Harvest Desk
8:42 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Harvest Blog: State Lawmakers Munch (Free?) Lunches

a-tisket, a-tasket, a policy-shaping basket?
Credit openclipart.org

When the "lobbyist" armed with a free basket of treats is a smiling farm kid, what state lawmaker could say no to the gift? 

That was the scene at Ag Lobby Day in the Illinois State Capitol, its rotunda invaded by a veritable army of bushel basket-toting FFA members.

The FFA lunch hour food distribution lent some younger voices to the chorus of voices advocating on behalf of Illinois agribusiness.

But if anyone knows there's "no such thing as a free lunch", it's farmers.

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Harvest Desk
7:00 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Ag Lobby Lining Up Against GMO Food Labeling

Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria)
Credit ilga.gov

Farmers, their lobbyists and legislators met in the Capitol Thursday to talk about legislation that would affect one of Illinois’ biggest industries – agriculture.

One proposal “big ag” is fighting would change the way food is labeled in Illinois.

State Senator Dave Koehler says consumers ought to know whether processed food they buy contains genetically engineered ingredients. 

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Statehouse
6:04 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Fifth Lawsuit Filed Against Illinois Pension Law

An Illinois House voting board in December shows the results for what would become a pension overhaul law.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

A fifth lawsuit has been filed by state employees challenging Illinois' new pension law.  
The lawsuit from current and former employees at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and Parkland Community College was filed in Champaign County Circuit Court Thursday.  

It says the legislation passed by the General Assembly in December violates several provisions of the state constitution, which says retirement benefits should not be diminished or impaired and private property should not be ``taken or damaged for public use.''  

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Election 2014
5:15 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Dillard Campaign Gets On TV: Watch

Senator Kirk Dillard, R- Hinsdale, who's trying for the second time for the GOP nomination for governor.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

With less than two weeks until the primary election, Bruce Rauner will no longer be the only candidate airing self-promotional T-V ads in Illinois. Senator Kirk Dillard is airing campaign commercials of his own.

The commercials Bruce Rauner has been airing for months, thanks mostly to the more than $6 million dollars he's put into his campaign, have helped him surge ahead in polls for the GOP race for governor.

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Election 2014
4:15 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Interview with 13th Dist. Congressional Candidate Michael Firsching

Michael Firsching
Credit Sean Powers

A veterinarian from Illinois’ Metro East area is making a third primary bid for Congress.  Michael Firsching previously ran for the state's old 19th Congressional district, and lost a primary 2012 bid for the 13th district.

He lost to Congressman John Shimkus in 2010, and he was defeated in 2012 by former 13th District Congressman Tim Johnson of Urbana.  This year, Firsching is in a field of six candidates, three from each major party, including Republican incumbent Rodney Davis of Taylorville.

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District 186
2:24 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Budget Talk: Bob Hill On Challenges Facing District 186

Bob Hill
Credit sps186.org

Dozens of District 186 employees will be without a job come the end of the school year. A week ago the interim superintendent, Bob Hill, suggested cutting teaching jobs at all levels. On Tuesday he came to the board with further cuts, including in technology and special education. 

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Election 2014
11:56 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Dillard's AFSCME Endorsement: Too Little, Too Late?

AFSCME is the third government-employee union to endorse state Sen. Kirk Dillard for governor, coming after the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican candidate for governor Kirk Dillard has picked up the endorsement of the the state's largest government-employee union. But with less than two weeks until the election, Brian Mackey asks if it's too little, too late.

Dillard's endorsement from AFSCME comes after front runner Bruce Rauner has been blanketing the state with television ads for months.

Rauner has been pounding a message that he'll fight so-called "government union bosses." He says state employees bargaining for salaries and benefits is "corrupt" and "immoral," and one of Illinois' biggest problems.

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Health Desk
11:52 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Student Food Allergies Change Classroom Policies

Credit flickr/stevendepolo

About one-third of teachers are keeping food out of their classrooms to avoid problems with students who suffer from allergies and other health issues.  

Horace Mann, a Springfield based insurance company,  conducted a nationwide survey of educators that includes questions about food policies. 

The survey shows in an average elementary school classroom with about 24 students, teachers say they have 1 to 2 students with food allergies.

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Let's Talk Kids
10:55 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Be Impeccable with Your Word

In his book, “The Four Agreements,” don Miguel Ruiz laid out four principles based on the great religions of the world and particularly his own Toltec roots in Southern Mexico.   These four agreements, he writes, provide a practical guide to personal freedom and happiness.

His simple ideas also provide a solid foundation for successfully raising our children.  Over the next four weeks, I’d like to explore these four ideas beginning today with the first agreement:  Be Impeccable with your Word.

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Children's health
8:29 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Children's Advocacy Group Calls For Increased State Funding

 Low-income children in Illinois are getting better healthcare coverage. But a new study says racial and socioeconomic disparities still exist. Voices for Illinois Children, the advocacy group behind the research, says its number one obstacle is state funding.

The group cites the expansion of Medicaid — the state's health program for low-income individuals — as having the single biggest impact on the well-being of kids in poverty.

Republicans (and some Democrats) in the General Assembly say Medicaid spending is unsustainable, and needs to be rolled back.

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