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10:21 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Alert Lifted At Illinois Nuclear Plant

Credit nrc.gov

An alert imposed after smoke was spotted at the Quad Cities Generating Station in western Illinois was lifted after eight hours.  

Exelon Generation officials say the smoke was spotted Wednesday after a pipe released water onto an electrical system.  
Spokesman William Stoermer says Quad Cities Unit 2 had been removed from service Monday so workers could replace a valve. The unit was in being restarted when smoke was detected around 1:40 p.m. The alert was lifted around 9:30 p.m.  

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Election 2014
5:56 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Political Map Question Could Be On Fall Ballot

A group that wants to change the way Illinois draws its political districts says it has the signatures it needs to put a measure on the November ballot.
 
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises reports (http://bit.ly/1pPeAGA) that
the group Yes! For Independent Maps announced Tuesday that it has nearly 350,000
signatures. The group needs nearly 300,000 signatures for voters to consider
their plan.
 
That plan would amend the Illinois constitution to require state legislative

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Education
4:29 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Manar Introduces Bill Changing School Funding

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)

A group of Democratic lawmakers Wednesday introduced a long-awaited piece of legislation that would dramatically change the way schools are funded in Illinois for the first time since 1997. The sponsors call the measure the most comprehensive way to ensure equity across the state but say there's still work to do in gaining broad support on the regionally divisive issue.

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Gas tax
12:48 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Business Leaders Propose Increased Gas Tax For Road Repairs

  Advocates for infrastructure investment want to raise the gas tax to fix Illinois roads. The new revenue would go toward maintenance which they say is long overdue.

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Minimum wage debate
12:27 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Madigan Throws Support Behind Raising Minimum Wage

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  House Speaker Michael Madigan says there is "strong support" in the chamber for a hike in Illinois' minimum wage. That's one of the big issues in the governor's race.

Businesses don't like it, but a plan to raise Illinois' minimum wage from $8.25, to $10.65 an hour, is before the General Assembly.

Advocates continue to try to drum up the necessary votes.

It appears they'll have help from the powerful Illinois House Speaker. Madigan says it's a matter of "fairness" and "equity."

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Endangered historic sites
12:19 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

10 Ill. Historic Sites 'Endangered' Without Federal Tax Credit

The Uptown Theatre in Chicago is on Landmarks Illinois' 2014 list of endangered historic sites.
Credit wikipedia

  An Illinois preservation group has put out its annual list of most endangered historic places. State funding may be a long shot, but enthusiasts are working to save a federal tax credit.

Among the ten endangered sites is a camp in Senator Pam Althoff's (R-McHenry) district. Camp Algonquin, in unincorporated McHenry County, is a rare relic of the open-air camp movement at the turn of the last century.

Althoff, a Republican from McHenry, says the community can save the camp if local advocates campaign effectively.

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12:08 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Debate Over Opting Out Of Health Insurance For Religious Reasons

Lead in text: 
Here & Now recently spoke with U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois about a bill he sponsored called The Equitable Access to Care and Health Act (EACH).
recently spoke with U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois about a bill he sponsored called The Equitable Access to Care and Health Act (EACH). The bill would allow individuals to opt out of mandatory health insurance by writing "sincerely held religious beliefs" on their tax return, along with a sworn statement explaining their objection.
Budget
10:40 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Expert Says State Of Illinois Needs Better Financial Planning

Nancy Hudspeth
Credit IGPA

Illinois is like most states when it comes to budget challenges.  Leaders must decide how to use tax dollars to pay for a variety of services. 

But Illinois ranks low when it comes to financial planning.  Nancy Hudspeth says some changes are needed.  She's the Associate Director of the Fiscal Futures Project at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. 

Hudspeth wrote an article on the subject that appears below:

 

Better fiscal planning tools could improve Illinois’ budget process

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Regional
6:00 am
Wed April 2, 2014

City May Set Retirement Age For Police Force, Mayor Vetoes Zoning Change For Liquor Store

The City of Springfield may be looking at setting a mandatory retirement age for all new police hires.  During Tuesday’s city council meeting, both the city’s mayor and police chief say they support a cut off at age 60.

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Regional
6:24 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Bus Accident In NE Missouri Injures Students

Ewing is in Lewis County, just northeast of Quincy, across the Missouri border.
Credit city-data

Authorities in northeast Missouri say a school bus accident has injured nearly two dozen students.  

The accident happened around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday north of Ewing in Lewis County.  
Missouri State Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Anderson says the bus rolled over into a ditch. Anderson says 18 students suffered minor injuries and five were more seriously hurt.  

