Illinois

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Seattle-based online retailer Amazon has announced it is building a second headquarters for 50,000 employees. Cities all over the country -- including Chicago -- are bidding for the chance to get the headquarters.

Rauner says he’s involved in the Chicago bid, but also in the Saint Louis effort.

“Chicago is clearly the more important,” Rauner said, “but we've got to make sure that we’re positioned to benefit Illinois if St. Louis ends up being very competitive.”

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New numbers show that the poverty rate in Illinois is still worse than the national average.  

The poverty rate is lower, both nationally and in Illinois, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers for 2016. But there’s a caveat.

“Unfortunately, we are still above where we were pre-recession,” said Amy Rynell, head of the research unit of the Heartland Alliance that studies poverty. “While, as a nation, we have caught up with where we were pre-recession, as a state, we have not.”

Travis Stansel/Illinois Public Media

Illinois is preparing to launch a pilot program to test out tax credits for donors to private school scholarships. The five-year, $75 million program served as a bargaining chip drawing Republican support to the education funding reform bill that Gov. Bruce Rauner signed last month. But less has been said about how it will actually work.

One person interested in how the private school tax credits will work is Mike Chitty, superintendent of Judah Christian School a 500-student pre-school-through high school in Champaign.

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Democratic candidate for governor Chris Kennedy's newly announced running mate says he wants to address the "senseless violence" that plagues Illinois and took his son's life earlier this summer.

Kennedy on Thursday introduced Chicago political activist Ra Joy as his lieutenant governor candidate in the 2018 campaign.

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he’s been in touch with Amazon executives in an effort to bring the company’s second headquarters to the state.

Officials from the Seattle-based online retailer last week announced they want to build another headquarters in North America that would be staffed by up to 50,000 employees. Several states are making offers.

Rauner says Amazon already has some distribution centers in Illinois, which could help with his pitch.

Susan Stephens

Illinois Public Universities - Fall 2017 Enrollment
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There’s a three percent increase in freshman enrollment at Northern Illinois University this year.

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is authorizing a major borrowing plan to pay down part of the state’s nearly $15 billion dollar backlog of bills.

Lawmakers approved a state budget over Rauner’s veto earlier this summer, which called for borrowing $6 billion dollars.

Rauner waited about two months to authorize that borrowing, which racked up even more late fees for all the unpaid bills.

Rauner said in an interview that the budget is still not balanced, but he wants to bring discipline to the state’s finances.

US Marshalls Service

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich says he spends his time sweeping and mopping floors while serving a federal prison sentence after corruption convictions.

Blagojevich tells WMAQ-TV in Chicago in an interview from the Colorado prison released Monday that he still maintains his innocence and hopes to make another appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 60-year-old is 5 1/2 years into a 14-year sentence, including for trying to sell former President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat.

Illinois state Rep. Carol Sente says she won't run for re-election in 2018.

The Vernon Hills Democrat tells the Daily Herald that she met with House Speaker Michael Madigan on Monday to tell him about her decision.

Sente's been in office since 2009. She says she initially planned to be in office for between eight and 12 years.

Sente is one of a handful of Illinois state lawmakers who recently said they're stepping down, including Northbrook Democratic state Rep. Elaine Nekritz and Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno of Lemont.

State of Illinois

Illinois State Secretary of Education Beth Purvis will leave office on Friday. That's according to a news release from Governor Bruce Rauner's office.

Purvis will be joining a national nonprofit organization and overseeing educational philanthropy.

“Beth has been a tireless advocate for Illinois children and families,” Gov. Rauner said in the news release. “We are deeply grateful for her efforts.”

scottdrury.org

A Democrat hoping to be Illinois’s next governor selected one of his former campaign employees Monday to be his running mate.

North Shore State Representative Scott Drury has selected Alex Hirsch as his running mate. Campaign records show Hirsch was paid by Drury’s campaign fund in 2014 and ‘16.

But it doesn’t appear Hirsch has ever run for political office.

Drury hasn’t advertised his selection on Facebook or Twitter. Instead, in an emailed statement, he describes Hirsch as a Bernie Sanders supporter and a millennial, but also as a “long-time trusted advisor.”

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A lawsuit between the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees and Misty Haji-Sheikh regarding former President Doug Baker’s resignation continues.

A DeKalb County judge extended the temporary restraining order barring NIU from taking further action on Baker’s severance package. The next hearing is scheduled for late November.

wiu.edu

Western Illinois University’s short-term goal is to stabilize enrollment at 10,000 students, but it came up a bit short this fall.

Western says its current enrollment is 9,441, which is a drop of nine percent from last fall and nearly 15 percent from two years ago.

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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is urging residents to take precautions after credit-monitoring company Equifax said a breach exposed information about 143 million Americans.

Brian Mackey

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is embarking on an eight-day trade mission to Japan and China later this week.

Until now, Rauner has spent more time criticizing the Illinois business climate than promoting it. Rauner says he wasn’t traveling to aggressively promote Illinois because he thought it was inappropriate.

There was no budget for two years, and Democrats were blocking his anti-union agenda. Even though Rauner didn’t get that passed, he’s now going to personally recruit companies abroad anyway.

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Lawyers for Brendt Christensen, the 27-year-old man accused of kidnapping Yingying Zhang, are asking a judge’s permission to withdraw from the case.

Attorneys Thomas, Evan and Anthony Bruno have been representing Christensen, who’s accused of kidnapping University of Illinois visiting scholar Yingying Zhang.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

The DeKalb Municipal Band may be traveling abroad next summer to celebrate the anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France.

DeKalb Municipal Band conductor Kirk Lundbeck says he submitted the application for the band to perform in France back in April.

