Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

 A House committee has approved a measure that would
privatize the state's economic development agency and turn the Abraham Lincoln
Library and Museum into a stand-alone institution.
 
 The House executive committee on Wednesday unanimously passed legislation
merging two ideas from House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner.
 
 Madigan has pushed for the Lincoln Library to be a stand-alone agency instead
of under the Historic Preservation Agency, which would be eliminated under the

seiunv.org

 The son of former White House cabinet member and longtime Congressman Ray LaHood remains the overwhelming favorite as the field takes shape for the race to replace ex-U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock.  

Monday is the final day to file nominating papers for the July 7 primary. Donald Rients of Benson and Mike Flynn of Quincy have filed paperwork to challenge Darin LaHood in the Republican primary. Adam Lopez of Springfield and Rob Mellon of Quincy have filed to run as Democrats.  

While the headline sounds like its from the 1980's, AP Business Writer Marcy Gordon wrote about a new report from a group led by Paul Volcker.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker is calling for a reshaping of the U.S. financial oversight regime, which he says is splintered and ineffective.

Verizon is giving its customers have more control over the channels they pay for as the cacophony of cord cutting reshapes cable TV.

Verizon's FiOS Custom TV, available Sunday, gives customers the option to buy a $55 base package with more than 35 channels plus two additional themed channel packs.

There's currently seven channel packs to choose from, including genres such as sports, children and lifestyle. Customers can add more channel packs _ which include about 10-17 channels on average _ for $10 each. They may also swap out channel packs after 30 days.

Stephenson County Animal Control officials say a northern Illinois woman charged with animal cruelty has turned 84 dogs over to officials.  

 Animal Control Warden Kristen Laue said 45-year-old Tina McKinnon of Freeport turned the dogs over Wednesday.  
 

According to the Journal Standard in Freeport,  McKinnon was charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals after the animals were found in her home March 16.  
 

Credit flickr/eggrole

Illinois residents have petitioned the state to add more than 20 medical conditions to the medical marijuana program, including anxiety, migraines, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder.  

The Associated Press obtained the petitions through a Freedom of Information Act request. Names of petitioners were blacked out to protect patients' privacy. Individuals identifying themselves as veterans of Vietnam and Iraq asked that PTSD be included, adding emotional pleas for help.  

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

 Gov. Bruce Rauner has issued his first two pardons since becoming governor nearly three months ago.
 
 The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports over the weekend
that the pardons by the Republican went to Neil Hebert and Michael Sullivan.
Rauner rejected 57 other clemency petitions.
 
 The 43-year-old Hebert was convicted of theft in Champaign County when he was
20. He served two years of probation. The News-Gazette says Sullivan was
convicted of burglary in Cook County in 1979.
 

(Information in the following story is from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://chicago.suntimes.com/)  

A new TV show is set to focus on the grandchildren of a couple who lost six kids in a 1994 van crash linked to the investigation and conviction of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the show about the Tennessee-based Willis family will premiere May 5 on TLC.  

Sandi and Jesse Jackson Jr. at the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver
WUIS/Illinois Issues

A friend and former House colleague of Jesse Jackson Jr. says Jackson is being released from a federal prison Thursday and into a halfway house.  

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy told The Associated Press he recently spoke with Jackson at the minimum security federal prison camp in Montgomery, Alabama.

The son of the civil rights leader has been serving a 2 1/2-year sentence after pleading guilty to illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.  

Unemployment continued to fall in Illinois in February, hitting 6 percent for the first time since 2008.  

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Tuesday that the jobless rate fell to that level from a January rate of 6.1 percent. The national unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in February.

Unemployment has now fallen in Illinois for 11 of the past 12 months. In February 2014, the jobless rate was 7.9 percent.  

Lawmakers are scheduled to consider a new plan introduced by House Speaker Michael Madigan to end weeks of negotiations over plugging a $1.6 billion hole in this year's state budget.

