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State of the State podcast
10:39 am
Mon May 4, 2015

In Gov. Rauner, Echoes Of Gov. Walker

Govs. Dan Walker, left, and Bruce Rauner.
Credit file / WUIS

If you follow state government long enough, you start to hear the same things over and over again. That holds even across four decades.

Last week, I produced an obituary for the late Gov. Dan Walker, who died at the age of 92. In listening to several of his speeches from 1975 and '76, I was struck by the similarities to the sorts of things we hear from politicians today — particularly Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Both of these men came in after unpopular tax hikes, and both downplayed their wealth with folksy images. So we're asking the question: Are they the same guy?

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Lincoln
9:04 pm
Sun May 3, 2015

150 Years Later, Lincoln Funeral Procession Retraced

Men dressed as Civil War Union soldiers stand vigil over a replica of Pres. Abraham Lincoln's coffin.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

It was weeks after Abraham Lincoln's death in mid-April, that has body made it from Washington, D.C. back to Springfield, Illinois. The lifting of a replica coffin from a car designed to look like Lincoln's funeral train began a series events this weekend in Springfield, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the president's death and burial.

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Statehouse
7:03 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Girl Scouts Gather In Capital With Governor

Gov. Bruce Rauner and First Lady Diana Rauner join hands with girl scouts to create a friendship circle.
Credit Pamela Nation

Friday was Girl Scout Day at the Capitol, and hundreds of Girl Scouts marched to the Statehouse to learn more about government and the history of Illinois.

About 2,000 Girl Scouts gathered in the Illinois capital to earn their Citizenship badge.

Kate Peters of Girl Scouts of Central Illinois says during part of the expo, the girls spoke to women in different careers.

“How impactful for them to see stuff like that and know, 'hey one day that can be me,'" Peters said. "One day, one of these girls will be governor of Illinois.”

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Statehouse
5:17 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Programs Set To Resume After Grants Restored

Credit Jaegar Moore / flickr.com/97408355@N06

 Some social service agencies and funeral homes are set to resume business as they had before the now-infamous Good Friday elimination of several state grants.

Gov. Bruce Rauner aides announced Thursday that the state received an unexpected influx of tax revenue that will be used to restore the $26 million in grant suspensions. The money will fund programs such as support for those with autism and epilepsy, indigent burials and utility assistance.

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Law Makes Chicago Hospitable To Star Wars Museum
3:29 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Governor Signs Obama Presidential Library Law

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner this afternoon signed a law to help bring President Barack Obama's presidential library to Illinois. The General Assembly rushed to pass the measure just over a week ago.

At a private bill-signing in his office at the capitol, Rauner said he looks forward to having the President's library "come here, to the great state of Illinois."

"It'll be a wonderful institution for the people of our great state and to help drive economic development and tourism, and visitors from all over the United States," he said.

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State Week
2:25 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Listen to State Week - May 1, 2015

Former Governor Dan Walker
Credit file / WUIS/Illinois Issues

This week, Governor Bruce Rauner restored $26 million in funding for some of the social service programs that were cut in April.  Also, former Illinois Governor Dan Walker died at the age of 92.  Kurt Erickson of Lee Enterprises' Springfield Bureau joins the panel discussion.

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Arts and Culture
1:49 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

A Preview of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra's "The Lincoln Train" Concerts

Credit Jose Zaragoza / flickr.com/jose_zaragoza

Yona Stamatis talks with Alastair Willis, Dale Rogers, and Ralph Shank about the Illinois Symphony Orchestra's "Lincoln Train" concerts this weekend at Sangamon Auditorium and the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.

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Education Desk
12:57 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

School Musical Decorations Produce Off-Stage Drama

Outside the Springfield High School Auditorium, signs supporting same-sex marriage were on display Tuesday, but removed on Thursday. Signs reflecting recent police shootings had been removed on Monday.
Credit Stella Cole

 

    

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Statehouse
3:13 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Coal Advocates Enter Energy Fray

Credit http://franky242.net/shop/image/pile-of-black-coal/

There's a new player in a battle over energy policy that's playing out at the Illinois Capitol. Exelon wants support for its nuclear plants, a renewable energy coalition wants to require more wind and solar, and now a coal company and its supporters want in on the action.

The latest push would give the state's coal industry a boost.

