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Regional
6:18 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Pike County Sheriff Enters NOT Guilty Plea

Pike County Courthouse
Credit Pike County

The Pike County sheriff has pleaded not guilty to a felony misconduct charge after prosecutors say he botched the 2012 death investigation of a woman who overdosed on heroin.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty's attorney filed a motion Monday to dismiss the case or appoint a special state's attorney.

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Regional
9:58 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Springfield Council Sets Ward Boundaries

Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

The political boundaries for Springfield aldermen have been set.  The city council approved a new ward map last night on a 9-1 vote.  It will take into account census data.  The map design also was done to ensure an African American represents Ward 2.  

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Business
4:54 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Business Report: Esquire Theater Future, Ross Isaac Closes And Joe Rogers' Chili To Re-Open

The Esquire Theater in Springfield
Credit CinemaTreasures.org/Norman Plant

Tim Landis, Business Editor of the State Journal-Register, joins WUIS' Sean Crawford for this week's business report.

They discuss how the clock is ticking for the former Esquire Theatre property at MacArthur Boulevard and South Grand Avenue, news involving a pair of restaurants and a court weighs in on Ameren's big project for a transmission line across central Illinois.  

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Statehouse
4:49 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Rauner Wades Deeper Into Tax Debate, But Offers No Budget Plan

Bruce Rauner is robo-calling voters in seven House districts he says are key to the income tax debate.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is wading deeper into the debate over whether Illinois ought to extend a higher income tax rate. He's still refusing to say how he would manage the state budget.

The Rauner campaign says it's making robo-calls to voters in seven House districts. These are key Democrats in the budget debate — most have previously taken positions against the higher tax rate.

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Illinois High School Association
4:15 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Lawmakers Call For Transparency From IHSA

  The organization that coordinates Illinois high school sports and activities was under scrutiny Tuesday in Springfield. Lawmakers want the Illinois High School Association to be more transparent, but the not-for-profit group is pushing back.

While Illinois high schools are not required to become IHSA members, the organization does run the major statewide competitions.

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Statehouse
2:23 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Republicans: Ask Voters About Income Tax

Credit wikimedia

The question of whether to extend Illinois' temporary income tax increase has dominated the spring legislative session. On Tuesday, Republicans said the question ought to be put to voters this fall.

Illinois voters will face a long list of referenda on the November ballot: on voting rights and crime victims rights, and possibly the minimum wage, term limits for lawmakers and legislative district map-making.

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Statehouse
11:27 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Quinn Pitches Tax Plan To House Democrats

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks with reporters Monday in the Capitol after meeting with House Democrats for more than two-and-a-half hours.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Pat Quinn appealed directly to Democrats in the Illinois House Monday evening. He’s struggling to win support for his plan to extend Illinois’ higher income tax rate.

The governor appeared at a closed meeting of the Illinois House Democratic caucus.

Quinn is trying to win the support of the 60 Democrats required to make Illinois’ 5 percent income-tax rate permanent — instead of letting it decline by more than a percentage point as scheduled at the end of the year. Quinn warns without the higher tax rate, there will have to be drastic cuts in state services.

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Sports
8:45 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

UIS Announces First Athletics Hall Of Fame Class

The SSU Prairie Stars soccer team of 1986-87 won the NAIA national championship, and went on to defeat powerful UCLA in the World Collegiate Championship. There they placed second in the world, after losing to the University College of Dublin, 1-0.
Credit library.uis.edu

UIS has a new Athletics Hall of Fame and the first class of inductees have been announced.   The inaugural class includes longtime Athletic Director and soccer coach Aydin Gonulsen.  

His 1986 NAIA National Champion men's soccer team was also selected.  Gonulsen also had two other national titles at UIS.  

Other inductees include soccer player Elias Shehadi, tennis player Carla Mills and Harold Christofilakos, a friend of the Prairie Stars who was a charter member of the school's booster club.    

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Health Desk
5:23 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Mumps Case Involving District 186 Employee

Credit District 186

Springfield District 186 says an employee had a confirmed case of mumps.  The district was notified late Friday.  Officials say the employee had NOT been in contact with any students during the time of being contagious.  

The employee has not been identified, nor the location where they work.  Staff who were in contact with the individual have been notified.

District 186 says a majority of students have received the mumps vaccine.  It says if mumps are confirmed in a school, parents of those kids without immunizations would be notified.  

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Regional
4:16 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Illinois Supreme Court Reprimands Springfield Alderman

Credit springfield.il.us

Springfield attorney and Ward 5 alderman Sam Cahnman has received a censure from the Illinois Supreme Court.

