Illinois

Statewide home sales in June surged 18 percent over previous year levels to 13,111 single-family homes and condominiums. This was the best June performance since 2010, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors.

The statewide median price in June was $155,000, up 3.3 percent from June 2011, the fourth straight month of median price increases in Illinois. The median price -- where half the homes sold for more and half sold for less – has risen $32,650 since January.

Illinois will seek a partnership with the federal government to set up a health insurance exchange for the first year, aides to Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday.

That online marketplace eventually could help more than 1 million Illinoisans obtain affordable insurance as part of the federal health-care law.

A private donor has come through with a grant to make up for state cuts to drug prevention. Five years ago, Illinois was spending about $7.5 million to keep young people from trying drugs.

This year, the state's spending $1 million, and the future is cloudy; the governor tried to cut all of the funding.

Larry Goodman of Highland Park says the cut is unconscionable when teens across Illinois are increasingly using heroin.

The state of Illinois didn’t have any trouble selling $1.5 billion in debt to repay a federal loan for its unemployment-insurance program, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Crain’s Chicago Business said interest rates for the three-series offering were “rock bottom,” thanks to the dedicated stream of unemployment insurance taxes backing them up -- separate from Illinois' general fund. Also, any extra money from the tax can be used only to pay off the debt, providing extra protection for investors.

People familiar with the deal said it received many more orders than there were bonds available.

WNIJ

Gov. Pat Quinn today signed four consumer-protection laws banning false phone charges known as “cramming,” lowering utility costs, and helping resolve billing and credit issues.

“When everyday people work together for the common good, we can improve our state,” Quinn said. “We need to keep fighting for consumer rights in Illinois and ensure those rights are protected from those who would take advantage of them.”

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation

Mitsubishi's top selling vehicle is now made in Illinois. The Japanese automaker has shifted production of the Outlander Sport to its only U.S. production facility in Normal.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who attended the ceremony launching the Japanese automaker's latest U.S. product, touted the sporty crossover SUV during remarks to 1,200 plant workers, company executives, and other officials.

"It's fuel efficient and it's made in America and made in Illinois,” he said. “That means a lot to me, and I think to everybody in our state, that your skill has crafted this vehicle that not only will supply the automotive needs of our country but also the export possibilities."

Illinois Farm Bureau

Quinn tours drought-stricken Southern Illinois farm

With the warm spring, farmers were able to plant early and corn and soy seeds went in at a remarkable pace.

"We were set out to raise what we thought was probably the largest corn crop in the history of American agriculture," Said Illinois Farm Bureau President Phillip Nelson.

Instead, months of drought are killing those expectations ... and the corn. Nelson says some farmers will end up with no crop, or only half of one.

The drought in southern Wisconsin has been officially declared severe, and all of Illinois is now officially in a drought … but there is one crop that seems to be doing fine despite the hot weather.

Officials at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Nebraska say Cook County is fully in a moderate drought for the first time this year. ... But that isn't the worst of it.

Far southern Illinois is designated as being in an exceptional drought, which is the most serious classification. 

State of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers are losing a century-old political perquisite -- the ability to award college scholarships. Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation this morning to end the practice after one last round of awards this summer.

"Instead of scholarships going to those who truly deserve them and who were qualified for scholarships to go to college,” the governor said, “too often the program was abused in a political way."

New office will be 15 miles south near I-39

State officials have confirmed that the Rockford west-side driver services facility will close once the lease expires July 29, and a new facility will open in September more than 15 miles away at 4752 Baxter Road along I-39 near the southern Winnebago County line.

Beth Kaufman, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, said negotiations with the landlord over maintenance and repairs fell through.

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