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Editor's note
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Medical Marijuana Deserves A Tryout In Illinois

Credit mattpenning.com 2015 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois’ medical marijuana law went into effect January 1, 2014, but so far, not a single patient has received treatment under the pilot program.

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State of the State
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Crime, Punishment And The Problem Of Moral Luck

Credit mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Imagine two nurses, Jane and Dan, finishing long, overnight shifts at a hospital. Like many medical professionals, their shifts vary from week to week, so they’re not quite used to the nocturnal work pattern. And their jobs are demanding, with lots of walking and near-constant activity. Needless to say, both Jane and Dan are tired. On the way home, their cars approach highway construction sites. By this point, both drivers are drowsy, and have begun to nod off. Neither notices the two flashing arrow signs directing them into the left lane. 

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Legislative Checklist
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Legislative Checklist May 2015

Although talk of Illinois’ budget has dominated the spring session of the General Assembly, legislators have continued advancing bills on a broad array of topics. They include measures dealing with beverages, drunken driving, the mining of sand and the death penalty.

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News
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Legislation Would Limit School Snooping On Students’ Social Media

Most Illinois public schools don’t monitor students’ social media and other cyber accounts off school premises and on nonschool devices. But since there are a few that do, Rep. Dwight Kay wants to require that school officials get permission from a judge before they access students’ login information. Under the current Right to Privacy in the School Setting Act, which Kay wants to expand, college students attending state schools can’t be required to give their social media login and password information to school officials — unless administrators believe school rules have been violated.

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News
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Illinois Congressional Delegation Wants Change In FEMA Aid Payments

The aftermath of the 2013 tornado in the city of Washington, in west central Illinois
Credit Lee Strubinger

Illinois’ congressional delegation is trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to revise how it distributes aid after natural disasters.

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News
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Law Professor Seeks To Limit Sex Trafficking In Illinois

Jody Raphael

A sex trafficking researcher is urging community members to take action to help thwart victimization.

“We have awakened to this issue of sex trafficking,” says Jody Raphael, a professor at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, who has investigated the sex trade in Illinois for about the past 15 years. “We really need to have some activism going in our communities.”

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Noteworthy
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Building Surge Puts Low-income Housing In Greater Demand

A corner in Lincoln Park

The recent boom in apartment construction in areas of north Chicago and around the Loop threatens  to displace middle and low-income Chicagoans from homes and apartments.

Construction has been big business in Chicago. Over 8,700 new apartment units are expected to be completed by 2016. But new development is clustered around north Chicago and the Loop, rather than poor neighborhoods.

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Noteworthy
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Lawsuit: ‘Orange Crush’ Unit Abuses Illinois Prisoners

An inmate at the Illinois Department of Corrections has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging systematic abuse by hundreds of prison guards and administrators.

The named plaintiff is Demetrius Ross, an inmate at the Illinois River Correctional Center. Illinois River is a medium security prison in Canton, about 30 miles outside Peoria. Ross alleges that members of a special IDOC unit known as “Orange Crush” conducted violent, humiliating shakedowns in at least four prisons.

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Noteworthy
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Calling All Potential Latino Blood Donors

Members of the Illinois General Assembly’s Latino Caucus are calling for increased blood donations from Latinos because they are more likely to have the type in highest demand.

While the Latino population makes up 17 percent of the Illinois population, just an estimated 4 percent are blood donors, says Margaret Vaughn, who is government affairs direction for the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Donors.

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Noteworthy
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Studies Show Limited Impact Of Settlement Sizes On Health Care

Two recent studies indicate that capping the size of settlements awarded in medical malpractice cases may have far less impact on health care than previously thought.

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Noteworthy
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Study Author Advocates For Post-partum Depression Screens Of Fathers

New dads get depressed, too. And they should be evaluated and treated for post-partum mental health issues just as mothers are.

That’s according to the author of a recent Northwestern (University) Medicine study, which is the first of its kind to focus on the effects on children of fathers with post-partum depression, according to a university release. Many previous studies have looked at the impact of post-partum depression in mothers and the interactions between parents.

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Noteworthy
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Illinois Schools Find Federal Local Food Funding Hard To Get

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that as of the 2012-2013 school year, more than 4,000 districts nationwide with nearly 24 million students were buying local products and teaching children where their food comes from. This estimate and the map above include programs that were not funded with federal Farm to School grants.

