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House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana
7:52 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Fine, But No Jail Time For Low-Level Pot Smokers

Credit BrettLevinPhotography / Flickr

Low level marijuana users may soon catch a break in Illinois. Rather than going to jail, it'd be more like getting a speeding ticket.

The repercussions for having pot vary; Rep. Kelly Cassidy says there's a patchwork of more than 100 different local ordinances all over the state.

"And the outcome from this patchwork system puts in place an unjust and confusing system wherein where you live and what you look like dictates whether or not you'll be arrested for extremely low-level marijuana possession," she says.

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The Scene
4:31 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

The Scene: Punk, Psycho-Billy & Gypsy Jazz

The Scene is Rachel Otwell & Scott Faingold telling you their picks for what to do this coming weekend and beyond. There will be no show next week, so this installment includes a few picks from the first weekend in May as well. Tune in:

Events discussed include:

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Statehouse
3:28 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

State Preservation Office Lands On List Of Threatened Sites

The Arnold-Crowe House in Chicago
Credit John Morris / Landmark Illinois

 A statewide preservation group says that Illinois’ historic landmarks could be threatened by the potential closure of the State Historic Preservation Office.

The budget cuts in the current fiscal year have cut the staff at the office, which falls under the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), from 33 to 14, causing a backlog of paperwork necessary to officially recognize historic sites and authorize local citizen organizations to begin the work of restoring sites in their communities.

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Leadership Blog
3:24 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Legislative Force With Lucas, Obama Museums

An architectural rendering of the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which may be built on Chicago's lakefront.
Credit LMNA Architecture Renderings / Lucas Museum of Narrative Art press kit

The force of the Illinois legislature is behind bringing George Lucas's museum and Barack Obama's presidential library to Chicago.

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Statehouse
2:49 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Students Learn Kernel Of Truth About Government

Fourth graders at Chatham Elementary pose with Sen. Sam McCann (R-Carlinville).
Credit Chatham Elementary School

Chatham Elementary School students had a lesson Thursday in how government works. Their proposal to make sweet corn the official state vegetable passed the state Senate.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 800, Republican Sen. Sam McCann from Carlinville, says not all responses have been positive.

"I had a couple of emails from folks around the state saying that... while the city walls are seemingly crumbling, why are you focusing on something like this?" he said. "And of course the answer couldn't be more clear. We have to invest in the future leaders of our state and our nation."

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Let's Talk Kids
12:50 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Let's Talk Kids - "The Intense Child"

Credit mattpenning.com 2010 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

He refuses to brush his teeth, adamantly opposes wearing clothes, and falls to the floor with a tantrum when you ask him to pick up his backpack.

And that’s all before breakfast.

Some children experience everything in their lives with such intensity that their reactions understandably exhaust parents.

At the same time, other children move through their days with little reaction at all.  These easy-going kids take life as it comes and rarely throw a fit.

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Business
12:15 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Sangamon Employers Bullish

Local employers seem to be optimistic about the Sangamon County economy in the year ahead.

The twice yearly survey gives researchers a read on what local leaders think about the economy. 

Ashley Kirzinger with the U of I Springfield's Survey Research Office says the latest report shows a big jump in the expectations of local employers and a 36 point increase in  the overall economic outlook from four years ago.

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Statehouse
7:10 am
Thu April 23, 2015

House Committee Approves Privatizing Economic Agency & Putting Lincoln Library Under Its Own Board

 A House committee has approved a measure that would
privatize the state's economic development agency and turn the Abraham Lincoln
Library and Museum into a stand-alone institution.
 
 The House executive committee on Wednesday unanimously passed legislation
merging two ideas from House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner.
 
 Madigan has pushed for the Lincoln Library to be a stand-alone agency instead
of under the Historic Preservation Agency, which would be eliminated under the

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Statehouse
4:40 am
Thu April 23, 2015

Proposal Would Ban Red Light Cameras In Some Cities

A red light camera in Oregon.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Lawmakers are hoping to put an end to red light cameras in some places in Illinois.

A proposal in the Illinois legislature would ban red light cameras in non-home rule cities.

Opponents say red light cameras, which are designed to stop drivers from running red lights, actually cause more accidents from cars abruptly stopping.

Republican Rep. Steven Andersson is a local prosecutor. He says some people receive tickets even though they weren't the one driving the car.

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Budget FY15
8:25 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Coins Under The Couch Cushions And False Hope

Daniel Gorog (right), a 23-year-old man with autism stands new to his father, Dan Gorog, who on Tuesday thanked a Senate committee for voting to restore money to autism programs that he credits with helping his son. But it may be false hope.

There's a hold-up over efforts to programs dealing with autism, drug prevention, and more from ending. It seems like advocates should be celebrating.

After Gov. Bruce Rauner says he was forced to earlier this month suddenly pull $26 million worth of state grants, the Illinois Senate used the legislative version of searching under the couch cushions for change.

