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Statehouse
12:05 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Arizona Pension Case Could Chart Course for Illinois

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A court case decided in Arizona Thursday could have implications for Illinois' ongoing legal battle over pensions. The decision (pdf), by the Arizona Supreme Court, struck down an attempt to reduce Arizona officials' retirement benefits.

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Minimum wage debate
5:55 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Minimum Wage Debate Moves To Universities

  The president of Southern Illinois University came out against raising the state's minimum wage on Thursday. President Glenn Poshard says it'd be too big a hit on the school's bottom line.

While the battle for a higher minimum wage brews in Springfield, Poshard warns of casualties in Carbondale and Edwardsville. Programs at those two campuses, he says, would be hurt in the long run.

"Maintaining the current level of student employment would likely require spending decreases in other areas," he said.

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Sugar tax
5:46 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Proposed Beverage Tax Could Bring Down Health Costs; Unions Oppose Measure

Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago)
Credit Courtesy of ILGA.gov

  Illinois already has so-called 'sin taxes' on alcohol, tobacco and gambling. Now lawmakers are trying to add sugary drinks to that list. The proposal faces an uphill battle in Springfield.

Sin taxes have a dual purpose: deterring people from what's regarded as undesirable behavior, and generating extra tax money.

In this case, lawmakers want to charge a penny per ounce of sugar-sweetened drinks like soda.

They say it would generate 600 million dollars in revenue. Half the money would go to the state's healthcare program for the poor.

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Smoking in cars with children
5:32 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Proposal To Ban Smoking While Driving Children Raises Privacy Questions

Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  State lawmakers are considering legislation to prevent smoking in cars with children. Though the measure is aimed at protecting passengers' health, the proposal is raising questions about personal privacy.

The measure would make it illegal to smoke in a car with a minor, but a police officer couldn't pull over drivers just for lighting up.

Even so, Kathy Drea, of the American Lung Association, says putting a law on the books sends a message to smokers.

Drea compares the proposal to other laws pertaining to vehicles.

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Tax credits for the working poor
5:27 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Lawmakers Considering Doubling Tax Credit For Poor

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago)
Credit Courtesy of ILGA.gov

  Efforts to raise the minimum wage have been getting a lot of attention, but it's not the only proposal intended to improve the lives of the working poor. Following the call of Gov. Pat Quinn, some lawmakers want to double Illinois' tax credit for low income workers.

The earned income tax credit began as a federal program, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

Illinois added its own state tax credit later. It's aimed at helping people work their way out of poverty by increasing their spending power.

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Healthcare
5:17 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Healthcare Proposal Worries Disabilities Advocates

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Advocates for people with disabilities say they're worried Governor Pat Quinn's newest healthcare initiative would crowd out certain groups.

The governor's proposal would consolidate nine separate programs that serve people with disabilities. Michael Gelder, the governor's senior advisor on healthcare, says centralizing these programs would be more efficient.

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Statehouse
8:57 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Illinois Legislation Targets 'Revenge Porn'

The now-shuttered Is Anyone Up? was an early "revenge porn" site.
Credit Internet Archive Wayback Machine

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to increase the penalties for a type of Internet shaming known as "revenge porn." It involves posting naked photos of someone on the Web without their consent.

Diana Pisone is an interior designer from Oak Park. A few years ago, she was in what she describes as an emotionally abusive relationship. Sometimes, when her husband said "do this or else," she'd let him tape her in compromising situations.

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Right To Remain Silent
8:23 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Should Students Get Miranda Warnings?

Credit flickr/LizMarie_AK

Illinois lawmakers are considering what steps police should have to take before questioning kids at school.

The legislation would basically make police read kids their Miranda rights — that they can remain silent, and anything they say can be used against them in court.

It would also make police notify parents they have the opportunity to be present during questioning.

Sen. Kim Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, calls it a "student bill of rights."

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District 186
8:00 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Conference Explores Host Of Disabilities, From ADHD to Autism

Often times, the strongest advocates for students with disabilities are their parents. Dr. Holly Novak is a member of the group Springfield Parents For Students with Disabilities. On Saturday the group hosts its "6th Annual Disability to Possibility Conference" from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm at Southeast High School.

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This I Believe 2014
7:35 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Gay Forever, Hell For Never

Gabe Knott - Jacksonville HS
Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

You’re going to hell. Yes, you, the young male wearing the loud shirt, scarf, and skinny jeans. Yes, you, the student tutor with a 3.8 GPA, who aspires to have a family, who has goals for your life and a career in mind and who was baptized in a Southern Baptist church; none of that matters when the TRUTH is that you aren’t natural and neither are your actions.

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Statehouse
7:13 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Illinois Bill Would Exempt Olympians From Paying State Tax

Credit NBC

It is an example of a measure that might not affect many people.

