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home : news : state news free January 19, 2021

Chicago firm part of nationwide fight for school choice
Vermont is facing at least its second lawsuit in four months over a voucher program that allows students in communities that don’t have schools or are not part of supervisory unions to attend schools of their choice, including approved private institutions.

The Vermont system in which certain towns pay tuition for students to attend other schools is unconstitutional because it’s not available to all students in the state, according to the Liberty Justice Center, a Chicago-based national nonprofit law firm that fights for school choice. If the lawsuit succeeds, officials at the nonprofit say they will file legal challenges in other states with similar school choice programs. But critics say the lawsuit is a veiled attempt to get a case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where conservative judges hold six of nine seats, to get more public funding into private education, including religious schools.

Monday, January 18, 2021


$62M in cannabis revenue is for neighborhoods
Illinois has collected $62 million from legalized marijuana sales that’s earmarked for helping minority businesses and neighborhood development, but the money hasn’t been spent yet, according to a published report.

The reasons include problems with the state’s system to hand out new cannabis business licenses and numerous requests for help, according to The Chicago Tribune.
State Sen. Heather Steans helped sponsor the law that legalized marijuana, which includes setting aside money for neighborhood development and ensuring equity in the way licenses are awarded, among other things.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Chicago museum launches audio series with artist
A Chicago museum will kick off a year-long series later this month by a Mexican audio artist called one of the “living masters of political theater.”

The show featuring Guillermo Gomez-Pena starts Jan. 27 and will stream twice each month, according to a news release from University of Illinois at Chicago where the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum is located.

Monday, January 18, 2021

4th victim dies after gunman's attacks in Chicago suburbs
A 61-year-old woman became the fourth person to die from a series of shootings this month by a Chicago gunman who was later killed in a suburban police shootout, authorities said Sunday.
Marta Torres, an Evanston woman who had been in critical condition for a week after being shot at an IHOP, died Saturday at a hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Her autopsy was scheduled for Sunday.

According to police, 32-year-old Jason Nightengale, of Chicago, shot seven people in a series of attacks Jan. 9 over a roughly four-hour period. Most of the attacks happened on Chicago’s South Side before Nightengale drove to Evanston, just north of the city, where he shot Torres before officers killed him during a shootout. The victims ranged in age from 15 to 81 years old.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Man allegedly hid 3 months at Chicago airport due to virus
A California man who told police that the coronavirus pandemic left him afraid to fly has been arrested on charges that he hid in a secured area at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for three months.

Aditya Singh, 36, is charged with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanor theft after he was arrested Saturday. At a court hearing on Sunday, a judge ruled that the Orange, California, man could be released if he paid $1,000, but said that Singh was prohibited from setting foot in the airport.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Danville officials still hopeful for casino, despite delays
Officials in an eastern Illinois city are still hopeful their community can land a casino, despite delays in the state’s application process caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed gambling-expansion legislation in June 2019 that allowed for six new casino licenses in Illinois. More than 18 months later, Danville officials are still awaiting a decision on their bid.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Police: 2 women killed in south east Missouri head-on crash
Two women were killed in a head-on crash on Interstate 55 just north of Cape Girardeau in southeastern Missouri, police there said.

The crash happened Thursday afternoon when a northbound car crossed the median into oncoming traffic and collided with a southbound sport utility vehicle, the Southeast Missourian reported.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Kansas City, Illinois sue ATF over arms manufacturer license
Kansas City and the state of Illinois filed a lawsuit Friday against a federal agency that awarded a license to an arms manufacturer that was sued last year for illegally selling guns and went bankrupt.

The lawsuit alleges the Bureau of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives awarded the license to JA Industries, renamed from Jimenez Arms, after it repeatedly broke federal firearms laws and contributed to gun trafficking. The lawsuit says the company’s cheap firearms contribute to the rising violent crime in Kansas City and Chicago.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

New guidance on indoor dining, new virus strain, vaccination plan, sports
Gov. JB Pritzker announced revisions to his COVID-19 mitigation tiers Friday that would allow earlier indoor dining, but no regions have thus far met the requirements.

He also announced that the whole state would move to Phase 1B of vaccination efforts as of Jan. 25, while some counties might already individually have entered that phase. As well, a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus has been confirmed to be spreading in Illinois

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Positive COVID-19 test at venue where Illiois House met this week
A positive test for COVID-19 at the venue where the Illinois House has been meeting is prompting calls for precautions.

A positive result came back from a rapid test that was offered Thursday to House members, staff and workers at the Bank of Springfield Center while the House was meeting there, said Steve Brown, an aide to House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Statewide, Illinois COVID-19 positivity rate continues to drop
The statewide seven-day rolling COVID-19 case positivity rate decreased slightly on Thursday to 6.8 percent, remaining below 8 percent for a sixth consecutive day.

The rate dropped from 7.3 percent the day prior. The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 6,652 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the state, with an additional 88 deaths. The state has reported 1,052,682 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and 17,928 deaths across the state’s 102 counties.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Proposal seeks to included 2 more properties in Lincoln site
The Elijah Iles House Foundation Board has proposed to make the Elijah Iles House and the soon to be reconstructed Lincoln Cottage replica part of the Lincoln Home National Historic Site by asking the National Park Service to extend the historic site boundaries. The proposal is intended to insure the long-term viability of the all-volunteer-operated Iles House and Lincoln Cottage and to take advantage of the educational, operational, maintenance and promotional benefits that would come from being part of the Lincoln Home site.

The proposal would link the Iles House to the Abraham Lincoln Association's plan to reconstruct the Lincoln Cottage and donate both to the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Township supervisor accused of embezzling from own private firm
A northern Illinois township supervisor is accused in U.S. District Court of stealing more than a million dollars over six years from the company he founded, according to documents unsealed Thursday.

Plainfield Township supervisor Anthony Fremarek is charged with wire fraud and making false statements to a financial institution. Fremarek was arrested Thursday and pleaded not guilty during an appearance before a federal magistrate judge in Chicago. The judge ordered him released on a $250,000 recognizance bond. His lawyer, Vincent Pinelli, was not immediately available for comment.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Union: 17 Chicago officers lounging in burgled congressional office suspended
Chicago Police suspended several officers captured on video during last summer’s widespread unrest who were lounging — and apparently even sleeping — inside a burglarized congressional campaign office as people citywide vandalized and stole from businesses, a police union official said Thursday.
Friday, January 15, 2021

Pilot makes emergency landing on highway's median
The pilot of a more than 60-year-old plane successfully landed the vintage aircraft onto a southern Illinois highway’s median after it lost engine power, state police said.

The pilot was not injured when he landed the single-engine plane Wednesday night onto Interstate 57’s median in Williamson County, about six miles (9.7 kilometers) south of Marion.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Illinois replaces longest-serving legislative leader in US
The Illinois House on Wednesday elected its first Black speaker to replace the longest-serving legislative leader in modern U.S. history, picking Democratic Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch for the job and pushing aside Michael Madigan after he was implicated in an ongoing bribery investigation.

Welch, an eight-year House veteran from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, garnered 70 votes from the 118-member House just days after emerging as the front-runner alternative to Madigan, 78, who was first inaugurated as a House member a half-century ago.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Statewide positivity rate drops for fifth straight day
The state’s rolling COVID-19 positivity rate dropped for the fifth straight day as Illinois Department of Public Health officials reported 5,862 new confirmed and probable cases with an additional 97 deaths Wednesday.

The seven-day rolling positivity rate stood was 7.3 percent, down from 8.5 percent one week ago and down two-tenths of a percentage point from Tuesday. The state has reported 1,046,030 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and the death toll is now 17,840 across the state’s 102 counties.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Black Caucus-inspired criminal justice reform package heads to Pritzker now
The Illinois Senate passed a criminal justice omnibus bill early Wednesday morning after a grueling 20 hours of politicking during Tuesday’s lame duck session. The House followed suit Wednesday morning, clearing the way for the bill to head to the governor.

The legislation is made up of several provisions that touch all facets of the criminal justice system. The Pretrial Fairness Act, a longtime passion project to end cash bail in Illinois by Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, and a complete overhaul of police certification crafted by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul were both absorbed into the omnibus package.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Republican leaders offer harsh criticism of Illinois politics as session ends
Republican leadership offered harsh criticisms for their Democratic counterparts Tuesday as the Illinois General Assembly neared the end of its lame duck session.

