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Republicans in Illinois' Congressional delegation are on board with Governor Bruce Rauner's move to temporarily close the state's borders to Syrian refugees in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris. 

The state's eight Republican House members are also condemning President Obama's plan to let in 10,000 refugees from that country this year.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

There's no budget deal on the immediate horizon in Illinois, which is set to round out a fifth month without any budget in place. However, two frameworks have just been released.

The drafters hope they'll stimulate movement. 

State Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, says frustration with the gridlock got her talking months ago with a handful of other rank-and-file legislators from both sides of the aisle and from both chambers of the General Assembly. 

NIU Passes Water Test For Lead

Nov 16, 2015
Steve Johnson / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency requires drinking water testing for lead every three years. Northern Illinois University passed – with one initial exception.

The EPA requires corrective action if 20 percent of a system’s samples have more than 15 parts of lead per billion. Only one NIU fountain -- located in the visual arts building -- tested positive for lead under these criteria. That’s according to an NIU staff memo.

Officials say the unsafe sample was taken from a mechanical hot water heating line. They corrected the problem and drew another sample, which passed.

WUIS

The Illinois Governor and the four legislative leaders won't meet in Springfield this week after all.

The gathering has been postponed until next month.

Even with the state’s ongoing, unprecedented fiscal situation, Wednesday’s meeting would’ve been the first time since the end of May that Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly's four top Republicans and Democrats all got together.

University of Illinois

The University of Illinois is officially asking Illinois leaders to come to terms on a state budget for the current fiscal year.

At their meeting in Chicago Thursday, the trustees approved a resolution urging an end to the budget impasse, and signed a presentation copy.

U of I President Timothy Killeen says a hiring freeze affecting 230 full-time positions at the university is just one of the cutbacks instituted to cope with the budget delay.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois has gone four and a half months without a budget. It's gone even longer -- five and a half months -- since the governor and leaders of the legislature have all gotten together to talk about it. The last time that happened was at the end of May. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner finally released his plans Friday  for the meeting with legislative leaders next Wednesday in his Springfield office.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Heroin users in one northwestern Illinois county are finding an unusual ally when they’re ready to give up drugs…their local police.

Five months into operating without a state budget, Illinois Democrats and Republicans came together Tuesday to pass a budget bill. But it was a relatively minor one; a full agreement is sure to be a ways off.

This is something that hasn't been said much this session, at least by a Republican to a Democrat, when it comes anything having to do with the budget:

"I plan to vote for your bill today, and I've also encouraged my caucus to vote for your bill as well," Republican House GOP Leader Jim Durkin said.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is standing by his decision to backtrack on cuts to a low-income daycare program. 

That comes even as Democrats in the Illinois House failed to pass legislation that would have forced Rauner to undo his changes to the state’s Child Care Assistance Program.

The program is meant to help parents out of poverty by subsidizing daycare, so they can work or go to school.

Durbin.senate.gov

President Obama last week rejected a permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed pipeline would have carried oil from Canadian tar sands. 

Rauner And Labor Agree On Jobless Benefit Changes

Nov 10, 2015

 

 

Gov. Bruce Rauner said his administration has reached an agreement with business groups and unions on a framework for changes to Illinois' unemployment insurance system.

 

The agreement would deny benefits to laid-off workers in certain cases such as providing false information on an employment application and damaging an employer's property through gross negligence.

Efforts To Double Property Tax Break Continue

Nov 10, 2015
Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

There are efforts at the State capitol to double a property tax break for Illinois homeowners. 

The push comes from Chicago’s mayor and would double the homestead exemption across the state. For homeowners, it would increase their deduction for taxes they pay on their residence. 

It comes at a time when Gov. Bruce Rauner calls for a property tax freeze. 

Mike Klemens is a consultant who does research for a taxpayer interest group. He says property taxes got a lot of attention in Illinois in the ‘80s and ‘90s … but not so much lately.

illinois.gov

Thousands of low-income families would once again be able to get state help paying for child care under a compromise deal introduced Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Rauner had been responsible for changes that cut the families off from the program in the first place. He unilaterally raised eligibility standards so a parent making minimum wage no longer qualified.

After a months-long ruckus, the Republican governor says he'll expand eligibility once again. 

Today’s the day for many medical marijuana patients in Illinois. As many as eight dispensaries around the state are scheduled to open as the next chapter of legalizing medical marijuana begins.

Only around 33-hundred people have been granted medical cannabis licenses by state regulators. That’s one reason people in the industry have been coordinating informational meetings about how to apply. Last Wednesday, one such forum was held in Rockford.

No pictures, please.

twitter.com/BruceRauner

Advocates for senior citizens and people with disabilities are assessing how action today by the Republican governor affects services they say they depend on.

Early this year, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled a plan to save money, by making it harder for the elderly and disabled individuals to qualify for government aid.

People not deemed needy enough would no longer receive state-provided home care workers, or state-paid nursing home care.

The legislature didn't like that idea, and passed a measure that would require eligibility remain at the status quo.

Federal prosecutors handed former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock a second subpoena for financial records, texts and emails. That’s part of a grand jury probe into spending by the Peoria Republican.

