Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) -  Jane Byrne, Chicago's first and only female mayor, has died at the age of 80. Byrne's daughter, Kathy, says her mother died Thursday at a hospice in Chicago. With Byrne's election in 1979, she became part of Chicago history. And she was part of the city's lore because of a big reason why she was elected: Voters blamed the sitting mayor, Michael Bilandic, for what they saw as the city's slow reaction to a blizzard.

 The Illinois Department of Public Health has activated a hotline to answer the public's questions about Ebola.  

Department Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck announced the hotline Thursday. It will be managed by staff from the Illinois Poison Center who will be able to answer questions about the virus and the state's response.  

 The hotline will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Operators will answer questions about how Ebola is spread, who's at risk, when someone should go to a doctor and other topics.  

The hotline number is 800-889-3931.  

 Illinois Republicans are mounting what they say is an unprecedented and costly campaign to purge ineligible people from voter lists and recruit their own election judges before November. 

It's a sign of how close the contest is expected to be for control of President Barack Obama's home state.  

Republicans have allocated $1 million in Cook County alone to examine voter rolls and recruit 5,000 GOP election judges to watch over polling places in Democrat-heavy Chicago. Efforts to go through voter rolls are underway in two counties east of St. Louis.  

Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis have staked out opposing positions on whether to require universal background checks for firearms purchases.  

Oberweis is trying to unseat Durbin in November. They met Monday before the Chicago Tribune editorial board.  

Durbin says mandatory background checks would help keep convicted felons and mentally unstable people from getting guns. He says a federal law would reduce violence in places like Chicago, where police say felons get weapons from other states with weaker laws.  

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation overhauling the state's grant oversight and accountability process.  

Quinn's office said Wednesday that he has signed the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act. The governor says it will give Illinois a comprehensive set of uniform rules for grant applications and make those who receive grants more accountable to taxpayers.

The signing comes on the same day as legislative hearings are to begin on a controversial Quinn program.

Pages