State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Illinois is losing residents, according to recent census estimates, and common explanations include high taxes, unfriendly business policies or the state’s growing pension debt.

An article from the watchdog group Better Government Association examines those claims. The BGA’s senior editor, Bob Secter, says they distract from a deeper look at demographic trends.

Illinois has struggled for decades to persuade high school graduates to stay in-state for college. The recent two-year budget impasse only made things worse. Now, a group of lawmakers has a plan to reverse the trend, starting with the state’s Monetary Award Program.

Illinois' Medicaid program will soon provide preventative dental care for almost half a million low-income residents.

Illinois will soon mint commemorative coins to mark the state’s 200th birthday. They're the latest in a string of products the state is offering to mark its bicentennial year.

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs hosted a several months-long contest, challenging designers to capture Illinois’ history on a single coin face. Submissions poured in from far and wide, but they were eventually whittled down to five finalists, whose designs were then voted on by the public.

  CHICAGO - A new organization to promote, remember and protect African American firefighters and emergency workers is opening its doors on the Chicago's southwest side.

 

The Black Fire Brigade will officially open its doors with a June 23 ceremony at the brigade's new home that will include the unveiling of a memorial to the 13 black Chicago firefighters and paramedics who have died in the line of duty.

 

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  CHICAGO - Elizabeth Brackett, a longtime Chicago journalist and world-champion triathlete, has died four days after an apparent bicycle accident. She was 76.

 

PBS affiliate WTTW, where Brackett hosted "Chicago Tonight" for two decades, said on its website Brackett died in the hospital surrounded by family members.

 

Brackett had been in a coma with a fractured vertebra in her neck following the apparent fall Wednesday morning near the city's lakefront bike trail. She had been training for a triathlon.

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  SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The superintendent of Illinois historic sites including the Old State Capitol and Lincoln Tomb has been tapped to serve as curator of the newly remodeled Illinois Governor's Mansion.

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Friday that Justin A. Blandford will start in the position Monday.

He'll be responsible for programs and events that will focus more on history and education, and for attracting visitors to the historic building.

Marco Krohn / Wikimedia Commons

  MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (AP) - Could southern Illinois be the final frontier for bitcoin miners? Actor William Shatner thinks so and is recruiting new tenants at a solar-powered mining facility in the area.

The former Star Trek actor is the spokesman for the alternative energy developer Solar Alliance. The company plans to convert an abandoned label-making factory in Murphysboro into a solar-powered bitcoin mining operation.

 

Medicaid recipients who aren’t happy with their managed care plan have until the end of the month to switch. After that, they’ll be locked into their current health plan for the remainder of the year.

Claudia Lennhoff leads Champaign County Health Care Consumers. She says many patients have been auto-enrolled into plans that may not include their primary care physician. And if they don’t act before the June 30th deadline, they’ll have to find a new doctor.

The Illinois General Assembly has revived an effort to bridge the so-called “gender wage gap.”

The plan would ban employers from asking about salary history during interviews.

Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a similar measure last year. The latest version still keeps prior salary out of the interview process, but tries to address concerns from business owners who are worried about their bottom line.

Wendy Pollack is with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago. She says no law is perfect and hopes Rauner acknowledges it’s a good starting point.

worldatlas.com

Democratic U-S Senator Dick Durbin is supporting a Republican state senator to be the next ambassador to Kenya. That’s despite the significant political differences Durbin has with state Senator Kyle McCarter.

Durbin says he’s impressed with McCarter’s decades-long experience with the African nation.

“I doubt if very many people in Illinois know the commitment that Kyle and his family have made to Kenya, and the medical care that they provide through a clinic there is nothing short of amazing.”

Residents in the Bloomington area are getting the chance to ride in a 90-year-old airplane.

The odor of decomposing bodies has renewed calls to replace a county morgue in northern Illinois.

The conviction of a man for the murder of two Chicago police officers 40 years ago has been overturned by a Cook County judge.

Kentucky's Democratic attorney general has filed a sixth lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company for deceptive marketing of opioid-based painkillers.

Experts blame the long-standing problem on discrimination, especially the "inadequate, inequitable'' education funding system.

The Illinois Labor Relations Board is moving forward with giving step increases to unionized state workers. 

The second black justice in the Illinois Supreme Court's 170-year history is preparing to take the oath of office. 

Black Lives Matter BloNo is continuing an awareness campaign spotlighting how the bail system disproportionately affects the poor, and especially people of color.

The debate continues over whether Illinois’ law allowing for taxpayer-funded abortions violates the state constitution. A trial judge dismissed the case last year but anti-abortion advocates are fighting back.  

The latest skirmish between Governor Bruce Rauner and the AFSCME labor union took place in a Springfield courtroom today. This time it was before a panel of appellate judges.

It’s been just about three years since AFSCME workers were due for a new contract. But Gov. Rauner made tough demands — like a new pay structure, more expensive health insurance, and more power to outsource jobs.

Mike Newman is the No. 2 man in the Illinois branch of AFSCME.

Nati Harnik / AP

Illinois anti-abortion groups were back in a Springfield courtroom today ... arguing against the new state law allowing for taxpayer-funded abortions.

They’re asking the Fourth District Appellate Court to overturn a trial judge’s dismissal of their case last year.

State Representative Peter Breen, a Lombard Republican and lawyer for the plaintiffs, says this goes beyond abortion. He says his case is really about the procedures the state legislature follows when passing a budget.
 

A federal judge announced today that a consultant based in Florida will oversee reforms to children’s mental health services in Illinois.

 

John O’Brien has 30 years of experience in federal and state reform.

 

He’ll serve as the court-appointed expert to help Illinois ensure Medicaid-eligible children throughout the state have access to mental health services within their communities.

 

Immigrants' rights advocates are close to celebrating what they consider a win in Illinois, especially for domestic abuse survivors. They are hoping Gov. Bruce Rauner will sign 'The Voices Act' soon, as it passed out of the state's General Assembly during the final days of the spring legislative session.

A judge says the remains of famous Catholic Archbishop Fulton Sheen can be moved to Illinois from New York, nearly 40 years after his death.

The Chicago Crime Commission has officially unveiled its first new street-gang guide in six years, detailing changes in where and how 59 Chicago gangs operate.

The Republicans in Illinois' congressional delegation are asking President Trump not to grant former Gov. Rod Blagojevich clemency.

Police say seven people were wounded in an apparent gang-related shooting at a child's birthday party in suburban Chicago.

Police in Chicago say they've discovered the dismembered body of an 81-year-old woman in her home.

To solve Chicago's affordable housing crisis, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling on developers to think small.

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