6:04 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Illinois Legislature Attempts Sugary Drink Tax Again

Credit Flickr user Pink Sherbet Photography / "Fizzy Purple Grape Soda" (CC v. 2.0)

Another attempt to tax sugary drinks is expected in the upcoming Illinois legislative session. Drinks like soda and even some juice have been linked to obesity, diabetes and other problems. 

Elissa Bassler, with the Illinois Public Health Institute, says a plan that came up in the past year would have imposed a penny per ounce tax on the drinks.  She says the new measure will be similar:

"It's a big idea and it takes some time for people to wrap their arms around it."

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6:46 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Federal Officials OK Illiana Expressway

Credit Illiana Corridor website

The Illiana Expressway has received a green light from federal officials. The 47-mile expressway now moves from the planning phase to implementation. 

That means Illinois and Indiana officials can look for public-private partnerships to help build and operate the $1.5 billion project.

Land acquisition efforts, including landowner relations and local planning activities, also can continue.

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6:31 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Topinka Memorial Service Next Week; Officials Consider Comptroller Options

Credit WNIJ

A public memorial service for the late Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is scheduled for next week. The service will be held Wednesday morning at the Operating Engineers' Local 150 headquarters in Countryside.

Topinka died unexpectedly this week after complications from a stroke. Fellow state leaders, colleagues and family are scheduled to attend.

Meanwhile, Illinois officials are trying to figure out who has the power to name the state’s next comptroller and for how long.

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9:13 am
Wed December 10, 2014

We Remember Judy Baar Topinka With Favorite Sound Bites

Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Illinois political leaders are remembering Judy Baar Topinka.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn says he's "heartbroken" about the death of Republican state Comptroller. Topinka's office says she died early Wednesday after suffering a stroke. Quinn called her "a trailblazer in every sense of the word" and a "force of nature."

Gov.-Elect Bruce Rauner, a fellow Republican, remembered Topinka for her "magnetic, one-of-a-kind personality." He said she cared "about what was best for the people" of Illinois.

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Holiday Concert
5:51 am
Wed December 10, 2014

DeKalb Band Hosts Holiday Concert, Celebrates 160 Years

Credit DeKalb Park District

The DeKalb Municipal Band celebrates its 160th year with a concert out of the norm from its usual outdoor performances. The band presents its first holiday concert Saturday at the Egyptian Theatre. 

The DeKalb Municipal Band is the oldest continuous performing band in Illinois. 

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5:35 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Lincoln Museum's 10th Anniversary Events Coincide With Assassination Observance

Credit Flickr user ego technique. / " Bust of Abraham Lincoln" (CC v. 2.0)

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield will host new exhibits, features, and events this coming year. The facility's 10th anniversary will coincide with the 150th observance of Lincoln's assassination. 

At an announcement this week, Clare Thorpe, who manages guest services at the museum, listed off a variety of events which will help celebrate the coming milestones, from the scholarly to the family-friendly. She says the museum is going digital; through tablets and smart-phones, visitors will be able to access supplemental info:

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5:57 am
Tue December 9, 2014

DeKalb City Candidate Petitions Open Next Week

Credit City of DeKalb

The filing period for DeKalb city candidates’ petitions for the April election starts next week and ends Dec. 22.

The offices up for election are: Wards 1, 3, 5, 7 and City Clerk.

Petition packets are filed with the City Clerk’s office. The Candidates’ Guide can be downloaded from the city’s website.

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Common Core
9:00 am
Fri December 5, 2014

State-Wide Test Replaces ISAT, Prairie State Assessment

Credit Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois students are scheduled to take the new Common Core test this spring, despite a growing chorus of parents and educators opposing it.

To get some idea of how controversial the test is, consider this: The number of states that have legalized marijuana use -- 23 -- is double the number of states that have agreed to use this test -- just 11. Of those 11, only eight have agreed to use both the elementary and high school portions of the test. Illinois is one of these states.

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8:54 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Rockford Reachout Gives Coats To Released Jail Inmates

Credit John Howard Association of Illinois

When they have served their time, jail inmates are released wearing the clothes they wore when they arrived.

Inmates may check in in shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops in warm weather and remain in jail while seasons change. That could make their wardrobe woefully inadequate.

Rockford Reachout Jail Ministry Director George Hofstetter understands that risk, so he’s providing a simple solution: offer freed inmates a coat.

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7:07 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Illinois House, Senate Approve Eavesdropping Bill

Credit state of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers approved eavesdropping restrictions to replace those the state Supreme Court struck down.

The Senate voted yesterday to prohibit recording private conversations without the consent of everyone involved.

The measure exempts recording police in the line of duty, loud conversations in public or cheering fans at a ballgame. Critics objected the bill does not include provisions for police to wear body cameras.

The measure goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has not said if he will sign it.

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