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Regional
8:46 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Mailboxes: A Casualty Of Winter Weather

Credit flickr/jkwerner2

If you're maintaining a city budget in Illinois you better keep some money on hand to pay for mailboxes. Lots of them.
 
Mailboxes that sit along the side of streets are frequent casualties of winter
snow-plowing.
 
Champaign city officials tell The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1aYPH5y ) that
over the past three winters at least 232 people have complained that snowplows
have damaged their mailboxes.
 
The repairs and replacements cost a combined $6,582. That doesn't include the
labor.
 

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School Choice
7:00 am
Tue January 28, 2014

School Choice Movement Pushes Agenda

Credit http://schoolchoiceweek.com

 Ask any teacher, superintendent, or government official about it and many would say education funding is in need of some serious change. Local districts are struggling to make ends meet as state and federal appropriations drop - and that means layoffs, school closures, and even shortening the school day in some cases. Some education reform activists say the answer to fixing this problem and others within the system is something called "school choice."

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Gambling Push Resumes in East St. Louis

Rep. Bob Rita is to convene a hearing on gambling expansion at the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.
Credit Paul Sableman (pasa47) via Flickr

An Illinois lawmaker is attempting to revive talks over a massive expansion of gambling in the state. The effort begins Tuesday evening at a casino in East St. Louis.

After years of effort, talks to expand gambling broke down last spring. The issue receded amid high-profile legislation dealing with pensions, concealed carry, and same-sex marriage.

Now Rep. Bob Rita, a Democrat from Blue Island, is trying to get gambling back on the front burner.

He's planning several public hearings across the state, beginning at the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.

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Education
12:57 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Students Must Make Up Cancelled Classes

 Four extra days of class have been added to the calendar for Springfield public schools, pushing the last day to June 4th. WUIS took a look at how it's decided that school should be canceled ...

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Health Desk
8:52 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Credit Cards Could Be Off Limits For Medical Marijuana

Credit flickr/eggrole

People who buy medical marijuana in Illinois might find out it's cash-only.  

Lawmakers approved using cannabis for medical conditions last summer. But the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports selling and using marijuana remain federal offenses, so it's unlikely pot dispensaries will be able to open a bank account or get a line of credit.  

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Lincoln
8:45 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Security Review After Lincoln Home Break-In

Credit flickr/tjjohn12

Workers at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in
Springfield are reviewing security procedures after a man broke in to the
basement.
 
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1dIqzN9 ) a man
from Marshall in southeastern Illinois pleaded guilty to trespassing and
criminal property damage after being found in the basement earlier this month.
 
Jordan Clark was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay $3,000 in
restitution.
 

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Regional
7:55 pm
Sun January 26, 2014

Another Round Of School Closings Monday

Some Amtrak trains are not running today in downstate Illinois.

  School Closings for Monday Jan. 27

A-C Central

Athens

Auburn

Ball Chatham

Bradley University

Calvary Academy

Decatur

Edinburg

Greenview

Illinois State University

Jacksonville

Jacksonville Routt

Lincoln public schools

Lincoln College

New Berlin

Pawnee

Pleasant Plains

PORTA

Riverton

Rochester

Robert Morris University

Sangamon Valley

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Statehouse
5:55 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Lawmaker Calls For Drug Test As Welfare Prerequisite

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Nearly three million Illinoisans receive benefits in the form of food stamps, welfare or medical help. But one lawmaker says too much of this assistance is being "drained" by drug users.

Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) is proposing changes to the way beneficiaries qualify for assistance. He wants to require drug testing when people sign up for welfare. The representative says the state pays money to people without assessing their ability to be productive.

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Regional
3:58 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Citizens' Efficiency Commission Report Released

Karen Hasara
Credit news.uis.edu

A Sangamon County panel has unveiled its recommendations for streamlining local government and saving money.

The Citizens Efficiency Commission offered 23 specific proposals... ranging from joint purchasing among agencies to public safety changes.

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Education Desk
3:36 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Education Proposals From Sangamon Co. Efficiency Panel

Credit wikimedia commons

Education shows up in recommendations from the Sangamon County Citizens' Efficiency Commission.  A focus is on transportation, a costly part of school budgets.  

The commission recommends increased collaboration between District 186 and the Springfield Mass Transit District. From the report:

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Education
3:26 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

IL Supreme Court Says Collapsed School Suit Is Too Late

Credit http://www.state.il.us/court/

 The Illinois Supreme Court says a southern Illinois school district can't sue an architectural firm for building a school over an underground coal mine that later collapsed, causing the school to be torn down. In a unanimous decision, justices ruled Friday that Gillespie Community School District's "fraudulent representation'' claims against Wight & Company came after a statute of limitations passed.