The move follows a recommendation the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission made last year.  The Commission says Cahnman intentionally misled an Associate Circuit Judge about how he gained possession of a page from the judge's private calendar.  Cahnman has denied that charge.    

James Grogan is with the Commission.  He says Illinois' high court issues a censure when there has been a violation of the lawyer's ethics code.

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Statehouse
3:17 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Rauner Blasts House Democrats On Budget Process

Bruce Rauner
Credit WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is criticizing House Democrats for adopting budget measures without an approved plan to pay for them.  

Rauner talked to reporters in Northbrook Monday as Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was set to meet with lawmakers in Springfield. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Rauner calls this year's budget process ``playing political games'' and ``showing a lack of leadership''  
 Last week, the House approved budget measures contingent on an income tax increase extension. It rolls back in January, creating a $1.8 billion hole.  

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Heroin use in Illinois
2:04 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Heroin Task Force To Target Drug's Use Through Legislation

Credit Wikimedia commons

  Heroin use has surged in Illinois, especially in the collar counties around Chicago. State officials are considering whether new laws are needed to stop the spread of heroin and treat addiction more effectively.

The state's heroin task force met in Springfield to hear testimony from experts on addiction.

Dr. Daniel Angres, a psychiatrist with suburban-based Presence Health, says heroin use has become more prolific because the stigma has faded.

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Statehouse
12:43 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Quinn To Meet With House Democrats On Budget, Taxes

Gov. Pat Quinn, seen in this 2013 file photo, will make his case for an extension of the income tax at a meeting of House Democrats Monday afternoon.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield Monday to begin the final two weeks of the spring legislative session. The big question remains whether Democratic leaders can convince enough rank-and-file lawmakers ... to make a higher income tax rate permanent.

Although Gov. Pat Quinn, Senate President John Cullerton, and House Speaker Michael Madigan all support making the temporary 5-percent income tax rate permanent — Madigan in particular has had a hard time getting fellow House Democrats to go along.

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Regional
8:41 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Pike County Sheriff Charged With Misconduct

Pike County Courhouse
Credit Creative Commons

The Pike County sheriff is facing a felony misconduct charge for a 2012 death investigation of a woman who overdosed on heroin.  

Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty is also the county's coroner. He was charged after prosecutors say he didn't follow procedures for embalming the body of 47-year-old Shanda Lopez.  

Two other men were charged in connection with Lopez's death, including one who's accused of drug-induced homicide.

Authorities say Petty didn't draw blood for a toxicology screening before Lopez's body was embalmed.  

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Property tax rebates
7:58 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Civic Federation: Property Tax Rebates Inefficient

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Taxes have been in the spotlight at the state Capitol this spring, most visibly the fate of the state's income tax rates. But another tax plan, floated by Governor Pat Quinn, is also attracting ire of Republicans and economists alike.

Governor Quinn's plan for the Illinois budget calls for extending the state's 5-percent income tax rate, instead of allowing it roll back.

It's coupled with a $500 property tax rebate for every homeowner in Illinois.

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Regional
3:09 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

State Can't Find Agreement The City Used As Basis For NAPA Deal

Credit City of Springfield

The state says there's no evidence of the intergovernmental agreement that Springfield officials relied on as the legal basis for the NAPA contract approved last month.

Last week, city attorneys asked the state to find proof of a state agreement with a national purchasing agency.  Earlier this month, some aldermen questioned the contract used to procure the 3 year, $3 million contract with NAPA Auto Parts.

The city got their answer today, a letter that indicates no trace of the agreement.

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State Week
2:24 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Listen To State Week - May 16, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week the Illinois House passed a spending bill that surpasses projected state revenues, leading to more debate over allowing the temporary income tax to expire.  Also, judicial action has put the state's pension overhaul on hold.

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Arts
12:44 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Bedrock 66 Motel Mirrors 5/23

Motel Mirrors

The next Bedrock 66 Live! performance will be Friday, May 23 at Donnie's Homespun, 107 W. Cook in Springfield. Amy LaVere and John Paul Keith will perform songs from their recent EP Motel Mirrors along with songs from their solo records.  Joining Amy and JPK will be the southern Illinois rockabilly group the Swamp Tigers. Show time is 8 pm and $12 advance tickets are available at www.bedrock66.com.

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Statehouse
10:51 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Speaker Wants Voters To Decide Minimum Wage

  Plans to raise the minimum wage in Illinois have struggled all spring. Instead of letting the proposal fail in the General Assembly, Democratic leaders want to put it to voters. The question on the November ballot would be non-binding.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he wants to ask voters a simple question: "Shall the minimum wage in Illinois for adults, over age 18, be raised to $10 an hour by January first, 2015?"

