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Need for Speed
11:36 am
Tue December 31, 2013

70 mph New Year's Day? Not So Fast ...

This Illinois Department of Transportation map shows where the speed limit increases to 70 mph as of Jan. 1, 2014.
Credit IDOT

Beginning Jan. 1, the maximum speed limit in Illinois will increase to 70 miles an hour. But you might want to hold off on the throttle for at least a few weeks.

While the new 70 mph law technically goes into effect at midnight on New Year's Day, it's going to take the Illinois Department of Transportation a little while to get all the new speed limit signs put up. Until then, IDOT spokeswoman Paris Earvin says, "We really encourage motorists to obey the posted speed limits."

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Regional
3:21 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Police Concerned About Concealed Carry

Credit flickr/creative commons

Illinoisans can start applying for permits to carry concealed guns later this week.  And some cops are already worried about the new law.

"They don’t know how this will all roll out, and they’re worried about every one of their normal encounters - whether it be a domestic disturbance call, a traffic stop - uh, now potentially having additional weapons," said Colonel Marc Maton of the Illinois State Police.

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Statehouse
2:09 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

State Spending To Be Part Of Tax Returns

Credit Illinois Department of Revenue

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says Illinois residents will get a breakdown of state spending in income tax returns received in 2014. 

Topinka announced the initiative on Monday. She says her office will also make the information available online.   In a statement, Topinka says there shouldn't be a mystery when it comes to public dollars in the state.  

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Regional
9:53 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Higher Speed Limits in Illinois in 2014

A map of 70 MPH speed limits.   Drivers in the Springfield area will still have a speed limit of 65 mph around the city.    The lower speed limit affects motorists from the south side of the city to the northwest side of Springfield.

Politics
5:45 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Audio Of Blagojevich Appeals Hearing Now Available

Credit WUIS file photo

The sometimes contentious and surprising audio from the appeal hearing of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is now online.

Attorneys spent an hour arguing Blagojevich’s appeal on December 13th.  Leonard Goodman told judges that Blagojevich never intended to commit fraud, he thought he was engaging in political horse trading.

That led Judge Frank Easterbrook to repeatedly ask Blagojevich’s attorney about a case called  Cheek.

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State Week
12:37 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Listen To State Week - December 27, 2013

This week, an overview of some of the top stories from the past year.

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Lincoln
5:16 am
Fri December 27, 2013

"Lincoln" Movie Exhibit Opens Next Month

Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln

Costumes, furniture and other props used in Steven Spielberg's 2012 film ``Lincoln'' will go on display in Springfield next month.  

The items will be featured in an exhibit that opens Jan. 17 at Union Station, across the street from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports the exhibition is called: ``Lincoln: History to Hollywood.''  

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Business
5:13 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Suit Filed In Chicago Over Target Security Breach

Credit flickr

At least one Illinois resident has joined those suing Target after the retail giant disclosed hackers stole millions of customer accounts.  

Chicago-area woman Chandra McPherson is the named plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Chicago. Similar lawsuits have been filed in other states.  

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Arts
2:14 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Illinois Poet Laureate Puts Own Stamp On Job

Kevin Stein

Kevin Stein has a daunting task: following two Pulitzer Prize winners as the poet laureate of Illinois.  

Ten years into the job, the Bradley University professor is putting his own signature on the unpaid position that's considered crucial to widening appreciation for the art form. He's created a state poetry website and donates his own money to buy poetry books for libraries across the state. He also offers advice to young poets.  

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Business
9:10 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Quad Cities Vying For Boeing Plant

A Boeing plant in Everett, WA

Northwestern Illinois officials want to team up with their Iowa counterparts to woo a Boeing plant that could bring more than 8,500 jobs to the Quad Cities.  

The (Moline) Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1c7choJ ) the Bi-State Regional Commission sent a letter to the two states' governors asking them to promote a regional bid for the multibillion dollar assembly plant.  
The letter was signed by community leaders in Moline, Rock Island, East Moline and Rock Island County in Illinois along with Iowa officials from Davenport, Bettendorf and Scott County.  

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Statehouse
6:16 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Quinn Won't Commit To Term Limits

Credit wikimedia

Gov. Pat Quinn is a longtime advocate for term limits, but has yet to commit to one himself.  
The Chicago Democrat tells The Associated Press in a year-end interview that he won't presume a win in his 2014 re-election bid and is taking it one term at a time.  