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Election 2014
3:07 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

RAW TAPE: Republican Candidates' Post-Debate Press Conferences

State Sen. Kirk Dillard holds up published reports critical of his opponent Bruce Rauner.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

All four candidates spoke with reporters after Thursday's Republican gubernatorial debate in Peoria. Here's what they had to say:

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State Week
1:51 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Listen To State Week - January 24, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, a discussion of Thursday's debate in Peoria among the hopefuls to be the Republican candidate in the upcoming governor's race.

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Harvest Desk
8:58 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Slow Food Film Festival Returns For 5th Year

Credit slowfoodspringfield.org

  Springfield residents curious about raising chickens in their backyard may want to stop by Benedictine University on Saturday, January 25. 

Mad City Chickens is one of five films to be screened at the 5th Annual Slow Food Springfield Film Festival.

The University of Illinois Extension is co-sponsoring the event.  

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Election 2014
4:04 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Candidates Pitch 'Electability' At GOP Debate

The 2014 Republican candidates for governor are, from left: state Sen. Bill Brady, Treasurer Dan Rutherford, Bruce Rauner, and state Sen. Kirk Dillard.
Credit Illinois Public Broadcasters

The four men competing for the Republican nomination for governor met in Peoria last night. They were participating in a live debate broadcast on public radio and television stations across Illinois. There were no big blow-ups or arguments. In fact, the candidates seem to agree on a lot of policy issues.

That left each man making the case for why he thinks he's in the best position to be the first Republican elected governor since 1998.

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Election 2014
8:23 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

GOP Governor Candidates Discuss School Funding

Credit flickr/skakerman

The question of assuring equitable school funding across the state is being debated at a forum for Republican candidates for governor.
 
The four bidders are squaring off at a forum hosted by Illinois Public Broadcasters and the League of Women Voters.  

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Election 2014
6:26 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Hear Republican Candidates For Governor Debate

Hear the broadcast from January 24, 2014 involving the four candidates:  Bill Brady, Dan Rutherford, Bruce Rauner and Kirk Dillard.

Also, listen to analysis from political observers, including Institute for Government and Public Affairs Director Chris Mooney, WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky, WILL host Jim Meadows and Public TV's Jak Tichenor and H. Wayne Wilson.

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Statehouse
5:57 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Democrat Cullerton Wants To Meet With GOP Nominee For Governor

Sen. John Cullerton
Credit ilga.gov

The President of the Illinois State Senate - John Cullerton - says he wants to meet with the eventual Republican nominee for governor about the state’s finances.  It comes as the state’s income and corporate tax rates are scheduled to go down in a year.

The governor’s office predicts the tax decrease will create a nearly $2 billion hole in the next budget. Cullerton - a Chicago Democrat - says he’d like to hear from the Republican nominee about the state’s budget.

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Higher Education
5:41 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

U Of I To Consider Pension Cut Offsets

Robert Easter
Credit U of I

University of Illinois President Robert Easter and other administrators will consider ways to help university employees make up for some of the money they will lose when state pension reforms begin June 1.  

University trustees on Thursday directed Easter to assess the changes coming to the state pension system and options for preserving benefits that will be lost. The president is expected to make recommendations to the trustees before June. The board of trustees oversees the university's three campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.  

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Education
2:13 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

U of I Board OKs Tuition Increase & UIS Student Union

The future UIS student union
Credit uis.edu

Newly approved tuition increases at the University of Illinois mean that four years of college on the flagship campus will top $100,000 for many students. Trustees voted Thursday to raise tuition by 1.7 %. They also increased fees and housing costs. Vice President for Academic Affairs Christopher Pierre says the increases sticks to a university plan to keep increases in line with inflation.

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Regional
2:13 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

New Madrid Fault Still Active And Poses A Threat

Credit USGS

Scientists said today that the New Madrid fault zone in the nation's midsection is active and could spawn future large earthquakes.  

The journal Science published the study online. U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough was part of the study. She says the fault zone is ``not dead yet.''  
Researchers have long debated just how much of a hazard New Madrid poses. The zone stretches 150 miles, crossing parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.  

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Election 2014
6:00 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Campaigns Must Disclose Payroll Numbers

Bruce Rauner speaks with reporters in this August 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois State Board of Elections is putting a stop to a practice that's allowed political campaigns to hide some of their spending.

This is a story of new technology coming under the purview of older campaign finance laws.