A federal initiative seeks to make school meals more nutritious while boosting local economies. However, Illinois school districts have barely cracked the surface in competing for these dollars.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Farm to School program aims to link locally sourced food to free K-12 lunch and breakfast programs by providing grants for research, planning, nutrition education, technical staff, conferences and implementation. The program has been awarded $5 million nationwide annually since 2010.

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Statehouse
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Power Players – Who’s In And Who’s Out When It Comes To Lobbying The New Governor

Credit Amanda Vinicky / WUIS/Illinois Issues

The pink slips started coming in January.

Employees hired at Democrats’ discretion over the past dozen years were losing their state jobs — an early rattle in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s promised “shakeup” of state government, accompanied by other corresponding rattles, including waves of appointments naming Republicans to take the ousted workers’ places.

The cycle played out in public, at least at higher levels, with the names of new agency directors, board chairs and other notable designations making headlines. They are the new faces of Illinois state government.

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Education Desk
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Education Funding Redux – Illinois’ Broken System Takes Center Stage Again

Sen. Andy Manar spoke at a rally for school funding revamp legislation he proposed last year. Senate Bill 16 would have altered the state school aid formula to benefit poor districts over those with healthy tax bases. His Senate Bill 1 would take wealth of school districts into account.
Credit Senate Democrats

There he was, then-Gov. Jim Edgar, appearing before a joint session of the General Assembly, imploring members of the GOP-led House and Senate to raise the state income tax, lower property taxes and level out the disparities between rich and poor school systems in Illinois.

It was 1996, and Edgar was coming off a re-election where he trounced Democratic Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch by attacking her plan to fix the state’s school-funding inequities.

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Lincoln
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

The Funeral Train

Credit Library of Congress

 A Mourning Country Stood Watch As The Body Of The Slain President Returned To Springfield

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Health Desk
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Life Preserver – Obamacare Expands Access To Mental Health Care

Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Dawn Kelly takes seven medications daily to treat her bipolar disorder. She has been on the meds since her 2011 diagnosis. Had it not been for a switch over from one Medicaid plan to another, the 40-year-old mother, who lives in East Peoria, would likely be dead.

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People
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

New Governor Continues To Fill Board, Agency Head Jobs

B.R. Lane

Gov. Bruce Rauner has chosen a new head of the Illinois Lottery, and filled top spots on boards and commissions.

The governor picked B.R. Lane to be superintendent of the Illinois Lottery. Lane has worked in the gaming industry. She was manager of regulatory compliance for gambling equipment company International Game Technology, which makes video poker and slot machines.

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People
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Executive Inspector General Steps Down

The state official who led an investigation into political hiring under former Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration is resigning.

Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza stepped down last month, after more than four-and-a-half years investigating allegations of misconduct in the governor’s office, 40 state agencies and public universities.

Much of what Meza’s office does is kept secret, like investigations that don’t produce findings of wrongdoing. Even some of those that do can be kept confidential.

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Ends and Means
12:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Illinois’ Infrastructure Needs Preservation

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

  In a few days, Springfield will culminate a months-long observation of the 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln with a historic re-enactment of his funeral procession. The procession, including a re-creation of the original Lincoln hearse, horse-drawn carriages and military and civilian Civil War re-enactors, will wend its way from the railroad station where the slain president’s body arrived, past the Old State Capitol and his home and eventually end at his tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery.

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Budget FY15
2:45 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Rauner Reverses "Good Friday Cuts"

Credit flickr/dborman

A top official with Gov. Bruce Rauner's office confirms, Illinois will restore $26 million in funding for a tobacco quitline, programs for autistic children and other social service grants. Projections show the state is taking in more money than expected.  While some cuts will remain, the windfall frees up money to reverse the cuts Rauner made with little warning on Good Friday, in early April.
 

The news has Joanne Guthrie-Gard beaming -- one of those "couldn't wipe it off her face" smiles. "I'm ecstatic. I'm so excited," she says.

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Statehouse
1:59 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Directors Disagree On Lincoln Museum And Preservation Agency Split

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum could become a separate state agency.
Credit ALPLM

While other agencies are bracing for budget cuts, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum could get everything it's asking for in next year's budget.

ALPLM could receive a boost of $2 million more than it's expected to spend in the current budget year, according to Gov. Bruce Rauner's spending proposal.

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