Bill Wheelhouse

Executive Editor/ Anchor/ Reporter/ State Week Host

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Regional
6:16 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Durbin Talks FutureGen With Energy Secretary

Power plant in Meredosia
Credit Bill Wheelhouse/WUIS

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he met with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz to discuss the FutureGen clean-coal project.  

Durbin said in a news release that he met with Moniz on Wednesday to discuss the department's commitment to the long-planned public-private project. Durbin said he stressed the importance he sees in keeping it on track.  

The department is providing $1 billion to the $1.68 billion project.  

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Regional
7:46 am
Tue April 29, 2014

BMW & Mercedes Recall Cars

Credit agrgeorgia.gov

Two  luxury automakers are recalling vehicles.

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Statehouse
7:14 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Public Hearings on Ill. Medical Marijuana Rules

Credit flickr/eggrole

Illinois health officials are planning two public hearings on proposed rules affecting patients who want to use medical marijuana.  

The state's medical marijuana program is a four-year pilot project. The rules under consideration affect how adult patients with specific health conditions will be able to buy marijuana.  

Hearings will be held in Chicago and Springfield. The Chicago hearing will be at the Thompson Center starting at 9:30 a.m. May 5. The Springfield hearing will be on the University of Illinois Springfield campus at 9 a.m. May 21.  

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Statehouse
6:23 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Rauner Supports Keeping Open Centralia Developmental Center

Rauner says Murray Developmental Center Should Stay Open
Credit wuis

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is differing with his opponent on whether a state facility should stay open.  Rauner says he supports keeping open a center for people with developmental disabilities in Centralia that his opponent is trying to close.  
 The Winnetka businessman faces Gov. Pat Quinn in the November election. He met with relatives of residents at the Murray Developmental Center on Saturday and told them they should have a choice in their family members' care.  

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Education Desk
11:17 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Aging Population Biggest Economic and Financial Challenge Ahead

Chris Farrell appearing in Springfield May 2.
Credit APM

Marketplace Economics Editor and Business Week columnist Chris Farrell says the aging of the population is the biggest economic and personal finance challenge ahead.  Speaking with WUIS Executive Editor Bill Wheelhouse, Farrell says people can expect to work longer in the years ahead.  

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Statehouse
7:24 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Illinois Medicaid Paying For The Dead

Credit Ill. Atty General

Gov. Pat Quinn is promising tighter controls after a review found that the Illinois Medicaid program paid an estimated $12 million for medical services for people who were dead.  

Quinn told reporters Saturday he's not happy with the findings and the state is on track to recoup all of the money.  

The Associated Press learned of the mistakes from an internal state government memo it obtained Friday through the Freedom of Information Act.  

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Regional
6:17 am
Tue April 1, 2014

EPA Seeks Public Input on FutureGen in West Central Ill.

Future Gen Plant in Meredosia
Credit WUIS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is accepting public comments on a plan to inject carbon dioxide beneath west central Illinois.

FutureGen Industrial Alliance wants to capture carbon dioxide from a coal-burning power plant in the Morgan County village of Meredosia, then inject it into underground wells near Jacksonville, about 20 miles to the east.  

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Statehouse
7:24 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Regulators: Illinois Sunday Car Sales Ban Bad For Competition

Credit autobizz.com

Federal regulators say Illinois' longstanding ban on Sunday automobile sales isn't good for competition and can be harmful to the marketplace.  

The Federal Trade Commission says the prohibition on Sunday automobile sales also makes it more difficult for drivers to shop around for the best deal.  

The agency issued the statement late last week in response to a measure introduced by state Sen. Jim

Oberweis, who wants to repeal the law that went into effect in 1983.  Oberweis asked the FTC to weigh in. Violators can face a $1,500 fine.  

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Education
7:25 am
Mon March 24, 2014

ISU President Out After Eight Months-Gets $480,000 Severance

New ISU President Larry Dietz
Credit Illinois State University

Illinois State University President Timothy Flanagan has resigned after eight months on the job.

Flanagan is being investigated by ISU police after a former campus employee accused him of assault.  

He stepped down during a special Board of Trustees meeting Saturday. The resignation took effect immediately.  

A statement on the university's website says Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Dietz was named to replace him. Dietz was given a three year contract to become the President. He had been a finalist a year ago in the search where Flanagan was selected.

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Election 2014
5:15 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Rochester Voters Will Decide Home Rule Question

Voters in four Illinois communities, including Rochester, go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to give their  town councils  more power. 

The villages want to become home rule communities, which gives them more authority to raise taxes and pass laws.  The Illinois Association of Realtors is against the change.   Association President Phil Chiles says if voters approve home rule, they could regret it later.

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Statehouse
7:21 am
Mon March 17, 2014

A Low Profile For Dan Rutherford

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Treasurer Dan Rutherford is remaining quiet in the final hours of his campaign for Governor.  He also plans on the unusual move of keeping the Election night party for his Illinois gubernatorial bid closed to reporters.  

Spokesman Brian Sterling says Rutherford will issue a statement Tuesday at a Pontiac location separate from his party.  Sterling declined to comment further on Sunday.  

