flickr user/Chris "Fireworks" (CC BY 2.0) /

Towns across northern Illinois will be celebrating the 4th of July throughout the weekend, whether it’s a parade, a concert or a firework show.

Fireworks are a big tradition for the 4th of July and will be seen sporadically throughout the weekend. 

Sterling Rock Falls Fire Chief Gary Cook said fireworks such as sparklers, snakes and smoke bombs are categorized as novelty items and are not regulated under the Illinois Fireworks Act. 

Former Illinois Treasurer Employees Sue Over Firings

3 hours ago

Three ex-state employees who claim former Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford fired them last year in retaliation for providing damaging evidence in a sexual harassment investigation have filed a lawsuit.

Wednesday's filing in Cook County Circuit Court says Patrick Carlson, George Daglas and Ashvin Lad were told they were fired for timekeeping abuses. It describes that allegation as a pretext. Rutherford, his former chief of staff and the agency are named as defendants.

Among other demands, the plaintiffs seek back pay, compensation for future wages and emotional distress. 

Wisconsin Public Radio

  Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says 9,500 people plan to attend his rally tonight in Madison, Wis.

The Vermont senator says he will draw on the state's long progressive political history during the event. Sanders says he believes the progressive movement that existed for years in Wisconsin is now spreading throughout the country.


Chicago Public Schools’ financial future is in question after making a massive into its pension system.

The financially struggling school system paid a $634 million lump sum into its retirement fund. The district was hoping for a reprieve, but the House of Representatives -- led by Democrat Speaker Michael Madigan -- rejected CPS’s request.

The interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools says about 1,400 jobs will be affected after the district had to borrow money to make a $634 million pension payment.

Brian Mackey

The stalemate that's embodied state politics of late continues -- there is still no Illinois budget for fiscal year 2016.

Now, that has consequences. Without a budget, Illinois doesn't have the authority to spend any money.

That means no paychecks for state employees, and vendors not getting paid -- something which could mean no services.

Diane Gedik, who is with Autism Speaks in Chicago, says a shutdown affects the support Illinois state government provides for her 20-year-old son with autism.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area already covers 42 counties across Illinois. A resolution in Washington would add Freeport and Jonesboro, which were sites of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Sarah Watson is the Executive Director of the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition.

“We anticipate this will be the only time we would ever ask for an expansion of the heritage area,” Watson said.


Illinois residents who want to add specific diseases to the state's medical marijuana pilot program have another chance to submit their suggestions starting tomorrow.

The Illinois Department of Public Health will accept petitions through July. Instructions will be posted on the program's website. An advisory board will review the petitions and hold a public hearing.


Among the new Illinois laws taking effect tomorrow is one aimed at improving air quality and people's health.

Effective Wednesday, smoking anywhere on public university campuses in Illinois will be prohibited.

The Smoke-Free Campus Act prohibits smoking in all areas of campus, including all buildings and facilities on the main campus, open spaces, stadiums and parking lots. Smoking inside private vehicles passing through campus is the only exception to this policy.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois legislators return to Springfield Tuesday, leaving them one last day to get a budget deal in order. This year's spending plan expires at midnight on June 30. 

Not only is there no long-term agreement, but there's no sign of a provisional one, either.

Democrats say they did their part: they passed a spending plan before the end of May, when the legislative session was originally scheduled to end. But last week Gov. Bruce Rauner rejected nearly all of it, citing that it was nearly $4 billion out of balance. 

It's the deadline day in Illinois. If a meeting yesterday between Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders is any indication, they're most likely not going to make it.

It's been weeks since Rauner, a Republican, meet with all four of the legislative leaders. Since the last time it was believed they were all together, the governor began airing ads that attack Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. 

The state also got a lot closer to a partial shutdown since then.