State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

AP

  CHICAGO - The candidates for Illinois governor are clashing over taxes during their first televised debate.

 

Democrat J.B. Pritzker says he wants to change Illinois' flat tax to a graduated system, in which the highest earners are taxed at a higher rate than middle-class and low-income households. But he won't say what the new rates should be. He says it should be negotiated with the Legislature.

 

Northern Illinois University's Board of Trustees voted without dissent to appoint Dr. Lisa Freeman as the institution's 13th President Thursday.

She's been the Acting President since last year, and her contract for the new position will run through August 2022. Board Chairman Wheeler Coleman says Freeman will be paid a base salary of $450,000, but it also includes provisions from a new state law that caps severance pay at twenty weeks.

Nuclear energy has a significant presence in Illinois, with 11 reactors spread across six plants. Together, they provide about 11.8 gigawatts of power to the entire state. That's enough for millions of homes -- or, as any "Back to the Future" fan knows, almost ten DeLorean time machines.

For some people, their first thought of a nuclear power plant involves cooling towers, meltdowns, and the comically incompetent Homer Simpson. But needless to say, The Simpsons is not an accurate representation of a nuclear power plant. Like coal, oil, and gas plants, nuclear power stations use heat to generate electricity. But they're subject to many more safety precautions because their fuel -- uranium -- is radioactive. 

Non-profit hospitals in Illinois will still get to avoid paying property taxes. That’s after a ruling Thursday by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Some experts say black women may bear the brunt if union membership declines or financial support lessens as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which decreed that public sector unions can no longer force workers they represent to pay fees in lieu of union dues. But conservative groups say the cost is justified to protect workers' free speech rights. 

In 2000, Charles Davidson was arrested the day before the 4th of July for a crime he said he didn’t commit. Urbana Police responded that evening to a complaint of fireworks and came upon Davidson, who claims he made the complaint on behalf of his mother. According to court records, police accused the now 68-year-old youth mentor of providing officers with the false last name of “Edwards.” Davidson said “Edwards” was his mother’s last name, and he simply gave police his first name.

SPRINGFIELD - A federal judge has refused to grant class-action status to a lawsuit alleging wage discrimination against female doctors at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

NPR

CHICAGO - Jon Burge, a former Chicago police commander who was linked to numerous cases involving the torture of suspects, has died in Florida.

WHEATON - A former member of a Christian college football team has settled his lawsuit against the school and four of five teammates accused of attacking him.

NEW ORLEANS - McDonald's workers are staging protests in several cities in what organizers called the first multistate strike seeking to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

cyberdriveillinois

JACKSONVILLE - The wife and daughter of a central Illinois man imprisoned for murder and arson have been charged with joining the inmate to steal from a relative.

DeVonte Jones began to show signs of schizophrenia as a teenager. His first public episode was nine years ago at a ballgame at Wavering Park, in Quincy, Ill.

"He snapped out and just went around and started kicking people," says Jones' mother, Linda Colon, who now lives in a Chicago suburb.

The police were called. Jones was arrested, charged with aggravated battery and placed in Adams County Jail. Colon says Jones had no recollection of what happened.

Nancy Stone / Chicago Tribune Pool Photo

  CHICAGO - The video of the Laquan McDonald shooting is so central to the murder trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke that jurors watched it at least five times during the initial day of testimony.

 

The first was just 15 minutes into opening statements Monday.

The footage from the October 2014 shooting shows the white officer open fire as the black teenager walks away from police with a small knife in one hand. McDonald was shot a total of 16 times.

 

Western Illinois University has received $9.5 million from the state of Illinois for capital improvement projects. But, that's just a drop in the bucket of what it would take to address the backlog of deferred maintenance.

Data Show Opioid Prescriptions Declining In IL

Sep 18, 2018

There is some good news in the fight against opioid abuse in Illinois. Doctors prescribed fewer opioids to patients in 2017 than 2016, according to numbers from the statewide prescription monitoring program.

Illinois is only seven years away from its deadline for getting 25% of the state’s energy from renewable sources. Wind power will have to play a big part to reach that ambitious goal. The state ranks 6th in the nation for the number of wind turbines, at more than 2,600. These wind farms are generally located in rural areas, many on active farms where people are raising corn and soybeans. The wind becomes a third crop that can be “harvested” year-round, giving the farmer a steady rental income.

What Is Feeding The Grid?

Sep 18, 2018

Wind, solar, and nuclear are some of the energy options available to Illinois consumers. This week on Morning Edition, the WNIJ news team explores how these affect the quality of life in northern Illinois in 2018 and beyond.

Wind: The "Third Crop"

Wind is sometimes called the "third crop" by farmers.

Reporter Susan Stephens has been following the development of wind farms in northern Illinois. She says the term is used because so often the turbines are placed on farms.

A new report says Illinois state government is at “elevated risk” in the event of an economic downturn.

Bruce Rauner versus corrupt Democrats from Chicago—that's how Illinois Governor Rauner described the choice between him and his Democratic opponent, JB Pritzker, during a campaign stop in the Quad Cities Monday. 

ROSEMONT - The driver of a car struck and killed a construction worker on a suburban Chicago interstate.

Creative Commons

CHICAGO - A convicted felon from California accused of shooting and wounding a suburban Chicago police officer during a traffic stop is being held without bond.

Creative Commons

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) - A suburban Chicago police sergeant and another man have been charged with robbing two gas stations at gunpoint.

West Aurora School District

AURORA - Self-respect and empowerment will be the theme of a free "Keep It Positive" workshop for teen girls at West Aurora High School.

Like most states, Illinois is struggling with a severe teacher shortage. And, also like most states, that shortage is felt most profoundly in the area of special education. There is, however, an army of teacher assistants already on the job. Could they help relieve this shortage?

Illinois government has some deep fiscal problems.  A backlog of unpaid bills, pension debt and a growing list of infrastructure needs.  The problems can be overwhelming, but there are some best practices that can be taken to improve the situation.  

The University of Illinois Springfield is the latest state school to see an enrollment decline, part a recent    trend for the campus.  

The Illinois Department of Public Health said they are trying to prevent an outbreak of Hepatitis A after several neighboring states have experienced their own.

Food and drink vendors at this year’s Illinois State Fair say fewer people lined up for things like corn dogs and lemon shake-ups. That fits with an official report of declining overall attendance.

    

CHICAGO - Authorities say a man stabbed another man during an argument near a parking area at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport before a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer intervened to stop the knife attack.

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