Illinois is quickly approaching a federal court's deadline of July 9 for the state to have a concealed carry law.
Every other state has some type of law that lets an average person carry a gun in public. But not Illinois where only those in certain professions can - namely police, retired law enforcement and security guards on the job.
Illinois is under a court order to lift that ban.
Legislators crafted a plan for how they want it done. Now everyone's waiting for Gov. Pat Quinn to take action.
University of Illinois employees are set to receive pay hikes this year, and just how much will depend on their performance. The school's leader says he's trying to provide a more stable financial environment for staff, even in the face of the state's unstable finances.
In a letter to employees*, University of Illinois President Robert Easter says competitive compensation is essential to recruit and retain top faculty and staff. And yet, he writes, "we must recognize the many uncertainties and challenges before us."
Amanda Vinicky talks with Tim Landis, Business Editor for the State Journal Register. We'll talk about Illinois' growing, and spreading, wine industry. And what to do about high-accident intersections. That and more in this week's Business Report.
You can read the latest stories Landis is working on daily in the SJR.
Illinois' fracking regulations divided the environmental community; while those like the Illinois Environmental Council signed on as proponents of the new law, others - like these activists - remain opposed.
Governor Pat Quinn says he's reviewing a measure that would lift Illinois' long-standing concealed carry ban. It took legislators months to reach a compromise, and still gun control and gun rights activists both say they're not happy. Other critics say they're upset about a lack of government transparency.
The concealed carry legislation approved late last month creates a seven-member board to review applications from people who want to be able to carry a gun in public.
Illinois has the worst funded pension system in the nation, and lawmakers have until today to do something about it. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn by midnight. After that, it requires extra votes to get legislation to the governor's desk. Pensions are not the only thing left. Plenty of other big-ticket policy issues are also unresolved.
More than six thousand bills are before the Illinois General Assembly this spring session. Legislators have until Friday to get through them.
And with some of the biggest policy issues facing the state still outstanding, measures will move, change and die rapidly. Amanda Vinicky spoke with a recent University of Illinois Urbana Champaign graduate has founded a company that aims to make it easier to follow what's happening at the capitol.
The legislative countdown continues, as Illinois' General Assembly is set to adjourn Friday. Lawmakers spent their Memorial Day at the capitol, where little apparent progress was made on many of the outstanding issues. The Senate met only briefly yesterday - the bulk of Senators' time was spent in private, partisan meetings.That's where they often make decisions on how to proceed on controversial issues. Like the budget.
In the waning days of its legislative session, Illinois took a major step toward implementing President Barack Obama's signature health care program. That Democrats, who hold solid majorities in the General Assembly, waited until this late in the session is telling.
Illinois lawmakers remain at odds over how to handle the state's $100 billion of pension debt. But there's a chance that this spring the General Assembly may finally do something about it. After years of no major action, there are not one, but two major packages designed to reign in Illinois' retirement costs. The House and Senate passed competing plans. Both of them seek to save Illinois money by cutting current and retired government workers' benefits. But one important group of government workers are being left out of both deals - judges.
Illinois' stack of overdue bills is smaller, thanks to stronger-than expected tax revenues. But as lawmakers begin finalizing a new state budget, one of the state's chief fiscal officers is cautioning lawmakers to get thrifty.
Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's wearing a purple, long-sleeved knit dress. It's by St. John's, a designer label whose dresses retail for about $800. Topinka brags she got it for $7 at Goodwill.
Schools that have sexual education classes would have to go beyond "abstinence-only" under a measure Illinois legislators sent the governor. The plan seeks to ensure students are getting medically accurate and age appropriate information.
The measure does not require schools to offer sex ed courses.
But if they do ... the legislation mandates that middle and high schools include information about birth control.
A state pension overhaul backed by government employee unions may save only half of what advocates had promised. That underscores an ongoing battle between the House and Senate over pensions, with only ten days left in the legislative session.
There's general agreement on this much: that Illinois' public pension systems have $100 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities. That's a fancy word that basically means "debt."
It's a big number that's getting Illinois in trouble with bond houses and eating into the state's budget.
Despite years of cuts to the Illinois state budget ... even more are ahead. Legislators are still deciding where else they can slash spending.
"Human services" is a legislative phrase Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) says covers:
HARRIS: "All the state departments dealing with health care, senior services, children services, so the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Medicaid, human services, mental health, substance abuse, Department of Aging, DCFS, public health and veterans... "
Illinois universities and community colleges have signed on to a deal that would have them pick up the cost of their employees' retirement benefits. It's part of lawmakers' ongoing efforts to reduce how much the state is spending on pensions.
Illinois has cut its spending on universities for years ... and even more reductions are expected next year.
School administrators say it's forced them to hike tuition, and to leave positions unfilled.
When a federal court declared Illinois' ban on letting people carry guns in public unconstitutional ... it also gave legislators an assignment: pass a concealed carry law by June 9. Lawmakers are in continued negotiations, but so far gun rights' activists have been unable to reach an agreement with those who favor stricter gun control. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is doubtful they will ... at least in time. He fears that could leave Illinois temporarily without ANY real limits on who can carry a gun, and where.
A plan that will leave state employees and teachers with reduced retirement benefits made it out of the Illinois House Thursday, potentially paving the way for the pension overhaul that has thus far eluded lawmakers. But it also ignites a face-off between two of the state's top Democrats — with the potential to keep a pension overhaul as elusive as it's ever been.
Illinois lawmakers are "weighing in" on Olympic organizers' decision to drop wrestling from the summer games.
The Illinois House passed a resolution encouraging the International Olympic Committee to reinstate wrestling as an Olympic sport. The state Senate is poised to do the same.
Former U-S House Speaker Denny Hastert made a special appearance in Springfield for it. Hastert was a wrestling coach in Yorkville before he went on to Congress. He says it's important to give young people the opportunity to reach for an Olympic dream.