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
2:44 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Lawmaker Calls For Reducing Propane Sales Tax

Credit flickr/rejon

A southern Illinois lawmaker wants to temporarily cut the tax on propane.  
The Belleville News-Democrat reports the proposal is being introduced by Salem Republican Rep. John Cavaletto.

He wants to lower the tax from 6.25 percent to 1.25 percent. If it's approved, the decrease would take effect June 1 and last through August.  
 

Cavaletto says the temporary reprieve could mean ``hundreds of dollars in savings for the average homeowner'' if they fill propane tanks before the temperature drops in the fall.  
His says his bill would offer one-time relief.  

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Statehouse
5:49 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Effort To Consolidate Pension Lawsuits

Efforts are underway to consolidate four lawsuits challenging Illinois' new pension reform law.  

Lawyers representing the respective groups of state retirees who filed class-action suits have asked the Supreme Court to allow them to present their cases as one.  

The groups share the common claim that the new pension reform plan violates the state constitution, which says benefits may not be diminished.  

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Regional
7:28 am
Tue February 25, 2014

FutureGen Gets OK For Morgan County Pipeline Route

FutureGen site in Meredosia
Credit WUIS

Illinois regulators have given the FutureGen Alliance the go-ahead for a 30-mile carbon dioxide pipeline.  

The  State Journal-Register reports  the pipeline would be buried at least four feet underground in northeast Morgan County. It'd be even deeper under farmland.  

The $1.68 billion project will refit a coal-fired power plant in Meredosia  in western Illinois. Authorities want to remove carbon dioxide from the coal and store it underground. The greenhouse gas is linked to climate change.  

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Statehouse
7:18 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Quinn Getting Campaign Operation in Gear

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is ramping up his re-election campaign. 

Quinn's campaign announced over the weekend the Chicago Democrat has hired Illinois native Bill Hyers to serve as chief strategist. 

Hyers most recently managed Bill de Blasio's successful campaign for mayor of New York. In 2012 he managed President Barack Obama's Pennsylvania campaign operation. He was Midwest director for Obama in 2008.  

Quinn is seeking his second full term. He faces a lesser-known opponent, anti-violence activist Tio Hardiman of Hillside, in the March 18 primary.  

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Middle East
12:01 am
Sun February 23, 2014

Taliban Suspends Talks On Prisoner Exchange

Originally published on Sun February 23, 2014 12:45 am

The Taliban has suspended talks over a possible exchange of Taliban and U.S. prisoners due to the "complexity" of the situation in Afghanistan, the militant group said on Sunday.

"Due to the political complexity of the current situation in the country, the leadership of the Islamic Emirate has decided to suspend the issue for some time," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an email to media organizations, using the name the Taliban gave their 1996-2001 government.

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Around the Nation
11:40 pm
Sat February 22, 2014

One Dead, 28 Sickened By Carbon Monoxide At New York Mall

Originally published on Sun February 23, 2014 2:21 am

A 55-year-old restaurant manager died and more than two dozen others were taken to hospitals Saturday after being overcome by carbon monoxide at a New York mall, police said.

Suffolk County police identified the man who died as Steven Nelson, a manager at the Legal Sea Foods restaurant at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station on Long Island.

Police said 28 others affected by carbon monoxide were taken to area hospitals.

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Statehouse
4:25 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

AP: Rutherford Spent $27k To Probe Lawsuit Charges

Dan Rutherford

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford spent nearly $27,000 in taxpayer money on an investigation into allegations of political coercion and
sexual harassment against him.
 
 The Republican candidate for governor revealed the cost of the report under the
Freedom of Information Act. But his lawyers have refused to disclose results of the investigation into the former employee's charges.
 
 Edmund Michalowski claimed in a federal lawsuit Feb. 10 that Rutherford

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Regional
3:50 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Lake Decatur Water Release Could Result In Flooding Along Sangamon River

Lake Decatur
Credit flickr/lewismarien

City officials in Decatur say they are releasing large quantities of water out of Lake Decatur that could lead to flooding and other problems along the Sangamon River.  

The city said in a news release Friday that water flowing down the river and snowmelt have led to high water in the lake. Lake Decatur sits on the eastern edge of the central Illinois town.  
The lake is fed by the Sangamon River. The river then flows out of the lake and eventually winds its way west toward Springfield.  

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Statehouse
2:44 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Same Sex Couple Weds In Cook County After Judge's Ruling

One Illinois same-sex couple has gotten married after a judge ruled ruled gay couples in the Chicago area don't have to wait until June to marry.
 
Mercedes Santos and Theresa Volpe were married Friday afternoon in downtown Chicago. They have been together 22 years and have three children. Clerk David Orr said he would start offering the licenses Friday after the federal judge's ruling. It applies only to Cook County.
 
A judge waived the 24-hour waiting period for Santos and Volpe because they were plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
 

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Regional
7:17 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Four Suspected Tornados Hit Central Illinois

Credit UNC-Greensboro

Surveyors are expected to head to Mechanicsburg and Pana Friday to review damage firsthand from Thursday's storms.

