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.

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Statehouse
5:46 am
Tue September 2, 2014

State Starts Accepting Medical Marijuana Requests

Credit cannabisnews.org

Thousands of patients in Illinois will be able to start requesting permission to use marijuana under a new state law.

Authorities begin accepting applications for medical marijuana Tuesday from patients whose last names start with letters A through L. Caregivers can also apply on their behalf.  

Lawmakers adopted the medical marijuana law in 2013. Under its provisions, patients must have a written certification from a doctor and get a background check. The state is required to respond to a completed application within 30 days.  

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Harvest Desk
6:42 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Soybean Infection Appears In West-Central Illinois

Credit flcikr/Univ. of Delaware's REC photostream

There is evidence of the beginning of a soybean crop infection in some parts of west-central Illinois.
 
University of Illinois Extension educator Mike Roegge says some fields started
showing signs two weeks ago and affected areas rapidly expanded. He tells The
Quincy Herald-Whig (http://bit.ly/1u2B1uo ) that's ``not a good sign.''
 
The soil-based fusarium organism causes the sudden death syndrome. Roegge says
the organism keeps the plant from sending water and nutrients to the leaves. The
leaves start dying and turn yellow and brown.
 

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Regional
6:37 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Newborn Found Alive In Jacksonville Trash Bin

Police say a newborn baby found alive inside a trash bin in the central Illinois community of Jacksonville is in good condition.

Lt. Chris Johnson of the Jacksonville Police Department says authorities are still searching for the mother of the infant. The baby was apparently placed in the trash bin Saturday morning, less than 12 hours after it was born.  

Johnson says police aren't releasing the gender of the baby or exactly where it was found.  

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Statehouse
6:47 am
Fri August 29, 2014

State Retirees To Stop Paying Health Premiums

A Sangamon County judge issued a preliminary injunction barring Illinois from collecting higher health care insurance premiums from retired state employees.

In a 6-to-1 ruling in July, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision allowing the state to require retirees to pay for a portion of their own health care. The court said state-subsidized health insurance is a protected pension benefit and the state cannot charge premiums for it.  

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Statehouse
5:48 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Teamsters Vow To Fight IDOT Layoffs

Credit wuis

Lawyers representing 55 Illinois Department of Transportation workers laid off last week say the employees should be able to continue working for the agency in their staff assistant positions.  
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports the employees are members of the Teamsters union. Their positions were criticized by a state inspector general's report and are at the crux of a federal lawsuit alleging illegal hiring at the agency.

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Harvest Desk
6:33 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

New Law Allows Illinois Study Of Industrial Hemp

Credit flickr/Chris H

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a law allowing universities and the Illinois Department of Agriculture to study industrial hemp.  

The Chicago Democrat signed the measure Tuesday creating a pilot program.  
Industrial hemp is in the same species as marijuana but has a negligible amount of marijuana's active ingredient. Hemp can be used in the production of plastics, fuel, textiles and food.  

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Statehouse
12:55 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Unions Ask For Quick Ruling On Pensions

Credit sangamon.co.il.us

A coalition of labor unions and state retirees is asking a judge for an expedited ruling in a case challenging the constitutionality of Illinois' pension law.  

Attorneys filed the motion in Sangamon Circuit Court Thursday. They want Judge John Belz to factor in a Supreme Court decision that found health insurance premiums were a protected retirement benefit for state workers.  

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Statehouse
12:51 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Report Says IDOT Broke Hiring Rules For Years

Credit flickr/denniscarr

The state's top ethics investigator says the Illinois Department of Transportation improperly hired more than 250 employees in the past decade.  

Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza's  report says the practice began in 2003 but continued under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. 

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Statehouse
4:56 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

IDOT Cuts Positions Following Hiring Questions

Credit IDOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation is eliminating 58
positions that are at the center of a lawsuit alleging questionable hiring
practices.
 
 Acting Secretary Erica Borggren said Thursday the move is designed to boost
``accountability and restore public trust.''
 
In addition to eliminating ``staff assistant'' positions, IDOT is creating a
board to evaluate hiring, and is continuing a freeze on hiring for positions
that can be filled based on political connections.
 

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Statehouse
6:39 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Watchdog Applauds Investigation of Electric Supplier

Credit majorenergy.com

 An Illinois watchdog group is celebrating a decision by regulators to launch an investigation of an Orangeburg, New York-based alternative electric supplier.  

The Citizens Utility Board said Wednesday it's pleased the Illinois Commerce Commission adopted a recommendation to investigate Major Energy.  

Consumers have complained about misleading marketing by Major Energy. CUB says the company's rates are the worst it's seen in the Illinois competitive power market.  