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Business
4:18 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Business Report: Chamber Search, Grocery Aisles Go "Local" and Gold's Gym

Tim Landis
Credit SJ-R

The State Journal-Register's Business Editor Tim Landis discusses the bankruptcy of Gold's Gym, which plans to remain open. 

Also, the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce's search for a new Director and Shop N Save's plans to "localize" its stores. 

Read the latest stories from Tim in the SJ-R.

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Budget address
12:08 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Nursing Home Advocates Relieved Over Gov. Quinn's Budget Address

  Nursing home advocates say they're relieved by Gov. Pat Quinn's budget address last week. The governor says state has already been cut enough.

Two years ago, Gov. Quinn announced drastic cuts to Medicaid, the state's healthcare program for the poor, disabled and elderly. Medicaid helps pay for nursing homes, so when the legislature followed through on these cuts, many facilities shut down or laid off workers.

Pat Comstock, with the Healthcare Council of Illinois, says these cuts persisted through last year. But this year, she says things are looking brighter.

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Voting rights
12:00 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Madigan's Voting Rights Law Makes Strides

  As other states enact stricter voting restrictions, Illinois lawmakers are looking to protect against suppression. A House committee Tuesday advanced the constitutional change.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was hard pressed when asked to give an example of a case in Illinois when an eligible voter was denied access to register or to take a ballot.

"I'm not in the position to cite examples ..."

But Madigan says it has happened in states that have attempted to enact voter ID laws that discriminate against minorities, or that cut early voting periods short.

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The Hoogland
7:00 am
Tue April 1, 2014

'Enchanted April' Play At The Hoogland

Carly Shank (L) and Leigh Steiner
Credit Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Enchanted April is a play set nearly a decade ago about two English women who go off to Italy together for a vacation in an empty castle. They advertise for traveling companions, and the result is a story rich in self-awakenings that combine the unique personalities and life-experiences of four women. We recently spoke with two actors in the play which opens this weekend in Springfield, Carly Shank and Leigh Steiner.

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Harvest Desk
6:45 am
Tue April 1, 2014

While Farm Life Changes, FFA’s Blue Jacket Stays The Same

The blue corduroy jackets sported by high schoolers in FFA have been a part of the group's brand since its founding in 1928.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The blue corduroy jacket worn by high school students in FFA, formerly the Future Farmers of America, is an icon of rural life. To the average city dweller the jacket is a vestige of dwindling, isolated farm culture, as fewer and fewer young people grow up on farms. The numbers tell a different story however. In spite of that demographic shift, a record number of kids are donning blue jackets this year.

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Regional
6:17 am
Tue April 1, 2014

EPA Seeks Public Input on FutureGen in West Central Ill.

Future Gen Plant in Meredosia
Credit WUIS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is accepting public comments on a plan to inject carbon dioxide beneath west central Illinois.

FutureGen Industrial Alliance wants to capture carbon dioxide from a coal-burning power plant in the Morgan County village of Meredosia, then inject it into underground wells near Jacksonville, about 20 miles to the east.  

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Budget address
2:39 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Quinn's Proposed Bump In Education Funding Not Immediate

  Governor Pat Quinn is selling his budget plan — with its extension of Illinois' income tax increase — as a way to better fund schools. But that boost doesn't come right away.

During his budget address, Gov. Quinn introduced big plans for education: modernizing classrooms. A "birth to five" early learning intiative. And more money for elementary and high schools.

"Over the next five years, my plan calls for the biggest education investment in state history," he said. "Every child should have an excellent school."

Notice he said "over the next five years."

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Tornado damage
1:19 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Lawmakers Propose Tax Break For Businesses Blighted By Tornadoes

On the edge of destruction in Washington, Ill. The community was ravaged by tornadoes on Nov. 17.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Four months ago, tornadoes whipped through Central Illinois, ravaging communities like Washington and Gifford. As the towns rebuild, some lawmakers want to give businesses a break when fixing up their properties.

Rebuilding after a natural disaster can be expensive; insurance money only covers so much. A proposal making its way through the General Assembly could help ease that burden on businesses, by providing a property tax break.

Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) says this would help stabilize local economies.

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Regional
12:50 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Ukraine Representatives On Their Visit To Springfield, State Of Their Country

Oleksandr Makovskyi, Christina Dobrovolska, and Roman Yemets (from left to right).
Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

The people of Ukraine ousted their President Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year.  Since then, Russia took over Ukraine's southern peninsula, Crimea.  While officials are trying to turn the country around, a group of delegates from the country made a visit to Washington and Springfield to observe democratic government in action. 

The Springfield Commission on International Visitors six Ukrainians to observe national, state and local government.