The National Weather Service says four possible tornadoes touched down in central Illinois, causing minor damage.  

Officials with the agency's office in Lincoln say they're reviewing preliminary reports of four twisters that struck Thursday afternoon.  

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Statehouse
7:13 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Illinois Bill Would Exempt Olympians From Paying State Tax

Credit NBC

It is an example of a measure that might not affect many people.

An Illinois lawmaker says Olympic athletes who win medals shouldn't have to pay state tax on their awards.

State Sen. Julie Morrison is sponsor of legislation approved by a Senate committee Wednesday that would waive the tax.

Morrison is a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Deerfield who says she represents many of Illinois' Olympic athletes. She says Olympic athletes proudly represent Illinois and the U.S. and ``we should honor them for their commitment.''

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Statehouse
3:32 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Fire Damages Senator's Office

Sen. Andy Manar
Credit ilga.gov

State Sen. Andy Manar is setting up temporary office space after fire damaged his district office in the city of Staunton in southern Illinois.  
Manar is a Democrat from Bunker Hill. He says the fire started about noon on Monday in a business next door to his office in a historic building on Main Street.

Manar says no one was injured. He did not know the cause or a damage estimate.  
Volunteer firefighters from Staunton, Gillespie, Mount Olive, Litchfield and Olive responded. Manar says they acted quickly to keep the fire from spreading.  

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Health Desk
8:56 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Illinois May Consider Taxing Soft Drinks

Credit flickr/b0r0da

An Illinois lawmaker wants to tax soft drinks as part of an effort to promote healthy living.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises Newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/1oMu4vj ) the legislation is being sponsored by Sen. Mattie Hunter, a Chicago Democrat.  
Her proposal would charge a penny-per-ounce surcharge on sugary drinks that are sold in sealed containers.  
Money generated from the levy would be used to pay for a variety of health services and educational efforts.  

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Higher Education
3:07 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Former State Superintendent Becomes SIU President

Randy Dunn

A former Illinois state superintendent of education has been chosen as Southern Illinois University's new president.  

The SIU board of trustees announced Monday that Randy J. Dunn will be the university's eighth president, replacing Glenn Poshard. Poshard is retiring in June.  
Dunn is currently president of Youngstown State University in Ohio.  

Randal Thomas is chairman of the SIU board. He says Dunn ``has both the skills and the background to ensure that SIU continues to live up to its mission of providing a quality education.''  

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Statehouse
2:43 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Dillard Gets IEA Endorsement

Sen. Kirk Dillard at the Illinois State Fair (file)
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

An influential teachers union has endorsed state Sen. Kirk Dillard in the Republican primary for Illinois governor.

The Illinois Education Association announced its endorsement Friday in Chicago.

Cinda Klickna is IEA's president. She says Dillard believes in public schools and says teachers and support staff “believe in Kirk Dillard.''

He faces state Sen. Bill Brady, businessman Bruce Rauner and Treasurer Dan Rutherford in the March primary.

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Regional
6:27 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Illinois Sites Named To Historic Register

Galena, Ill.
Credit visit Galena

More than two dozen Illinois buildings and downtown districts have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.  

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency says 23 buildings and 11 historic districts were added to the register in 2013.  

They include everything from a mausoleum in the suburban Chicago community of Beecher and an East St. Louis hotel to historic districts in Galena and Plainfield and a Chicago furniture factory.  

Inclusion on the list means properties are deemed worthy of preservation and makes them eligible for financial incentives.  

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Statehouse
1:06 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Want To Tweak Concealed Carry Law

Credit wikipedia

Illinois lawmakers are considering amending the state's new concealed carry legislation.
 
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/1eqxFX7 ) a series of changes are already being introduced in Springfield, even though the first concealed carry permits haven't been issued.
 
Some of the proposals would make it easier to get a permit, while others would
expand the list of locations where people would be allowed to carry weapons.
Others would tighten restrictions.
 

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Education
7:10 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Illinois High School Grads AP Test Scores Above Average

Credit flickr/ecastro

A new report has found that Illinois high school graduates are slightly above the national average for Advanced Placement exam scores.  

According to a Advanced Placement Program report released Tuesday, 21 percent of 2013 graduates received an AP exam score high enough for college credit. The national average is 20 percent. Scores of three or more out of five are generally eligible for college credit.  

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Education
10:07 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Gillespie School Repairs Going Slow

There have been delays rebuilding a tornado-damaged high school gym.  

A tornado ripped off part of a wall of Gillespie High School gym last May. Superintendent Joe Tieman says there have been setbacks in the effort to rebuild the gym. He tells The (Alton) Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1ocv2AS ) those include issues with insurance claims, power lines and the harsh winter weather.  
 Tieman says officials thought the gym would be repaired by March, but now it's looking more like May.  

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Election 2014
2:42 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Lawsuit Filed; Rutherford Denies Wrongdoing

Illinois Treasurer and candidate for Governor Dan Rutherford
Credit danrutherford.org

A former employee in Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford's office has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and that the Republican gubernatorial candidate made him do political work on state time.  
The lawsuit was filed Monday in Chicago's federal court on behalf of Ed Michalowski. He was a lawyer and director in Rutherford's office.  

