Illinois

Fisher House Foundation

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn traveled to Maryland this weekend to visit the Army’s Walter Reed Medical Center. After delivering Christmas cards to wounded service members, Quinn made a pitch to frequent fliers to donate their miles to the family members of patients at facilities like Walter Reed:

You don't have to give all your miles. You can give a portion of those miles to a common fund. You can learn about this at OperationHomefront.org.

state of Illinois

A new law will more than double what Illinois jurors are paid while reducing the size of civil case juries. It’s earning mixed reviews from criminal justice experts.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the measure on Friday. Supporters say it could lead to more diverse juries and offset anticipated costs by cutting back jurors from 12 to 6 in civil cases.

state of Illinois

Cook County Circuit judge Timothy Evans is scheduled to address reporters today about allowing cameras in courtrooms. 

Last week the Illinois Supreme Court allowed the use of cameras and audio recording devices in Cook County courts on an experimental basis. Cook is the largest and latest of dozens of counties that joined a camera pilot program launched in 2012.

St. Charles school officials expelled two high school students who they say shut down the district's computer network. Officials say the students overloaded the district's servers using their cell phones.  

For almost a month, teachers were blocked from online grading and homework programs. The students were caught after they were overheard by staff members bragging to their classmates.

Both students enrolled in an online school and will be able to re-enroll in the district for the next school year. No legal charges have been made.

David Schaper / NPR

Nine months after the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s eavesdropping law, the legislature passed a bill to replace it. The legislation, which defines eavesdropping and its consequences, is currently waiting on the governor's desk.

Already, the proposed law faces criticism, and a flurry of misinformation. 

Here's a sampling of some headlines from around the web:

"Illinois Passes Bill That Makes It Illegal To Record The Police"

"Illinois law would make recording the police a felony"

Illinois Corn Growers Association

President Obama's announcement that the U.S. will start talks on normalizing relations with Cuba includes plans to allow more exports to that country.  Some say that could offer new opportunities for Illinois farmers and businesses.

One of those people is William Delaney. He chairs the International Business Council for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and reacted positively to the possibility of greater exports to Cuba being allowed.

"The impact would be direct, immediate and hugely beneficial for the state of Illinois."

Gov. Pat Quinn called a special legislative session for Jan. 8, 2015, to create a special election in 2016 for Illinois Comptroller.  Incumbent Judy Baar Topinka died last week after winning re-election in November.  

USPS Braces For Yearly Rush

Dec 15, 2014
USPS

The U.S. Postal Service says today will be its busiest mailing day of the year, with more than 8 million cards, letters and packages processed in the Chicago area. 

USPS says it’s delivering seven days a week, including Christmas Day. To ensure delivery by Christmas, materials must be sent by next Saturday.

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."

Federal Officials OK Illiana Expressway

Dec 12, 2014
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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