At least two major candidates this year have been paying staff through outside payroll companies: Democrat Mike Frerichs, who's running for treasurer, uses ADP; and Republican Bruce Rauner, running for governor, uses Paylocity.*

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Regional
9:24 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Thursday's Closings

School closings for Thursday January 23:

A C Central

Athens

Auburn

Ball Chatham

Calvary Academy

Capital Area Career Center

Decatur

Edinburg

Goodwill's Vocational Rehab & Developmental Training programs

Greenview

Jacksonville Public Schools

Jacksonville Routt

Lincoln Public Schools

New Berlin

North Mac

Pawnee

Pleasant Plains

PORTA

Riverton

Rochester

Sangamon Valley

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Statehouse
7:15 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Lawmaker Wants Registry For Animal Abusers

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Illinois has registries for sex offenders and for those who've harmed children. Now a lawmaker wants to create a registry for people who've hurt animals.

Representative Toni Berrios' proposal would create a registry for animal abusers, to be maintained by the state’s Department of Agriculture. Once on the registry, a person couldn’t buy a companion animal, or be employed in a job involving animals.

Berrios, a Democrat from Chicago, says the current penalty for a first-time offender is too light.

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Statehouse
6:56 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Legislators Seek To Adjust Funding Formula; Others Say It's Not Enough

School funding in Illinois is prorated at 89 percent this year, and might sink even lower next year.

  Illinois ranks last in the nation when it comes to how much money the state kicks in for public education. This has to do with the complicated formula that determines school funding. But it also has to do with the amount districts are being prorated.

This year, Illinois is only paying 89 percent of the money it's supposed to send to schools. Currently those cuts are applied across the board, hitting wealthy and poor districts alike.

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon says she wants to make sure schools districts with more impoverished students aren't left behind.

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Harvest Desk
5:46 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Cargill Settles Hiring Discrimination Suit At Beardstown Plant, Others

The Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Beardstown
Credit WBEZ

Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. will pay $2.2 million as part of settlement with the federal government over discrimination allegations involving three of its U.S. meat processing plants.
 
The money will be used to pay back wages and interest to nearly 3,000 applicants who were rejected for jobs at facilities in Springdale, Ark.; Fort Morgan, Colo.; and Beardstown, Ill., between 2005 and 2009.
 
U.S. Department of Labor officials say the company's hiring process discriminated based on sex, race and ethnicity.
 

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Rep. Elaine Nekritz propses path to permit
4:55 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Illinois Drivers Could Get Additional Chance To Drive After Convictions

Under Rep. Elaine Nekritz's proposal, Illinois drivers with four or more DUIs on their records could be let back on the road after a full rehabilitation.
Credit flickr/theeggplant

  Illinois law says after four DUI convictions, that person can never drive again, not even if his or her offenses are long in the past. But one lawmaker wants to give people who've gotten their lives together another chance drive.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) says her bill was inspired by a constituent who had several DUIs in the past, but has been sober for years.

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Bruce Rauner, however, was a no-show
11:46 am
Wed January 22, 2014

GOP Candidates For Governor To Support Eventual Nominee

  The four Republicans running for governor are battling one another now ... but most say they'll put that aside after the primary.

At a debate at Chicago's Union League Club the GOP candidates for governor tried to set themselves apart on questions about transportation funding, Medicaid, and government consolidation.

But they all had the same response to the question, "Do you all individually agree to support the Republican nominee, whoever he is?"

Senator Bill Brady, Senator Kirk Dillard and Treasurer Dan Rutherford each raised their hands.

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The Hoogland
10:34 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Johnny Molson & Gus Gordon Are The Odd Couple

The story of The Odd Couple is one that's been told not only on stage, but as a movie, TV series - even a cartoon. The story is a classic one full of comedic one-liners, but also a lot of heart. Starring in a new local production is radio personality Johnny Molson, and the head of the Hoogland Center for the Arts, Gus Gordon. They recently joined us for this interview, which begins with Gordon explaining why he thinks it's a good fit for local audiences: 

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Regional
10:03 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Council To Consider Lake Decatur Dredging

Credit flickr/HAM guy

Central Illinois officials are expected to vote next month on whether to spend nearly $90 million on a massive dredging project in Lake Decatur.
 
The Herald & Review reports (http://bit.ly/1dvfQFI ) Decatur's city council is expected to vote on the project during their Feb. 3 meeting.
 
During a work session Tuesday, city manager Ryan McCrady said the effort would be ``the biggest project the city of Decatur has ever undertaken.''
 
Officials have said removing billions of gallons of sediment from the lake will

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