The new subpoena was disclosed as prosecutor Timothy Bass appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Sue Myerscough. Bass says it's “utter nonsense” Schock hasn't fully complied with a grand jury request issued months ago.

Prosecutors also object to claims of privilege that Schock's attorneys made over some documents being reviewed by Myerscough.

Tracking Progress Since Quinn Conceded Governor's Race

Nov 5, 2015
Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

A year ago, then Governor Pat Quinn conceded his race for re-election to Republican Bruce Rauner.  Voters once again sent Democratic legislators back to Springfield with supermajorities. 

Rauner came into office promising he'd shake up state government.

Rauner insists that lawmakers institute a series of changes -- from legislative term limits, to a more business friendly workers' compensation system, and a clampdown on collective bargaining -- before he'll talk revenue.

WNIJ

The Illinois Supreme Court has once again ruled in favor of tobacco giant Philip Morris. The decision, announced Wednesday, saves the company from a $10.1 billion judgment.

The case has been before the court off and on for more than a decade. A group of smokers say Philip Morris tricked them into thinking “light” cigarettes were safer than regular.

The Supreme Court already threw out the record award back in 2005. But a few years ago, the smokers went to a trial judge and tried to revive the case.

vacdk.com

A northern Illinois program that provides meal service is cutting back due to the state's budget impasse.

DeKalb's Voluntary Action Center announced a reduction in its nutrition services. The interim director says 53 percent of the Center's Aging Service grant money for the Meals on Wheels program comes directly from the state.

The schedule for the Senior Lunch program at the DeKalb Senior Center will be affected the most.

A portrait of former Speaker Dennis Hastert has been removed from a hallway outside the House chamber. Just last week, the Illinois Republican pleaded guilty to breaking banking laws in a hush money scheme.  
 The portrait has hung for years in the Speaker's Lobby, a plush area just outside the chamber where lawmakers and reporters congregate. 

Spokeswoman AshLee Strong says new Speaker Paul Ryan felt it was time to ``rotate in a different portrait.''  

State of Illinois

The state of Illinois is more than $181 million behind in distributing monthly motor fuel tax revenue to municipalities, counties and other local governments amid the ongoing state budget impasse.

Records from the Illinois comptroller's office show more than $89 million is owed to municipalities and $63.6 million is owed to counties.

The State Journal-Register reports another roughly $29 million hasn't been given to smaller townships and road districts, and many rely on the funding for most of their maintenance and repair budgets.

Illinois Supreme Court

Judicial races are getting increasingly politicized. That's according to a study published Thursday surveying 2013-2014 state Supreme Court races called "Bankrolling the Bench."

Illinois sticks out when it comes to money spent to elect or keep judges on the bench. But not in a good way, according to the report's lead author Scott Greytak, who works for the nonpartisan group Justice at Stake.

Jenna Dooley

Hundreds of students representing Northern Illinois University and several other Chicago-area schools gathered Thursday night to call for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers to agree on a budget.

The students and community leaders spoke out against cuts to MAP grants, social services, and the halt in construction of the Stevens Building, which housed NIU's School of Theater and Dance.

Rauner served as the  keynote speaker at Thursday night's DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation annual fundraiser.

New Initiatives Needed To Reduce Prison Population

Oct 29, 2015
Flickr user Tim (Timothy) Pearce / "Prison cell with bed inside Alcatraz main building san francisco california" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois is making strides to reduce the inmate population by taking the initiative to address problems and discuss some possible solutions. Last week was "Sociology Week" at Northern Illinois University. It presented several opportunities to address issues about crime that cause prisons to fill up quickly.

The NIU Sociology department was co-host of the John Howard Association's "Prison Reform Illinois" presentation.

Prison Reform Discussion in DeKalb

Oct 29, 2015
U.S. Marshals Service

If you're in the market for nearly 900 trophies and plaques, the U.S. Marshals Service has a deal for you.

 

Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell won a lot of awards during 22 years as one of the top breeders of quarter horses in the country. That was before she was found guilty of stealing nearly 54 million dollars from her hometown.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University students will rally Thursday to bring attention to the state’s budget impasse.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is the keynote speaker at the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation Dinner.

Before he takes the stage, students, staff, and other community leaders will be in the center of campus calling for awareness of cuts to MAP grants, social services, and the halt in construction of the Stevens Building.

https://paulryan.house.gov/

People have been learning a lot lately about how lawmakers view Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, but what do people think back home in his district? Tim Bremel is host of “Your Talk Show” on WCLO in Janesville.

How do constituents view Congressman Ryan?

Susan Stephens

Six Illinois universities have seen their credit ratings lowered
because of the state's ongoing budget stalemate.
 
 Moody's Investors Service on Monday downgraded ratings for Eastern Illinois,
Governors State, Northeastern Illinois, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois and
Western Illinois universities.

Flickr user Ryo Chijiiwa / "Tommy Guns" (CC BY 2.0)

The nation's police chiefs are calling for universal background checks for anyone trying to purchase a firearm.

At a gathering in Chicago of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the top cops agreed the checks will help keep guns from people who shouldn't carry them.

The call that such checks for all purchases and not just those from licensed gun dealers is not new.

But in the past, law enforcement officials have included such a call as part of a wider effort that included calls for longer prison sentences for those convicted of gun crimes.

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