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Illinois
8:04 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Illinois Tourism Sets Another Record

The Field Museum in Chicago is one of the state's most popular attractions.
Credit Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

There were more than 100 million visitors to Illinois in 2013. State agencies aim to grow those numbers more in the face of budget cuts. 

For the third year in a row, Illinois broke its own record for visitors to the state. In 2013, travelers spent $34.5 billion dollars in Illinois, according to the state's office of tourism.

Though Illinois' new budget provides less for the state's Historic Preservation Agency, and the tourist attractions and museums under it, there have not yet been closures.  However there has been talk of curbing hours of operation later this year. 

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Illinois
7:48 am
Fri July 11, 2014

GOP: Continue State Probe Of Anti-Violence Program

Rep. Jim Durkin

Illinois Republicans say they want to continue a legislative investigation into a mismanaged anti-violence program.

That goes against the wishes of the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Justice asked Illinois state lawmakers to postpone their hearings on the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

Governor Pat Quinn’s advisors who ran the anti-violence program have been subpoenaed by a legislative committee looking into why it was so poorly managed.

Federal prosecutors have also issued subpoenas related to the program.

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Steven Schulz
7:03 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

UPDATE: Initial Autopsy Results Show DeKalb County Man Shot

The area where Steven Schulz' pickup was found -- north of Route 72, near Annie Glidden Road and the Kishwaukee River.
Credit Google Maps

6:30 pm, 7/10/14

The DeKalb County man whose body was found Wednesday in the Kishwaukee River died of a gunshot wound to the head. That's the word today from the DeKalb County Coroner.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department says the autopsy and investigation turned up no signs of a struggle or trauma. 23 year old Steven Schulz was reported missing earlier this week: his pickup was found near the Kishwaukee River in northern DeKalb County. A full autopsy report will be available in the near future, after lab results are returned.

A dive team called in from St. Charles found the gun police believe was used to shoot Schulz. The case is still being investigated by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, although Sheriff Roger Scott says there is no threat to public safety.

 

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Illinois
10:43 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Licenses In Illinois Top 5,000

Governor Pat Quinn's signature on the document making same-sex marriage legal in Illinois.
Credit @GovernorQuinn, Twitter

A new survey from the advocacy group Equality Illinois finds more than 5,000 same-sex couples in Illinois have marriage licenses. Illinois' law took effect June 1. Some counties, including DeKalb and Cook, issued licenses before that date. Of those, 1,694 civil unions were converted into marriages.

The group finds several counties, including DeKalb and Ogle, do not keep a record of same-sex marriages.

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Transform Rockford
7:59 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Top 25 By '25: Ambitious Vision For Rockford

Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Energy was high at the Coronado Theater last night: it has been more than seven months since Transform Rockford held its first community rally there, asking people to help create an ambitious plan for the city. 

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Illinois
5:16 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Illinois Ends Fiscal Year In The Black...Temporarily

Credit state of Illinois

The state took in over a billion dollars more in taxes than the prior year, thanks to an uptick in sales tax money.  Personal income tax revenue also rose , but the amount coming from corporate income taxes dropped. It's something Jim Muschinske, a budget forecaster for the state, said was predicted.

"That was not unexpected. In fact, we actually did better this fiscal year than what was initially assumed back when the budget was passed," Muschinske said.

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Sexual Assault
5:08 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Washington, NIU Address Campus Sexual Assaults

Credit mccaskill.senate.gov

A new survey of the nation's top colleges and universities will help shape legislation addressing on-campus sexual assaults. U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri calls it “disturbing” that 41 percent of the responding institutions said they have not carried out any sexual assault investigations in five years.

“Which means they are saying there has been zero incidents of sexual assault on their campuses. That is hard to believe and obviously very problematic,” McCaskill said.

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Rockford Federal Courthouse namesake
1:56 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Federal Judge Roszkowski Remembered As A "Great American"

Federal Judge Stanley Roszkowski speaks at the dedication of federal courthouse named in his honor in 2011.
Credit Nels Akerland / U.S. General Services Administration

Funeral services for federal judge Stanley Roszkowski are set for Saturday in Rockford. The man who helped establish a permanent federal court in Rockford died Monday at the age of 91. 

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Transform Rockford
6:15 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Group To Reveal Vision For Rockford Tonight

Transform Rockford's Mike Schablaske and the Rock River, on the river walk behind Riverfront Museum Park.
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

It has taken hundreds of people pulling together at dozens of community meetings to get to this point: tonight, the group “Transform Rockford” will reveal its draft of a vision for the city at a rally at the Coronado Theater, starting at 6:30.

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Minimum Wage
5:04 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Assessing The Minimum Wage Landscape

Credit WNIJ

Despite Democratic majorities and a push from the governor, Illinois' legislative session adjourned without a bump in the minimum wage.

Lawmakers settled for putting a non-binding question on the November ballot asking if that's something voters want.

Part of the problem was that legislators from downstate -- from both parties -- were against a hike.

Andrew Biggs says it doesn't make sense to make sense to have a national, or even statewide, minimum wage. Biggs is a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, a D.C. think tank that leans toward free enterprise.

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