Illinois

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Former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock has returned to the floor of the House of Representatives for the first time since his resignation.

Schock was on the House floor Wednesday for an address by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The former republican congressman wore a House member pin and told the Sun-Times he was back to hear "my friend" speak.

Schock was heavily involved in issues related to India while a member of Congress.

Schock resigned in March 2015 amid controversy over spending from government funds and his political money.

"Weight Rack" By Flickr User Colin Davis / (CC X 2.0)

Data released by the Illinois State Board of Education show many schools in the state have cut back on days of physical education on class schedules.

The Chicago Tribune said Wednesday that nearly 1,200 Illinois schools have been trimming the number of physical education days, frequently saying they don't have facilities or staff to have the courses daily, which is required by a state law.

Of the roughly 3,100 schools that reported, slightly over 60 percent said they had five days a week of physical education.

FLICKR User Jim Bowen

Governor Bruce Rauner continues to publicly hammer lawmakers for canceling today's session in Springfield.

It's kicked off the latest round of a war of words between the state's top political leaders, as Illinois remains without a budget.

Rauner says House Speaker Michael Madigan reneged on his commitment to hold session every Wednesday this month.

"They should be here virtually every day, every day of the week. I'm here, workin'. They should be here, workin',” Rauner said.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Illinois is still without a budget after the last legislative session ended last week. Here's what that means for LINK card recipients shopping at farmer’s markets:

There are about 450,000 SNAP beneficiaries within the WNIJ listening area, according to Illinois Human Services data. That’s about a quarter of all recipients within the state.

Now, more and more farmers markets in the area are starting to allow those residents to pay with their LINK cards. That includes DeKalb’s market, which is in its fifth year of accepting LINK.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

The Northern Illinois University Anthropology and Theatre & Dance departments will be without a designated academic building for at least one more year.

The renovated NIU Stevens Building was supposed to be finished by this fall, but the state budget impasse delayed the project.

NIU spokesman Joe King says that, if the school gets funding by next month, the “best case scenario” would be that the construction will be done by fall 2017. But he says the longer it takes to pass a state budget, the longer those students don’t get those “first-rate facilities.”

DeKalb Police

A northern Illinois man is accused of beating and stabbing his girlfriend to death and then hiding her body in a closet for more than a day.

        

Authorities say 20-year-old Michael G. Kulpin of DeKalb is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, aggravated domestic battery and concealment of a homicide.

Police say Kulpin beat and repeatedly stabbed 19-year-old Moorea Desroches during an argument late Friday and early Saturday.

mapamendment.org

Supporters of changing how Illinois draws its legislative maps are defending their effort in court.

  

The initiative is facing a lawsuit, similar to one that brought down a redistricting plan two years ago. Both attempts would have a commission to draw districts, instead of lawmakers themselves.

David Mellett is the Independent Maps campaign manager. He says the 2014 judge's ruling helped guide this year's plan.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

More than a dozen school superintendents have written a letter to Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner accusing him of playing politics with education funding.

School leaders including from Chicago, Peoria and East Moline sent the letter Monday to Rauner. They say schools won't open on time and call Illinois' funding formula the nation's most "regressive." 

They also claim stand-alone school funding bills Republicans introduced at session's end continue unequal spending.

Susan Stephens

Efforts are underway in Illinois to find a way to increase the monarch butterfly habitat in the state. 

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says it's hosting an online survey this month and having a conservation meeting in Springfield in September. Experts say the monarch population has declined by as much as 90 percent over the last 20 years. Federal officials have identified Illinois as a high-priority area for conservation work. 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says there's "a lot more work to do" on transparency as the city publicly released information about 100 cases of alleged police misconduct.

    

Emanuel said in a statement that releasing the videos Friday morning was an "important next step" in the city's efforts to be more transparent with police issues.

The Independent Police Review Authority released videos, audio recordings, police reports and other materials.

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