News

Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino continues to remain evasive on the subject of campaign spending.

A former Democratic state representative, Mautino  has been asked repeatedly about campaign spending during his time as a legislator. 

It’s the subject of a recent complaint with the state board of elections.  Highlights include $250,000 for car repairs and gas at a single service station and an equivalent amount paid to a bank.  

Low-income high-school students enrolled in courses at three Illinois community colleges can now qualify for federally funded Pell Grants through an experimental program announced this week by the U.S. Department of Education.

Among the 44 U.S. colleges invited to participate in the program are Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois Central College in East Peoria, and Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.

Amanda Vinicky/Illinois Public Radio

Union members flooded streets in front of the Illinois Statehouse to protest Gov. Bruce Rauner's agenda and what they say are his anti-labor policies.

Union workers marched to the Capitol for a rally, where they were joined briefly by a pair of prominent Democrats: House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.

There was a time, in recent memory, that the labor movement wasn't all too fond of Madigan. Though he's a Democrat, he helped pass bills cutting government-worker pension benefits, and he's backed corporate tax breaks.

Kelly Martin/CC

  A $4 million state loan will help replace lead water lines in Galesburg. 

The loan is expected to cover the cost of replacing about 2,000 lead service lines.  This is nearly half of  those in the city.  Galesburg will only be required to repay interest, and the project is expected to take up to four years.

Susan Stephens

  The Boone County Board voted 10 to 1 in favor of a letter opposing the Great Lakes Basin Railroad Project. 

The Rockford Register-Star reports that the document details various objections to "livability, including land loss, water quality, noise, and insurance costs.  It stands in contrast to another letter board members were considering.  That document was not as detailed about what the board feared were threats to “livability.” 

"Cigarette" By Flickr User Conan / (CC BY 2.0)

Legislation raising the age to buy cigarettes seemed to have been extinguished in the Illinois Senate last week. But it suddenly caught fire again as the Senate approved it today.

The measure's sponsor - John Mulroe of Chicago - says this time he found support from people who had been unsure about the measure or who weren't there to vote when it failed to pass earlier this month. 

The legislation would move the legal age to buy cigarettes and e-cigarettes from eighteen years old to twenty-one. 

Illinois is poised to decriminalize people caught with small amounts of marijuana.  The Illinois House approved legislation Wednesday.

As it stands now, Rep. Kelly Cassidy says Illinois has a patchwork. Each city handles pot possession differently.

"That permit some people to get tickets for very low level possession, some people to get arrested," Cassidy said.

Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat, says her legislation will create a threshold "…under which arrest is not an option. Tickets would be the way to go."

Jenna Dooley/WNIJ

The Illinois comptroller met with leaders of Rockford-area nonprofit organizations on Wednesday to talk about the state budget impasse and its effect on human services. Leslie Munger says the situation in Springfield is an inherited problem that can't be solved by taxes alone.

“The longer this gridlock continues and the longer this pile of bills becomes, the longer it takes for us to pay all of you the money we owe you,” Munger said. "Those of you who are not covered under any of these court orders, you have been probably waiting since July for payments.”

tammyduckworth.com

A judge in southern Illinois has set an Aug. 15 trial date in a workplace retaliation lawsuit filed against U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth.

The Democratic congresswoman is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk in one of November's most competitive Senate races.

Two employees of a home for veterans say Duckworth violated state ethics laws by taking action against them when she was head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

Duckworth's supporters call the case a politically motivated nuisance lawsuit.

Flickr/Boroda

Lawmakers scrambling to find money to fix Illinois' multi-billion dollar deficit are looking to sugary drinks as one potential source of revenue.

 Taxing distributors of sodas and other sugary beverages was among the revenue-generating ideas a group of lawmakers proposed to Gov. Bruce Rauner and other leaders last week.

They're trying to finally end an epic budget impasse.

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