roger offers concerts that are as mesmerizing and magical as ever. He delivers the gift of an evening with a master that is as intimate as it is spellbinding.

Tim Landis headshot
SJ-R.com

Bill Wheelhouse and Tim Landis talk about a public forum this week on plans to improve the neighborhood near Lincoln's home.

www.imrf.org/volunteering

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund – a local government pension fund, is pushing an effort this year to get more of their members to help out others. We spoke with the head of IMRF, Louis Kosiba, about it:

For more info, click here.

ISM

Paul Mickey Science Series: The End of an Era? Early Holocene Caribou Hunting Strategies in the Upper Great Lakes

  • Location: ISM Research & Collections Center, Springfield
  • Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Presented by Dr. John M. O’Shea, Curator of Great Lakes Archaeology, Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, University of Michigan

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Illinois voters passed a constitutional amendment last year to ensure crime victims' rights. Now lawmakers are working to make the criminal code match up.

Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins fights for victims' rights because her sister, brother-in-law and their child were murdered. She was denied the right to provide a victim impact statement. Even though Illinois law allowed impact statements at the time, it didn't allow victims any recourse if they were denied.

agr.ga.gov

Mitsubishi is recalling more than 130,000 cars because of two separate issues that could lead to reduced visibility for drivers and raise the risk of a crash.
 
 Nearly 77,000 cars are being recalled because the windshield defroster might fail as a result of a faulty blower motor. The cars affected include Lancer model years 2009 to 2011, Lancer Sportback model years 2010 to 2011, Lancer Evolution model years 2010 to 2011 and Outlander Sport model year 2011.
 

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

The Illinois Cancer Action Network is calling attention to breast and cervical cancer screenings, especially as some of those programs face cuts.

The governor's proposed budget would reduce funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings by 71 percent. Democratic Rep. Mike Smiddy of Hillsdale is opposed. He says his wife is a cancer survivor, and without early screening his children might not have a mother.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

It took legislators years of talking about Illinois' pension problem before they did much about it. There was a 2011 law that affects state employees, university professors, and public school teachers hired after that time. Then in 2013 they passed a law that reduced current workers' and retirees' benefits. Nearly immediately, workers and their unions sued, calling the law unconstitutional. 

Amanda Vinicky

Credit ratings agencies have had swift reactions to Friday's state Supreme Court decision that found Illinois' 2013 pension law unconstitutional.

Illinois' was expecting to save billions by reducing state workers, teachers' and university employees' retirement benefits. But not anymore, thanks to an unanimous decision by the state's high court tossing the law.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says the Illinois Supreme Court's decision striking down the state's public pension overhaul was ``fair and right.''  

The Republican governor says he has long believed that the 2013 law aimed at reducing a $111 billion shortfall was unconstitutional.  

That was the view of the justices who unanimously ruled against it Friday. They said the measure violated the state constitution because it would leave pension promises ``diminished or impaired.''  

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the 2013 pension legislation that would have cut retirement benefits for state wokers.  Meanwhile, the House began debating the governor’s "Turnaround Agenda."  And Governor Rauner personally addressed the Chicago City Council.  Illinois Issues Executive Editor Jamey Dunn joins the panel discussion.

Lloyd Karmeier
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court has struck down legislation that tried to cut retirement benefits for thousands of state workers.

In a unanimous decision, the high court says lawmakers overstepped their power when they sought to cut pension benefits for state employees, university workers and public school teachers.

Illinois pensions are protected by the state Constitution, but the state argued a financial emergency meant those protections could be disregarded.

(This story first appeared on the Illinois Issues blog last summer that appeared to set the stage for overturning the pension law.  Jamey Dunn looked at what other choices remain for state leaders)

McFarland

Even if you're not a baseball fan, you are probably familiar with Jackie Robinson.  He broke the color barrier in the major leagues when he played with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.  

But that was in the National League.  Can you name the first African American to play in the junior circuit? And did you realize one team waited 12 years after Robinson before putting a black player on the field?

Springfield's new mayor is promising to work in a collaborative fashion to address the city's needs.  Jim Langfelder took the oath of office Thursday afternoon in a ceremony at Sangamon Auditorium.

He says his administration will be transparent and will work for all parts of the city.  He says his top priority is stabilizing the utility CWLP.  He also called for establishing wi fi downtown and developing a second water source.

WUIS

It's time for THE SCENE! This week Scott Faingold and I are joined by Aaron Phillips, who is an integral part of the local hip hop scene and hosts Torch Tuesday nights at Bar None in Springfield. He told us much more though, so take a listen to this week's edition:

Events discussed this week include:

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

After partisan debating over the budget, Democrats and Republicans came together in America's pastime.

Lawmakers put aside partisan differences to play softball. Forget Republicans versus Democrats; this match pits Senate against the House.

Rep. Anthony DeLuca, a Democrat from Chicago Heights, was named Most Valuable Player for the House. DeLuca says the annual game is a way for lawmakers to become teammates rather than opponents.

"There's a lot of camaraderie. It's good," he said. "People that don't normally talk to each other are talking, and it's good for that."

Univ. of Illinois

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees has voted to give retiring President Robert Easter a bonus as he prepares to retire.

Easter will receive the additional $167,200 even though he is leaving office May 18.

Board Chairman Ed McMillan says the award was performance based and a part of the president's contract.

"So it wasn't a raise it was actually the payment of the performance bonus objectives which was established at the beginning of the year," McMillan said.

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