News

New State Superintendent Takes Over

Jun 1, 2015
Illinois State Board of Education

Tony Smith became the state superintend of education last month. Before coming to Illinois, Smith, who was hired by the State Board of Education, worked as a school administrator in his home state of California. He was superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District. He also served as deputy superintendent for the San Francisco Unified School District and superintendent of the Emery Unified School District. Most recently, he was executive director of the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation, which annually awards more than $5 million in education and child development grants.

More New Agency Hires

Jun 1, 2015

  Gov. Bruce Rauner chose James Dimas to become the secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services. Dimas is a veteran of IDHS. He led development and marketing for consolidating the agency into its current organizational structure. IDHS became the state’s largest agency in the late 1990s after seven previously separate health and social services agencies merged. Most recently, Dimas was owner and chief executive officer of Dimas Consulting, Inc., which focuses on human services programing, policy and administration.

Obituary – Don Moss

Jun 1, 2015

Don Moss, a longtime advocate for disabled people, died April 29. He was 85.

Obituary – Dan Walker

Jun 1, 2015

Dan Walker, the Democratic governor whose short political career was made and broken on battles within his own party, died April 29 in California. He was 92.

Walker focused much of his campaigning and governing on opposing the established Democratic power structure. In the early 1970s, that meant fighting Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Illinois Supreme Court
Brian Mackey / WUIS

ILLINOIS ISSUES - The fat lady has sung.

Now, the question is, how should Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner respond?

Hunting for bobcats could soon be legal in Illinois, but the measure barely passed the legislature.

When the proposal was first introduced, its sponsor, Democratic Rep. Patrick Verschoore, had to postpone the vote because it didn't have enough support.

But the second time around, it passed with the minimum number of required votes.

Verschoore says it is an important bill to manage the bobcat population.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois General Assembly ended its regularly scheduled spring session Sunday, without passing a single piece of Governor Bruce Rauner's so-called Turnaround Agenda.

Back in February, in his State of the State address, Rauner gave little indication he was willing to compromise on his pro-business platform: "We should consider it as a whole, not as a list of individual initiatives."

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he and Democratic legislators have until midnight Sunday to reach a deal on both the state budget and his pro-business agenda. That's when the General Assembly is scheduled to leave town for the summer.

University of Illinois

The chancellor at the University of Illinois' flagship campus says she expects the campus to be censured by the American Association of University Professors over the decision not to hire a professor following his anti-Israel Twitter messages. 

The current situation at the Illinois Statehouse as lawmakers and the Governor enter the scheduled closing weekend of the legislative session.  Rick Pearson of The Chicago Tribune joins the panel this week.

Harvest Public Media

The U.S. EPA is proposing tweaks to ethanol policy.

The agency proposed a cut to the amount of corn ethanol oil companies are required to blend in to our gasoline, as well as ambitious targets for low-carbon cellulosic ethanol, which is produced from grasses and other inedible parts of plants.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

As the Illinois General Assembly’s spring legislative session comes to a close, Gov. Bruce Rauner has failed win passage of his "Turnaround Agenda." Brian Mackey has this assessment of three of the most common theories as to why.

Parts of Illinois Democrats' $36 billion budget have now been approved by the General Assembly. But that doesn't mean they're going to the governor - at least not yet.

Think back civics class. You know the drill: in order for a bill to become a law, it has to first pass the legislature, and then be signed by the executive branch.

The first part is getting done - by Democrats, who control Illinois' General Assembly.

U.S. House of Representatives

Federal prosecutors have indicted former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert on bank-related charges.

A new plan to expand gambling in Illinois is emerging, but it could get caught up in a larger battle. Details are expected to surface on Thursday.

Illinois would get five new casinos under Sen. Terry Link's latest proposal. They'd go to Chicago, Danville, Rockford, Lake County and the south suburbs. It could also add so-called "satellite" casinos in places like Decatur.

As with previous proposals, horse race tracks would be able to get slot machines.

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com 2010 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

At birth, we humans learn to breathe air, to eat and digest food, to move our limbs in space.  Simply existing in this very different environment with its bright lights and loud noises is a gargantuan task for one so small.
This challenge demands of us a certain self-centeredness as we figure out who we are. But immediately we become aware of the people outside with us whose voices we heard from the inside.  And so for these first months of life we’re contented in our family’s cocoon.  Our world is very small.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

When it comes to shopping, I'm not a fan. Take me to a thrift store however, and I can dig around for hours in search of the perfect bargain. My house is decorated in odd old knick knacks and paintings from antique malls and second-hand stores. It's not unusual that most of what I am wearing is from Goodwill.

Abby Wendle / Harvest Public Media

Panda, standing six feet tall and weighing almost a ton, is everything a show cow should be: broad-backed and round-rumped, with sturdy legs holding up her heft. Her hide - thick and black, with splotches of creamy white - fits her name.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues


A plan awaiting Governor Bruce Rauner's signature would overhaul the way schools handle discipline. We wanted to meet some of the young activists behind the legislation. 

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's office appears to be preparing in case there's a strike. The state's contract with its largest public employees' union, AFSCME, expires on June 30, when the state's fiscal year ends.

ALPLM
ALPLM

The Illinois House has approved a proposal to revamp the management of the state-run Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

wikimedia commons

An Illinois proposal would provide funding for police body cameras.

The measure creates procedures for arrests and traffic stops, including pedestrian searches. Incidents like officer-involved shootings and arrests would have a standard protocol across Illinois, and the proposal would require more police training.

Funding would come from an increase in fines for traffic tickets.

Democratic Rep. Elgie Sims says when police officers wear body cameras, both the community and police benefit.

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois House overwhelmingly approved a plan that seeks to curb the abuse of heroin and painkilling drugs.

State Sen. Kwame Raoul
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday began taking up parts of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s pro-business agenda. They’re just as quickly taking them out.

Illinois Issues-WUIS

Democrats are going it alone on the budget and the bills are flying. How can you keep track of all the budget legislation out there? By using this handy list. 

Helping Kids In Foster Care Track Their History

May 27, 2015

Lacy is eight years old, though that’s not her real name. Lacy’s adoptive mom, Rebecca McClintock, asked us to disguise her daughter’s identity because we’re going to be talking about her past, and a lot of it is painful.

Brett Levin/Flickr

Plans to build a medical marijuana facility in the south-central Illinois city of Litchfield have run into obstacles.
 
 Department of Agriculture officials say the permit in that district is now under review. Department spokeswoman Kristi Jones declined to provide details.
 
 In February, Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration named Compass Ventures as the  winner of the lone permit to grow marijuana in the four-county district.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Heavyweights from each of Illinois' public universities gathered for a rare meeting at the state Capitol yesterday.

It's thought to be the first time leaders from all nine state schools have collectively met with the governor's office and the leaders in the General Assembly.

House floor
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Democrats are moving forward with a new state budget. The House passed a huge chunk of it on Tuesday.

The Democrats' budget includes funding many programs the governor planned to cut, even though Illinois is short about $3 billion to pay for all of that spending.

Public Domain

Higher education will see a funding cut next year, but Democrats want to lessen the impact compared to what the Republican governor called for.

Gov. Bruce Rauner suggested a more than 30 percent reduction. Democrats are proposing a 6.5 percent cut to universities.

Republicans voted against the Democrats' measure in committee. GOP Rep. Mark Batinick from Plainfield says the cost of doing business in Illinois is too high. That includes the business of higher education.

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