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Gov. Bruce Rauner celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act over the weekend by signing five new laws relating to persons with disabilities.

Effective immediately

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

Minnesota will surpass Illinois, Michigan and South Dakota this week with the highest minimum wage in the Midwest.

The $9-per-hour wage taking effect Saturday is the second of a three-stage increase adopted last year. Next year, the wage will rise fifty cents and go up automatically with inflation in following years.

For now, this step gives The Gopher State the highest minimum wage of any state away from both coasts. The next closest wage in the region is South Dakota's $8.50 per hour, which is higher than Illinois's at $8.25.

Illinois Prisons Still Overcrowded Despite Prisoner Decrease

Jul 27, 2015
Flickr user miss_millions / " Prison cells" (CC v 2.0)

New state data show that the number of people incarcerated in Illinois prisons has fallen in recent years but facilities still remain overcrowded.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports that the most recent report on Illinois Department of Corrections facilities shows the agency held 47,483 inmates in May 2015. That's the lowest since May 2010 when the department reported 47,150 inmates behind bars.

The peak was in January 2013 with 49,321 inmates.

The state prison system's facilities are designed to house 32,000 prisoners.

WBEZ

Chicago’s archbishop says protecting the earth from climate change due to pollution is a moral obligation.

Archbishop Blase Cupich toured Old St. Mary’s School in the South Loop last week with the Environment Protection Agency’s top official. There, he talked about the need to push back on smog and other factors that are contributing to climate change.

Cupich says the church’s stance is in line with its pro-life philosophy.

ARTSALLIANCE.ORG

Illinois advocates for the arts say Gov. Bruce Rauner's plan for more budget cuts is bad policy. 

Since 2007, the budget for the Illinois Arts Council was already cut in half. Under Rauner, it would drop to $8 million.

Ra Joy heads an organization that represents hundreds of artists and cultural groups in the state. He says another cut would hurt education and tourism:

"If we're really going to be serious about making Illinois more competitive and more compassionate, we need to be serious about investment in the arts and our broader creative sector," Joy said.

'Urban Flooding' A Big Problem In Illinois

Jul 27, 2015
WUIS

Illinois communities along rivers are used to flooding. But a state report says there is an increase in so-called "urban flooding" in communities outside a flood plain.

Flooding in cities and towns across Illinois did more than $2 billion in damage over a seven year period. The report from the DNR blames outdated sewer systems and heavier rains. 

St. Louis Public Radio

In a rare Sunday session, the U.S. Senate gave overwhelming approval to a plan to re-authorize the charter of the Export-Import Bank, as part of its six-year highway bill.  The bank’s charter expired in June.  All four U.S. senators from Illinois and Missouri voted for the plan, backed by Democrats and mainstream Republicans.

Tea Party Republicans have long opposed the bank, calling it “corporate welfare” for big business. Supporters disagree and say the bank helps businesses of all sizes.

WNIJ's Gas Price Monday: July 27, 2015

Jul 27, 2015
Carl Nelson/WNIJ

Gas prices keep dropping across the state and country.

According to AAA, the average Rockford area gas price is currently $2.62 per gallon. That's a nickel less than last week and about 80 cents less than a year ago. 

In Chicago, prices are currently at $3.18 per gallon. That's almost a dime less than last week and about 75 cents less than a year ago.

Americans With Disabilities Act Celebrates 25th Year

Jul 27, 2015
adalegacy.com

This week is the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lisa Seymour is the DeKalb County manager for RAMP. It's an agency that helps people with disabilities live independently and get jobs. 

"I think there has been much progress due to the ADA for individuals with disabilities, but there is still much progress that needs to be made," Seymour said.

Before the act, there was little protection for those with disabilities. They ran the risk of being discriminated against if their disabilities were physically apparent.

Rockford Police Department

Rockford Police are looking for ways to connect with their residents.

They’re hosting many block parties this summer, coordinated by the Police Department and United Way.

Lt. Carla Redd is the Supervisor of the Investigative Services of Rockford Police Department. She says this is an idea that has resurfaced.

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