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Education Desk
6:26 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Illinois Sees Slight Gains On ACT Scores

Credit Eastern Kentucky University

The Illinois State Board of Education says Illinois' high school graduating class of 2014 earned a composite score of 20.7 on the ACT.  

The score on the four-subject test is slightly higher than the class of 2013's score of 20.6. The national average is 21.  

Board officials say Illinois had the second-highest composite score among the 12 states that tested 100 percent of graduates, next to Utah.  

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Health Desk
7:27 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Making It Easier To Complain About Nursing Homes

Credit kaiserhealthnews.org

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed two pieces of legislation giving seniors and the disabled greater access to people who can address complaints about their care or their living conditions.  

One of the measures allows people with complaints about nursing homes to submit them electronically to the Illinois Department of Public Health. That takes effect immediately.

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Health Desk
6:47 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Brita Recalling Children's Watter Bottles

Brita recalling children's water bottles

Brita is recalling approximately 242,500 children's water filter bottles due to a possible laceration hazard.

The company said Tuesday that the lid of the hard-sided bottles can break into pieces with sharp points.

Brita has received 35 reports of lids breaking or cracking. No injuries have been reported.

The recalled bottles include a violet bottle with Dora the Explorer, a pink bottle with Hello Kitty, a blue bottle with SpongeBob Square Pants and a green bottle with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Each bottle has a Brita logo and white lid.

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Statehouse
3:43 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Audit: Illinois Overdrew Federal Medicaid Dollars

Federal auditors have found that Illinois used faulty methods
for withdrawing federal Medicaid money, resulting in overdraws the state later
had trouble repaying.
 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General
released the report Monday.
 
The report says Illinois created ``a perpetual `treadmill effect''' as it
continued to overdraw and repay later.
 
The state's withdrawals exceeded its spending by an average of $60 million per

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Statehouse
7:44 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Illinois Increases Penalties For Drug Crimes

Credit methproject.org

Illinois has increased the penalties for some drug offenses.  

Gov. Pat Quinn signed three drug-related pieces of legislation Saturday. They take effect Jan. 1.  

Manufacturing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of any school property will now be a Class X felony, punishable by a minimum of six years in prison. It was previously considered a Class 1 felony.  

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Education Desk
7:02 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Illinois Colleges To Be Smoke Free

Illinois' public colleges are going smoke-free _ indoors and out _ starting next summer.  

Gov. Pat Quinn says he's signed a law that bans indoor and outdoor smoking at all state-supported colleges and universities.  

The bill makes exceptions for smoking inside privately owned vehicles traveling through campus and some activities under the federal American Indian Religious Freedom Act.  A companion bill signed by Quinn also allows smoking on campus inside parked, non-state-owned vehicles.  

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Regional
7:00 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Feds Deny Permit To Store PCB's in Clinton Landfill UPDATE

Credit ehs.ua.edu

AP ADDS CLARIFICATION TO FOLLOWING STORY.

In a story Aug. 13 about a toxic waste permit, The Associated Press erroneously reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency denied a permit requested by an Illinois landfill to store PCBs. The EPA decided not to consider the request, meaning the landfill won't be able to store the chemicals. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided against giving a chemical waste permit to a central Illinois landfill that would allow it to store PCB.  

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Regional
4:43 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Police Searches More Likely For Minority Drivers In Springfield

Credit flickr/JasonRojas

A new report finds signs of racial bias in data collected about police searches during traffic stops in Illinois.  

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois released the report Wednesday.   It suggests police are nearly twice as likely to ask blacks and Latino drivers to consent to vehicle searches during traffic stops than they are to ask whites. But white drivers are about 50 percent more likely to have contraband found during such a search. 

Springfield numbers are similar to the statewide findings. 

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Harvest Desk
5:13 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Record Corn, Soybean Harvest Expected

Credit HPM

Farmers will produce a record-breaking corn harvest this year, surpassing earlier expectations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has revised upward its estimate of this year's corn harvest to 14 billion bushels.  
That exceeds last year's 13.9 billion bushel record.  

Soybean production also will set a new record at 3.8 billion bushels, beating the 2009 harvest of 3.4 billion bushels.  

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Lincoln
7:26 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Papers of Lincoln Adds Two New Documents

Credit Papers of Abraham Lincoln

A documentary project about Abraham Lincoln has scanned two previously unknown papers from the former president for its collection.  

The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is a project dedicated to identifying and publishing all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his lifetime. It's administered through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and co-sponsored by the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield and the Abraham Lincoln Association.  