An Illinois lawmaker says Olympic athletes who win medals shouldn't have to pay state tax on their awards.

State Sen. Julie Morrison is sponsor of legislation approved by a Senate committee Wednesday that would waive the tax.

Morrison is a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Deerfield who says she represents many of Illinois' Olympic athletes. She says Olympic athletes proudly represent Illinois and the U.S. and ``we should honor them for their commitment.''

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Statehouse
5:02 am
Thu February 20, 2014

What Lawmakers Know And Don't Know About Illinois Prisons

Credit flickr/dnak

75 % of Illinois lawmakers surveyed by Chicago Public Radio say they have never stepped foot in a maximum security prison cell block. And 40 percent of those legislators have never toured or visited a prison even once.

Yet they’re the ones signing the checks for the $1.3  billion dollar per year agency.

Ninety-five of the 118 House members responded to the survey.

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Regional
4:41 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Decatur Ends Request For Voluntary Water Conservation

Credit flickr/loveMeagan

The City of Decatur has ended its voluntary request for water conservation.  That request was first made last October as Lake Decatur levels dropped due to the drought.  

But city leaders say it has risen two feet from its low point this winter and they anticipate additional rain in the next few weeks will bring the level higher. The lake reached a low point of 610.31 feet above sea level (50% full) on January 10.  But it now is above 612 feet (73%).  That is within the normal winter range. 

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3:51 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Southeast Trumpets Five This I Believe Authors

Lead in text: 
Out of the ten student authors selected for the 2014 This I Believe program, five attend Southeast High School in Springfield. Congrats to them and all the authors!
2350 East Ash Street Springfield, IL 62703 217/525-3130
Election 2014
1:38 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Candidate Interviews: 13th Dist. Congressman Rodney Davis

Rep. Rodney Davis
Credit Sean Powers/WILL

Fifteen months after narrowly defeating four-time candidate David Gill, Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) is seeking a second term.

In the first in a series of interviews covering the 13th Congressional District race, we talked with Davis about his re-election bid.

The U.S. Senate conducts a procedural vote Thursday with hopes of extending unemployment benefits by three months for nearly  two million Americans.

Davis said any extension measure to clear both chambers should not only help those in need, but reform the system to help these people find work.

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District 186
9:30 am
Wed February 19, 2014

District 186 Moves Up Vaccination Deadline

Springfield District 186 plans to give parents and students a shorter deadline for immunizations and physicals next school year. They'll have to be completed by the 10th day of school, which means around the end of August. That's much sooner than this year's mid-October deadline. Around 500 students failed to comply and some were out of school for up to 3 weeks.

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This I Believe 2014
7:35 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Independence Creates Happiness

Stephanie Dunn - Lanphier HS
Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

In middle school I asked  myself a lot of questions. Why do I have multiple teachers? Why is my body changing so much? Why do I feel attraction to all these boys? One thing I thought I knew was love; I loved my family so I completely understood what love was and what it took to love someone for life, right? In eighth grade I started “dating” Joe. It was the stereotypical boyfriend/girlfriend, middle school relationship. Our parents drove us to and from our houses watching movies, playing video games, and going to the park to kick a soccer ball around.

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Springfield City Council
6:26 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Winslow Hired As Springfield Police Chief

Chief Kenneth Winslow
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

Springfield aldermen have unanimously approved the hiring of Kenny Winslow as the city's police chief. Winslow has been in the role since last summer, when he took over after the resignation of Robert Williams.
   But his hiring on a permanent basis was delayed last night as council members questioned him in private for more than half an hour.    An internet site had raised issues about how Winslow might restructure the department. Mayor Mike Houston says aldermen wanted to hear from Winslow:

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Election 2014
3:47 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Republicans Race For Governor Becomes "Blood Sport"

One month, to the day, before the primary election, the four men running for the Republican nomination for governor debated one another in Springfield.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

The four men seeking the Republican nomination for governor met in a debate Tuesday (2/18) night in Springfield, the last time they're scheduled to appear together downstate before next month's primary election.

With political newcomer Bruce Rauner leading in the polls and in fundraising, debates are a chance for the three other candidates to talk directly to voters, free of charge.

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Statehouse
3:32 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Fire Damages Senator's Office

Sen. Andy Manar
Credit ilga.gov

State Sen. Andy Manar is setting up temporary office space after fire damaged his district office in the city of Staunton in southern Illinois.  
Manar is a Democrat from Bunker Hill. He says the fire started about noon on Monday in a business next door to his office in a historic building on Main Street.

Manar says no one was injured. He did not know the cause or a damage estimate.  
Volunteer firefighters from Staunton, Gillespie, Mount Olive, Litchfield and Olive responded. Manar says they acted quickly to keep the fire from spreading.  