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Transportation
9:13 am
Fri May 16, 2014

"Curb Your Car" Next Week

Credit Tejvan Pettinger/flickr

The Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission wants you to leave the car at home next week.  Instead, think about biking, walking, running or using the bus.  

Curb Your Car Week begins Monday and several business are offering incentives. There is also a group ride from Washington Park on Wednesday morning, May 21.  A night ride that goes through downtown is on Saturday May 24.

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Budget FY15
5:56 am
Fri May 16, 2014

House Democrats Pass Spending Plan (Barely)

Illinois is beginning to work on its budget for Fiscal Year 2015.
Credit wnij

How much you'll pay in state taxes next year remains an open question, even as the Illinois House Thursday approved dozens of spending bills, that rely on a permanently higher tax rate. It sets the stage for a budget battle, just weeks before legislators are set to adjourn for the summer.

The Illinois House convened at 8 o’clock Thursday morning, and spent most of a very long day on the budget. Lawmakers began with a debate on funding Illinois' public education system, giving schools a slight increase over this year.

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Budget fight
10:59 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Democrats Ask Republicans: "Where's Your Budget Plan?"

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republicans are not happy with the budget pushed through the Illinois House Thursday by Democrats. But Democrats counter that Republicans aren't offering any proposals of their own.

House Republicans denounced Democrats for passing an out-of-balance budget that relies on a tax increase.

Democrats, however, say Republicans only want to criticize, and haven't put forth a plan of their own.

Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea) says he searched for the Republican budget everywhere. He even asked his dog.

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Statehouse
8:05 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Rating Agencies Not Worried About Pension Hold

Credit ILGA.gov

Illinois' pension overhaul might be on hold, but credit ratings agencies say they're not concerned. A Sangamon County judge Wednesday ruled that reductions to public employees' retirement benefits will not go into effect next month, as planned.                                                  

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Statehouse
7:30 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

State Unemployment Drops To Lowest Since Recession, But Still Behind The Nation

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois unemployment rate is at its lowest mark in five years. Democratic Governor Pat Quinn is touting the news, but the state still lags the nation.       

Governor Quinn was exuberant during a stop at a manufacturing company in the Chicago suburbs.

“Unemployment is at it's lowest rate in the last 5 and a half years and we're very happy to say that Illinois' economy is on a roll,” Quinn said.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. 

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Statehouse
5:24 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Temporary Hike Costing Average Taxpayer $1,100 This Year

Credit flickr/scottjwaldron

The temporary income tax hike Illinois lawmakers are considering extending is costing the typical taxpayer about $1,100 more this year, according to calculations by the Governor's Office of Management and
Budget.
 
The 67 percent increase on individuals approved in 2011 is producing about $6.6 billion in additional revenue for the state this year. Democrats promised when they raised the individual rate from 3 percent to 5 percent that it would roll back to 3.75 percent in January 2015. Now Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative

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Statehouse
10:02 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Lawmaker Calls On Quinn To Nix Private Company That Runs Lottery

Credit Illinois Lottery

A state lawmaker wants Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to fire the company responsible for running the state’s lottery.

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Statehouse
9:57 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Senate President Moves To Save Obama Artifacts For Presidential Library

Credit Illinois Senate

An Illinois Senate panel Wednesday approved a measure to pay tribute to one of the chamber's most distinguished former members.                                         

Barack Obama was once one of 59 state senators. He had a desk. And a chair. And someone had the foresight to put them into storage.

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Education funding
9:52 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

House Panel Approves $13 Billion For K-12 Education

Credit flickr/LizMarie_AK

  An Illinois House panel Wednesday signed off on a budget for the state's public school system.

The $13 billion dollar appropriation is almost a billion more than this year's budget, reversing the state's trend of cutting funding for K -12 education.

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Pensions
9:48 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Univ. Of Illinois Will Try To Retain Faculty Who Retired Under Wrong Pension Interpretation

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Officials at the University of Illinois say they are willing to work to retain faculty who opted to retire early as a result of mistakes in the state's pension overhaul.

It was a small typo, but it turned out to have big consequences for the state's public universities and community colleges.

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Statehouse
9:45 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Lacking 'Black And Brown Children,' IMSA To Lose $1.8m

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia's Aurora district includes the Illinois Math and Science Academy.
Credit ILGA.gov

In the House Democratic budget plan, most state institutions would get level funding or a slight increase.

One of the few cuts is directed at the Illinois Math and Science Academy.

Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, a Democrat whose Aurora district includes IMSA, says the decrease is because the elite high school has failed to meet diversity goals.

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