WUIS/Brian Mackey

Illinois' Democratic attorney general has delivered a blow to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's efforts to weaken labor unions.
 
 Lisa Madigan on Friday issued formal opinions saying two of Rauner's proposals would be illegal.
 
 One would allow local governments to create so-called ``right to work zones''
where union membership would be voluntary. The other would let local governments opt out of prevailing wage agreements, which require workers on government
projects to receive wages that reflect local compensation for similar jobs.
 

A person familiar with the case tells The Associated Press
that the Justice Department is formally investigating whether Rep. Aaron Schock
of Illinois, who has submitted his resignation, committed crimes with his office
expenditures and business dealings.
 
 The government is convening a federal grand jury in Springfield, Illinois, this
source says, and the FBI has started issuing subpoenas to compel people close to
the Republican congressman to testify. The source spoke only on grounds of

wuis

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office has instructed state agencies to begin diverting ``fair share'' fees from nonunion members' paychecks away from unions.  

A memo obtained by The Associated Press directs departments to create two sets of books to do it.  

The Republican governor signed an order last month ending the practice of collecting union fees from non-union members. He labeled it a First Amendment violation and asked a federal court to overturn the state requirement.  

Unions collect the fees to defray the cost of work that also benefits nonmembers.  

Darin LaHood
Illinois General Assembly

Illinois state Sen. Darin LaHood has announced his candidacy for U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock's soon-to-be-vacant congressional seat.

The Republican from Dunlap made the announcement Wednesday on WMBD radio in Peoria.

LaHood says he has received "a lot encouragement" to run and that he'll campaign on his state Senate record, which includes being a strong advocate for ethics reform.

LaHood has served in the Senate since 2011. His father is former U.S. Transportation Secretary and Congressman Ray LaHood, who preceded Schock in Congress.

Amanda Vinicky

Republican Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois says he's resigning his House seat amid questions about his spending.

In a statement on Tuesday, Schock said he would step down effective March 31.

Schock, a four-term lawmaker, said he was taking the step with a "heavy heart." He said that questions about irregularities in his campaign finance and congressional spending accounts over the past six weeks have proven to be a "great distraction" and have made it too difficult for him to serve.

flickr/JennDurfey

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added an extra layer of regulatory protection for a central Illinois aquifer by declaring it a primary source of drinking water.  

The EPA on Wednesday said the Mahomet aquifer is primary water source for more than 750,000 people in central Illinois. That guarantees extra scrutiny of any project there that includes federal finances.  

 An Illinois lawmaker has announced he will receive treatment for recently diagnosed esophageal cancer.  

State Rep. Frank Mautino of Spring Valley says his doctor found a mass in his esophagus during a routine physical in late January. The 52-year-old Democratic lawmaker says he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer after a biopsy was conducted in February.  

Mautino told The (Ottawa) Daily Times  during a phone interview on Monday that doctors have told him the cancer is 97 percent treatable.  

Il Dept. of Corrections

A suburban Chicago man who spent 20 years in prison for abduction and rape has been exonerated after DNA evidence indicated he was wrongfully convicted.  

Despite the decision Monday by Lake County prosecutors to drop the case against 41-year-old Angel Gonzalez of Waukegan, the man was not allowed to walk away from Dixon Correctional Center.  

Gonzalez attended the hearing in Lake County Court. But he was sent back to Dixon, where he still faces a three-year term for a late 1990's conviction of damaging state property at another prison. 

nissanusa.com

 Nissan is recalling 625,000 more cars in the U.S. as part of a growing problem with faulty latches that can allow hoods to fly open while cars are moving.
 

WUIS Education Desk logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

 Illinois' longtime House speaker is forming a bipartisan task force to examine a way to fix the state's  school funding formula.  

Michael J. Madigan's office announced Thursday the panel would include lawmakers from various regions of the state. It's scheduled to meet for the first time next Wednesday in Springfield.  

