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Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Many northern Illinois drivers are kicking themselves today for not gassing up earlier this week. Gas prices throughout the Midwest have skyrocketed over the past two days. 

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

Gas prices continue to drop all around the state. In Rockford, the cost of a gallon of regular fell more than a nickel since last week, to $2.50.

The state average is $2.60 a gallon. That’s down about 3 and a half cents from last week and 95 cents cheaper than it was a year ago. Drivers are spending 30 cents less per gallon than they were just a month ago.

The biggest health system in the DeKalb area is joining Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. That’s if a plan wins approval by state regulators.

KishHealth System and Northwestern Memorial Health Care announced they’ve agreed to join together. Their boards issued a joint statement about the proposed merger Wednesday. This means Northwestern Medicine would expand to include a total of six hospitals and 90 locations in northern Illinois.

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

Minnesota will surpass Illinois, Michigan and South Dakota this week with the highest minimum wage in the Midwest.

The $9-per-hour wage taking effect Saturday is the second of a three-stage increase adopted last year. Next year, the wage will rise fifty cents and go up automatically with inflation in following years.

For now, this step gives The Gopher State the highest minimum wage of any state away from both coasts. The next closest wage in the region is South Dakota's $8.50 per hour, which is higher than Illinois's at $8.25.

IDES

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says May was the fifteenth month in a row that unemployment rates fell in every metro area in the state compared to a year ago.  Rates also fell in all of Illinois’s 102 counties. 

Department Director Jeff Mays noted that three metro areas in northeastern Illinois, including the Elgin area at 4.8 percent, Lake-Kenosha and Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights metro areas, had returned to pre-recession unemployment rates.

Jennifer Brdlik / Elevated Care

Patients, growers, and business owners are waiting while Illinois continues the process of setting up its medical cannabis program. One northern Illinois native is in all three of those roles in Arizona, where medical marijuana has been legal for five years. 

Jennifer Brdlik is operations director for “Elevated Care” and “Aromatic Kitchens,” companies that produce cannabis-based foods and tinctures. She spoke with WNIJ’s Susan Stephens about why she got into the business and where she thinks it’s headed in Illinois.

YouTube

The poisoning death of a Highland Park couple draws more attention to the potential dangers of keyless auto ignitions.

Pasquale and Rina Fontanini were found dead last week. Their son, who is a local fire department lieutenant, says lethal levels of carbon monoxide were in the home after the couple left their car with a keyless ignition running in the garage.

Safety advocates say up to a dozen deaths nationwide occur because of such scenarios and want immediate action.

A dispute between airline Allegiant Air and its airport hub in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area should have no impact on its service to the Chicago Rockford International Airport.  That’s according to a spokeswoman for the airline.

MIT

An upswing in the Rockford metropolitan area’s economy over the last several years is reflected favorably in a recent report.  Rockford ranked eighth among the 150 largest metro areas in the country for the highest percentage of new jobs in occupations that pay a living wage.

New Power Plant Rules May Force Rate Hikes

May 25, 2015
KWMU

Proposed rules to lower carbon emissions by electricity-generating power plants will force unnecessary rate increases.

That's according to U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. 

Barring additional delays, the new rules will now be out in August. They require new and existing power plants that burn coal and other fossil fuels to reduce emissions to levels 30-percent below those in 2005 over the next 15 years.

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