State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Affordable-housing advocates are joining the chorus calling on Illinois lawmakers to approve an infrastructure plan.

Should Illinois Gun Owners Be Fingerprinted?

May 22, 2019

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to overhaul the application process for Firearm Owner’s Identification cards.

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

Opponents of abortion rights have a long history of supporting abortion bans with three major exceptions: when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or when a woman's life is at risk.

But fueled by momentum from the passage of a restrictive abortion law in Alabama, a coalition of anti-abortion-rights groups released a letter Wednesday asking Republican officials to "reconsider decades-old talking points" on exceptions to such laws.

Companies that had community solar projects picked in last month’s lottery by the Illinois Power Agency say their projects are just the tip of the iceberg.

Longtime Rockford Register Star columnist and political reporter Chuck Sweeny died Monday. He was 70. The Rockford native had worked at his hometown newspaper since 1984. The Register Star’s Opinion Editor Wally Haas worked side-by-side with Sweeny for those 35 years.

"He could be a bit curmudgeonly, but he loved Rockford," Haas said. "And that came through in his writing. He would poke public officials and try to get them to do the right thing and quite often he succeeded.”

It's national EMS Week. President Gerald Ford designated the week 45 years ago to celebrate the importance of paramedics, ambulance staff, and other pre-hospital emergency workers.

Hospitals around the nation are holding events honoring the work of EMS staff. This includes Dr. Matt Smetana, an Associate EMS Director at MercyHealth in Rockford.  He says the profession has evolved.

Illinois officials faced tough questioning Monday over the lease of a warehouse for file storage.

The Legislative Audit Commission hearing also got at broader questions over how state government spends money.

Earlier in May when language for Illinois' recreational cannabis proposal was unveiled, it was Gov. J.B. Pritzker who stole the headlines, receiving much of the credit. While it's his signature that will ultimately appear on any proposal passed by the legislature, it was four female lawmakers who chose to embark on the difficult path to legalization years ago. 

Republicans are trying to get back in on next year's budget negotiations. Meanwhile, as red states compete to place more and more restrictins on abortion, activists want Illinois to move the other way.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is finally getting specific on what could be in a massive statewide building plan — and what taxes and fees could be raised to pay for it.

Pleasant Plains is a small but prosperous town about 15 minutes northwest of Springfield. Its schools are all rated “commendable,” and their test results outshine state averages in every subject.

And yet, in March, the high school principal, Luke Brooks, asked Illinois lawmakers to stop requiring algebra.

News Analysis — The Illinois Department of Corrections did not fare well in a recent state audit. Among the findings was that the agency could not account for 3,568 pieces of equipment.

Dig into the numbers and property records, and you’ll find a bigger story about the challenges of pursuing efficiency in state government.

Some rock and roll star power showed up in the Illinois Statehouse Wednesday to help push for a new casino. 

Gov. Pritzker Announces DCFS Overhaul

May 16, 2019

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced plans Wednesday to overhaul the state’s troubled child welfare system. That comes after a report criticized the Department of Children and Family Services’ reluctance to remove children from their homes.

Drive down a major road or highway in Illinois and you’ll likely feel the bump of potholes. A report from TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based research group, put a number on what it costs drivers to travel these roads — $18.3 billion. That includes additional car repairs, time lost in traffic, and crashes caused by poor road conditions.

Lawmakers are using the new report to push for a multibillion-dollar infrastructure plan, paid for in part by a gas tax hike and higher vehicle and registration fees.

Floodwaters on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers may be going down, but rain has continued to soak farmland around much of the state. More rain could be on the way later this month.

So far in 2019, sixteen Illinois State troopers have been hit on the road and three have been killed. Of those three, two of them were killed by drivers in violation of Scott's Law according to the Illinois State Police. 

The local Moms Demand Action chapter will head to Springfield later this month to push for tighter FOID card laws before the end of session.

Illinois lawmakers want to eliminate medical co-pays for prisoners.

Illinois could become the third state in the nation to require that single restrooms in offices, restaurants and other public places be gender-neutral.

Similar laws are in place in California and Vermont.

Illinois State Police are pushing to add more troopers to their ranks.  Master Sergeant Hector Alejandre says they’re trying to assemble a large class at the Trooper Academy.

“We’re always going to be looking for folks. Our current numbers now are at 1,718 sworn. That is a significant loss," he said.

Even with new recruits applying for the position, not all make it through the vetting process. That’s why Trooper Aldo Schumann says ISP wants to sign up as many candidates as possible.

Governor J.B. Pritzker has nominated an Ohio prison official to lead the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Illinois gets an April surprise — $1.5 billion in unexpected revenue — as lawmakers debate what the windfall means. The public also got its first look at the long-anticipated language in a proposal that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Meanwhile, an audit found that child abuse and neglect investigations suffered during the budget impasse of 2015-17, and lawmakers advanced legislation that would more than double the gas tax in order to pay for infrastructure building and repair.

A proposal moving through the Illinois legislature would give schools the option to teach high school students about issues related to the #MeToo movement like sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees approved on Thursday a $600,000 settlement reached last month with the school's former comptroller.

Last year, a school nurse in East Moline faced a moral dilemma when a diabetic student lost consciousness in her office. Now she’s trying to make sure no other school nurse has to face the same tough choice.

Low blood sugar can usually be cured with orange juice and a granola bar. But those snacks and glucose tabs weren’t helping the 7th grader sitting in Jennifer Jacobs’ office.

“Her blood sugar kept falling, and we kept pushing the snacks,” Jacobs says.

Imagine being put in a postion where you could lose your job and face legal repercussions for helping save the life of a young student.  That was the predicament an Illinois school nurse found herself in when a crisis happened.  She tells her story, which may lead to a rule change.

We look back at the dangerous derecho, which some say resembled an inland hurricane, that struck southern Illinois in May of 2009.  What happened and what lessons were learned.

That and more on this week's Statewide.

In one town in the Metro East, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, police are forcing landlords to evict tenants who have called for help during an overdose because they have heroin or other controlled substances in their rental property.

Illinois school administrators hoping to protect staff and students against the threat of an active shooter could get a new addition to their toolkit — devices designed to quickly barricade classroom doors during an emergency situation.

But that tool would come with its own set of problems.

Matt Perez, the State Fire Marshal, today warned lawmakers that any lock handy enough to be grabbed in a crisis could also be used by, for example, the shooter, or even one student wanting to bully a classmate.

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