Illinois

Phil Masterton / WNIJ

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation banning the sale of synthetic drugs known as ``bath salts'' in Illinois.

Rauner traveled Monday to the courthouse in Taylorville, about 25 miles southeast of Springfield, to sign the bill aimed at curbing what he called an "epidemic'' afflicting rural communities.

Most states have passed laws to ban the chemicals, which mimic the effects of powerful drugs like cocaine.

The bill that takes effect Jan.1 makes selling bath salts a felony punishable with a fine of up to $150,000.

  Applications by immigrants living in Illinois who want to become citizens are on the rise, and the presidential race may be playing a role. 

The federal government has seen a twenty five percent increase in citizenship applications from Illinois compared with other years, says Breandán McGee with the Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. 

McGee says he thinks Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's remarks about Mexicans and building a wall on the U.S. Mexico border are a large factor since most immigrants in the state are Latino. 

Illinois Department of Agriculture

A "must" of any visit to the state fair is the Butter Cow: a large -- though not life-sized -- sculpture of a cow, made entirely of butter.

Illinois has had one for some 90 years.

But the woman who's been doing it recently, is "mooving" on, to retirement. State fair organizers and the Midwest Dairy Association held a search for a replacement.

With a little "bovine intervention," they found Sarah Pratt, of Des Moines; she's made butter art at the Iowa State Fair for the past decade -- and not just of cows.

An analysis of data from the agency that investigates Chicago police misconduct shows it rarely recommends punishment and that the Chicago Police Board often doesn't follow its recommendation to fire officers.

The Chicago Tribune's investigation of the Independent Police Review Authority focused on cases where the complainant signed a sworn affidavit.

The police oversight agency recommended punishment in less than 4 percent of thousands of cases.

Of 43 cases where firing was recommended, the police board agreed in 20 cases.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Chrysler’s parent company confirms it: the Jeep Cherokee will be produced at the Belvidere Assembly Plant starting next year.

Fiat-Chrysler America’s spokesperson Jodi Tinson says the company is making a big investment in Belvidere: $350-million to retool the plant and eventually, 300 new full-time jobs.

Phil Masterton / WNIJ

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says the state's backlog of unpaid bills will be roughly $10 billion by the year's end after factoring in the temporary spending plan lawmakers recently approved.

The backlog is roughly $7.8 billion. Legislators approved a stop-gap budget that will cover about six months. The move followed a year-long impasse.

"Attendee lists" by Flickr User Quinn Dombrowski / (CC X 2.0)

The government temporarily sends cash assistance to people who've been laid off and are looking for a job.

  

But starting next week, they won't receive unemployment insurance unless they've provided the state with a resume. 

Jeff Mays is the Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security. He says it will help to link employers with skilled workers.

"Come July 17, it is a condition -- not for filing you can file a claim -- but it will be a condition for getting a check or money on your debit card. And if you don't do it, you won't," Mays said. 

U.S. Government

Federal prosecutors have recommended that a judge impose the same 14-year prison sentence on Rod Blagojevich at his August resentencing that the imprisoned governor received at his original sentencing in 2011.

The filing by the U.S. attorney's office at midnight Monday comes after an appeals court struck five of the Chicago Democrat's 18 convictions last year.

Prosecutors said in their 14-page filing that "nothing in the dismissal of the five counts undermines the need for a very significant sentence."

"Prison Bars" by Flickr User Michael Coghlan / (CC X 2.0)

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich gave up his life-sized Elvis Presley statue when he went to prison in 2012, but not his love for the King.

Blagojevich's attorney says in court documents arguing for a reduction in his 14-year sentence that he has studied guitar and formed a band named after one of Elvis's biggest hits: "Jailhouse Rock."

Attorney Leonard Goodman says Blagojevich and another inmate have performed as "The Jailhouse Rockers'' at times. 

U.S. Government

Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys face a midnight deadline for motions regarding the sentence they'd like former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to receive when his case returns to court for a resentencing hearing next month.

Both sides were given until midnight Monday to file their motions in anticipation of the scheduled Aug. 9 hearing before U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

The hearing stems from a ruling last year by an appellate court panel that threw out five of the 18 corruption charges for which Blagojevich was convicted in 2011.

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