State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

A group of 16 Illinois organizations and agencies have teamed up to help the monarch butterfly survive. 

Even though it’s the legislative spring break, there are several issues still to be negotiated, including a potential construction program funded with a gasoline tax, legalization of recreational marijuna, dealing with the state’s growing pension debt, and what to do about a declining population.

Illinois lawmakers are at odds over how to punish damage to important infrastructure. Some fear it would mean harsher sentences for charges that already exist.

Around 150,000 children have an allergy to sesame, a study from Northwestern University shows. A proposal at the Illinois Statehouse could help parents and children avoid foods with the ingredient.

State Rep. Jonathan Carroll’s eight-year-old daughter is among the kids with the food allergy. During a cooking demonstration at school, she started swelling up because of tahini – a sesame-based product. Luckily, she took an antihistamine before the reaction was too bad.

A program to allow veterans to receive care outside of the VA got mixed reviews over the past few years. Critics say “Veterans Choice” was rushed and poorly communicated. Supporters of the latest “Mission Act” say it addresses some of those shortcomings. We learn more in this week’s Friday Forum:

The U.S. Senate confirmed U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie in July of 2018. He came into office with a few goals in mind.

Technology means we are no longer disconnected.  Being able to receive good news anywhere, and sharing it with others, can be a thrill.  But what about bad news, like a college rejection notice?  It's happening for many through email and some believe that puts more stress on today's students.  We have a report.

And this week marked 154 years since the death of Abraham Lincoln.  We hear from a researcher who found out how the average American at the time dealt with the tragedy.  Not all of them mourned the 16th president.  

Those stories and more on this week's Statewide:

In 2017, then-Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law what was known as Charlie's Law that required insurance companies to cover treatment costs for certain auto immune diseases in children.

One of those conditions is called Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep (PANDAS). And approximately one in 200 children suffer from it. 

PANDAS advocate Wendy Nawara sat down with us to talk about how despite the law, some insurance companies are still not covering treatment costs. 

Toddler’s Death Inspires Water Heater Legislation

Apr 19, 2019

An Illinois toddler died nine years ago after suffering third degree burns from bathwater. The Illinois House last week approved legislation to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

 


Johnny Page saw something as a child that no young person should ever see.

“I witnessed my cousin being killed when I was maybe six, seven-years-old,” he said. Page said he was traumatized by the experience. He said he was overcome by a need to protect his family and friends. He became a fighter.  

The Illinois State Board of Education used their monthly meeting Wednesday to host a conversation on possible solutions to the state’s worsening teacher shortage. The board is looking for ways to maintain high quality standards without discouraging potential teachers from entering the profession.

 

Afterwards, the agency’s chief education officer, Ralph Grimm, said there is no single solution.

 

“Two and a half hours of testimony I think really reinforced to the board how deep and structural the teacher shortage issue really is across the state, that its effects are felt differently in different parts of the state, but all over the state,” he said.

Our stretch of the Mississippi is one of America's most endangered rivers. 
 
Collin Schopp reports.


A suburban parents’ group dropped its lawsuit that attempted to ban transgender students from using school restrooms and locker rooms associated with their gender identity, a move that supporters of transgender students say helps affirm the rights of  students across the state.  

Illinois Urges Residents to Prepare for Severe Weather

Apr 17, 2019

SPRINGFIELD - Illinois officials are warning residents to prepare for potentially severe weather forecast for large parts of the state. 

Hancock Wildlife Foundation

  THOMSON, Ill. (AP) - A nontraditional family of bald eagles is caring for three eaglets that hatched this spring in a nest along the Mississippi River near Fulton, Illinois.

  CHICAGO (AP) - A top Chicago prosecutor says she hopes to begin expunging minor cannabis convictions in the coming months but acknowledges it won't be easy to implement her plan and that her office is still figuring out its scope.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law today intended to protect collective bargaining rights for labor unions.

It would ban local governments from creating “right-to-work zones” — where employees at a unionized company no longer have to pay fees if they choose not to join.

Some Illinois lawmakers want more protections for employees who are sexually harassed in private sector jobs. 

If you thought your car was dirtier after it rained Thursday, you're right.

Michelle O'Neill talked with a scientist to find out why.


Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot spends two days meeting with Illinois lawmakers. How much of her agenda runs through Springfield?

Meanwhile, Democrats began moving on a centerpiece of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's agenda: a constitutional amendment that would pave the way for a graduated income tax.

Illinois lawmakers are moving to give judges more discretion in sentencing people convicted of certain crimes.

Pritzker Tells Journalists 'We Need You'

Apr 15, 2019

Governor J.B. Pritzker held his largest press conference over the weekend  and he’s promising media transparency under his administration.

Crime Survivors Push For More Trauma Centers

Apr 12, 2019

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul say they’ll use the power of their office to expand trauma services — but they’re asking for help from the General Assembly.

They made the announcement surrounded by survivors of crime at the Illinois Capitol Thursday.

Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot has finished her two-day visit to the state capital.

Artist R. Kelly was in Springfield last weekend, where according to TMZ and their sources, the singer earned $20,000 for a one hour show to meet with fans. But his actual show was allegedly no more than a minute and fans paid up to $100 to see him. R. Kelly took to Instagram to address the media before his appearance, asking them to "take it easy on him."

Last November, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, a Democrat, failed to unseat Republican Congressman Rodney Davis in Illinois’ 13th district. On Thursday, she announced she’ll make another run for it. 

There’s a civil war of sorts under way in Illinois – pitting Chicago against much of the rest of the state.  This dispute is one of politics and policy and it has even led to a resolution being filed by a group of Republicans that would split Illinois into two separate states.    

Illinois is a long state.  Those in southern Illinois are closer to Tennessee than Chicago.  And the political leanings can be just as far apart.  We talk with a state lawmaker who has signed on to a plan calling for Chicago to be separated from the rest of Illinois.  He adds he joined the effort because it's time to start a conversation over policy.  

Coming together can be difficult - even more so when we talk about consolidating school districts.  It might save money, but that's just one consideration.  

Also, R. Kelly made a visit to Springfield in the past week, meeting with fans at a nightclub.  The R and B singer's career is reeling from legal trouble. 

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

Creative Commons

     

SPRINGFIELD - Federal authorities have a message for taxpayers as April 15 approaches:  Tax fraud can land you in prison.

Melissa Esparza fled her home in west suburban Chicago two years ago. Then 16, she said her parents became physically violent after years of verbal abuse.

 

Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot is beginning to lobby for her agenda in Springfield.

Pages