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Over the past few months I have worked on a story about what it's like to be transgender, especially for those who do not have the privilege of fame and plenty of resources. For many, being transgender comes with stigma and discrimination in just about every facet of life.

A proposal to continue government services for young adults in foster care passed the Illinois House on Thursday. Some believe it's a foreshadowing of future budget negotiations.

The state currently provides educational assistance, job training and counseling for wards of the state aged 18 to 21. But Gov. Bruce Rauner didn't include those services in next year's proposed budget.

Rather than allow the cuts, the House passed House Bill 3507, which would guarantee the programs stay. Advocates say the young adults need certainty.

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Cameras that collect information on license plates are thought by some to be an overreach of government. A proposal in the Illinois legislature would regulate the automatic license plate readers.

Some police officers use automated cameras that track vehicles' license plates. In Illinois, there are no regulations on them and the data collected. House Bill 3289 would impose limits, such as how long the data can be kept.

Democratic Rep. Scott Drury says the proposed regulation doesn't go far enough.

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Lawmakers are hoping to put an end to red light cameras in some places in Illinois.

A proposal in the Illinois legislature would ban red light cameras in non-home rule cities.

Opponents say red light cameras, which are designed to stop drivers from running red lights, actually cause more accidents from cars abruptly stopping.

Republican Rep. Steven Andersson is a local prosecutor. He says some people receive tickets even though they weren't the one driving the car.

Illinois Secretary of State

Illinois drivers may see their future options for specialty license plates become more limited.

A proposal moving in the legislature would prevent any new groups from creating specialty plates and instead allow them to sell a sticker. The causes would still get revenue.

Rep. John D'Amico, a Democrat from Chicago, says the change will also help identify vehicles and provide less confusion for law enforcement issuing tickets.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS

 A measure pending in the Illinois legislature would give parents the right to have their children skip the standardized test associated with the Common Core curriculum. The plan proposed by Democratic Representative Will Guzzardi, of Chicago would require schools to honor written requests from parents for their kids to skip the PARCC test. Currently, students themselves can refuse testing, if they're able and willing to ask, but Guzzardi says there’s no policy telling schools what to do with those kids.

Matthew Penning

Amazon has announced it will open facilities in Illinois, saying it will bring 1,000 jobs to the state. That announcement was made Tuesday. But what does it really mean for the state when it comes to jobs, as well as taxes for consumers? Illinois Issues' Jamey Dunn has been following the online retailer and its relationship with the state for years now (read a past report here). She joins us for this interview:

It’s the second year for  The Humanities Film Series in Jacksonville. This year’s is meant to make you think about moral courage, and the challenges that can come with doing the right thing. It kicks off Thursday night at 6:30 at the Jacksonville Public Library. Christopher Strangeman teaches history at MacMurray College in Jacksonville and helped get the film series started, he joined us for this interview about it. 

Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources (IDNR)

A little over a decade ago, cougars and wolves started showing up in Illinois for the first time since the late 1800s. In August, Governor Pat Quinn signed a measure that aims to protect and manage the animals. Maureen McKinney reported on the topic for Illinois Issues magazine. She spoke with us about it for this interview:

  The four Republicans running for governor are battling one another now ... but most say they'll put that aside after the primary.

At a debate at Chicago's Union League Club the GOP candidates for governor tried to set themselves apart on questions about transportation funding, Medicaid, and government consolidation.

But they all had the same response to the question, "Do you all individually agree to support the Republican nominee, whoever he is?"

Senator Bill Brady, Senator Kirk Dillard and Treasurer Dan Rutherford each raised their hands.

St. Louis, Peoria, Cedar Rapids, and Springfield in the new state of Sangamon? Look at this map developed in 2012 that has now been printed. What do you think of revamping the U.S. map by population?

Imagine Illinois
WUIS/Illinois Issues

It’s not an easy beauty. Rather, it resides in nuance, in the steady cycle of the seasons, the certain chronology of renewal, the sure relationship of people with the land. The beauty of the Midwest, Larry Kanfer believes, must be experienced across time. But his challenge, over the past two decades and more, has been to convert these subtleties into two dimensions, to convey through photographic composition emotions embedded in the landscape. “Here is beauty as small as this dirt clod.