In a virtual news conference Tuesday, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, and Senate Republican Leader-designate Dan McConchie, of Hawthorn Woods, accused embattled House Speaker Michael Madigan of pushing legislation through without sufficient input during the shortened session.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

200 Illinois guard troops to go to DC
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is sending about 200 members of the Illinois National to Washington, D.C., to help with security at next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Pritzker announced Tuesday that the guard members would travel to Washington in advance of Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration at the U.S. Capitol.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Education reform heads to governor
A bill aimed at improving racial equity throughout the state’s K-12 and higher education system passed both houses of the General Assembly on Monday, while another bill addressing economic inequities was up for House approval Tuesday night.

Both bills were part of an agenda being pushed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, which called for the rare lame duck session before members of the next General Assembly – and possibly a new House speaker – take office on Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Chairman who called off Madigan investigation likely to replace him today
One day after state House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, announced a suspension – but not a withdrawal – of his campaign for another term as speaker, a state representative who has been accused of being a staunch Madigan protector has launched a bid for the post and was expected to be seated this afternoon.

Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, has the backing of House Black Caucus members, a voting bloc that had previously supported Madigan’s reelection. Of the 22 House members of the Black Caucus, all but Maurice West, D-Rockford, had supported Madigan for another term.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Some counties enter vaccine Phase 2
Some regions of the state could see loosened COVID-19 restrictions as early as Friday as some counties have already transitioned to the next phase of vaccine distribution, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday.

Although the state remains in Phase 1A of its vaccine distribution plan, some communities which have substantially completed Phase 1A have moved to the early stages of Phase 1B.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Illinois Black Caucus unveils its K-12 education reform bill
Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus are advancing a K-12 education bill that would expand resources for marginalized students and reform education policies that disproportionately harm students of color.

The bill addresses the education and workforce development pillar of the ILBC’s four-pillar agenda, which also includes criminal justice reform; health care and human services; and economic access, equity and opportunity.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Governor vague on some issues in criminal justice reform bill
Gov. JB Pritzker took questions on a massive criminal justice omnibus bill backed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus on Monday, noting he was generally “in favor of the process and the work that the Black Caucus has done overall.”

When pressed on specific provisions in the bill that have been seen as controversial, especially as it relates to changes in how policing is done in the state, Pritzker said he would wait until the final version of the bill is presented to him..

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Small business grant program ends, pays out $275M
The grant program for small businesses owners in Illinois who suffered losses during the pandemic has run out of money.

Illinois’ Business Interruption Grant program was the largest state program of its kind, but only about 20 percent, or 8,974 applicants, received a grant.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Illinois VA head quits in wake of COVID-19 outbreak
The director of Illinois’ Veteran Affairs Department is leaving the post, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Two women shot to death in central Illinois town
Authorities in central Illinois on Monday identified two women found shot to death early Sunday in a residence in Virginia.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Republican Darren Bailey collapses during House session
An Illinois House Republican collapsed Sunday during a session of the General Assembly.

Rep. Darren Baily of Zenia was seen laying on the floor of the Bank of Springfield Center, where the House is meeting to maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bailey was seen getting onto a gurney under his own power and gave a thumbs up while being wheeled out.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Health officials report 4,711 new COVID-19 cases, 81 deaths
Illinois public health officials on Sunday reported 4,711 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, including 81 additional deaths.

The Department of Public Health reported the state has seen 1,028,750 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, including 17,574 deaths. The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. through Saturday stood at 372,522, according to Johns Hopkins University

Monday, January 11, 2021

Chicago police shoot woman after she points gun at them
A woman shot by Chicago police on the city’s West Side was charged Monday with four felonies for allegedly pointing a handgun at officers.

Keshawna Davidson, 20, faces three counts of aggravated assault of a peace officer and one count of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, Chicago police said.

Monday, January 11, 2021

State House continues to debate police reform omnibus
The Illinois House of Representatives continued to debate a massive criminal justice omnibus bill Sunday that would transform policing practices in the state.
Monday, January 11, 2021

Pritzker rolls out tax law changes
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois House lawmakers were back in the capital city Friday for the first time since May, kicking off a five-day “lame duck” legislative session.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Just two regions in state meet criteria for mitigation roll back
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois reported 9,277 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 on Friday, including 126 additional deaths.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Lake Mattoon provides setting for diving traditions
MATTOON, Ill. (AP) — The frigid New Year’s Day waters of Lake Mattoon provided the spot for a couple of underwater traditions Friday afternoon.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

More demand resignation of Illinois congresswoman
CHICAGO (AP) — A growing number of Democrats called Thursday for the resignation of U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois, a newly sworn-in Republican who quoted Adolf Hitler at a rally outside the U.S. Capitol this week.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

IDES responds to GOP criticisms about staffing, promptness and fraud
SPRINGFIELD — House Republicans continued to criticize the Pritzker administration Wednesday as the Illinois Department of Employment Support works through ongoing staffing and fraud issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Start 2021 Off Strong By Crossing A Few Financial Tasks Off Your List Early
(NERDWALLET via AP) — After the train wreck that was 2020, you may well question whether it’s worth trying to plan anything. But knocking off a few financial tasks early in the year can better prepare you for whatever 2021 has in store.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Peoria artist and muralists have worked in dozens of churches all over the world
PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — No matter how intricate the art or meaningful the message, Andrew Hattermann says his studio’s work comes down to one simple thing: Beauty.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Extension says use winter to plan for fruit garden
URBANA, Ill. — Winter is a time for togetherness and rest before spring. It’s also a great time to look ahead and make plans for new garden ventures.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Pfizer study suggests vaccine works against virus variant
New research suggests that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine can protect against a mutation found in two easier-to-spread variants of the coronavirus that erupted in Britain and South Africa.
Friday, January 8, 2021

Statewide COVID-19 cases surpass 1 million 
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois has reported more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Friday, January 8, 2021

Riots in Congress bring state Capitol security concerns into focus
SPRINGFIELD — Just two days after hundreds of rioters broke through police barricades and vandalized the halls of Congress, Illinois lawmakers will return to the state’s seat of government for a lame duck session.
Friday, January 8, 2021

ISP conduct death investigation in Petersburg
PETERSBURG, Ill. — Petersburg, IL – Illinois State Police (ISP) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Zone 4 was requested to conduct a death investigation in Petersburg, Illinois. On Thursday, January 7, 2021, an unidentified body was located in the Sangamon River near the Hurie Park boat dock in Petersburg, Illinois.
Friday, January 8, 2021

Mitigations may be lifted on January 15
Statewide Tier 3 COVID-19 mitigations could be lifted within 10 days.

Starting Jan.15, exactly one incubation period from New Year’s Day, any region that has met requirements for a reduction of mitigations will be able to move out of the Tier 3 mitigation plan, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Illinoisans age 65 plus to have access to COVID vaccines
Illinois will make COVID-19 vaccinations available to residents age 65 and older in the next inoculation phase, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday as the state neared 1 million infections.

Because of high demand for the COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended two initial priority groups receive the first rounds of vaccination.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Priest stepping aside after allegation
Nationally known activist Chicago priest the Rev. Michael Pfleger has been asked to step aside due to an allegation of sexual abuse that occurred decades ago, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announced.

The archdiocese said Tuesday that its Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review received an allegation that the 70-year-old Pfleger sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago. Cardinal Blase Cupich in a letter to members of the South Side church Faith Community of Saint Sabina, which is pastored by Pfleger, noted the allegation hasn’t been proven as true or false and guilt or innocence should not be assumed.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

3 now seeking speaker of House spot
State Rep. Ann Williams officially threw her hat into the ring Wednesday to become the next speaker of the Illinois House, making her the third Democrat to announce they were challenging embattled Speaker Michael Madigan.

Williams, 53, a Chicago attorney, released a statement Wednesday morning, hours ahead of a virtual candidates’ forum being hosted by the House Democratic Women’s Caucus.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

New congresswoman: 'Hilter right on one thing'
Freshman U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois drew swift criticism from fellow Republicans Wednesday for quoting Adolf Hitler in a speech a day earlier outside the U.S. Capitol.

