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Regional
1:07 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Updates From The Prairie Capital Convention Center

Credit springfieldpc3.com

The Prairie Capital Convention Center is the largest venue in Springfield, hosting everything from roller derby, to rock concerts, to conventions for Illinois teachers. It's seen a lot of changes over the past few years. We spoke with Executive Director of the PCCC, Brian Oaks, about the recent overhaul, the board that oversees it, and even a possible reality television show about its employees.    

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Code Switch
12:19 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Springfield Performs ‘The Mikado’ – Is It Racist?

Actors in The Hoogland's version of The Mikado
Credit Courtesy of The Hoogland Center for the Arts

Putting on older theater productions can be a dilemma for those who want to preserve the art in its original form. Some production groups may decide to reinvent pieces that could be seen as problematic in modern times. An operetta currently being performed in Springfield by local actors has sparked controversy for what many consider to be racist qualities.

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Harvest Desk
8:38 am
Thu August 28, 2014

USDA Predicts Farm Income Drop This Year

Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

Farmers’ can anticipate a sharp drop in income this year, according to a new report from the U-S Department of Agriculture. The U-S-D-A predicts the lowest amount of net farm income in five years.

The USDA expects farmers’ profits to fall by about by fourteen percent from last year’s record amount, thanks mostly to a massive drop in crop prices.

Although farmers are expected to produce record levels or corn and soybeans this year, the bumper crop will cause prices to slide and Midwest farmers will feel the pinch.

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Education Desk
6:08 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Illinois Schools In Pension Limbo

Credit WFIU/flickr

It’s expected to be some time before the courts decide whether Illinois can trim retirement benefits for public school teachers, university workers, and state employees. But the uncertainty continues to affect the credit outlook of schools and community colleges across the state.

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Election 2014
7:49 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Vallas: Rauner's Budget Plan "Insulting To Voters"

Lt. Gov. candidate Paul Vallas at the Illinois Education Association on Wednesday. Vallas says Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's budget plan is "insulting to voters."
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor Pat Quinn's candidate for lieutenant governor says Republican Bruce Rauner's budget plan would mean bad news for schools in Illinois. Democrat Paul Vallas says Rauner's promises to both put more money into schools while also cutting property taxes is unfeasible.

Vallas says Rauner's plan to roll back the state's income tax to three percent would create a $4 billion hole in Illinois' education budget. Vallas says that translates to nearly 28,000 in teacher layoffs.

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Statehouse
5:48 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Teamsters Vow To Fight IDOT Layoffs

Credit wuis

Lawyers representing 55 Illinois Department of Transportation workers laid off last week say the employees should be able to continue working for the agency in their staff assistant positions.  
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports the employees are members of the Teamsters union. Their positions were criticized by a state inspector general's report and are at the crux of a federal lawsuit alleging illegal hiring at the agency.

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Illinois Supreme Court
5:45 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Illinois Supreme Court Building Reveals $16 Million Improvement Project

The doorway that separates the courtroom from the Justices' meeting room.
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court will start conducting its business in Springfield once again next month. The justices had been displaced for the past year while their building was renovated, restoring the building to many of its original design features.

For most of the last year, the court building, across from the State Capitol in Springfield, was separated from the public by orange plastic fencing and lots of construction dust.

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Regional
11:54 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Charities Stepping In Where Government Used To Be

School bake sales buy necessities not luxuries. It's part of "Charity replacing government".

Charities are finding themselves asked to step in to help pay for services and programs that were previously in the government's domain. It seems to be an increasing trend since the economy took a dip several years ago.

Private fundraising for government programs is not necessarily new. State universities have long engaged in fundraising, especially with their alumni and elementary school groups have long held bake sales.

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Harvest Desk
6:33 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

New Law Allows Illinois Study Of Industrial Hemp

Credit flickr/Chris H

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a law allowing universities and the Illinois Department of Agriculture to study industrial hemp.  

The Chicago Democrat signed the measure Tuesday creating a pilot program.  
Industrial hemp is in the same species as marijuana but has a negligible amount of marijuana's active ingredient. Hemp can be used in the production of plastics, fuel, textiles and food.  

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Women in the workplace
5:30 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Pregnant Workers To Be Protected Under New Law

  Despite current employment protections, pregnant women in the workplace are still sometimes forced out of jobs in Illinois. The governor Tuesday signed legislation aimed at ending that practice.

The law is meant to protect women from losing a job just because they become pregnant.

It also requires employers to provide "reasonable accommodations" to pregnant women, such as giving more leeway when it comes to taking bathroom breaks or sitting down at work.