The complaint alleges Rutherford made inappropriate sexual advances toward Michalowski, among other things.  
Rutherford has said there's ``absolutely no truth'' to the former employee's claims.  

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Regional
8:57 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

So. Ill. Town Has No Squad Cars Left

Credit VillageofIna.com

A small southern Illinois community is without any police cars after separate accidents heavily damaged the department's only two squad cars.  

The police chief in the village of Ina says the first car was damaged last week when it was hit by an ambulance. The second car was wrecked on Tuesday when it was hit by a semi-truck on a snowy highway.  
No one was injured in either collision.  

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Election 2014
2:53 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Brady Says His Debate Remark Was "Insensitive"

Sen. Bill Brady
Credit ilga.gov

Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bill Brady says he was ``insensitive'' when he said out-of-work people don't want jobs because they enjoy collecting unemployment benefits.

The state senator from Bloomington told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register Wednesday he ``didn't take into consideration there are a number of people out there looking for jobs who don't want to be on unemployment.''  

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Regional
5:39 am
Thu February 6, 2014

New Lincoln Stamp To Be Unveiled Feb. 12

Credit presidentlincoln.illinois.gov

A new commemorative stamp will be released to mark Abraham Lincoln's 205th birthday.  

U.S. Postal Service officials will be on hand Feb. 12 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield for an unveiling ceremony for the new stamp, which features an image of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.  

Lincoln and his family lived in Springfield for more than two decades before he was elected as the country's 16th president in 1860. Lincoln worked out of the capitol building as both a lawyer and a politician.  

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Statehouse
4:43 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Gov. Quinn Wants To Delay Budget Address

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Pat Quinn has asked for more time before he delivers his budget address in part to prepare a five-year spending blueprint.  
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said Monday that the governor would like to delay his annual budget speech from Feb. 19 to March 26.

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Education
2:59 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Unclear How Quinn Will Pay For Early Education

Senator Pamela J. Althoff

Governor Pat Quinn says expanding Illinois' early childhood education programs should be one of the state's top priorities, but he hasn't detailed how to pay for them. Some lawmakers say Quinn's  "Birth to Five'' initiative's success is tied to the ongoing tax and spend debate that's expected to dominate this year's legislative agenda. 

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Sports
1:38 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Company Tied To Rams Owner Buys L.A. Land

Credit pasa47

A company tied to St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased a prime piece of land in Los Angeles amid speculation the NFL franchise is considering a return to the city it left for the Midwest nearly two decades ago.  

Team officials on Friday provided a written statement confirming the recent purchase of a 60-acre site near the Forum indoor arena in Inglewood, Calif. The statement from Kroenke's corporate side said no decision has been made and ``we will look at all our options'' with the land. The Los Angeles Times first reported the purchase.  

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Election 2014
11:48 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Rutherford: Political Rival Behind Allegations

Dan Rutherford
Credit DanRutherford.org

An attorney for an employee in state Treasurer Dan Rutherford's office says her client has filed ``serious'' and ``troubling'' allegations against him with a state inspector general.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports Christine Svenson says in a statement Friday (http://bit.ly/1ii627y) that the claims have nothing to do with politics.  

Rutherford is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. At a news conference earlier Friday, he accused rival candidate Bruce Rauner of being behind the allegations.  

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Poverty
8:17 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Illinois Poverty Remains Stubbornly High

Credit Georgetown University

A new study finds Illinois' overall poverty rate is about the same as it was a half century ago.  

The report released Thursday by the Chicago-based Social IMPACT Research Center says almost 15 percent of Illinois residents lived below the federal poverty line in 2012, about the same percentage as in 1960.  

That's despite scores of state and federal aid programs and a dramatic drop in the number of older people in poverty.  

Poverty has increased among working-age men and women, and 1 in 5 children are in poverty. It's highest among blacks and Latinos.  

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Harvest Desk
4:28 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Central Illinois Farm Owners Settle U-S Subsidy Allegations

Credit wattpublishing/flickr

The Department of Justice says a central Illinois farming business has paid $5.3 million to settle allegations it used fake partnerships to avoid limits on federal subsidies its owners could receive.  

The department said Wednesday that Dowson Farms of Divernon has agreed to the out-of-court settlement but the terms do not include an admission of guilt. Divernon is about 15 miles south of Springfield.  
A message left at Dowson Farms' office seeking comment was not immediately returned.  

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Election 2014
3:36 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Quinn Challenger Says No "Comeback" For Illinois

Credit uis.edu

Gov. Pat Quinn's challenger in the March primary says the Chicago Democrat's claims that ``Illinois is making a comeback'' don't add up.

Tio Hardiman is a Hillside Democrat and the former director of a Chicago anti-violence program.  
He spoke following Quinn's State of the State address Wednesday in Springfield. Quinn said during the speech that Illinois has improved since he took office.  

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