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Statehouse
7:54 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Proposal Would Put Limits On Campaigning

Sen. Darin LaHood talks about the amendment to Senate Bill 1058 with Sen. Jason Barickman.
Credit Lisa Ryan/WUIS

A measure in the Illinois Senate would prevent elected officials from promoting new programs and grants before an election.

The proposal is in response to an audit of the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative or NRI. Former Gov. Pat Quinn started the $50 million anti-violence program shortly before the 2010 election.

Republican Sen. Darin LaHood calls the program a "failure." He, along with the auditor general, say the program lacked proper oversight.

"How do we make government and this program more effective, efficient, accountable and ethically sound?" he asked.

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Fair Share Dues
3:43 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Rauner Wants Teachers Exempt From Fair Share

Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses the Citizens Club of Springfield.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Public school teachers and their unions may be next, as Gov. Bruce Rauner seeks to loosen requirements on collective bargaining dues.

The vast majority of state employees are unionized. But even those who choose not to join still have to pay what are known as "fair share" dues. That's basically a fee to cover the work unions do to benefit all workers, members and non-members alike. Things like wage hikes, and health care coverage that unions secure in negotiations. But Gov. Rauner alleges the money's also used for political advocacy.

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Regional
1:59 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Springfield's Condell House Makes List Of Most Endangered Sites

Credit Landmarks Illinois

One of Springfield’s oldest homes faces demolition unless a new owner is found.  The Condell House on South Fourth Street has been vacant for about 30 years.

Steve Myers Vice Chairman of the Springfield Historic Sites Commission says the goal is to find a new owner soon before a part of history is gone.

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Past Due
12:20 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

House Panel Wants More Details On Governor's Cuts

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A budget oversight panel created by Illinois House Speaker  Michael Madigan grilled members of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration about cuts to the current budget and his plan for next year. 

  Democratic members of the committee demanded more information about how the governor is choosing which programs to cut and, in some cases, eliminate. They say the process the administration used to decide what to cut lacked transparency  and argued that some of the choices, like eliminating services to people with autism, were wrong.

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Past Due
11:51 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Cost Of Burying Poor Might Shift To Local Governments

Credit Jaegar Moore / flickr.com/97408355@N06

Bruce Rauner froze several state grants in order to balance the budget for the current fiscal year. Now lawmakers are asking what will happen to the people who relied on those programs even after their deaths. 

One of the grants provided money to cover burial of the poor. Under the program, funeral homes provide the services and bill the state to cover part of the costs.

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The Scene
11:47 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Sustainable Springfield Wants Earth Day Everyday

April is known in some circles as "earth month" - a time for conservationists to spread messages about reducing waste and becoming better stewards of our world. A group called Sustainable Springfield is working to make people in the city more focused on waste reduction and recycling, among other efforts. On Wednesday night, Earth Day, it will honor local sustainable businesses with an event, something the group plans to continue. Harv Koplo is the treasurer of the group.

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Neighborhood Recovery Initiative
10:39 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Facing Audit, Group Denies NRI Ties

Rep. Frank Mautino reviews a document in this file photo.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

A Chicago community organization is questioning why a House resolution is calling for a probe of how it uses state money. Lawmakers have asserted that the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) got money from the embattled, state-funded Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. But KOCO leaders say the group wasn’t part of that violence prevention program and they are “baffled” at the audit request.

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Plan Restores Grant Cuts
8:59 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Will Lawmakers Disappoint This Father?

Credit flickr/borman18

The Illinois Senate could begin voting Wednesday on a plan to reverse a smattering of state grants recently eliminated by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Democratic legislators say they were caught off guard earlier this month when Rauner suddenly took $26 million in funding away from programs, including ones that support autistic children and people with epilepsy.

Sen. Dan Kotowksi, a Park Ridge Democrat, says Illinois should restore at least a portion of the money. He proposes getting it by sweeping special state funds that have reserves.

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Statehouse
8:11 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Time Running Out For Medical Marijuana

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Patients with certain illnesses are on their way to being able to use medical marijuana in Illinois, but time is running out.

As it stands now, Illinois' medical marijuana program is only set to continue for another two and a half years, and sick people haven't even been able to legally buy cannabis yet.

Democratic Rep. Lou Lang says that wasn't his intent; he'd wanted the program to last twice that long. Lang blames a delay in Illinois awarding licenses to firms to grow and sell cannabis.

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Statehouse
6:26 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Study: Illinois Lacks Qualified Workforce

Kevin Weinacht, a member of ReadyNation, talks about the skills gap in Illinois.
Credit Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Illinois has more jobs than qualified workers, a group of business leaders say.

To bridge that gap, Sean Noble of ReadyNation says Illinois needs to improve its education system, primarily by expanding early childhood education.