Miller, elected in November to replace Republican John Shimkus, spoke Tuesday during an event by conservative group “Moms for America,” as demonstrations in support of President Donald Trump began in Washington D.C.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Bipartisan Illinois politicians condemn both the protesters and the president
Hours after rioters seeking to block the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s November election victory first began storming the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker called on Congress to impeach and remove sitting President Donald Trump.

The Associated Press reported one woman was shot and killed at the Capitol on Wednesday, and members of Congress were sent fleeing as angry Trump supporters stormed the floor of the U.S. House and Senate.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Illinois still 'in pause' on mitigation rollbacks despite new metrics
The statewide COVID-19 positivity rate ticked down slightly on Tuesday to 8. 5 percent, marking nearly a month that the rate has stayed below 10 percent.

The rolling seven-day average statewide case positivity rate dropped by one-tenth of a percentage point, from 8.6 percent the day before. The rate has remained below 10 percent since Dec. 8, and well below second-wave highs of 13.2 percent in mid-November.

On Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,839 new confirmed and probable cases of the virus, among 991,719 total cases and more than 13.6 million tests since the pandemic began.

The COVID-19 death toll has reached 16,959, including 126 additional deaths reported Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

GOP lawmakers introduce 'fair maps' legislation
Republicans in the Illinois House said Tuesday that they hope to use legislation, instead of a constitutional amendment, to change the way state legislative and congressional district lines are redrawn every 10 years.

The so-called “fair maps” proposal would authorize the General Assembly to set up an independent, nonpartisan commission to redraw the lines, taking that highly political process out of the hands of legislators who currently are able to use that process to protect themselves politically, a process known as “gerrymandering.”

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Off-duty Chicago officer latest carjacking victim
An off-duty police officer is the latest victim of a carjacking in Chicago, where carjackings more than doubled in 2020 over a year earlier, authorities said Tuesday.

The officer was in her car on the South Side on Monday night when three people climbed from a car that pulled in front of her, tapped her window with a gun and ordered her out of the vehicle, police said. The officer was not injured and her vehicle was recovered a few miles away.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Wisconsin DA: Officer who shot Jacob Blake feared for his life
A Wisconsin prosecutor declined Tuesday to file charges against a white police officer who shot a Black man in the back in Kenosha, concluding he couldn’t disprove the officer’s contention that he acted in self-defense because he feared the man would stab him.

The decision, met with swift criticism from civil rights advocates and some public officials, threatened to reignite protests that rocked the city after the Aug. 23 shooting that left Jacob Blake paralyzed. Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, called the decision “further evidence that our work is not done” and called for people to work together for equity. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black, was more pointed on Twitter: “I wish I could say that I’m shocked. It’s another instance in a string of misapplications of justice.”

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Lincoln Land renames Springfield medical training facility
SPRINGFIELD — Lincoln Land Community College has changed the name of a training facility to better reflect its connection to the college, location and mission.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Officials still warn of surge as statewide COVID-19 numbers ease up
SPRINGFIELD — The state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and average case positivity rate remain below second-wave highs while public health officials in Illinois continue to caution residents that a post-holiday surge could materialize.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Groups partner to build beds for kids
A nonprofit organization built nearly 600 beds for needy children in northeastern Illinois.

The Kankakee Chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace began the initiative in 2018, which serves Kankakee, Manteno, Peotone, St. Anne, Bradley and Bourbonnais.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Oberweis to contest election results
Defeated Republican congressional candidate Jim Oberweis announced Monday he has informed the U.S. House of Representatives he will contest the outcome of his race against Democratic Congresswoman Lauren Underwood.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Pritzker issues marijuana pardons, State Police clear eligible arrest records
Gov. JB Pritzker issued 9,219 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions on Thursday, New Year’s Eve, while announcing the Illinois State Police had expunged all eligible records at the state level for marijuana related arrests.

Since the passage of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act in 2019, Pritzker has issued pardons in 20,236 marijuana cases. Pritzker previously issued 11,017 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions on New Year’s Eve 2019.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

State Senator Andy Manar resigns to become senior advisor to Gov. Pritzker
Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar of downstate Bunker Hill announced Monday he will resign from the General Assembly effective Jan. 17 to join the governor’s office as an advisor two days later.

The announcement marked the second high-profile resignation from the state Senate in one week’s time, as Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, announced his immediate resignation on Dec. 31.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Illinois reports another 81 COVID deaths, 4,469 new cases
Illinois public health officials on Sunday reported 81 more deaths from COVID-19 and 4,469 new confirmed and probable infections.
Monday, January 4, 2021

Victims in bowling alley shooting are honored
ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — Hundreds of people have attended a vigil honoring three people killed in a shooting at a bowling alley in northern Illinois.
Monday, January 4, 2021

Themed flowers popping up in Central Illinois
LOVINGTON, Ill. (AP) — Gary Smith found a hobby he loved about three and a half years ago, but never expected it to take off as quickly as it did.
Monday, January 4, 2021

Anonymous donor gives Central Illinois Foodbank $500,000
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Central Illinois Foodbank plans to use an anonymous donor’s $500,000 gift to expand its reach during a time of growing need amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it leader says.
Monday, January 4, 2021

Volunteers seek to honor service members, preserve history
In this Franklin County town sits an unassuming museum packed with memorabilia from the region’s men and women who served their country in conflicts dating back to the Civil War.
Saturday, January 2, 2021

Woman faces charges after 7 kids found in vacant apartment
A woman faces misdemeanor child endangerment charges after seven children — one of them a 23-month old baby — were found in an inside an apartment that was supposed to be vacant on Chicago’s West Side.
Saturday, January 2, 2021

Filling of prescriptions is harder with insurer's action
A December decision by insurer Aetna to drop Walgreens from its Illinois Medicaid plan is making it harder for thousands of low-income Chicago residents to get their prescriptions filled.

The Chicago Tribune reports Aetna’s decision to exclude the Walgreens chain from its Aetna Better Health of Illinois pharmacy network affects about 400,000 state residents. Many of them are poor and critics say they are already disproportionately those suffering from COVID-19 and unemployment.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Wisconsin police monitor recreational marijuana in Illinois
Despite dispensaries quickly popping up along Illinois’ northern border after that state legalized recreational marijuana almost a year ago, local law enforcement officials say they have not yet seen any major impacts here in Wisconsin.
Saturday, January 2, 2021

Memorial to complete first round of COVID-19 vaccinations
SPRINGFIELD — Memorial Health System has received several thousand doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines this week and expects to complete the process of first vaccination dosage to its colleagues within the next two to three weeks.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Health officials report 178 new Illinois COVID-19 deaths
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois public health officials announced Wednesday there are 7,374 new cases of COVID-19 and 178 more deaths in the state.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

4 arrested in 2019 southern IL slaying
HERRIN, Il. (AP) — Four people have been charged with first-degree murder in the 2019 slaying of a southern Illinois man, authorities have announced.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Pandemic, statehouse scandals, social unrest top 2020 stories
SPRINGFIELD – It was a year like no other, and one most Americans would just as soon forget, but 2020 is sure to last in the history books as one of the most tumultuous in modern history.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Springfield COVID testing site expanded to indoor drive-thru
SPRINGFIELD — Memorial Health System has expanded its drive-thru lab and respiratory testing site on South Sixth Street in Springfield to include indoor lanes.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Family of suspect in shooting expresses condolences
ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — Family of a U.S. Army special forces sergeant charged in a deadly shooting at a northern Illinois bowling alley released a statement Tuesday extending their thoughts and prayers to victims and the wider community.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Paramedic gets 13 years for assaulting patient
URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois paramedic was sentenced Tuesday to 13 years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman while she was in an ambulance.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Illinois reports 106 COVID-19 deaths Tuesday
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois reported its third consecutive day with more than 100 COVID-19 deaths Tuesday. Meanwhile, most statistics the state uses to measure progress in combatting the coronavirus ticked up slightly.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Some parts of the Upper Midwest expecting 10" of snow today
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A strong winter storm began making its way across the Upper Midwest today, creating treacherous travel conditions and spurring warnings urging people to stay off the roads.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

