Statehouse
10:29 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Six Months Into Speed Limit Increase, Driver Fatalities Down Observers Say

Credit senategop.state.il.us

Six months after state law increased interstate highway speeds from 65 to 70 miles per hour, transportation officials say there have been fewer fatalities on the road.  

Opponents of the bill said the increase in speed would lead to an increase in accidents.

Priscilla Tobias, state safety engineer with I-DOT, says while numbers are down, it's hard to discern whether the number is a trend.  As of Monday, Tobias says there's been 341 vehicle fatalities this year.

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Statehouse
12:47 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Illinois Lawmaker Convicted Of Bribery

Rep. Derrick Smith found guilty
Credit Peoria Public Radio

A federal jury in Chicago has convicted Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith of bribery for taking $7,000 from a purported day care operator.

Jurors returned with their verdict Tuesday after deliberating about four hours over two days.  

At trial, prosecutors played secret recordings of the 50-year-old Chicago Democrat allegedly accepting 70 $100 bills in exchange for a letter supporting a state grant. But it was all part of an FBI sting.  

The recordings of Smith were made by a campaign worker-turned-informant.  

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Statehouse
5:53 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Governor Approves Supplemental Budget For Current Year

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation allowing the state to spend an additional $1.8 billion in the current budget year.  

The measure passed the Legislature before the General Assembly adjourned for the spring last month.  It adds to the $35.4 billion 2014 budget lawmakers approved last May.  

Rep. Greg Harris is a Chicago Democrat and a House budget negotiator. He says the state had higher-than-projected revenue, thanks to an improved economy that generated more sales and income tax than was anticipated.  

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Science
4:30 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Durbin: Climate Denial 'Mindless And Irresponsible'

Sen. Dick Durbin answers questions from reporters Monday after a speech at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield. The Illinois Democrat says it's "mindless and irresponsible" to ignore the scientists describing global warming.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

As Democrats in coal states rush to distance themselves from new federal regulations intended to address global warming — Senator Dick Durbin says Illinois is in a good position among coal-producing states.

The Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama says states have to gradually cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent based on 2005 levels.

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Health Desk
3:14 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Durbin: Raise Tobacco Tax To Fund Medical Research

Sen. Dick Durbin answers questions from reporters Monday after a speech at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield. The Illinois Democrat is calling for a higher federal tobacco tax to pay for more basic medical research.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Sen. Dick Durbin wants a cigarette tax hike to help pay for basic medical research. The Illinois Democrat made his case Monday in Springfield, before a group of doctors and scientists at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

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Science
1:55 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Kincaid Mounds Still Holding Secrets

Credit KincaidMounds.com

Archaeological work at site that straddles Massac and Pope counties in deep southern Illinois has been a decades-long project. albeit on an intermittent basis.   Kincaid Mounds is the location where Native Americans that were part of the  Mississippian culture lived and worked starting around 1000 years ago. 

Dr. Brian Butler, Past Director of the Center for Archaeological Investigations and Emeritus Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will discuss some of the more recent discoveries this week. 

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Harvest Desk
6:04 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Farmers Hope For River System Improvements

Shipping via barge is crucial for farmers near the Illinois River and across the Midwest, but many say U.S. river infrastructure is out of date.
Credit Kenneth Spencer/flickr

Farmers and ag groups in the Midwest say the U.S. river system needs an upgrade, and they’re hopeful it will come with proposed improvements in legislation recently passed by Congress.  

The nation’s rivers are essential for moving agricultural products to market.

“It’s our third coast, if you will,” said Jim Tarmann, field services director with the Illinois Corn Growers Association. “Over 60 percent of our grain exports move via the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. That’s how things get to our world markets.”

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Mon June 9, 2014

After Some Juvenile Arrests, A Fresh Start

Credit Flickr.com/banspy

A new law will automatically clear certain arrest records for juveniles when they turn 18. It’s meant to keep arrests that did not result in criminal charges from following kids into adulthood.

The law applies only to arrests for lesser crimes — mostly non-violent. Sex offenses and top felonies will stay on the books, as will any arrest that resulted in formal criminal charges.

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70 years since D-Day
2:24 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Local WWII Vets Honored At D-Day Memorial

88-year-old Jim Hofstetter was 18 on D-Day, the day he enlisted. Hofstetter says he rejects the nostalgia of the "Greatest Generation" and says he sees huge potential for millennials.
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

It's been 70 years since allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in one of the turning points of World War Two. A memorial service in Springfield Friday told stories of the young men on the front lines.

The young men of 1944 are old men now. But they still remember.

Springfield resident Jim Hofstetter was 18 on D-Day, the day he enlisted. He knew it was the height of the war, but he also knew he had a job to do for his country.

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State Week
2:17 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Listen To State Week - June 6, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

A recap of the end of the just-completed Spring Legislative Session.

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