Illinois

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants the state’s ban on concealed carry to be upheld. She is asking all ten judges on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to review a lawsuit challenging the ban.

Pension Overhaul Remains Up In The Air

Jan 8, 2013

A proposed overhaul cleared a House committee Monday. But the full House adjourned for the day without taking action. Observers say legislative leaders are trying to round up of enough votes for the bill to pass.

A three-judge panel of the 7th District U.S. Court of Appeals today rejected the Illinois ban on carrying concealed weapons.

Combining appeals from federal district courts in central and southern Illinois, the 2-1 decision declares that the state failed to provide "more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety."

Regional Superintendents Studying Realignment

Nov 20, 2012

July 2015 is the target date for Illinois to close some regional offices of education. In the meantime, discussions are being held on which offices should absorb new territory.

Voter Registration Deadline Arrives

Oct 9, 2012

The deadline to register to vote in the November election has arrived. Voters can still cast their ballot after the October 9th deadline, but they will have vote early and not on election day. Voters must have lived in their precinct for at least a month before the election.

It appears Democratic leaders in Springfield will seek legislative approval for a Medicaid expansion under the nation's health care law. But a northern Illinois Republican says GOP lawmakers will put up a fight.

A new poll finds that 70-percent of Illinoisans think the state is heading in the wrong direction. Even stronger majorities favor term limits for state legislators. Another poll shows stronger support for gay marriage. 

ACLU Has Concerns About Post-9/11 Initiative

Sep 20, 2012

“Fusion” centers built after the 2001 terrorist attacks are intended to “fuse” various police agencies and objectives. It’s a place for local, state and federal law enforcement to jointly gather, share and store intelligence. But a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union alleges Illinois’ two fusion centers lack appropriate privacy safeguards.

State officials continue preparations for the launch of video gambling in Illinois establishments. The Illinois Gaming Board says it's testing a computerized monitoring system at various locations, including Rockford and Machesney Park.

Illinois will soon be scrutinizing the list of people on Medicaid to make sure they still qualify. But the eligibility checks won't begin until next year. That's led Republicans to say the Quinn administration is moving too slowly.

The first case of West Nile virus in DeKalb County has been reported to the county health department.  A 59-year-old male county resident was diagnosed recently, a department spokesperson said.

“This is not unexpected,” said Jane Lux, Public Health Administrator at the DeKalb County Health Department, “due to the fact that there have been cases diagnosed throughout Illinois and the United States, and we know that mosquitoes in our area are infected.”

Protecting Birds And Bats On Wind Farms

Aug 31, 2012
Chris M / http://www.flickr.com/photos/79666107@N00/1296634467/

Do you have any ideas about protecting birds and bats from wind turbines in Illinois, Wisconsin and six other Midwestern states?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public input as it works with the states to develop a plan for habitat conservation while promoting clean energy.

Some species of bats are particularly vulnerable to striking turbines at wind energy facilities. Fish and Wildlife representative Georgia Parham says one solution may be for wind energy companies to change how they operate turbines.

A new study says heroin use among young adults in Illinois continues to be a problem. The findings was issued this week by Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy. It says heroin-related treatment in Illinois emergency rooms increased 27 percent for people age 20 or younger between the years 2008 and 2010. The study says the pattern can also been seen at the national level. 

S&P Lowers State Rating Once Again

Aug 29, 2012

Illinois’ large budget imbalance and an $83 billion unfunded pension liability have led Standard & Poor's Ratings Services to lower the state’s credit rating from A-plus to A.

Today’s announcement also gives Illinois a negative outlook for the future.

The action on the state's general obligation bonds comes less than two weeks after a special Illinois legislative session on pension reform ended with no resolution on reining in the pension costs.

Gay Marriage Advocates Lobby Illinois Republicans At Convention

Aug 29, 2012

On Tuesday, gay marriage advocates spoke with Illinois Republicans in Tampa. But it’s not clear how their message was received.

Illinois delegates to the Republican National Convention in Florida will finally get down to party business today.

When the GOP canceled most activities Monday due to Tropical Storm Isaac, delegates and politicos had plenty of time for speculation about another election … the election for Illinois governor in 2014.