As COVID ravages US, shootings, killings are up
DETROIT (AP) — When Andre Avery drives his commercial truck through Detroit, he keeps his pistol close.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Meeting with victim of botched raid is canceled
CHICAGO (AP) — A Black woman who was the victim of a mistaken 2019 raid on her Chicago home scrapped plans Monday to meet with Chicago’s mayor and host a public forum with aldermen over disagreements on how the gatherings would proceed.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

New federal rule changes odometer discloser requirements impacting automobile industry
ILLINOIS — Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is alerting the automobile industry, along with private party vehicle sellers, of a new federal odometer disclosure rule that increases the amount of time odometer readings must be declared at the time of a vehicle sale. The new federal rule takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Quincy veterans home resident tests positive for Legionnaires' disease
SPRINGFIELD — A resident at the state-run veterans home in Quincy has tested positive for both COVID-19 and Legionnaires’ disease, according to a news release from the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Illinois COVID-19 death toll hits 16,000
SPRINGFIELD — While the number of new COVID-19 cases and people hospitalized in Illinois continue to decline, the state’s coronavirus death toll has surpassed 16,000.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Illinois Department of Labor issues minimum wage hike reminder
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois' minimum wage is set to increase to $11 an hour on Friday, January 1, 2021. The Illinois Department of Labor is encouraging employees to watch their paychecks to ensure that time worked in 2021 is paid at the new rate.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

IDES preparing to administer new Federal COVID-19 Relief Legislation
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that it remains committed to implementing newly announced federal unemployment benefits and relief measures as quickly and effectively as possible.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Victim of botched Chicago police raid to meet with mayor
CHICAGO (AP) — A Black woman who wasn’t allowed to put on clothes before being handcuffed during a mistaken 2019 police raid on her home has agreed to meet with Chicago’s mayor, her attorney said.
Monday, December 28, 2020

Man charged in Illinois bowling alley shooting that killed 3
ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A U.S. Army special forces sergeant based in Florida has been charged in an apparently random shooting at an Illinois bowling alley that left three people dead and three wounded, authorities said Sunday.
Monday, December 28, 2020

Champaign attorney, 82, honored posthumously for career
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — A central Illinois attorney has been posthumously honored by the Illinois State Bar Association.
Monday, December 28, 2020

COVID-19 halts basketball and the voices announcing games
CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — For 41 years, Richard Blakely’s daily routine in the winter has mostly been the same.
Monday, December 28, 2020

One Illinois board looking at taller wind turbines
MONTICELLO, Ill. (AP) — A county board in central Illinois will decide next month whether to approve taller wind turbines despite some residents’ concerns that the loftier structures would become eyesores.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

Illinois reports 156 more COVID-19 deaths
CHICAGO (AP) — Public health officials from Illinois reported 156 additional COVID-19 deaths on Friday and 5,742 confirmed and probable infections.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

House Deputy Minority Leader Demmer considering state run
SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Tom Demmer, of Dixon, is considering a run for statewide office in 2022. Whether for governor, U.S. Senate or another position, he has not decided.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

Report shows Chicago police officers in botched raid had prior complaints
CHICAGO (AP) — One of 12 officers placed on desk duty in the botched 2019 police raid on the home of a Black woman was accused in an earlier mistaken raid, while another of the officers was involved months later in a fatal shooting, according to a newspaper report.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

Illinois leading the nation in number of COVID-19 vaccinations
More than 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Illinois since the first vaccine was approved for emergency use this month, more than any other state in the nation, and state officials expect the pace of the vaccination program to speed up as the federal government begins distributing a second drug this week.

Gov. JB Pritzker made that announcement during a virtual media briefing Wednesday, adding that eventually, larger states like California and Texas will surpass Illinois simply because of the size of their populations.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Sangamon County judge tosses decision voiding Pritzker's executive orders
In early July, a judge in downstate Clay County voided Gov. JB Pritzker’s executive orders in a sweeping order that he applied to the entire state, at the request of a southern Illinois lawmaker who sued Pritzker over his response to the pandemic.

More than six months later, Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow has essentially voided Judge Michael McHaney’s July 2 order in the case of Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia.

Pritzker’s lawyers asked Grischow last month to “reconsider” the July 2 order from McHaney, who initially presided over Bailey’s case before it was transferred to Sangamon County.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Surgeon general says Illinois numbers are 'moving in the right direction'
The top public health official in the United States said Tuesday that the COVID-19 trends in Illinois are improving and he urged the public to get vaccinated as soon as the doses become available to them.

“The numbers here in Illinois are moving in the right direction and we have a finish line in sight with these two vaccines,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said during a news conference in Chicago.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

In mistaken identity cases, black man and woman were kept naked
A retired federal judge and a law firm will lead an independent investigation of a mistaken police raid on the home of a Black woman who wasn’t allowed to put on clothes before being handcuffed, Chicago’s mayor said Tuesday.

Retired Judge Ann Claire Williams and her law firm Jones Day will conduct a full review of the search warrant executed in February 2019 on social worker Anjanette Young’s home, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a letter.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Durbin: Help from Congress for Illinois finances is unlikely
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is touting the benefits of the pandemic and omnibus spending bill passed by Congress, but on Tuesday warned Illinois’ leaders not to count on federal help to balance the state’s budget.

During a conference call with Illinois journalists, Durbin noted the pandemic spending bill passed Monday contains funding for specific programs to help Illinois and Chicago, including mass transit aid, support for airlines, restaurants and entertainment venues.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

2 from boat dealership facing charges
Two central Illinois residents have been indicted on a federal charges alleging that they defrauded a boat dealership and others out of more than $2 million.

Jeffrey D. Gibbs, 55, of Farmer City and Kara M. Wilkey, 45, of Maroa were both indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire, mail and bank fraud as well as aggravated identity theft, the Peoria Journal Star  reported.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

New legislation introduced would allow lawmakers to meet and vote remotely
Two lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow the General Assembly to meet and vote remotely during a pandemic or other emergency that makes in-person meetings dangerous.

Rep. Ann Williams and Sen. Robert Martwick, both Chicago Democrats, filed the legislation Monday, saying the current inability to conduct business remotely has hindered lawmakers’ ability to respond to the health crisis.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Restaurant asks court to toss indoor dining ban
Lawyers for a Kane County restaurant are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court decision that found the governor’s indoor dining ban was lawfully imposed.

FoxFire Tavern is one of dozens of restaurants that sued Gov. JB Pritzker and his administration after he issued an executive order imposing stricter restrictions on businesses, including a ban on indoor dining and bar service, in response to rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations throughout the state.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Illinois woman finds COVID test in Kohl's package
An Illinois woman who ordered flags for her grandmother’s garden got a surprise when the package arrived — someone’s apparent COVID-19 test specimen.

Andrea Ellis was wrapping Christmas gifts at her aunt’s house in East Moline, in northwestern Illinois, when she opened a padded envelope containing the flags she ordered weeks ago from the department store chain Kohl’s, according to The Quad City Times.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Second wave of COVID-19 shows signs of abating
Four weeks after the Thanksgiving Day weekend, the so-called “surge upon a surge” in COVID-19 cases has not materialized and, in fact, infection rates and hospitalizations from the disease have continued to decline.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Monday that 4,699 new confirmed and probable cases of the disease had been recorded over the previous 24 hours out of 86,454 tests performed. That brought the seven-day rolling average case positivity rate down to 7.5 percent, the lowest it has been since Oct. 31 and the second consecutive day that number has been below 8 percent.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Chicago attorney quits over botched raid
The city of Chicago’s top attorney resigned Sunday in the fallout of a botched police raid on the home of a Black woman who was not allowed to put on clothes before being handcuffed.

Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner announced the move in an email to employees, saying he was only recently involved with the legal case connected to police video of the February 2019 wrongful raid on the home of social worker Anjanette Young. Flessner did not say if he was asked to resign.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Obama's book on politics in Springfield: 'A series of transactions mostly hidden from public view'
Amid all the attention on former President Barack Obama’s new book, what may not have shown up in the reviews is mention of a two-page summary that, for legislative scholars like me, includes what may be the shortest and perhaps best description of how legislatures really work, even for political scientists.

Based on his time as an Illinois state senator from 1997 to 2004, the brief passage crystallizes the inner workings of the legislative process. As a scholar who has observed and studied state legislatures and Congress for almost 50 years, I know there are hundreds of autobiographies by former members of Congress, former U.S. senators and former state legislators – all of whom offer lessons about what goes on in their respective chambers.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Teachers win dispute over layoffs at Illinois college
Teachers who sued after part-time instructors were hired to lead their classes at a southern Illinois community college have won an appeal at the state Supreme Court.

