News

Flickr/Lara604

Last year, Downtown Springfield Inc. made a plea to residents, saying without extra fundraising dollars the group would go bankrupt. But it was able to regain losses, and now there are changes ahead for the group. For instance, the "Taste of Downtown" event that has been highlighting local restaurants for years will start focusing on a specific ingredient. For 2015, that will mean the event will focus on bacon. DSI is also appealing to the city for financial help to keep a sustainable budget.

Bill Wheelhouse/WUIS

Illinois' top two Republicans say they're disappointed the Federal government has halted funding for the future gen project in the region.

Governor Bruce Rauner and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk released a statement on the public-private coal project at Meredosia. 

They say the Fed's decision will block advancements in  so called "clean coal" efforts and bringing jobs to the region.   The two say they won't give up on the technology and bringing new jobs to the state.

Amanda Vinicky

For the past couple of weeks, Illinois' new governor, Bruce Rauner, traveled the state, giving speeches that mostly told audiences what's wrong with Illinois. Tuesday, he used his state of the state address to begin to describe what he wants to do about it.

Rauner didn't just deliver a big speech yesterday. He produced a full manifesto, complete with calls for an upheaval of Illinois' labor laws, changes to the constitution, a property tax freeze, and the hiring of more prison guards. The speech started off on a conciliatory note. Or maybe it was an invitation.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Governor spoke to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly on February 4, 2015. 

Jak Tichenor hosts the broadcast, with analysis from Rich Miller of Capitol Fax and WUIS' Amanda Vinicky.

Reaction from Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Republican Leaders Rep. Jim Durkin and Sen. Christine Radogno.

As Prepared for Delivery

 

Good Afternoon.

President Cullerton

Speaker Madigan

Leader Radogno

Leader Durkin

Lieutenant Governor Sanguinetti

ilga.gov

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is likely to have disagreements with the new Governor Bruce Rauner.  Madigan is a Democrat and Rauner a Republican.

But following the Governor's State of the State Address, the Speaker says he and Rauner are on the same page when it comes to limits on spending:

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner laid out an ambitious, pro-business agenda Wednesday during his first State of the State address. The Republican was speaking to a legislature that’s still dominated by Democrats, and reaction was mixed.

Rauner's agenda reads like a businessman's dream: restricting lawsuits and workers' compensation, and reducing the power of labor unions. But he also called for changes to the criminal justice system, acknowledging conditions in state prisons are "unacceptable."

As Prepared for Delivery

Also included: Policy Agenda and Conflict of Interest Timeline

 

Good Afternoon.

President Cullerton

Speaker Madigan

Leader Radogno

Leader Durkin

Lieutenant Governor Sanguinetti

Attorney General Madigan

Secretary White

Comptroller Munger

Treasurer Frerichs,

Members of the General Assembly,

Thank you for your service.

To our distinguished guests and to the media, thank you for attending today.

Illinois' first Republican Governor in twelve years delivered his first annual State of the State speech to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday, February 4. In this special edition of Illinois Lawmakers, Governor Bruce Rauner called on legislators to work with him to pass economic policies aimed at improving the state's business climate.

The state's business organizations are making sure lawmakers know they are opposed to a hike in minimum wage (Lawmakers probably probably knew where the groups stand on this one).

A Senate committee approved a measure that would increase the minimum wage to $11 per hour by the end of the decade.

The state's retailers says a minimum wage hike will keep people out of jobs and keep Illinois at a disadvantage.

This measure is more early legislative session  political fodder than a real policy effort. It came on the same day the Governor's State of the State message

Credit flickr/eggrole

Illinois has now approved approximately 1,000 patients
for the state's medical marijuana program.
 
 Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said Wednesday that
about 14,000 people have started the patient registration process. Of those,
about 2,100 have submitted at least part of the application.
 
 Some newly licensed growers say they'll be ready to provide medical marijuana
this summer. Gov. Bruce Rauner awarded licenses Monday to marijuana growers and
retailers across the state.
 

Dusty Rhodes

 

Senator Andy Manar has reintroduced a measure proposing to change the way schools are funded in Illinois. This time, it has new formulas, and a request for more money. 

Like the version debated last session, which passed the Senate but stalled in the House, this formula would give more money to districts with low property values and high rates of poverty. At a press conference on Tuesday, Representative Sue Scherer, a Democrat  from Decatur and a former teacher, talked about the inequity from personal experience.

Bill Wheelhouse/WUIS

The Department of Energy says it has suspended the long-planned FutureGen clean-coal project in western Illinois.  

DOE spokesman Bill Gibbons told The Associated Press  on Tuesday the department concluded the project couldn't meet a September deadline to use its $1 billion in federal stimulus funding.  

 

 

The Springfield school board took a close look at its budget Monday night, and discovered that it’s either $3 million in the black, or $3 million in the red.

 

Portrait of Lincoln, 1864
Francis Bicknell Carpenter

Tim Landis and Bill Wheelhouse talk about this spring's Lincoln Funeral Re-enactment, Video Gambling in Springfield and solar incentives for residential and small business users.

