Government

Government and Legislature

Todd Ryburn / CC by 2.0

Bobcat hunting season starts this November in most of Illinois, but rules are still being worked out. The deadline for public comment is Monday, March 7. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is closing the 45-day comment period.

state of Illinois

The Illinois House passed legislation Thursday to pay nearly $4 billion for higher education and social services -- but without new revenue to back it up. 

Democrats like House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a Democrat from Chicago, cast the package as a compromise with Gov. Bruce Rauner. It allows him to avoid repaying money taken from special state funds, a notion Rauner has endorsed.

"It's not the best idea since sliced bread," Currie said, "but it is the governor's idea, and I'm willing to give him the courtesy of a yes vote."

Illinois Lottery

A pilot program allowing the Illinois Lottery to sell tickets online will expire before the end of the month.

There's no time for lawmakers to keep the program alive before then. The House adjourned until April.

Republican Rep. Ed Sullivan from Lake County sponsored a measure to make the pilot program permanent.

"Because it's a process that has done well," Sullivan said, "and it's done well for bringing money into our schools."

But Democrats prevented it from advancing.

AFSCME

Illinois Democrats approved legislation Thursday to require arbitration for union contract disputes.

The state's biggest public employee union -- The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME -- supports changing the process.

Contract negotiations between AFSCME and Gov. Bruce Rauner's office have stalled. Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, says the legislation would help both sides get a deal done.  

A police group says the lack of a state budget is making Illinois a more dangerous place to live.

Rauner touted proposals that would begin to inch toward his goal of reducing Illinois’ prison population by 25 percent over the next decade. But elsewhere in the Capitol, law enforcement officials warned that the lack of a state budget means crime prevention programs are shutting down.

“I am upset at the governor," Tom Weitzel, the police chief in Riverside, said.

Flickr user Matt A.J. / "Marco Rubio" (CC V 2.0)

The divide between Republicans about who their presidential nominee should be is playing out in harsh tones ahead of the Illinois primary.

Dan Duffy is a state senator from Chicago’s northwest suburbs. He’s an Illinois delegate for Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Duffy says he’s tried to get Donald Trump supporters in Illinois to switch to his candidate.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Students at Rockford’s Guilford High School showed off their latest high-tech projects to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner today.

Rauner stopped by the school to talk about education funding and to check out their innovative engineering-track programs. He pledged to increase K through 12 funding and reduce state mandates on schools.

The Republican governor also clued the students in on the partisan battles that were blocking progress on a state budget.

Sarah Mueller / Illinois Public Radio

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association and its 300 members -- which include ESPN and Yahoo -- are backing legislation that would make daily fantasy games legal in Illinois. It would also characterize the contests as games of skill.

Peter Schoenke, the association's chairman, said more than two million Illinois residents play the games for free and for cash prizes. He said studies show that there's more involved to winning than just leaving it up to fate.

Illinois State Museum / state of Illinois

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner appointed three new members of the Illinois State Museum board last week.

The three new board members are Donna Sack of Naperville, Brian Anderson of Rochester and Roger Taylor of Galesburg, according to a news release.

Sack has almost 30 years of museum and association management experience and is executive director of the Association of Midwest Museums.  

You can vote, join the military and buy cigarettes at the age of 18 -- for now. 

The legal age to smoke in Illinois would increase from 18 to 21 under legislation introduced in Springfield.

"If we can guide them through these late teens and into their 20s without a nicotine addiction, it's more likely they will never become tobacco users," said Dr. Ronald Johnson, a physician in Pittsfield.

Johnson says Illinois public college campuses already are smoke-free.

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