The court said John A. Logan College in Carterville violated state law, which protects tenured faculty from losing classes to non-tenured instructors or staff with less seniority.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Man dies after being attacked by pit bull in Joliet home
A dog that became agitated during a loud argument inside a suburban Chicago home attacked and killed a man who had tried to calm the animal, police said.

The 46-year-old man died Thursday evening in a hospital after he was attacked by a pit bull terrier in a home in Joliet, in Chicago’s far southwest suburbs. the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Chicago council members seek deal with woman in wrong raid
Some members of the Chicago City Council called Friday for a special meeting to order officials to settle any legal action with a woman who wasn’t allowed to put on clothes before being handcuffed during a botched raid at her home.
Saturday, December 19, 2020

Documentary on U of Illinois missing scholar now available
A documentary about a University of Illinois scholar from China who was abducted and killed two years ago is now playing in virtual theaters.

Director Jiayan “Jenny” Shi said she wanted to turn the attention to Yingying Zhang and her family, given that much of the news coverage was about her disappearance, the investigation, her killer and the trial.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Leaders optimistic with Moderna vaccine on horizon
Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday that more than 17,000 doses of the first coronavirus vaccine have been administered to Illinois frontline health care workers outside of Chicago, up from 3,500 doses on Thursday.

Pritzker said Illinois hospitals could begin to receive shipments of a second COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the drug company Moderna, as early as next week. That announcement comes one day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee recommended the use of the Moderna vaccine in people ages 18 and older. The FDA is expected to grant Emergency Use Authorization for the Moderna vaccine.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Vaccine sent to 77 hospitals statewide
Coronavirus vaccinations from the state’s National Strategic Stockpile were delivered Thursday to 77 hospitals in 45 counties throughout the state, Gov. JB Pritzker announced at his daily briefing.

Pritzker said the state first’s vaccine shipment totaled 109,000 doses — which includes 23,000 to the city of Chicago and 86,000 for the rest of Illinois.

The state received the first 43,000 doses on Monday, which is separate from the federal shipment to Chicago, he said.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Illinois spared COVID-19 'surge upon a surge,' but deaths are still mounting
Illinois might have eluded the COVID-19 “surge upon a surge” that has struck some parts of the country in the aftermath of heavy travel and family congregations during the Thanksgiving holiday.

But it’s all relative. Even as thousands across the country, including in Illinois, are inoculated against the disease this week with a newly approved vaccine, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration on Thursday reported 181 additional deaths related to coronavirus illness and 8,828 newly confirmed infections. With the report came new warnings for holiday gatherings with Christmas next week.

“This is the time of year for friends and family, but I would like to ask that you continue to celebrate the holidays virtually — or in person with the people that you live with,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state public health director.

Friday, December 18, 2020

CPD releases video of botched raid on woman's home
Videos released Thursday by Chicago police depict disturbing scenes of officers wrongfully raiding the home of a Black woman who was not allowed to put on clothes before being handcuffed.

Police released 20 video files from body-worn cameras of the February 2019 incident during which Anjanette Young, a social worker, repeatedly pleads with police officers that they’re in the wrong place.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Teen charged in killing of retired Chicago firefighter
A 15-year-old made an initial court appearance Thursday on a murder charge in the death of a retired Chicago Fire Department lieutenant who was shot and killed this month during an apparent carjacking attempt on the city’s South Side.

Dwain P. Williams, 65, was confronted by the defendant and two other people as he approached his car after leaving a popcorn shop on Dec. 3, authorities said. Williams pulled out his gun and managed to fire it, but he was shot in the abdomen by one of the attackers and was pronounced dead at a hospital, police said at the time.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Cook Co. recognizes Juneteenth as paid holiday
Illinois’ largest county is recognizing Juneteenth as an official holiday and a paid day off for county workers.

Juneteenth will be one of 14 government holidays granted to all Cook County employees next year.

Friday, December 18, 2020

State's vaccine shipment is cut in half
The state has been advised it will receive roughly half of the shipment of COVID-19 vaccinations that it originally expected from the federal government for the next two weeks, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday.

Next week’s national shipment was originally slated to include approximately 8 million vaccine doses but is now expected to include only 4.3 million. The following week’s shipment was to include 8.8 million doses but was reduced to 4.3 million as well. Because the vaccine is being distributed on a population basis, each state will have their doses cut proportionally, Pritzker said.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Illinois solicits donations for Computer Equity
The state is soliciting computers and related equipment from individuals and companies as part of a new program announced Wednesday that will distribute refurbished devices to low-income households.

The Computer Equity Network is a collaboration between the state, the non-profit PCs for People, municipal governments and private businesses. The program is tied to the ongoing Connect Illinois initiative based out of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that seeks to expand broadband access in the state.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Officials: Virus outbreak slowing at veterans home
Infection control efforts at the LaSalle Veterans' Home have curbed the spread of the coronavirus since a deadly outbreak began at the facility last month, according to officials who testified Wednesday before a House committee investigating the matter.

That outbreak has caused at least 33 resident deaths, the latest of which was reported early last week.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

One Illnois city using virus fines to help needy families
A central Illinois city will give nearly $5,000 in coronavirus fines to a school district to help needy students and families.

“What better way to help this community than to find a way to help people who need it the most versus having the funds be absorbed by the city,” Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Illinois aims to boost flagging tech economy with public-private research network
University of Illinois faculty say an ongoing statewide investment in a public-private research network is key to boosting the state’s economy.

The Discovery Partners Institute, a UI-led research and workforce development hub based in Chicago, is the flagship program of the Illinois Innovation Network that seeks to invest in 15 regional hubs affiliated with the UI system to spur economic growth with state funding. The goal of IIN is to create technology jobs in Illinois and train the state’s workforce to fill them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Pritzker orders over $700M in cuts
Gov. JB Pritzker announced more than $700 million in spending cuts on Tuesday, calling it a “first step” in closing a $3.9 billion revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year’s budget.

As part of those cuts, Pritzker said his office is negotiating with employee labor unions to identify $75 million in personnel cost reductions, which could include furloughs, and that he is establishing a work group to identify possible closures of Department of Corrections facilities due to lower inmate populations.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Man who claimed to be missing boy gets two years
A federal judge Tuesday sentenced an apologetic Ohio man to two years behind bars and one year of probation for falsely claiming to be a long-missing Illinois child.

Brian Michael Rini, now 25, said he was sorry during the video hearing before U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett made his sentence official.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Video shows Chicago cops storming into wrong home
A civilian police review board confirmed Tuesday it is investigating allegations that Chicago police officers serving a search warrant last year barged into the wrong home and handcuffed a naked woman who lived there.

The allegations were included in reports by WBBM-TV in Chicago  late last year and most recently on Monday when it aired portions of videos of the Feb. 19, 2019 incident that Anjanette Young obtained as part of her lawsuit against the city. The woman’s attorney did not immediately return a call for comment, and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) said it has not released the video, according to a spokesman.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

First Illinois health care workers are vaccinated in Peoria
Five health care workers at a hospital in Peoria became the first people in Illinois to receive a COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, marking what Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike called “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic.

The vaccine, developed by the drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech, was granted Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week and is now being shipped throughout the United States. Early studies have shown that after two doses that are given 21 days apart, the vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing the disease.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

What to know as vaccines roll out
The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration arrived in Illinois Monday, but officials said there’s still a need for social distancing, face coverings and other mitigations as a full rollout could take months.

While Gov. JB Pritzker hailed distribution of the vaccine, manufactured by the drug company Pfizer, as the “beginning of the end” of the pandemic, many questions are still unanswerable as to the timeline of distribution for future shipments and that of a second potential vaccine.

“Today marks only the beginning of the national vaccination rollout,” Pritzker said at his daily briefing Monday in Chicago. “This week the very first recipients of the very first phase will receive their first of two doses of this COVID-19 vaccine. To put it in perspective, in total, Illinois will be receiving about 109,000 doses this week. Nationally, there are approximately 24 million people who the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) classifies as Phase 1A. Our destination is clear, but the road ahead will be long.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

After 3 meetings, Democrats vote to end legislative investigation of Madigan
After just three hearings in four months, Democrats on the special committee probing House Speaker Michael Madigan’s alleged misconduct and role in a bribery scheme involving Commonwealth Edison voted Monday to end their investigation.