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District 186
5:22 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Student Brings Gun To Lanphier High School

There will be heightened security at Lanphier High School Wednesday after a student brought a gun to class on Tuesday afternoon. The weapon was apprehended without incident and the 16 year old male student was arrested. Police say he allegedly had the gun for protection and at no point displayed or threatened to use it. Superintendent Jennifer Gill says there will be more police officers at the high school in the coming few days:

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Arts
2:13 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Art At The Illinois State Museum

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

In this interview, we speak with Jim Zimmer, the director of art and history for the Illinois State Museum System. He tells us about the curation that goes on behind the scenes, the variety of artwork that can be found at the museum, and current as well as upcoming exhibitions.

Currently at the Springfield museum is an exhibit titled Fragile Relations: Art, Nature & Environment. It ends this weekend.  

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Statehouse
11:28 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Buy American Sections Required at State Parks & Historic Sites

Credit wolfsonian.org

State parks and historic sites now have to set up an "American Made" section in their gift shops.  

Governor Pat Quinn signed  into law this week a measure that is supposed to increase the number of American and Illinois-made goods state facilities sell.    Illinois has, in recent years, put special emphasis on promoting domestic products, especially those from in-state.

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Business
10:56 am
Tue August 26, 2014

WUIS/SJ-R Business Report: Ameren Gas Upgrades; Carpenter St. Underpass; Pease's Design Change

Tim Landis
Credit SJ-R.com

Ameren has begun a huge upgrade of gas lines that could take a decade to complete. 

The State Journal-Register's Tim Landis tell us while the company says it's needed, consumers will be paying for the work. 

The start of construction on an underpass along Carpenter Street is part of Springfield's rail relocation.  A groundbreaking was held for that project in the past week. 

Also, Pease's Candy is known for the pink box it's had since the 1930's.  But the packaging is getting a bit of a facelift.  

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Statehouse
7:11 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Here's Your Chance To Serve On Medical Marijuana Board

Credit flickr/eggrole

 The new medical marijuana program in Illinois is looking for health professionals and patients to serve on an advisory board.   There is an opportunity for you to get your name on the list of nominees.

The 15-member board will make recommendations about which medical conditions can be added to the list of those approved for medical marijuana use in the state.  

Board members will be appointed by the governor. There is no compensation other than expenses.  

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Election 2014
7:30 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

How Politics Steered The Uber Bill

Credit Taxi by Ben Fredericson Ipad wallpaper

Gone are the days of standing outside, in the rain, hoping a taxi will pass by. Ridesharing services allow anyone with a smart-phone to download an app and get setup with a ride ... at least in the Chicago where it's available. It hasn't taken off yet elsewhere in Illinois. Even so, the General Assembly this spring passed a controversial measure that would regulate ridesharing statewide. Monday morning, Governor Pat Quinn vetoed it.  Amanda Vinicky has more on why.

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Election 2014
1:07 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

The Real Driver Behind Quinn's Rideshare Regulation Veto

Credit Mike/anotherpintplease via Flickr Creative Commons

Rideshare services have scored a win against Chicago's taxi industry in a battle that began in the legislature and moved on to the race for Illinois governor. Gov. Pat Quinn this morning vetoed a plan that would have established statewide regulations for the on-demand driving service, that let passengers call for rides via smart phone apps.

The minimum wage and what to do about Illinois' income tax are big campaign issues in the race between Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican rival Bruce Rauner.

No surprise: these sorts of policy issues will have a big impact statewide.

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Health Desk
1:00 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Donated Breast Milk Helps Sick Infants

Credit themilkbank.org

The matter of what to feed an infant has been a historically controversial one. August is National Breastfeeding Month, which is not only meant to draw attention to the fact it's generally considered the best food for babies, but also that not all newborns have access to breast milk - which can be a life-threatening thing for some. Carissa Hawkins is with 'The Milk Bank' - located in Indiana and a supplier for states in the Midwest. She recently spoke with us about it:

CLICK HERE for more info about The Milk Bank.

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Ferguson, MO
11:27 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Update From Ferguson Via KWMU's Rachel Lippmann

"The atmosphere was calm enough Friday night that several people asked for and took selfies with Capt. Ron Johnson."
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday morning Michael Brown was laid to rest by not only family members, but politicians, community organizers, and hundreds of other members of the public. It's been two weeks since the teen was killed by a police officer. We checked in with St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann for an update on the situation in Ferguson. This interview took place on Monday morning:

CLICK HERE for updated coverage from St. Louis Public Radio.

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Rutan Flouted
8:21 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Inspector's Report Reveals Clout Hiring At IDOT

The Office of Executive Inspector General released a lengthy report detailing hiring practices at the Illinois Department of Transportation that defy the spirit of rules set up to separate political allegiances from employment decisions.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' Executive Inspector General says he has not spoken with federal prosecutors about a 245 page report released Friday. It details a swath of hiring mismanagement at the state's transportation department.

Inspector General Ricardo Meza took the unusual step of holding a press conference to explain the report, which focuses on a practice for which Illinois government has become infamous: patronage.