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Lincoln
9:47 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Lincoln Tomb Set To Re-Open

Credit wikipedia

Oak Ridge Cemetery is the 2nd most visited cemetery in the U.S.  The main reason is Abraham Lincoln.   The 16th President, his wife Mary and three of their four sons are interred there.

Since last fall, visitors could go see the tomb and stand outside.  But the interior was closed off for maintenance work.  It re-opens on Tuesday April 1.

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Statehouse
7:24 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Regulators: Illinois Sunday Car Sales Ban Bad For Competition

Credit autobizz.com

Federal regulators say Illinois' longstanding ban on Sunday automobile sales isn't good for competition and can be harmful to the marketplace.  

The Federal Trade Commission says the prohibition on Sunday automobile sales also makes it more difficult for drivers to shop around for the best deal.  

The agency issued the statement late last week in response to a measure introduced by state Sen. Jim

Oberweis, who wants to repeal the law that went into effect in 1983.  Oberweis asked the FTC to weigh in. Violators can face a $1,500 fine.  

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Hunting regulations
4:49 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Bobcat Hunting Measure Passes House

Credit flickr/stevendepolo

  Hunters and trappers could harvest bobcats, under a measure that got approval from the Illinois House.

Hunting bobcats has been illegal in Illinois for decades.

But now that Department of Natural Resources numbers show the population growing, especially in southern and western parts of the state, Rep. Wayne Rosenthal wants that ban lifted.

His plan passed the House 91 to 20. Rosenthal, a Republican from Morrisonville, says his critics ask:

"Why do you want to get rid of these pretty, little kitties?"

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State Week
4:36 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Listen To State Week - March 28, 2014

This week, Governor Quinn's proposed state budget.

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Dental practice laws
1:13 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Dental Hygienists Push For Independence; Dentists Push Back

Credit flickr/armymedicine

  Dental hygienists in Illinois could get a whole new job description under a proposal before the Illinois House. Hygienists say requiring less supervision would allow them to provide care in underserved communities.

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Regional
8:26 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Annual Figure Skating Event In Springfield This Weekend

You don't need to leave the Springfield area for a great ice show this weekend.  The Springfield Figure Skating Club puts on the annual Spotlight On Ice performance at the Nelson Center.   This year's program is titled "Give Our Regards To Broadway" with music from Broadway shows.  Kids and adults will perform.

"You usually have to go to bigger, metropolitan type areas to see ice shows," Club board member Monica Polistina  said.  "So we're really excited that this is a hidden jewel in the capitol city to have Spotlight on Ice."

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Election 2014
11:22 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Green Party Candidates Seek Place on November Ballot

Scott Summers, the Green Party's nominee for Illinois governor in 2014
Credit Illinois Green Party website

  Illinois Republicans and Democrats chose their party's nominees last week. Third-party candidates are working to join them on the November ballot.

Before they can even think about winning a statewide election, independent candidates and those from third parties have to make it on the ballot, which requires collecting at least 25,000 valid signatures, by mid-June.

Green Party candidates are beginning their petition drive.

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Millionaire's tax
4:43 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Madigan's 'Millionaire's Tax' Passes Legislative Hurdle

  A tax on millionaires is advancing through the General Assembly ... at the expense of a progressive income tax.

The so-called "Millionaire's Tax" would levy a three percent surcharge on income over a $1 million. House Speaker Michael Madigan says that should raise about a billion dollars, which Illinois would send exclusively to schools.

"My judgment was that it helps education and it calls upon those in the society that are better able to help fund education than others."

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Harvest Desk
12:04 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

FDA Reports Progress Controlling Pharma On The Farm

hog confinement barn
Credit wikipedia.org

Federal regulators say progress has been made in limiting antibiotics given to food animals.

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Bedrock 66 Live!
11:39 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Bedrock 66: Roots Rockers Nikki Hill & Marco Di Maggio - Saturday

Credit bedrock66.com

Roots rocker Nikki Hill is  a newcomer who has gained attention for her soulful and powerful voice. Her band, who she calls 'The Pirate Crew' includes her husband, Matt Hill - a guitar player and soulful musician in his own right. She headlines on Saturday night. Opening is Marco DiMaggio who has been heralded as one of the world's best Rock 'n' Roll guitarists.

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Arts
9:15 am
Thu March 27, 2014

New Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony Exec. Director

Elle Pressly
Credit WUIS

The Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony has a new Executive Director. 

Elle Pressly is a clarinetist who majored in music at the University of Illinois.  She now teaches music education in the Jacksonville School District.

Her new role will become full time when the school year ends.  It will involve marketing, fundraising and handling the day to day operations of the SVYS.  

The organization provides orchestral instruction to area youth,  as young as 3rd grade.  

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