The last major school funding formula overhaul took place in 1997. While there's wide agreement the current formula doesn't effectively distribute state dollars to students across the state, how it should be changed remains under debate.  

A South Bend museum is lending a carriage once belonging to President Abraham Lincoln to a museum in Washington, D.C.  

The Lincoln carriage is being moved Thursday from the Studebaker National Museum to the National Museum of American History. The South Bend Tribune (http://bit.ly/1Gn7fJ2 ) reports it will be on display at the Smithsonian museum this spring in an exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the president's assassination.  

The carriage carried Lincoln and his wife to Ford's Theatre, where he was shot on April 14, 1865.  

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Illinois' statewide reading program has announced its 2015 book selections.

The Illinois Reading Council on Wednesday named books for everyone from adults to newborn babies. The program is intended to promote reading for people of all ages.

The selections include several by authors with ties to Illinois.

Among the selections for adults is ``Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football'' by Rich Cohen and ``Identical'' by Chicago author Scott Turow.

npr.org

A prominent civil rights activist and academic has canceled a speech at the University of Illinois because of the school's decision to rescind a job offer to a Native American studies professor.  

Cornel West said Wednesday that he will not speak at the Urbana-Champaign campus because of the dispute between the university and Steven Salaita. West was scheduled to deliver a lecture in April.  

He called the university's decision to rescind the job offer ``a moral scandal.''  
 A university spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

Illinois Issues

Documents show Illinois has a nearly $130,000 contract with a Chicago engineering firm to evaluate the closed, taxpayer-owned Eagle Creek Resort on Lake Shelbyville.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises (http://bit.ly/1F9slHf ) newspapers reports Globetrotters Engineering Corp. will take a look at what it could cost to make repairs and reopen the resort. That includes evaluating the condition of floors and the potential cost of upgrading electrical systems.  

The company's contract with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources lasts through September.  

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock has reimbursed the U.S. government for more than $1,200 to travel to a Chicago Bears football game last November.  

A spokesman said late Monday that Schock wrote a check to cover the costs of the trip. The congressman previously charged the private air travel to his House office account, which is funded by taxpayers.  

Newly released congressional expense reports show Schock charged more than $14,000 in private air travel last fall. Those costs add to a list of several flights he took on planes owned by donors.  

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock spent taxpayer and campaign funds on private planes to fly around the country on aircraft owned by some of his donors.  

An Associated Press review of his expense records found the flights. There also were other travel and entertainment charges, including for a massage company and music concerts.  

Schock's use of congressional and political funds to pay for trips on supporters' aircraft raises new questions amid an ethics inquiry already underway. The expenses include a trip for $11,400 and apparent trips before last November's elections.  

flickr/MarkHarkin

An Illinois lawmaker wants to make it legal to sell fireworks such as Roman candles and rockets in the state.  The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1vTNJLd ) Sen. Chapin Rose introduced legislation Friday to allow the sale of so-called ``consumer'' fireworks.  

The Mahomet Republican says taxing fireworks sales could generate at least $10 million each year.  

A Consumer Products Safety Commission report found Illinois is one of 10 states that don't allow the sale of consumer fireworks. Illinois does allow sparklers and other novelties.  

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments in the state's landmark pension-overhaul case on March 11.

Arguments will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the high court chamber in downtown Springfield.  

The Illinois General Assembly and former Gov. Pat Quinn adopted a plan in late 2013 designed to cut into the $111 billion deficit in four state pension programs built by years of underfunding.  

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed the wife of a
top aide to a $121,000 post at the Department of Commerce and Economic
Opportunity.
 
Rauner's office Friday said Andria Winters of Chicago would be replacing Dan
Seals as the department's assistant director.
 
Winters' husband, Aaron, is Rauner's deputy chief of staff for policy.
 
Andria Winters previously worked at Motorola Mobility. Like her husband, she is
a former aide to U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and served on Rauner's transition team.
 

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