Bruce Rauner
brucerauner.com

State employees can rest assured-- Gov. Bruce Rauner does not want to cut their salaries. But a memo sent to state legislators Monday warns of other changes the governor would like to see.

Shortly after becoming governor, Rauner tried to spread goodwill, reaching out to workers with visits to state offices.

"I want to make Illinois a wonderful place to work for everyone here. I want good, fair compensation."

Then came a series of speeches, previewing his State of the State address on Wednesday, in which he says Illinois' payroll is bloated.

WBEZ

  Gov. Bruce Rauner has announced a list of the companies that'll be able to grow and sell medical marijuana in Illinois.

Illinois law spelled out what was supposed to be a blind process to select who'd get the potentially-lucrative pot licenses. Though it appears as if former Gov. Pat Quinn's administration had selected winners, he finished his term last month without awarding any.

Humans have been growing hemp for centuries. Hemp-based foods have taken off recently. So have lotions and soaps that use hemp oil. There’s evidence that different compounds in cannabis could be used as medicine and hope that its chemical compounds could hold keys to treatments for Parkinson’s disease and childhood epilepsy.

Illinois Department of Transportation

Illinois law is pretty straightforward: one child, per seat, each with his or her own seat belt. Rep. Mary Flowers, a Democrat from Chicago, wants to change the law for drivers who don't have enough room in their car for each kid. She proposes allowing two children, if they're between the ages of 8 and 15, to buckle into a single seat belt.

"It's a financial burden on a poor family. If they're trying to comply with the law, they should not be penalized because they don't have a bigger vehicle," Flowers said.

http://chicagosinglesclub.storenvy.com/

Chicago Singles Club probably sounds like a dating site - but it actually is an operation that records and releases free singles, of the musical variety. Chicago Singles Club is in its second year and features some of Chicago's best and most unique independent artists. We spoke with one of the founders, Jeff Kelley, to find out more:             

@GovRauner

If Illinois had political gravity, it could be said that all things orbit around Chicago. Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife Diana vow to change all that by living in the mansion and running state government from Springfield.

  Some might find it surprising that a governor would need to make such a statement. The historic mansion, 150 years old and just a few blocks from the statehouse, is considered the official residence of the governor, but not all have made it their home.

childcarecenter.us

Gov. Bruce Rauner has consistently said he's waiting to give details on his plans for Illinois' finances until his budget address, on February 18th. But decisions by previous lawmakers may force him to make closely-watched decisions sooner.

Illinois has a program that helps low-income parents pay for day-care. But -- because the previous General Assembly cut funding for it by millions from the current state budget - state money for has run out.

That's alarming for advocates like Emily Miller, who is with Voices for Illinois Children.

Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

You might think it goes without saying, but don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. If you took everything you saw on Facebook as truth, for instance, you might believe that by reposting a long legal disclaimer you could copyright the pictures and personal information you share on the social media platform and keep Facebook from stealing them to use for other purposes, such as marketing. Alas, your Facebook “friends” have steered you wrong. You already own content you post, but you also signed on to Facebook’s legal terms.

Bruce Rauner at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

News Analysis — Modern American audiences read George Orwell’s 1984 with a sense of relief. The fascist and communist mind control Orwell knew and feared is all but dead, clinging to life in a dwindling number of totalitarian tide pools around the globe. But the production of political propaganda, on the other hand, remains a growth sector.

wax figures of the Lincoln family inside the museum
Rachel Otwell / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum should stay paired with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency — but changes are needed. That was the finding of a study done as a result of measures in the legislature calling for the two to separate. House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, has been behind the push for the separation. But experts in the field of historic preservation say not so fast.

Schlosser, a retired Rantoul police lieutenant with 20 years of experience, has been director of the University of Illinois’ Police Training Institute since 2012. Among other degrees, he holds a doctorate in education from the U of I, and his studies have focused on what he calls the intersection of policing and race. This an edited, condensed version of his conversation with Managing Editor Maureen Foertsch McKinney.

Q. As an academic, I believe your research focused on the intersection of race and policing.

An osprey in flight
Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Ospreys, brought to Illinois as part of a project to restore the endangered hawk species, have flown the coop for warmer climates. But those working with the birds hope to see them return to the state in the near future. 

A group of volunteers are working to bring a skill to youth in the juvenile justice system that could give them an edge in the workforce.

Tinkerers and the technologically savvy have been using 3-D printing for years to make models, parts and just about anything. The printers rapidly manufacture items from a set of instructions. They typically render in plastic, but they can make things out of metal and other materials, too.

A recent study sought to gauge corruption at the state level in a novel way, by polling reporters who cover state government. Even by this new measure, Illinois was found to be one of the most corrupt states in the nation.

A team of economists is calling for changes to the way the federal government figures the cost associated with carbon emissions. 

The Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) is what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal entities use to estimate the monetary damage caused by carbon dioxide emissions. The current SCC is estimated to be $37 per metric ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. The number is used to consider the value of plans to address climate change by cutting emissions.

  More food passes through Illinois annually than any other state in the nation, according to a new report.

Megan Konar, with the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs, found that of the 400 million tons of food that move around the country annually, more than 70 million tons pass through the state. The volume of food that passes through Illinois would be enough to feed every resident for about five and a half years.

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