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Statehouse
6:51 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Three of Four GOP Candidates Campaign Today

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Most Republican candidates running for Illinois governor are spending the last day before the primary election day traveling around the state. 

State Sen. Kirk Dillard plans to be in East Alton, Marion, Champaign and suburban Chicago on Monday. State Sen. Bill Brady's schedule includes stops in Springfield, Peoria, Urbana, Marion and Chicago. Businessman Bruce Rauner is wrapping up a three-day statewide tour and has a get out the vote rally Monday evening in Hickory Hills.  

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Statehouse
7:13 am
Wed March 12, 2014

GOP Candidates Face University of Illinois Admissions Question

The Republican contenders for governor are facing questions about their roles in a five-year-old admissions scandal at the University of Illinois.  

The scandal involved some politicians using clout to get students enrolled. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and state Sen. Kirk Dillard have acknowledged their names are on the list the University of Illinois maintained of lawmakers who called to check on applications. They were asked about it at a televised debate last week.  

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Health Desk
1:38 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

State Health Panel Wants To See Expansion Of Health Jobs

LaMar Hasbrouck, IDPH Director
Credit WUIS

A state panel has released nearly two dozen recommendations to deal with the increase in patients expected under the Affordable Care Act.  However, some of those ideas will be hard to get approved.

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Education
7:56 am
Thu March 6, 2014

University Of Illinois Trustees To Vote On Sex-Change Insurance

Credit University of Illinois

University of Illinois trustees are expected to vote Thursday on adding coverage for sex-change operations to the health insurance plan used by many students at the flagship campus.  

Many of the Urbana-Champaign campus' more than 40,000 students use the insurance and would see costs rise by 15 percent in the proposal is approved. Undergraduates would pay $291 a semester starting next fall. That's an increase of $37.  

But university officials say most of that increase is due to the federal Affordable Care Act rather than adding sex-change coverage.  

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Regional
6:28 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Dead Animals Lead To Animal Cruelty Charges

The Kane County sheriff's office says it arrested a suburban Chicago woman after finding 10 dead animals and others that were malnourished on a pair of farms.  

According to the Daily Herald (http://bit.ly/1ne0I7r ), the horse, pony and other animals were found on farms near Maple Park and in Hampshire in Kane County. The discoveries were made after someone called to report a dead horse at one farm.  

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Statehouse
6:15 am
Thu March 6, 2014

GOP Governor Candidates Argue Pensions

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Republican candidates for Illinois governor are arguing about pension reform and the state's finances in the second-to-last debate ahead of the March 18 primary.  

State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, businessman Bruce Rauner  and Treasurer Dan Rutherford attended the debate Wednesday hosted by WGN-TV and the Chicago Tribune.  

Brady is the only one who supported a recent pension overhaul that cuts benefits for state workers and retirees. Dillard voted against it, which has been the reason that several unions have endorsed him.  

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Statehouse
8:14 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Illinois Business Groups Say Deregulation Saved Consumers $

Business groups say utility competition has saved consumers money.
Credit AARP

A new report says electricity deregulation has saved Illinois customers up to $37 billion over the past 16 years.  

The report being released Monday by four business groups says the average household has paid $3,600 less overall than if the average annual electricity rates had stayed the same.  

Deregulation kicked in in 1998, allowing Illinois utilities to compete for business on the open market rather than being regulated monopolies whose rates were set. The utilities before deregulation both supplied and delivered electricity to customers, who had no other choices.  

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Statehouse
7:17 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Civic Federation Has Plan To Balance Illinois Budget

Credit Civic Federation

The Civic Federation is releasing a new proposal it says will balance Illinois' budget, eliminate its bill backlog and reduce taxes.  

The plan includes capping spending to help the state pay off its $5.4 billion backlog of unpaid bills over the next five years.  

It also would extend the state's temporary income tax increase by a year before reducing tax rates gradually, and calls for taxing pension and social security income.  

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Statehouse
6:43 am
Thu February 27, 2014

DCFS Director Resigns After One Month

Arthur Bishop
Credit WBEZ

The director of the state's child welfare agency who pleaded guilty to stealing money from clients of a Chicago social-service agency 20 years ago has resigned from his post.  

Department of Children and Family Services Director Arthur Bishop submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Pat Quinn's office Wednesday. The letter notes that his background could be a distraction for Quinn in the upcoming election.  

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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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Regional
7:16 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Area Gets Money for Storm Cleanup

Sandbagging last spring at Meredosia
Credit Bill Wheelhouse WUIS

Some federal money is heading into the area to help pay for storm cleanup and recovery from last year.

The state will get $6470,000 to help pay temporary workers to help with the cleanup from flooding, tornadoes and other storms last April and May.

The most recent grant will be spent in Calhoun, Cass, Fulton, Mason, Morgan, Pike, Schuyler and Scott counties.

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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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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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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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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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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
4:42 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Sangamon Co. Farmers Settle Subsidy Misuse Claims UPDATE

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.  

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