Illinois delegates find different purposes in conventions

Aug 27, 2012

Though Hurricane Isaac successfully delayed the official start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa on Monday, the spirit and excitement of the delegates attending the convention has not been dampened.

Some Republicans already may be thinking a couple of years beyond the event.

Also thinking ahead are Illinois Democrats, as they prepare for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Elgin Man Dies From West Nile Virus

Aug 24, 2012
umaa.org

Illinois has recorded its second death this year related to the West Nile virus. Public health officials say the victim is a 64-year-old man from Elgin. The longtime village president of Lombard also died last week from complications of the virus. 

A delay will be requested for the upcoming murder trial of convicted killer Nicholas T. Sheley of Sterling.

Defense attorney Jeremy Karlin, of Galesburg, will ask Rock Island Circuit Judge F. Michael Meersman, at a hearing Friday for the fourth delay in Sheley’s first Whiteside County murder trial.

The case, scheduled to go to trial Sept. 10, also would be the first test of active news media presence in a Whiteside County court under the cameras-in-the-courtroom initiative of the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Whiteside County portion of a proposed wind farm near Deer Grove won approval Tuesday from the county board, while the Ogle County Board okayed a special-use permit for a wind farm near Baileyville.

Subject to conditions, Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power can build seven turbines in far southeastern Whiteside County. The board also approved two others, but officials said those need to get the nod from the Deer Grove village board.

idph.state.il.us

Illinois health officials are urging anyone with cantaloupes to inspect them following an outbreak of 17 cases identified in the state in 11 counties. Eight of the people are hospitalized.

Tainted cantaloupe from southwestern Indiana is the suspected source of the outbreak that has so far affected more than 140 people from 20 states. Symptoms of the illness include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Cases go back as far as July 7.

Streator police chief Jeffrey Anderson he considers that the Saturday night fire that destroyed the historic Lipton Tea building may be connected to 16 suspicious fires in Streator since May 2011.

“They all seem to be the same M.O.,” he told the Lasalle NewsTribune . “We have questioned people but right now we have no definite leads.”

The fire started on the second and third floors on the east side of the four-story building, Streator Fire Chief Tom Risley said. Those two floors were being used for storage of plumbing supplies, pipes, bathtubs and “things of that nature,” Risley said.

Governor Pat Quinn is expected to start a campaign to boost support for changes to Illinois' pension systems.  During last week's special session, lawmakers failed to approve a plan that would address the state’s massively underfunded retirement systems.

Illinois House expels Rep. Derrick Smith

Aug 17, 2012
ilga.gov

For the first time in more than a century, the Illinois House has voted to kick out one of its members.  

Derrick Smith, a Democrat who had represented the west side of Chicago, is charged with taking a $7,000 bribe in exchange for helping a daycare secure a state grant.

Although he's fighting the charge in court, legislators say his removal is warranted because it's clear he crossed the line.

Although Illinois added 800 private-sector jobs in July, a sharp decline in local school jobs brought the net tally to 7,100 fewer positions in July than June. That helped the unemployment rate inch upward 0.2 points to 8.9 percent.

Seasonally adjusted preliminary data was released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

Several northern Illinois counties added to drought list

Aug 16, 2012

All counties in Illinois have now been designated as "primary disaster areas" due to drought. That's after the U.S. Department of Agriculture added counties in northern Illinois to the list.

Published report details surge in state worker retirements

Aug 14, 2012

More Illinois government employees are taking the leap into retirement, apparently hoping to lock in their benefits before state officials agree on a plan to cut pensions.

In 2011, Illinois saw a net gain in manufacturing jobs. The Illinois Manufacturers' Association says it was the first time that has happened since the late 1990's. The association says there are several contributing factors, including the growing cost of producing products in China.

Politicians from both major parties offer their thoughts on Mitt Romney's choice for a running mate. Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan was tapped to run for Vice President on the Republican ticket.

New West Nile cases in Illinois

Aug 8, 2012
umaa.org

West Nile virus is striking people earlier than usual this year in Illinois, and health officials say the number of cases now stands at six. Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said Wednesday that human cases have been reported in Chicago, Evanston and several Chicago suburbs.

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