Illinois

Politics
6:19 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Pass Same-Day Voter Registration

Credit Flickr user / kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop) "Vote!" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois General Assembly voted to make same-day voter registration a permanent feature of state elections. 

Democrats allowed it for the first time in this year’s election. As with most changes to election law, there was a fierce debate. Republicans charged Democrats rushed it through and the changes open the door to voter fraud.

But Barbara Flynn Currie, the Democratic Majority Leader, says that’s not true.

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Minimum Wage
7:38 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Say Wage Increase 'Unlikely'

Illinois lawmakers won't consider increasing the state's minimum wage to $11 as they wind down their fall session. 

The Associated Press reports the House Speaker’s spokesman Steve Brown said "complications" made it unlikely for a wage hike to be passed this year.

Sen. Kim Lightford, a Maywood Democrat, is the plan's sponsor.

"We're trying to find a balance to allow for a wage increase, to support the business community, and to keep the city of Chicago thriving."

Chicago passed its own $13-an-hour wage hike yesterday.

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Healthcare
7:09 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Illinois May Run Its Own Health Marketplace

Credit Flickr user / Images Money "Healthcare Costs" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois may soon run its own healthcare marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. The General Assembly is working against a New Year's deadline to create its own exchange.  That, or risk losing millions of dollars from the federal government.  When the Affordable Care Act went into effect last year, Illinoisans began signing up for healthcare in a marketplace technically run by the federal government.

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Illinois
7:14 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Rockford Approves New Police District Building

Credit city of Rockford

Rockford aldermen approved two architect firms designing a west-side police building Monday. The Rockford Register Star reports is one of three that’ll serve new geographic policing districts as the city moves more stations into neighborhoods. 

The building could cost 27 million dollars. Planning is expected to be completed this winter.

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Illinois
7:09 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Illinois Rural Doctors Program Making A Difference

Credit U of I Extension

Advocates for better healthcare in Illinois’ rural areas say one problem is a lack of doctors. But they believe a long-running program is making a difference. 

The Rural Medical Education Program is offered through the University of Illinois at Rockford. The school says the program graduated more than 260 students since 1993. Most of them went to practice in rural communities.

Margaret Vaughn, who is the executive director of the Illinois Rural Health Association, says the program is a big help.

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Illinois
6:54 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Illinois Juvenile Life Prisoners Get Second Chance

A final roadblock to a chance at freedom for Illinois’ juvenile lifers is now gone. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled back in March that anyone sentenced to mandatory life without parole as a juvenile should be re-sentenced. The Illinois Attorney General and Cook County State’s Attorney appealed the decision, but today the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take it up. Patricia Soung is the attorney for Adolfo Davis, who was sentenced to life in prison when he was 16 years old. She says she expected the appeal to fail. 

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Politics
6:42 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Same-Day Voter Registration May Stay

Credit League of Women Voters

Lawmakers will consider keeping same-day voter registration for Illinois' general election. 

A bill sponsored by State Sen. Don Harmon is scheduled to be presented today in a House committee. It would make permanent a measure passed last spring that allowed same-day voting registration and extended early voting.

The original legislation made the changes effective only for the general election.

Harmon says same-day registration was a successful experiment that's worth continuing. Republicans argued the provisions were intended solely to boost Democratic turnout. 

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Illinois
6:50 am
Fri November 28, 2014

Winter Preservation For Oregon Black Hawk Statue Resumes

Lorado Taft's "Eternal Indian," a.k.a. The Black Hawk Statue. Note the crumbling elbow.
Credit Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Seasonal wrapping of “The Eternal Indian” statue near Oregon, Ill., will resume within a few days. The century-old statue near Oregon Illinois has been deteriorating for decades. 

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Illinois
6:36 am
Fri November 28, 2014

Revenue From Gas Tax For Road Repairs Declining

Credit WNIJ

You might notice roads and bridges in need of repair as you drive around this holiday weekend. But revenue from a key funding source, the gas tax, has been declining.  It's charged per gallon of gas purchased. U of I professor Don Fullerton says it was created on a simple concept:

"The more you drive, the more gas you use.  The more you ought to have to pay for the road. It's sort of a benefit principle of taxation."

Improved mileage in vehicles means less gas is being used. Fullerton says change is needed to keep up with demand:

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Illinois
7:38 am
Thu November 27, 2014

Quinn Announces $4.5M For Illinois Food Banks

Credit Feeding Illinois

Just ahead of Thanksgiving, Gov. Pat Quinn has announced $4.5 million of funding for Illinois' food banks.

One of seven Illinois residents doesn't know where, or when, they'll get their next meal.

Director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository Kate Maehr says that's a sobering reality any day. But especially around Thanksgiving.

"At a time that we all come together around a table, to celebrate the joy and the fortune that we have, it is unconscionable to think that there are two million people in the state of Illinois who don't have food to eat."

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