Jenna Dooley

There’s activity at a long-dormant prison in northwest Illinois. Residents in Thomson have lived more than a decade in limbo waiting for it to open. Now, it’s time.

Ready for Change

At a recent prayer service in Thomson, longtime resident Arlene Eslinger says she has a lot on her heart these days. She says residents are getting older. People want change, but Eslinger fears Thomson isn’t prepared for an influx of prison workers and their families.

School, City Officials Plead For State Amtrak Funding

May 20, 2015

Mayors and others affected by Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to cut Amtrak funding by 40 percent spent Tuesday morning testifying before a Senate Higher Education Committee.

Schools as small as Spoon River College and as large as the University of Illinois rely on Amtrak trains to bring their students to campus. They say Governor Bruce Rauner's proposal to drastically reduce Amtrak funding would affect enrollment at all downstate schools. 

state of Illinois

Partisan accusations continue with just a dozen days until the General Assembly is set to adjourn.

Republican legislators' leaders came out swinging Tuesday. They held a press conference to accuse Democrats of using "gotcha" politics to try to embarrass Governor Bruce Rauner and of not taking Rauner's pro-business prescription for Illinois seriously.

Secretary of State

More than a million people have Illinois drivers' licenses but aren't registered to vote. They would be registered automatically under a measure before the General Assembly.

Democrat Daniel Biss from Evanston says he thinks it is his responsibility as a public official to make the election process as open as possible.

"I think that we have a challenge in our society right now where participation in democracy feels first of all difficult and second of all, unfortunately sometimes pointless," Biss said.

$10 Billion Smoking Case Reheard By State Supreme Court

May 20, 2015

A $10 billion dollar lawsuit was back before the Illinois Supreme Court yesterday.

A group of smokers say Philip Morris defrauded them into thinking light cigarettes were safer than regular. Back in 2003, a court ruled "yes" and granted smokers a monster $10 billion judgment,  but they lost the case a decade ago when the state’s sharply divided highest court overturned the verdict in 2005.

flickr user Paul Rollings / "Honeybees" / (CC BY 2.0) /

A White House “national strategy” to reverse America’s declining honeybee and monarch butterfly populations is being praised by a University of Illinois scientist known for her research on the subject.

University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum says the plan is, to her knowledge, the federal government’s first comprehensive effort to address the decline in the number of pollinating insects.

“This appears to be really a landmark --- I don’t know how much will be implemented. That’s politics. At least the plan is there. And it is eminently feasible.”

Illinois legislators brought in the head of a nonpartisan research group to hear about its problems with Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget proposal. 

The Civic Federation's Laurence Msall told senators he applauds the governor's efforts to balance next year's budget, but he doesn't see how some savings would be possible. 

Msall scolded lawmakers for not raising revenue through more taxes.  

State Higher Education Budget Remains In ‘Balancing Act’

May 19, 2015
state of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers get back to work this week, with about two weeks left in their spring session to finalize a budget. 

The budget was also on Governor Bruce Rauner’s mind when he visited Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale campus last weekend to deliver a graduation speech.

"We are in that balancing act right now,” Rauner said. “Everybody's going to have to give a little bit. And that's the way the political process should work. We'll come up with bipartisan solutions that are really a compromise."

A measure making its way through the Illinois legislature would allow transgender people to lay out instructions on how they want to be buried.

The bill would allow a person to include instructions regarding his or her gender identity, including chosen name, appearance, and pronouns used in the obituary.

It would secure in writing instructions for the funeral arrangements and burial.

Mike Ziri from Equality Illinois says the measure is another step for the LGBT community and would bring respect and solace for those who are transgender.

Flickr user Jim Bowen / "Illinois State Capitol" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois students could see a new form to sign when they start college -- one that would allow mental health information to be disclosed to their parents.

Michael Predmore knew his son Chris was going through a tough time. But he didn’t know Chris tried to kill himself months before he died from suicide.

Chris Predmore’s counselor at Illinois State University knew, but wasn’t able to let his parents know because of privacy laws.

Michael Predmore says knowing could have made all the difference -- he could have done something to help his son.