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Politics
7:11 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Term Limits Will Remain Campaign Issue For Rauner

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says not having a term limits measure on November's ballot is a temporary setback.  

He told reporters Sunday he'll ``campaign very aggressively'' on term limits in both his bid to unseat Gov. Pat Quinn and on behalf of state lawmakers who commit to term limits. A new ad released Sunday focuses on term limits.  

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Election 2014
1:28 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Libertarians Survive Illinois GOP's Ballot Challenge

Credit Courtesy of lpillinois.org

  On Nov. 4, Illinois voters will choose from the Republican and Democratic statewide candidates they've been hearing about for months. But there will also be a third choice in those races: candidates representing the Libertarian party. But getting on the ballot wasn't easy for the Libertarians.

To get their candidates on the November ballot, third parties in Illinois have to turn in the signatures of at least 25,000 registered voters — five times more than the 'established' parties: Democrats and Republicans.

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Statehouse
6:17 pm
Sun August 24, 2014

Rep. Poe To Undergo Stem Cell Transplant

Rep. Raymond Poe (R-Sherman)
Credit ilga.gov

An area lawmaker says his prognosis is good as he battles a blood disease.

Republican House member Raymond Poe of Sherman will go to Texas for a three week treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS.   He'll have a stem cell transplant to replace bone marrow. That's the same procedure Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts underwent.

"They said there's an 80 percent chance.  They're very successful," he said. "They do more than 200 a year.  And so that's what we're gonna go do.  And the nice thing is it's a cure, it's not just a treatment."  

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Statehouse
3:02 pm
Sun August 24, 2014

Term Limits: The Walking, Talking Dead Constitutional Amendment

Bruce Rauner, the Republican nominee for governor, tried to put public pressure on the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the term limits case; it didn't work. The Court issued a brief memo on Friday saying simply that it would not hear Rauner's appeal of a lower court ruling that found the question unconstitutional.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

You may know by now that a question regarding term limits has been knocked off the ballot by the courts, but do you know why? Regardless of the court rulings, don't expect the issue to go away.

Republican nominee for governor Bruce Rauner and his attorneys say they tried to write a proposal that could pass constitutional muster.

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Election 2014
4:06 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

IL Supreme Court Won't Hear Term Limit Question Before Ballot Deadline

Workers load thousands of pages, containing more than 600,000 signatures, of Bruce Rauner's term limit initiative petition onto a truck, for delivery to the State Board of Elections.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Voters will not have a chance to weigh in on legislative term limits in November.

The Illinois Supreme Court this Friday afternoon issued a brief order saying it will not hear the case.

That leaves in place the decision of two lower courts that ruled the question unconstitutional.

In a statement, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner said that "Springfield career politicians" — like his Democratic opponent, Governor Pat Quinn — won.

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State Week
2:16 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Listen to State Week - August 22, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, political hiring at IDOT and attempts to get a term limits initiative on the November ballot.

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Ferguson, MO
12:57 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

In Wake Of Ferguson, Rally Planned In Springfield

A note from the @217Anonymous Twitter account re: rally

Derek French, a recent UIS grad says he's part of a "youth movement" concerned with standing up for citizens' constitutional rights. While he says the rally planned for Saturday from noon to 4:15 at the Old State Capitol is not directly related to the situation in Ferguson, the recent turmoil there makes this an important time for community activists in Springfield to stage a "peaceful assembly." Here's our interview with French:

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Statehouse
12:55 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Unions Ask For Quick Ruling On Pensions

Credit sangamon.co.il.us

A coalition of labor unions and state retirees is asking a judge for an expedited ruling in a case challenging the constitutionality of Illinois' pension law.  

Attorneys filed the motion in Sangamon Circuit Court Thursday. They want Judge John Belz to factor in a Supreme Court decision that found health insurance premiums were a protected retirement benefit for state workers.  

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Statehouse
12:51 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Report Says IDOT Broke Hiring Rules For Years

Credit flickr/denniscarr

The state's top ethics investigator says the Illinois Department of Transportation improperly hired more than 250 employees in the past decade.  

Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza's  report says the practice began in 2003 but continued under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. 

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Harvest Desk
8:58 am
Fri August 22, 2014

What Goes Into The Price Of Your Tomato?

Vegetable farmer Tom Goeke of St. Charles, Mo., sells his Red Deuce tomatoes wholesale at about $1.50 per pound. (Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media)

Late summer in the Midwest is tomato season. For tomato growers around that country, it’s time to pick their bounty and calculate their earnings.

While sun and rain might be free, tomato farmers have to carefully weigh everything else they put in to growing their crop. Research and the development of new tools – from novel seed varieties resistant to diseases to additional fertilizers – has changed the input costs for growers.

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