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Harvest Desk
3:53 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Monday Harness Races Postponed

The Illinois State Fair grandstand
Credit WUIS

The Illinois State Fair has postponed Monday's harness races because of unfavorable track conditions.  
The races will now be run Wednesday starting at noon.  

Nearly three dozen horses were quarantined briefly over the weekend because of concerns they may have been exposed to a virus.  
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that officials lifted the quarantine Saturday, after the animals were cleared of having the equine herpes virus.

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Statehouse
3:46 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Illinois Concealed Carry Process Getting Easier

Rep. Brandon Phelps
Credit ilga.gov

There are signs that the initial rush of applications for permits to carry concealed weapons in Illinois is slowing down and the process is getting a bit easier to navigate.  

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports that observers say technology issues and other problems that applicants experienced when the process started in January have been largely remedied.  

Richard Pearson of the Illinois State Rifle Association says some people are getting their permits within 35 days of when they submitted their applications to police.  

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Statehouse
5:54 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Former Illinois Lawmaker Dies at 48

Former lawmaker Mike Smith died Saturday at age 48.
Credit ilga.gov

Services are pending for former west-central Illinois state lawmaker Mike Smith.  

Oak-Hines Funeral Home in Smith's hometown of Canton says the 48-year-old Democrat died Saturday morning at his home of a suspected heart attack.  

The (Peoria) Journal Star  reports Smith served 16 years in the state Legislature before losing his 2010 re-election bid.  

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Health Desk
4:14 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Illinois Posts Marijuana Patient Application Forms

Credit creative commons

Illinois posted applications for patients and caregivers in the new medical marijuana program, but doesn't want any submitted until Sept. 2.  

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Higher Ed
9:13 am
Fri August 8, 2014

UIC Official Demoted Over Plagiarism Allegations

Credit UIC.edu

A University of Illinois at Chicago official has lost his
position following a lawsuit alleging the official violated federal law by publicly discussing a dissertation and accusations of plagiarism.
 
 The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/1ovfpkj) Lon Kaufman was demoted
from his provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs positions to tenured professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.
 
 Chicago State University interim provost and senior vice president Angela

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Lincoln
5:26 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Lincoln's Handwriting Found On Book

Credit ALPLM

Historical experts say they've found Abraham Lincoln's handwriting inside a tattered book justifying racism that he may have read to better understand his opponents' thinking on slavery.  

``Types of Mankind'' was published in 1854 and circulated for decades by the Vespasian Warner Public Library in Clinton. Director Joan Rhoades brought the 700-page book to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in May to determine whether an inscription inside was made by the former president who worked to free the country's slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation.  

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Higher Ed
11:13 am
Tue August 5, 2014

SIU-C Owes Workers Back Pay

Credit Siu.edu

An administrative law judge says Southern Illinois University officials in Carbondale bargained in bad faith with unions and owes 1,500 current and former employees $1.9 million in back pay.

WSIU Radio (http://bit.ly/1no1Bba ) reports the university says it respectfully disagrees with Colleen Harvey's ruling and is weighing its legal options.  

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Historic Preservation
4:43 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Several Area Historic Sites Reducing Hours

Credit abrahamlincolnonline.org

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency says it will have to cut hours at 13 of its historic sites starting after Labor Day.  

The agency said Monday that a 19 percent cut in its budget for the sites forced it to cut back at sites such as the Old State Capitol in Springfield, the Lincoln Log Cabin in Lerna and Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville. Most will reduce the days they are open from five to four.  
The agency's budget was cut for the current fiscal year to $4.6 million.  

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Statehouse
5:39 am
Mon August 4, 2014

Report: Rauner Funneled Money Into Caribbean

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says money channeled through the Cayman Islands and connected to his business dealings had no impact on his personal tax rate.  

Rauner spoke to reporters Sunday, the day a published report detailed how three of his five holdings in the Caribbean were tied to GTCR, a Chicago-based private equity firm he helped found.  

The Chicago Sun-Times  cited a comparison of investments Rauner listed on a state economic disclosure form with the online corporate registry maintained by the Cayman Islands government.  

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Elexction 2014
11:31 pm
Sat August 2, 2014

Rauner Critical Of Quinn's Choice For Ag Director

Bob Flider
Credit Illinois Dept. of Agriculture

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is criticizing Gov. Pat Quinn's agriculture director.
 
Lee Enterprises Newspapers' Springfield bureau reports that Rauner did not mention Bob Flider by name in outlining his agriculture plans. But he said the agency's director must ``have first-hand farming
experience.''
 
Flider was named director of agriculture after he lost a 2010 re-election race
for the Illinois House. He then voted for Quinn's 67 percent income-tax increase
after earlier opposing it.
 

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