Throughout the combative three-hour hearing, the three House Republicans and three Democrats clashed repeatedly over the rules of procedure, disagreed about the facts contained in the federal court documents and levied accusations of political stunts and a “kangaroo court.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Chicago officer stripped of his powers amid shooting probe
A Chicago police officer who was off duty when he shot a man in the hand during a Friday confrontation has been stripped of his police powers while the incident is investigated, police said.

The officer wasn’t working late Friday when he heard gunshots “and approached an occupied parked vehicle” in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, Chicago police said Saturday in a statement.

Monday, December 14, 2020

50 years ago, constitution updated Illinois; can it do more?
Given recent headlines, it’s hard to imagine characterizing Illinois government as efficient or forward-looking.

But the Illinois Constitution approved 50 years ago this week contained a credo for environmental protection that was a national harbinger. It afforded equal protection of the laws — prohibitions on rules that arbitrarily discriminate — as well as due process of law. With little discussion, it protected the rights of women in sharp contrast to the bitter fight over ratification of the federal Equal Rights Amendment a decade later.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Man charged in March killing of 15-year-old Chicago boy
An Evanston man has been charged in the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old Chicago boy found dead in an alley last March.
Monday, December 14, 2020

No spring break at ISU
NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State University students won’t be getting a spring break next year after all because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Letter part of probe in '87 homicide
ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A letter kept in a safe deposit box apparently is part of the evidence against an Alabama man who is charged with killing a 19-year-old woman in Illinois in 1987, an attorney said.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Spfld. police chief turns down new job, gets raise
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The police chief in Springfield said Friday he’s turning down a new job in Tennessee and will stay in the Illinois capital.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

U of I to develop relationships with tribes
URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois says it will establish new traditions related to Native Americans some 13 years after it retired its divisive Chief Illiniwek.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Nat'l Guard sent to help at VA homes
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker said this week his administration has requested the help of the Illinois National Guard at three of four state-run veterans homes, including two homes that are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Work set to begin on solar farm, western Ill.
TILTON, Ill. (AP) — Work is set to begin within weeks on a solar farm at the site of a former General Motors Foundry in western Illinois site that closed in the 1990s, the local mayor says.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

State lawmakers propose cut in Medicaid rates

SPRINGFIELD — Two Democratic lawmakers this week introduced legislation to reduce state payments to the insurance companies that manage Illinois’ Medicaid program, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in excess profits for the insurers.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

COVID-19 deaths in Illinois surpass 14,000 as rate slowly ticks downward
SPRINGFIELD — The COVID-19 death toll surpassed 14,000 on Friday as the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 190 additional deaths in people from their 20s to over 100 years of age.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Gun purchases spike in Illinois amid pandemic, civil unrest
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois residents shopped for more guns and applied for firearm permits more than any other time in the state’s history as the COVID-19 pandemic raged and Chicago dealt with civil unrest, according to state police data.
Friday, December 11, 2020

By Dec. 30 state will spend all $4.9B in relief funds
SPRINGFIELD  The head of Gov. JB Pritzker's budget office said this week that the state of Illinois is on track to spend all of the money it received through the federal CARES Act by the Dec. 30 deadline.
Friday, December 11, 2020

Officials urge caution amid backdrop of progress
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker said the state continues to make gradual progress in suppressing the spread of COVID-19 and the state’s public health director said she plans to receive a virus vaccine when it is her turn in line.
Friday, December 11, 2020

Cook Co. sees deadliest year for opioid overdoses
CHICAGO (AP) — Cook County, which includes the city of Chicago, will see its deadliest year for fatal opioid overdoses when 2020 ends, the county’s chief medical examiner said Wednesday.
Thursday, December 10, 2020

Holiday Pops in the Heartland online this Saturday
 SPRINGFIELD — Celebrate the holidays with festive music and holiday songs! The Illinois Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops in the Heartland goes online this year but it’s full of the same holiday cheer the ISO brings  every year. ISO’s String Orchestra led by Music Director Ken Lam partners with the Springfield Ballet and Springfield Youth Ballet Companies in selections from the Nutcracker, Holiday Jazz, Sleigh Ride and many more. Great fun for the entire family, young and old from the comfort of your home.
Thursday, December 10, 2020

Another near-record day for Illinois COVID deaths
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois public health officials on Wednesday reported 179 deaths related to COVID-19.
Thursday, December 10, 2020

Lawmakers call for gun license reform amid delays
SPRINGFIELD — Four GOP state House lawmakers on Wednesday voiced complaints from their central and southern Illinois constituents who say they have waited months after applying for new or renewed gun ownership licenses without an update from the Illinois State Police amid an unprecedented volume of applications this year.
Thursday, December 10, 2020

Pritzker touts importance of national testing strategy
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker noted the importance of testing in suppressing virus positivity rates and targeting actions for mitigating spread. He was joined by Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, which is coordinating a national COVID-19 testing action plan.
Thursday, December 10, 2020

Vaccine: Several months before widely available
As COVID-19 infection rates continued to fall Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker said the first delivery of a vaccine could arrive in Illinois as early as next week, although it could take several months before it is widely available to the general public.

Speaking at his daily media briefing in Chicago, Pritzker noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had released its analysis of data on a vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Madigan floats income tax increase
As the state government attempts to close a multi-billion-dollar budget hole, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan has said he is prepared to vote for an increase to the state’s flat income tax rate should the governor request it ? a proposal met with pushback from his Republican counterpart, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin.

The $3.9 billion budget shortfall, projected by the state budget office, that lawmakers will confront this spring has gained an increasing sense of urgency with the defeat of the graduated income tax constitutional amendment at the ballot on Nov. 3.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Advocates tout economic benefits of renewable energy
While advocates in Illinois were optimistic that a series of measures reforming the state’s energy landscape could pass in 2019, various factors caused the legislative package to stall while most of Gov. JB Pritzker’s first-year agenda eventually became law.

At the time, advocates behind the Path to 100 Act warned of an impending “funding cliff” for renewable energy projects if the General Assembly did not act to increase the rate cap on ratepayer bills, which is the funding source of the renewable energy fund overseen by the Illinois Power Agency.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

One coroner buys refrigerated trailer as virus surges
A northern Illinois coroner’s office has purchased a refrigerated trailer in the event deaths related to COVID-19 overwhelms his office’s capacity to store bodies.

The purchase of the $30,000 trailer was made as space in the county’s morgue neared capacity, Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz said.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Alderman's Chicago restaurant faces COVID fines
The city of Chicago has cited a restaurant owed by an alderman for allowing customers to dine inside in violation of rules designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, city officials said Tuesday.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020

LaSalle VA home administrator fired after deaths
The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs announced Monday that LaSalle Veterans’ Home Administrator Angela Mehlbrech has been fired after a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle facility has resulted in at least 32 resident deaths.  

IDVA also announced that the director of nursing at the LaSalle facility, Jackie Cook, has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the acting inspector general of the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Pritzker: Next four weeks could be the most crucial
As infection rates and hospitalizations from COVID-19 continued to level off during the first week of December, death tolls continued to rise, prompting Gov. JB Pritzker to warn Monday that Illinois is not yet out of the danger zone and that the next four weeks could be the most crucial of the pandemic.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Dog and owners reunited in Illinois
A whiff of her old blanket was enough for Lola: The black Lab was back in her owners’ arms three years after the Michigan dog disappeared on a trip to suburban Chicago.

“I feel like I’m in a dream right now,” Debra Mejeur said Saturday when she and her husband, Steve, were reunited with Lola at DuPage County Animal Services.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Child advocates worry about unreported abuse now
In late spring and into the summer, Dr. Kathy Swafford, who specializes in treating child victims of sexual abuse, noticed a significant drop in patient referrals. If she could have trusted it meant children were safer than they’d ever been, it’s the kind of change that would have been welcome.

But as the pandemic raged across the country, shuttering businesses, schools and churches to slow the spread, the sudden change gave her and other child advocates an uneasy feeling.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Illinois funeral home sued for giving wrong ashes
Two people have sued a suburban Chicago funeral home after discovering that one of them was given the ashes of an elderly woman in a mix-up instead of those of a four-month-old girl.