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Health Desk
11:37 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Sangamon Co. Ranks Low In Health Outcomes; What Now?

Credit Source=http://www.flickr.com/photos/senoranderson/2245216631

It might surprise you to learn Sangamon County ranked 80th out of 102 Illinois counties when it pertains to health outcomes.  That's according to a survey by the County Health Rankings and Roadmap program.

After all, Springfield is known for quality medical care.  But apparently, more work can be done. 

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District 186
9:24 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Parents Angry School Stayed Open, District 186 Responds

Credit Ingrid Taylar/Flickr

Monday's ice storm didn’t stop Springfield public schools from holding classes. But it also meant many school buses were late to pick up students. Parents complained of students waiting up to 45 minutes in the cold and freezing rain as buses maneuvered the slick roads. Many took to the district’s Facebook page to hurl insults about the decision to keep school open.

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Health Desk
8:56 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Illinois May Consider Taxing Soft Drinks

Credit flickr/b0r0da

An Illinois lawmaker wants to tax soft drinks as part of an effort to promote healthy living.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises Newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/1oMu4vj ) the legislation is being sponsored by Sen. Mattie Hunter, a Chicago Democrat.  
Her proposal would charge a penny-per-ounce surcharge on sugary drinks that are sold in sealed containers.  
Money generated from the levy would be used to pay for a variety of health services and educational efforts.  

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Education Desk Features
8:00 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Illinois Lottery: A Shell Game For School Funding?

Lottery ads at the Hometown Pantry
Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Many people are aware that the Illinois Lottery helps fund schools. But just how much do the proceeds actually help? Well, that's what we aimed to find out:

    

Most of the money for the state's public schools K-12 come from local sources, like property taxes. The state contributes a large portion as well, and the lottery profits are part of that, but just how much? To find that out, our first stop is the Hometown Pantry at the intersection of Edwards and MacArthur in Springfield.

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This I Believe 2014
7:35 am
Tue February 18, 2014

The Real Me

Katerine Bowman - Southeast HS
Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

I don’t choose to wear makeup. Some people may look at me with disdain, and others wonder why I opt out of such a common practice. I see girls around me with perfect faces, unable to tell that they are covered with the cloudy foundation, and with their eyes painted just right so that I find it easy to look and hard to look away. But I myself find no yearning to be “beautiful,” or to look “flawless” simply so that others may be more visually attracted to me.

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12:00 am
Tue February 18, 2014

The State Journal-Register Prints 2014 This I Believe Authors

Lead in text: 
WUIS' This I Believe partner, The State Journal-Register, printed the first week's essays in the Tuesday Voice section.
Each year, public radio station WUIS-FM asks high school seniors to share what they believe. The program was started by journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1951 and WUIS has participated for eight years.The station partners with the Rotary Club of Springfield, which provides scholarships to the selected authors.The winning essays will be broadcast on WUIS (91.9 FM) during the last two weeks of February.Today, we publish five of the winning essays.
Quiet Cash
5:45 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Should Lottery Winners Be Anonymous?

Credit Illinois Lottery

  Winning big in the Lottery is also a ticket to a lot of media attention. Amanda Vinicky reports on an effort to keep winners' identities secret.

Every now and then, Rep. Will Davis plays the Lottery.

"And I was just thinking if I was fortunate enough to win, I don't know if I would want my name or be required to publicize if I was a winner. And just for the record I'm not, so," says Davis, laughing.

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Election 2014
5:21 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Cullerton Prods GOP Over 'Secret Plan' On Budget

Credit Illinois Senate

The top Democrat in the Illinois Senate on Monday went on the offensive over state spending. Senate President John Cullerton is calling out the Republicans running for governor.

Cullerton laid out the hits expected in next year's budget, including the roll back of the income tax hike and mandatory spending increases on things like personnel and healthcare for the poor. Add it up, Cullerton says, and it's a nearly $3 billion hole.

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Higher Education
3:07 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Former State Superintendent Becomes SIU President

Randy Dunn

A former Illinois state superintendent of education has been chosen as Southern Illinois University's new president.  

The SIU board of trustees announced Monday that Randy J. Dunn will be the university's eighth president, replacing Glenn Poshard. Poshard is retiring in June.  
Dunn is currently president of Youngstown State University in Ohio.  

Randal Thomas is chairman of the SIU board. He says Dunn ``has both the skills and the background to ensure that SIU continues to live up to its mission of providing a quality education.''  

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Education at the Statehouse
10:22 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Closer Look At State's Education Funding

Springfield, Ill. (AP) - Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have come together to propose changes to Illinois' school funding formula that would narrow the gap between rich and poor districts. But the upcoming election casts doubts on whether lawmakers will act on the plan detailed in a bipartisan Senate committee report.

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