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6:26 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Illinois Senators Approve Wage Hike...Without House

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

Illinois Senators approved a plan last night that would hike the state's minimum wage to eleven dollars an hour. 

Jackie Collins, a Chicago Democrat, says that would improve quality of life for low-income workers, and reduce their need for government assistance.

"I believe that what we are doing here, we will send a message to those corporations - the multi-billionaire corporations, that no longer will we support sub-par wages, in the knowledge that the government will help their workers afford food, housing and healthcare."

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Politics
6:19 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Pass Same-Day Voter Registration

Credit Flickr user / kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop) "Vote!" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois General Assembly voted to make same-day voter registration a permanent feature of state elections. 

Democrats allowed it for the first time in this year’s election. As with most changes to election law, there was a fierce debate. Republicans charged Democrats rushed it through and the changes open the door to voter fraud.

But Barbara Flynn Currie, the Democratic Majority Leader, says that’s not true.

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-Illinois
5:05 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Semi Truck Struck By Train At Rural Winnebago Crossing: 1 Dead

The area in Winnebago where the accident took place. Google Maps Street View from August 2012.
Credit Google Maps Street View

The driver of a semi-trailer truck carrying corn was killed Wednesday morning when his truck was struck by a train at a rail crossing in rural Winnebago County.  

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Health
7:55 am
Wed December 3, 2014

HIV Becoming Less Deadly

Credit Flickr user / NIAID "HIV-infected T cell" (CC BY 2.0)

HIV is evolving to become less deadly and less infectious. 

That’s according to a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study found the virus is taking increasingly longer to become AIDS.

Findings suggest treatment drugs forced HIV to evolve into milder forms. Researchers say the virus may eventually become almost harmless. 

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Education
7:47 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Rockford Pre-K, Kindergarten Opens Enrollment For Next Year

The current school year is barely half-finished, but the Rockford School District is seeking youngsters to enroll in kindergarten and sign up for the Montessori pre-kindergarten program lottery for Fall 2015.  Incoming kindergartners must turn 5 and pre-kindergarten students must turn 4 on or before Sept. 1, 2015, to be eligible.  Parents/guardians applying for the Montessori pre-k lottery must complete an application and attend a mandatory orientation at Maria Montessori School.

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Minimum Wage
7:38 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Say Wage Increase 'Unlikely'

Illinois lawmakers won't consider increasing the state's minimum wage to $11 as they wind down their fall session. 

The Associated Press reports the House Speaker’s spokesman Steve Brown said "complications" made it unlikely for a wage hike to be passed this year.

Sen. Kim Lightford, a Maywood Democrat, is the plan's sponsor.

"We're trying to find a balance to allow for a wage increase, to support the business community, and to keep the city of Chicago thriving."

Chicago passed its own $13-an-hour wage hike yesterday.

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Healthcare
7:09 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Illinois May Run Its Own Health Marketplace

Credit Flickr user / Images Money "Healthcare Costs" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois may soon run its own healthcare marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. The General Assembly is working against a New Year's deadline to create its own exchange.  That, or risk losing millions of dollars from the federal government.  When the Affordable Care Act went into effect last year, Illinoisans began signing up for healthcare in a marketplace technically run by the federal government.

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Energy
6:16 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Exelon's Byron Station Faces "Economic Pressures"

Byron Generating Station is a nuclear power plant located near Byron in northern Illinois, about 110 miles west of Chicago.
Credit Exelon

A spokesman for Exelon's Byron station confirms there are economic pressures on the Byron, Clinton and Quad Cities facilities. The spokesman tells WNIJ that Exelon sent lawmakers information in the hopes they gain a better understanding of the value of these nuclear facilities to the state economy and the impact of closing at-risk facilities early.

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Illinois
5:15 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Frerichs Prepares To Lead Treasurer's Office

For State Senator Mike Frerichs, Election Day stretched for two weeks longer than his colleagues, as he waited on results in the extremely tight race for Illinois State Treasurer.

But the Democrat from Champaign finally pulled ahead of his opponent, Republican Tom Cross, by more than 9,000 votes, and was officially declared the winner on Sunday.

He's got a little more than a month before being sworn in, and, as he tells Illinois Public Radio's/Media's Hannah Meisel, he's trying to learn all he can, including tips from outgoing state treasurer, Republican Dan Rutherford.

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Illinois
3:24 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Rauner: State of Illinois Budget Full Of “Booby Traps"

Credit state of Illinois

Last spring, Democrats acknowledged they passed a budget that’s badly out of balance. It spends way more money than the state will collect from taxes — a multi-billion-dollar shortfall.

In essence, the spending plan postponed the difficult choice between making a temporary tax hike into a permanent one or making deep cuts to programs.

Speaking to reporters, Rauner said today that the Illinois budget situation is even worse than he’d previously thought.

However, he says the focus should not be on the income tax.

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