Illinois

A federal court transcript says that an alleged sex abuse victim could testify next month at former U.S. Speaker Dennis Hastert's sentencing in a hush-money case.

It's the first time that the court has referred to sex abuse in the case.

Hastert pleaded guilty in October to violating bank laws in seeking to pay $3.5 million in hush money to some referred to in the indictment only as "Individual A."

The Associated Press and other media outlets, citing anonymous sources, have reported that Hastert wanted to hide claims that he sexually molested someone.

cps.edu

Chicago Public Schools officials say they've filed lawsuits over the Illinois State Charter School Commission's decision to block plans closing three underperforming charter schools.

The lawsuits were filed on Wednesday in Cook County and claim the commission is overstepping charter school law.

Schools CEO Forrest Claypool says the commission has "ignored its own academic standards" to keep underperforming schools open.

He's also called on state legislators to cut the commission's power.

afscme.org

The state and the nation's largest union of public employees will head to court over an arbitrator's decision that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner was within his rights to order the layoffs of more than 150 state workers last year.

    

The State Journal-Register reports that the state has gone to court in Sangamon County to uphold the ruling.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees plans to file a counter-claim asking the court to vacate the ruling.

Flickr: West Midlands Police / Photo cropped from original

At least 10 law enforcement agencies in Illinois have turned to the Internet to raise enough money to purchase body cameras for officers.

As of Friday, departments in Palmyra, Benld, South Pekin, East St. Louis and six other municipalities in the state had signed up for free on the website BodyCameraDonations.com to receive donations for the devices.

Website creator Peter Austin Onruang tells the State Journal-Register that his body camera company, Wolfcom, provides the devices to law enforcement agencies for $250 each.

"Day 68..." By Flickr User Sonia Belviso / (CC BY 2.0)

Legislation has been introduced in the Illinois Senate to raise the age to purchase tobacco products in the state from 18 to 21.

Democratic state Sen. John Mulroe of Chicago says he hopes the bill he's sponsoring will decrease the number of young people who start smoking.

But the Illinois Retail Merchants Association says those affected by the change would find other ways to obtain tobacco products.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University police observed Women’s History Month by hosting an event called "Women of the Shield" that commemorated women officers rising through the ranks.

NIU officer Weyni Langdon says she didn’t see a lot of people that looked like her at the beginning of her career, but she had a lot of women police mentors that inspired her. She wanted to create this type of gathering for the DeKalb area after she attended something similar when she first started out as a police officer.

"Monarch" by Flickr User John Flannery / (CC BY 2.0)

A Senate Democrat is proposing a special Illinois license plate to help preserve the monarch butterfly.

The plan by state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake is to allow motorists to pay a surcharge for stickers to indicate their support for the insect's viability.

The monarch population in Illinois has decreased 90 percent in the past two decades because of changes in habitat.

Bush says monarchs need milkweed plants to lay eggs and feed.

Chicago police reports show an officer who fatally shot a bat-wielding college student and his neighbor gave two different accounts on what happened leading up to the shooting.     

Officer Robert Rialmo initially told investigators that 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier had the bat raised over his head and refused to drop it before the officer fired shots.

The Dec. 26 shooting killed LeGrier and accidently killed neighbor 55-year-old Betty Jones.

Two days later, Rialmo told investigators LeGrier tried to hit him with the bat twice.

"Working in a coal mine" by Flickr User Heidi G / (CC BY 2.0)

Peabody Energy has three coal mines in southern Illinois, all of which are still producing coal.

When those mines eventually shut down, the company is required by state and federal laws to pay for the clean-up and reclamation of the land. St. Louis-based Peabody has guaranteed the state of Illinois it has the estimated $92 million to cover that work.

But as the company considers bankruptcy, some question whether the St. Louis-based company’s promise is worth much.

The results of two high-profile Illinois state races are widely seen as a referendum on Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's agenda. 

But a top Senate Republican says it's important to look at all the races.

Minority Leader Christine Radogno says members of both parties need to "get their act together" and work on a compromise.

"It's about this state facing a crisis and that crisis was there Monday before the election and it's still here on Thursday,” Radogno said.

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