The lawsuit filed last month alleges that Willow Funeral Home in Algonquin mistakenly released the ashes of 72-year-old Laura Lee Hill to Georgic Byrd instead of the ashes of Byrd’s daughter.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Illinois investment funds pressed on management diversity
A legislative committee began four days of hearings on Thursday to examine whether public investment funds in Illinois are complying with state requirements for diversity goals in the hiring of investment managers.

That has been a key element of the effort by many lawmakers over several years to achieve racial and gender equity in state contracting. Sen. Napoleon Harris III, D-Harvey, a co-chair of the Special Committee on Pension Investments, noted that the asset management industry globally controls about $100 trillion worth of investments, but minority- and women-owned firms handle 1 percent or less of all the investment management business.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Vaccines to go to 50 Illinois counties with top death rates
The initial delivery of vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in Illinois will be distributed among the 50 counties with the highest death rates per capita, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday as the coronavirus claimed an additional 148 lives in the state.

Officials are expecting an opening shipment of 109,000 vaccine doses as early as mid-month. While hundreds of thousands more are expected in subsequent weeks, Pritzker said, he would not predict how long it would take to vaccinate those first in line.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Indiana steel mill expected to soon restart blast furnace
An Indiana steel mill that was taken offline earlier this year for a planned maintenance project is expected to restart this month.

The Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel is restarting blast furnace (hash)4 at its Gary Works steel mill next Tuesday — an earlier date than anticipated as the steel market recovers, according to The (Northwest Indiana) Times.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

State Police significantly reduce DNA backlog, ask legislators for more reforms
Representatives of the Illinois State Police say the backlog of forensic evidence in Illinois has been reduced significantly, but the support of lawmakers is needed to further address delays and deficiencies in the process.

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly made those comments to the Illinois Senate Public Health Committee during a Thursday hearing on the DNA backlog and evidence processing.

According to Kelly, since 2019, ISP’s Division of Forensic Services has reduced the number of “biology DNA pending assignments,” referred to as the DNA backlog, by 48 percent. In March of 2019, the backlog had 9,829 pending assignments, which has fallen to 4,857 pending assignments as of November 2020.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Community members in Illinois fight for nuclear energy plant
Community leaders, residents and elected officials in Illinois are working to keep a nuclear energy company from closing its plant.

In August, Exelon announced that it would close its Byron nuclear power plant in September 2021 and the Dresden Generating Station in Morris two months later, the Rockford Register Star  reported.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Migrant farm workers allege pesticide exposure in Illinois
More than two dozen migrant workers from Texas allege they were sprayed with toxic pesticides while working in Illinois cornfields, according to a federal lawsuit.

The workers, including teenagers, senior citizens and a pregnant woman, claim they were sprayed by a helicopter and plane treating fields in July and August 2019, despite wearing neon orange hats and backpacks. The 27 workers’ symptoms, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Springfield, included shortness of breath, blurred vision, eye irritation, vomiting and dizziness. Some said their systems have persisted.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Newly elected Supreme Court Justice Overstreet sworn in
Justice David K. Overstreet took the oath to become a member of the Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon.

The 54-year-old was sworn in by his predecessor, Justice Lloyd Karmeier, during an emotional installation ceremony that was livestreamed. Members of Overstreet’s family, as well as close friends, attended the ceremony in person.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Chicago archdiocese to pay $1.5 million in sex abuse suit
The Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who says he was sexually abused as a child by a defrocked priest who was convicted of sexually abusing several boys, the man’s attorney said Thursday.

The settlement agreement announced in a news release by attorney Lyndsay Markley is the latest dark chapter in the story of Daniel McCormack, one of the most notorious pedophiles in the history of the archdiocese.

Friday, December 4, 2020

16-year-old Chicago girl shot dead helping man being beaten
A 16-year-old Chicago girl has been shot to death after returning to help a man being beaten by a group of people, police said.

The girl, Lizzette Mata, and the man were walking home in an alley after eating at a restaurant when four males got out of an SUV and confronted them on the South Side, Chicago police spokeswoman Sally Bown said.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Illinois high court: Pleading guilty does not prevent innocence claims
People who plead guilty to crimes are not automatically precluded from later asserting claims of innocence, the state’s highest court ruled on Thursday.

The Illinois Supreme Court’s unanimous decision creates a new precedent for state courts. This is the first time the high court answered the question of whether individuals who pleaded guilty can still successfully claim innocence.

Under Illinois law, individuals convicted of crimes can petition the court and successfully assert a claim of innocence if they can establish that their rights were violated during the court proceedings that resulted in their conviction.

Friday, December 4, 2020

State created 'profit machine' for ComEd
State energy laws passed in 2011 and 2013 allowed Commonwealth Edison to earn huge profits while the utility giant failed to fulfill its promise of consumer savings and benefits, according to a new report issued by an independent public interest group this week.

The report from the Illinois Public Interest Research Group describes the energy laws as a “profit machine” for ComEd, the largest utility company in the state. The laws established a formula rate “that guaranteed revenue and profits,” weakening the regulatory role of the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Illinois sees highest single-day COVID-19 death toll
Illinois marked what Gov. JB Pritzker called “a solemn milestone” Wednesday when public health officials announced 238 deaths from COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours, by far the highest single-day fatality number since the pandemic began.

Although part of that number may have been attributable to reporting delays of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Pritzker said the rising number of new cases and hospitalizations indicated that the state is still in the middle of an infection surge.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Preliminary hearing for Rittenhouse on Wisc. charges
A 17-year-old from Illinois accused of killing two men during an August protest in Wisconsin was due in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing in the case.

Kyle Rittenhouse, of Antioch, is also charged in the wounding of a third person on Aug. 25 during a night of unrest in Kenosha that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a local Black man.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Speaker's friend, 3 others enter bribery case pleas
Four former Commonwealth Edison officials pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that they engaged in a years-long bribery scheme that federal prosecutors allege was aimed at influencing Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Former executives Anne Pramaggiore and John Hooker, along with lobbyists Michael McClain and Jay Doherty, were arraigned on the charges in U.S. District Court in Chicago during a hearing that was held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Homicides spike in Cook County, top 900 mark in 2020
The county that includes Chicago has recorded more than 900 homicides this year, marking the first time since 2016 and just the second time in nearly a quarter century that the 900 mark has been reached.

In a news release, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said that as of Nov. 30 there were 902 confirmed homicides between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, compared to 675 homicides in the county in all of 2019.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Southern Illinois house fire kills 3, injures 2 others
A southern Illinois house fire has killed three people, authorities said.

Callers reporting the blaze Monday afternoon in the city of Zeigler originally reported the home was fully engulfed with multiple people still trapped inside, WPSD-TV reported.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Six people stabbed at suburban Chicago apartment complex
Six people have been stabbed during what authorities say was a domestic-related incident at a suburban Chicago apartment complex.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Governor: Those who traveled for Thanksgiving should quarantine, get tested for COVID-19
Another 125 people who tested positive for COVID-19 were reported to have died in the previous 24 hours Tuesday, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, bringing the death toll to 12,403 since the pandemic began.