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Statehouse
6:03 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Governor Quinn Grants More Clemency Requests

Thirty-eight people have been granted clemency by Gov. Pat Quinn for crimes that date back decades.  
The Democratic governor announced yesterday that he also denied another 129 petitions for clemency.  
Crimes committed by those who were pardoned include theft, possession of a controlled substance, burglary and forgery, and solicitation of prostitutes.  

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Regional
5:57 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Amusement Ride Malfunction Injures Seven

Credit flickr

Seven people were treated and released from a northern Illinois hospital after receiving minor injuries when an indoor amusement park ride malfunctioned.   Joseph Hook is acting general manager at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort in Utica.  

He says the people _ a mix of children and adults _ reported aches and pains on Christmas Eve after an unspecified malfunction of a tea cup ride in the hotel's indoor amusement park.  
The amusement park that's about 80 miles southwest of Chicago has about 10 rides.  

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Apollo 8
8:27 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Astronaut Recreates Christmas Eve Broadcast in Chicago

The crew of Apollo 8 captured "Earthrise" on Christmas Eve 1968.
Credit NASA

Retired astronaut Jim Lovell was in Chicago Monday to recreate Apollo 8's famous Christmas Eve broadcast from 1968. The original transmission came at the end of a tumultuous year.

With a seemingly intractable war in Vietnam, riots in American cities, and the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy — things were not looking up at Christmas 1968. It was against this backdrop that we heard from the three men aboard the first manned flight to the moon.

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Regional
4:27 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

A "Windup" Toy Story

Dean Rockwell
Rich Egger/WIUM

Dean Rockwell of Macomb has a pretty good idea what he will receive for one of his Christmas gifts each year.

“The first year I was married, my wife Jan bought me a Santa Claus windup toy. The reindeer looks like a moose pulling the sleigh,” Rockwell said with a chuckle.

“And I just enjoyed it so very much -- it was kind of like a throwback to my childhood. She got all enthused and has been buying me windup toys ever since.”

Dean and Jan Rockwell have been married for more than 40 years so his windup toys have grown into a fairly sizeable collection.

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Regional
2:30 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Sangamon Co. Sheriff's Office To Help With Concealed Carry Applications

Credit flickr

A central Illinois sheriff is offering to help residents apply online for concealed-carry firearms permits.  
The Sangamon County sheriff's office said Monday that, beginning Jan. 6, residents can use a computer in the department's records lobby. The department also will provide technical assistance. 

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Statehouse
11:00 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Former DCFS Director Calica Dies

Richard Calica
Credit state.il.us

The former head of Illinois’ child welfare department died overnight.

Richard Calica resigned his position with the state Department of Children and Family Services last month.

He’d been diagnosed with cancer and had undergone surgery.  When he resigned - Governor Pat Quinn praised Calica for adding more than 100 child welfare investigators to the department.

Calica’s chief of staff took over the department on an interim basis when he resigned.

Calica was 67.

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Illinois Supreme Court
6:30 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Insurance Company Must Defend Policyholder

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court has put a limit on just who can be excluded from a car insurance policy.

Ana Reyes is being sued for allegedly hitting two people with her car — injuring a mother and killing the woman's four-year-old.

In the lawsuit that followed, Reyes’ insurance company argued it had no duty to defend Reyes or pay the victims.

Insurance company American Access listed Reyes as the policyholder, but it also excluded her from her own policy, and made another man the primary driver.

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Eric 'Guitar' Davis
5:41 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Blues Musician With Local Ties Shot Dead

Eric "Guitar" Davis at the 2010 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
Credit Bob Kieser/Blues Blast Magazine via Illinois Central Blues Club

A Chicago blues guitarist who regularly performed in Springfield has been shot and killed.

Chicago police say officers found 41-year-old Eric "Guitar" Davis shot multiple times inside a vehicle in the South Shore neighborhood on Thursday morning.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Davis had spent the previous evening hanging out at a North Side blues bar called Kingston Mines.

Davis played with a group called the Troublemakers and was a fixture on Chicago's blues scene.

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State Week
2:33 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Listen To State Week - December 20, 2013

This week's topics include Governor Quinn's agreement with AFSCME on how to cull Medicaid rolls, a change to how the state will accept concealed carry applications, and Archer Daniel Midland's decision to keep its corporate HQ in Illinois.

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Term Limits
12:52 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

It Would Take Four Wins For Quinn To Grab Longest-Serving Governor Title

Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Gov. Pat Quinn is leaving the door open to running for governor three times, but even that would not put him on pace to set a record as the state's longest-serving chief executive.

It may seem a bit premature to think about. Though it's expected Quinn will be Democrats' nominee in 2014, he could well be unseated and never clinch a full, second term as governor.