“I mean, it was one of those things, where, ‘Oh, what the heck, I might as well try it,’” Lundbeck said. “Kind of like buying a lottery ticket; what’s it going to hurt?”

And, to Lundbeck’s surprise, the band was chosen to be the one from Illinois to play in Normandy.

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A Chicago suburb is offering 10 free houses to people in Texas who have lost their homes to Harvey.

Harvey, Ill., spokesman Sean Howard said that volunteer tradesmen and carpenters are going to the homes this weekend to prepare them for new residents.

The city acquired the homes due to unpaid taxes, according to news reports. Instead of selling the properties to investors, the city is making them available to storm victims. Renovations could take about six weeks.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

About 20 Illinois lawmakers so far have announced they are leaving the state legislature. For some, it's effective immediately. For others, it means they will not run for re-election -- and the list keeps growing.

But is this kind of turnover normal in Springfield?

State Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, recently announced he will not run again this coming term. He served for more than a decade in the Illinois Senate after he retired from a 33-year career in law enforcement. So, Bivins says, he thought 11 years was long enough for him to serve as a state senator.

Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

More than a hundred DeKalb-area residents gathered Thursday night at the corner of First Street and Lincoln Highway. Some held lanterns, while others carried signs with a call to action. One participant wrapped herself with an American flag.

The group Beloved Community held the candlelight vigil to honor the victims of the recent Charlottesville attack, and also to strengthen community ties in the fight against racism and hate crimes. 

Jessie Schlacks

A smoky haze from a Canadian forest fire settled across Northern Illinois this morning.

A representative from the National Weather Service says the smoke is rolling across Lake Michigan, also affecting parts of Michigan and Wisconsin.

This morning, the National Weather Service in Milwaukee tweeted that "smoke from wildfires in western Canada has been pulled into southern Wisconsin behind last night's cold front."

Little information is available about the wildfire. Effects are expected at least through today, but may continue depending on how the fire is handled.

Gov. Rauner Veto Blocks Fight For $15 Minimum Wage

Aug 30, 2017
"Chicago's Fight for $15" by Flickr User Anna Waters / (CC x 2.0)

Illinois's fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage hit a roadblock last Friday after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill that would make it happen.

The Illinois General Assembly approved a plan in late May that would raise the minimum wage gradually from $8.25 to $15 an hour over the next five years.

But, after two months on the governor's desk, Senate Bill 81 was shot down.

The substantial-raise proposal remains polarizing.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

The libel case between the DeKalb police chief and a Crystal Lake man will continue Nov. 8.

DeKalb police chief Gene Lowery sued Thomas Salvi for more than $300,000 last year. Salvi sent e-mails to then-mayor John Rey claiming Lowery was an “aggressive thug” and “fraud” and should be fired.

Rey said he didn’t believe Salvi’s claims, according to court records. Salvi's legal team says there isn’t enough evidence that the claims ruined Lowery’s reputation or otherwise harmed him.

DeKalb County

Residents wanting to run for office can start collecting signatures Tuesday for the March primary.

Positions up for nomination include DeKalb County Sheriff, Clerk, Treasurer and Regional Superintendent of Schools.

Doug Johnson is DeKalb County's Clerk and Recorder. He said this election may not draw as much attention as others, but said these offices have the largest impact in everyday life.

“These are the people that are making the laws and the rules, and running our state and county," he said.

Wikipedia

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law Monday that some immigration lawyers say provides the strongest protections for immigrants of any state. 

The Illinois Trust Act says that local and state law enforcement officials will not detain immigrants solely because they may be undocumented.

The Republican governor signed it at a Mexican restaurant in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood.

“This bill takes us in a step continuing to be a welcoming state,” Rauner said. “This was not an easy bill to pass; let’s be clear.”

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Illinoisians eligible to vote will now automatically be registered when they get their driver’s license or another state I.D.

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law Monday. The measure received unanimous support from both Democrats and Republicans in Springfield.

Democratic State Senator Andy Manar sponsored the legislation.

“The bipartisan vote that was taken on this legislation was, when you think about it, quite stunning especially given the dynamic of what’s happening in Springfield today,” Manar said.

Jenna Dooley

The DeKalb County Community Mental Health Board just passed its 50th anniversary since its first meeting. 

It's continuing the celebration with public "first aid" mental health trainings. A mix of area counselors, community members and physicians recently gathered at the DeKalb County Community Outreach Building. 

Participants learned how to recognize mental illness symptoms like anxiety and depression. They also gain skills to stabilize a critical situation until proper help is available.

Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio

Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed a plan to increase Illinois' minimum wage to $15 over five years.

The state's minimum wage is $8.25. The proposal would raise it incrementally until 2022. The plan also includes a tax credit for some small businesses.

Proponents say it's the best chance to raise wages and improve living conditions for many Illinoisans. Opponents include business groups who say it'll have an adverse impact on job creators.

In his veto message issued Friday, the Republican governor says Illinois needs comprehensive solutions to grow the economy and jobs.

CREDIT "COURTROOM ONE GAVEL" BY FLICKR USER BETH CORTEZ-NEAVEL / (CC BY 2.0)

Hate crimes will be more punishable under a new law the governor signed this week.

The measure was a result of suggestions from the state’s bi-partisan Holocaust and Genocide Commission. It was introduced to the legislature well before the events in Charlottesville. However, State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said it sends a strong message to those considering acting out their hatred.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Four more members of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's communications team have resigned weeks after being hired in the wake of the Republican's conflicting response to a political cartoon that critics call racist.

This follows 20 members of Rauner’s administration who quit or were fired last month -- after lawmakers passed a state budget that the governor opposed.

Rauner issued a statement Thursday saying Diana Rickert, Laurel Patrick, Meghan Keenan and Brittany Carl submitted resignations.

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