"Current education and labor market trends indicate the Illinois workforce faces an increasingly serious skills gap," Noble said. "That's the gap between two important numbers: job postings and the workers who are skilled enough to fill those positions."

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Statehouse
2:59 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Public Radio Interview: Rauner At 100 Days

Amanda Vinicky interviews Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday in his Capitol office.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

Today marks Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's 100th day in office. He sat down in the Capitol for a one-on-one interview with WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky.

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Lincoln
2:23 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Plans Not Yet Clear For Lincoln Funeral Recreation

Credit Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Even if you're not into history and couldn't care less about a funeral recreation, you still might want to know what roads will be closed for the event. But according to Katie Spindell, who heads The Lincoln Funeral Coalition, it's not yet known. She says a list of road closures will go online soon. As for parking for those who do wish to attend, Spindell says, "It will be very difficult.

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Statehouse
1:34 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

House Votes To Limit New Specialty License Plates

Illinois has 109 different specialty plates.
Credit Illinois Secretary of State

Illinois drivers may see their future options for specialty license plates become more limited.

A proposal moving in the legislature would prevent any new groups from creating specialty plates and instead allow them to sell a sticker. The causes would still get revenue.

Rep. John D'Amico, a Democrat from Chicago, says the change will also help identify vehicles and provide less confusion for law enforcement issuing tickets.

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Business
11:38 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Danger On The North Side? WUIS/SJR Business Report

Tim Landis, Business Editor at the State Journal Register
Credit SJ-R.com
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Health Desk
9:04 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Tackling Heart Disease And Strokes One Step At A TIme

Credit IL Heart Assoc.

The 2015 Springfield Heart & Stroke Walk is a family-friendly fundraiser for the American Heart Association. Participants build teams of walkers who raise funds on behalf of their workplace or a loved one who suffered from heart disease or the effects of a stroke. The Executive Leadership Team has a goal of raising $100,000 for the American Heart Association; walkers who raise at least $100 will receive a t-shirt and are eligible for other prizes.

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Politics
7:16 am
Tue April 21, 2015

3 Republicans 2 Democrats Seeking Schock Seat

Credit seiunv.org

 The son of former White House cabinet member and longtime Congressman Ray LaHood remains the overwhelming favorite as the field takes shape for the race to replace ex-U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock.  

Monday is the final day to file nominating papers for the July 7 primary. Donald Rients of Benson and Mike Flynn of Quincy have filed paperwork to challenge Darin LaHood in the Republican primary. Adam Lopez of Springfield and Rob Mellon of Quincy have filed to run as Democrats.  

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Leadership
8:08 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Analysis: One Hundred Days Of Rauner

Credit The State Legislative Leaders Foundation

Tuesday marks a milestone for Gov. Bruce Rauner: his first 100 days as Illinois' governor. It's the first time the private equity investor has held elected office. He came in with big ideas, and big challenges.

There's no official significance behind a governor's first 100 days, but it's often used as the yard stick to gauge how well a new politician is doing.

Historians seem to trace it back to Franklin Roosevelt craftily using his first 100 days as president to usher in his New Deal. FDR was trying to bring the United States out of the Great Depression.

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Regional
7:38 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Midwest Travel: Rockford Mixes Fun With Learning

After years of preparation, Jane, the world's most complete and best preserved juvenile T. rex, is on display as the centerpiece of a captivating exhibit at Burpee Museum, Jane: Diary of a Dinosaur. Come discover what happened during the 66 million years she lay buried, visit the expedition's Montana base camp, and view Jane's fully restored 21-foot skeleton.
Credit Burpee Museum of Natural History

Freelance travel writer Mary Galligan's latest article in the Illinois Times focuses on Rockford and the museums based there. 

She visited the Rockford Discovery Center Museum, considered one of the top children's museums in the country. 

The Burpee Museum of Natural History has an impressive display of dinosaur exhibits. 

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Statehouse
7:35 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Illinois Autism Centers Threatened By Cuts

The Autism Program's website shows this logo to urge people to sign a petition for Illinois' autism centers.
Credit The Autism Program

Many Illinois parents who have children with autism bring them to one of nineteen centers around the state, but that may change.

Illinois' autism centers will have to close if the state doesn't allocate funds, leaders of the programs say.

The Autism Program was supposed to receive $4.3 million dollars this year, but that money was cut off when Gov. Bruce Rauner suspended a total of $26 million of state grants.

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Business
11:26 am
Mon April 20, 2015

One Stop Shop For New Businesses

State Senator Julie Morrison D. Deerfield
Credit Illinois General Assembly

The Illinois Senate this week may vote on a plan to create a "one stop shop" for people wanting to set up businesses in Illinois

The measure would require the state to set up a web site that provides details on the costs and links to the forms and information for setting up a business in Illinois.  Deerfield Democrat Julie Morrison is the sponsor.               

"This will serve everybody from the person who's starting a cottage business in their home to a really large business coming forward with a lot of employees," said Morrison.

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