But when a reporter asked about it, Quinn refused to say if this will be his last time running.

"I think you have to pass a term limit amendment, then that starts the clock," he said.

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pension
6:39 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Illinois Pensions Don't Sell Assets In 2013

Credit SRS

Officials say sufficient state funding the last two years means key state-employee pension funds didn't have to sell assets to meet payments.  
 The State Retirement Systems covers pensions for ex-state employees, judges and lawmakers. A report Thursday by Auditor General William Holland says SRS withdrew $30 million in the 2013 fiscal year _ down from nearly $250 million the year before.  
 William Atwood heads the Illinois State Board of Investment, which manages the SRS portfolios.  
 He says the large withdrawal in 2012 was because of state underfunding in 2011.  

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Economy
5:48 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

State Miniumum Wage Either Job Booster Or Job Killer

Credit Amanda Vinicky

  As he campaigns for re-election, Governor Pat Quinn is renewing a push for a hike in the minimum wage.

Illinois' $8.25 minimum wage bests the federal rate by a dollar.Gov. Quinn and other Democrats want to raise it higher; the governor's calling it to go up to $10.

"When we put more purchasing power in the hands of hard-working people, they're not going to admire the money in the bank vault," he says. "They're going to go out and spend that money at stores in their neighborhood, to help that consumer demand, that creates more jobs."

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Regional
7:18 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Springfield & Chatham Reach Tentative Settlement

Credit CWLP

Springfield and Chatham hope to approval a final settlement in the coming month regarding a water contract dispute between the two communities.

This will put an end to a lawsuit over Chatham's decision to break its water contract with CWLP.

Under the deal, Chatham will pay Springfield a half million dollars in damages and it will pay the city $200,000 for a long term lease of ground where Chatham has a pump station.

In addition, Chatham will allow Springfield to transport water through Chatham's water system to Loami.

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Regional
10:15 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Town Faces Uncertain Future As It Deals With Pollution From The Past

The slag pile remains from years of industry in DePue
Lee Strubinger/WUIS

An Illinois town that, for decades, benefited from industry has seen that prosperity go away.  While the jobs have left, the community is left dealing with the aftermath.

Lee Strubinger visited the small town of DePue to see first hand how the town is coping:

I'm on a drive with DePue Mayor Eric Bryant, he's mayor of the village of about two thousand people along the Illinois River in Bureau County.

"The Rock Island line used to come through there. Bring ore in... and take zinc out," Bryan recalled.

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Education
9:18 am
Tue December 17, 2013

40% Of Students Finish College Where They Start

Credit University of Illinois, Springfield

Only 4 in 10 students who entered college in 2007 have earned
degrees from the school where they started.

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Harvest Desk
8:08 am
Tue December 17, 2013

New Labeling Rules Could Help Consumers Learn More About Meat

About 94 percent of our meat comes from livestock that was born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

A new labeling rule that went into full effect Saturday requires meatpackers and retailers to provide consumers with more information about where their meat comes from.

The country-of-origin labeling mandate (COOL) forces retailers and meatpackers to detail where the livestock from which meat came was born, raised and slaughtered. It applies to certain cuts of beef, veal, chicken, pork, lamb and goat sold in the supermarket. Processed, deli and ground meats are exempt from the new rules.

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Pensions
6:00 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Preparing To Implement Pension Overhaul — And Not To

Credit Arthur Public Library via IMLS DCC (creative commons)

Illinois’ biggest and most indebted pension system is beginning to implement changes tied to the pension overhaul passed this month. But officials are also making plans in case the new law is struck down.

The Teachers Retirement System is by far the biggest of Illinois’ five pension systems, with well over 360,000 members. TRS is also the biggest factor in the pension funding problem, accounting for more than half of the combined $100 billion shortfall.

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Local Authors
3:49 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Local Teacher & Author Offers New Writings

Cover design for 'Figures in Blue' by Felicia Olin

Ted Morrissey teaches English to high school and college students in Williamsville and Springfield. He manages to write plenty of his own material in his free time. He joined us recently to talk about his unique writing style, what writings he has in the works - and his recently published novella titled 'Figures in Blue':    

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Statehouse
5:31 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Gov Candidate Brady Releases Income Information

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

State Senator Bill Brady will no longer have to defend himself against criticism he didn't pay enough in taxes.  The candidate for governor released his tax returns Monday.

When the mortgage crisis hit, Sen. Bill Brady's real estate development business took a hit.  So much so that in 2008 and 2009 he owed the federal government no income tax.

Brady defended that four years ago, when he was Republican's nominee for governor:

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