Olivia Mitchell

Olivia Mitchell is a graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legislative session.

As coronavirus cases surge nationwide, Governor J.B. Pritzker introduced a new plan to address a resurgence in Illinois. 

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois was already fighting a public health crisis - the opioid epidemic. Clinicians at two drug rehab centers said more patients have been admitted to their facility since the coronavirus pandemic. 

Drivers in Illinois will no longer have their license or vehicle registration suspended for unpaid parking fines and tollway violations. 

The Abraham Lincoln Association has launched a $400,000 campaign to acquire vacant land to construct an accurate replica of Lincoln’s original cottage - before the home was expanded.

The Seizure Smart School Act, is a new law in Illinois that requires schools to train employees and care aides on how to handle students with epilepsy, and how to administer their medications.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which the brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the country.

The 2020 Illinois and DuQuoin State Fairs have been canceled.

In a video announcement posted to Facebook, State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon said the decision stems from wanting to protect people from contracting COVID-19.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin met with faith and community leaders in Springfield over the weekend at Union Baptist Church to discuss legislation to address police conduct.

Durbin said the measure - set to be introduced this week - would include a ban on the use of chokeholds, outline acceptable use of force by officers, and make recommendations on recruitment and training. He’s joining Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, both former Democratic presidential candidates, in sponsoring the Justice In Policing Act.

As the hospitality industry continues to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois lawmakers approved a measure to allow bars and restaurants to serve cocktails for curbside pick-up and delivery. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker called for the legislature to reconvene to discuss an economic recovery plan for the state.

Pritzker said his administration has supported residents and small businesses by banning evictions, delaying tax filing deadlines, and expanding unemployment eligibility, but he said more work needs to be done to get the economy going.

Illinois has processed more than 20,000 COVID-19 tests in one day for the first time since the pandemic began. The state ranks fourth among all fifty states in testing availability and completion, behind California, Texas, and New York. 

Brian Galecki, owner of Dumb Records in downtown Springfield, normally sells records and CDs, but since the pandemic hit, he’s been selling t-shirts online. He said his online sales have been strong.

“A big challenge in that still is that even with us doing well, we’re still going to be less than what we would be doing if our physical store is open,” Galecki said.

As Illinois increased its COVID-19 testing capacity, the state saw its largest one-day spike Friday with more than 2,700 newly confirmed cases, bringing the total to nearly 40,000. 

Every year, crowds of people flood the fairgrounds in Springfield anticipating entertainment at the Grandstand, corn dogs, shake-ups, and rides. But it’s unclear if the fair will go on this year. 

Shenecko Jimerson beat breast cancer a few years ago. After her celebration, she found out the cancer returned and she was diagnosed with triple metastatic breast cancer. She is on radiation - treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

With concerns that the new coronavirus is being spread by asymptomatic people, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is advising Illinois residents to wear masks while out in public.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker called on former physicians and medical professionals, including those who are retired, to “join the fight” against COVID-19. 

The Illinois House has approved legislation that would allow people to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP benefits, online.

Illinois officials say the state should be doing more to level the playing field for women and girls. A council working toward that goal released its first annual report today. 

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether parents should be allowed to keep their children from participating in active shooter drills at school.

Some parents and school personnel say the exercises have a negative effect on children. State Sen. Scott Bennett, a Democrat from Champaign, said he’s not against active shooter training, but he said it should be conducted with more sensitivity.

Lawmakers are considering whether to make comprehensive sexual education mandatory for grades K-12 in public schools across the state.

The Illinois State Police says opioid overdoses are declining, but that agency is also reporting an uptick in the use of methamphetamines. 

In the past, meth was homemade, so the state restricted access to some of the ingredients like sudafed. Now, drug cartels are smuggling the drug into the U.S.

Pet owners in Illinois that live in public housing often have to choose between keeping their pet and staying in a place they can afford. A proposed Illinois measure aims to prevent that situation from ever happening.

A day after former Vice President Joe Biden finished fifth in the New Hampshire primary, he still had the support of former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

LaHood, once a Republican congressman from Peoria who went to work for the Obama administration, said Wednesday he does not have a second-choice candidate.

He said if Biden can win over diverse states like South Carolina and Nevada, he’ll show he can bring the Democratic Party together.

LaHood also continued to criticize President Donald Trump.

Illinois lawmakers are considering a proposal to give students mental health days away from school.

The legislation would allow children in kindergarten through twelfth grade who have mental health issues the opportunity to take up to five days off during the school year.

A group of Illinois lawmakers and health care advocates want the state to more equitably provide money for low income hospital patients.

A panel of lawmakers on Wednesday grilled Secretary of State Jesse White and officials from the Illinois State Board of Elections over problems with the state’s automatic voter registration system.

As public universities in Illinois have seen enrollment declines in recent years, one state lawmaker has an idea aimed at keeping high school graduates from leaving.

Lawmakers are demanding answers from the Illinois State Police about delays on DNA processing.

Both Republicans and Democrats say they want more answers as to why more than 500 non-U.S.citizens were mistakenly added to Illinois voter rolls.

Members of both parties say they take the issue of election security seriously.

Both of Illinois’ U.S. senators voted in favor of a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

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