That came as the state reported another 12,542 new confirmed or probable cases among 116,081 test results reported over the previous 24 hours. That brought the rolling seven-day average case positivity rate to 10.4 percent, the ninth day in a row it has hovered between 10 and 11 percent.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Lawmakers seek additional hearings into LaSalle Veterans' Home outbreak
SPRINGFIELD — Republican lawmakers on Monday renewed calls for a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing into the cause of a coronavirus outbreak at the state-run veterans home in LaSalle where about 20 percent of the residents have died of COVID-19 related illnesses.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

COVID-19 cases drop again, experts fear it won't last
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — New cases of coronavirus illness on Monday fell to 6,190, the lowest single-day total in more than a month, but deaths continued at a rapid clip and state officials fear the dip in infections is calm before a COVID-19 storm.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Dog that hit the road 11 months ago is back home in Chicago
CHICAGO (AP) — A dog that darted out of an open door nearly a year ago and has been living on the streets ever since is finally back home in Chicago.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Tickets dismissed against Chicago mayor's security team
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago mayor’s security team has been getting the green light when it comes to tickets for red-light camera violations, a newspaper reported.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

4th teen dies after October crash in southern Illinois
VIENNA, Ill. (AP) — A fourth teenager has died from injuries in an October car crash in southern Illinois.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Man slain in Chicago dispute over hands in Thanksgiving food
CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man has been charged with murder after a fatal fight that began when he put his hands in Thanksgiving leftovers, authorities said.
Monday, November 30, 2020

Inmate from Arizona dies at Illinois prison after fight
THOMSON, Ill. (AP) — A 37-year-old inmate from Arizona has died at a northwestern Illinois prison after a fight with another inmate.
Monday, November 30, 2020

Illinois reports 57 more virus deaths among 7,178 new cases
CHICAGO (AP) — Public health officials in Illinois reported 57 more deaths on Sunday from COVID-19, among 7,178 new confirmed and probable cases.
Monday, November 30, 2020

Chicago-area priest investigated for past child sex abuse
CHICAGO (AP) — The Archdiocese of Chicago is investigating allegations that a suburban priest sexually abused children 25 years ago.
Monday, November 30, 2020

Man sought in lawyer's death on US Marshals fugitive list
NORTHBROOK, Ill. (AP) — A man sought in connection with a suburban Chicago lawyer’s 2016 strangulation death has been named one of the U.S. Marshals’ most-wanted fugitives.
Monday, November 30, 2020

Neighbors want to know what Sauget incinerator is burning
SAUGET, Ill. (AP) — Mamie Cosey wants her great-grandchildren to play and exercise outside, but some days she can’t let them, she said, because the fresh air isn’t safe to breathe.
Monday, November 30, 2020

Merriam-Webster's top word of 2020 not a shocker: pandemic
NEW YORK (AP) — If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be?
Monday, November 30, 2020

Panel features film on mental health
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Mental Health Task Force and the chief justice of the Supreme Court will conduct a screening of a new documentary on mental illness and criminal justice.
Saturday, November 28, 2020

Some area animal shelters seeing fewer adoptions
PEKIN, Ill. (AP) — You might think that staying closer to home during a pandemic would result in more pet adoptions. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Saturday, November 28, 2020

Deck the halls? Not at the Illinois Capitol due to the virus
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The coronavirus has extinguished some traditional holiday cheer at the Illinois Capitol. There will be no Christmas tree nor any holiday displays inside or outside the building.
Saturday, November 28, 2020

Antibodies from donated blood key to COVID fight
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — People who have suffered through COVID-19 have a valuable weapon for those fighting the coronavirus now: antibodies.
Saturday, November 28, 2020

Illinois approaching 12,000 deaaths from COVID
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois approached 12,000 deaths from COVID-19 with the addition of 131 new fatalities reported Thursday, state health officials said.
Friday, November 27, 2020

COVID-19 claims 125 more lives Illinois officials say
State health officials reported on Tuesday that another 125 people in Illinois have died from COVID-19.

In a news release, the Illinois Department of Public Health said the latest deaths — a total that was nearly three times higher than the 47 deaths announced Monday — brings the death toll to 11,677 since the pandemic began earlier this year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Fraudulent unemployment claims in Illinois soar
Fraudulent unemployment claims have soared in Illinois with scammers directing jobless benefits to their own accounts even as record numbers of residents sought relief due to the coronavirus pandemic, state officials said.

More than 212,000 fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits have been filed since March 1, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

27 veterans die in COVID outbreak at VA home
State officials are investigating a coronavirus outbreak at a veterans nursing home in rural Illinois that has infected nearly 200 residents and staff, and killed 27 veterans.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs are attempting to determine what caused the outbreak at the state-run LaSalle Veterans Home in LaSalle, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Vaccine shipment smaller than expected
The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Illinois may be less than one-quarter of what officials had originally been told to expect.

Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday that the latest word from federal officials is that the first shipment may contain only about 80,000 doses, or one-fifth of the 400,000 doses that state officials were expecting as recently as last week.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Rochester man gets probation for threatening Rep. Davis
A central Illinois man who pleaded guilty to making a threat against U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis has been sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to undergo mental health counseling.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Illinois officials continue to urge caution as 47 more die
State health officials are again asking people to reconsider big Thanksgiving gatherings as another 47 people in Illinois from COVID-19.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced the latest daily death toll on Monday, reporting 8,322 new confirmed and probable cases.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

IDPH preps for initial 400,000 doses
After Pfizer submitted its application for a COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week, Illinois public health officials have continued preparing locations to store and distribute the vaccine that could be released to frontline hospital workers in a matter of weeks.

Pfizer announced Friday that it planned to submit its COVID-19 vaccine application for emergency approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — a process that could take between two and four weeks, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said during the daily news conference.

Ezike said she expects the state will receive about 400,000 doses of the vaccine in the first round of distribution.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Rittenhouse attorney says judged allowed him on case
A California attorney said Monday that a Kenosha County judge will allow him to appear in court on behalf of an Illinois 17-year-old accused of killing two people during a protest in Wisconsin.

John Pierce, of Los Angeles, is not licensed to practice in Wisconsin and would need the court’s permission to appear in court for Kyle Rittenhouse. Such requests are routinely granted, but Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Jason Zapf has asked for a hearing on the matter “to address several issues.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Pritzker warns of looming crisis if relief isn't extended
Gov. JB Pritzker warned Monday of another looming economic crisis for the state and nation if Congress does not act soon to reauthorize extended unemployment benefits for people displaced from their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can’t overstate the implications of this,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing. “Without assistance from Congress, five weeks from now there will be no way to replace these benefits for the hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans impacted by these programs, which have become an essential lifeline for people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. This is incredibly dire.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Illinois again reports daily COVID cases at more than 10K
Illinois public health officials reported more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday for the fourth consecutive day.

The last time the daily count dipped below 10,000 was Wednesday when it was 8,922, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Lessons from pandemic are teaching educators, too
Lincoln-Douglas third-graders Emma Smith and Alaina Nichols sat at their table, brainstorming ideas about a Thanksgiving parade float for a writing assignment.

Alaina settled on a pumpkin pie theme.

“Pumpkin pie goes with November,” she explained. “Thanksgiving is in November.”

Monday, November 23, 2020

Hundreds of Illinois towns eligible for virus relief
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration is reminding local government officials of a Dec. 1 deadline to submit applications for federal relief from the coronavirus pandemic.

Congress approved so-called Local CURE funds as part of a COVID-19 relief package last spring. The money must be spent by Dec. 30.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Illinois agency launches study of gambling addiction
A state agency has launched a one-year roughly $500,000 study on gambling addiction in Illinois.

Results will be used by the Illinois Department of Human Services to help determine future efforts to prevent problem gambling and increase access to treatment and services.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Trial delay for woman accused in crash that killed 4
The December trial for a Quincy woman charged with murder after a car crash that killed three children and an adult has been delayed to next year.

Natasha McBride, 36, briefly appeared in Adams County Circuit Court last week, according to The (Quincy) Herald-Whig.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Illinois Supreme Court strikes down city of Sparta's policy on police citations
The state’s highest court has struck down a southern Illinois city’s policy that partly evaluates police officers on the number of citations officers issue, finding it violates an Illinois law prohibiting ticket quotas.

On Thursday, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the labor union that represents police officers in the Randolph County city of Sparta.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Illinois pushes for digital equity with new broadband investments
The governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity are awarding $500,000 through existing and new state programs as part of a “Digital Equity Package.”

The Illinois Office of Broadband, which is based in the DCEO, is spearheading the targeted investment program. The package gives modest grants to community-based and regional actors to address gaps in household access to computing devices, hotspot connectivity and digital literacy skills.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

COVID-19 deaths top 100 for 3rd straight day in Illinois
Deaths from COVID-19 in Illinois topped 100 Friday for the third day in a row, and the continuing deluge of new cases helps explain why the nation hit an all-time high on Thursday.
Saturday, November 21, 2020

Pot advocates: Pritzker's reading of law costing state $135M
Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s interpretation of Illinois’ marijuana legalization law is costing the state more than $100 million in tax revenue by blocking certain pot shops from relocating, some state lawmakers and cannabis industry advocates say.

Cannabis sales have remained consistent despite the coronavirus pandemic, but a memo created by industry advocates and recently shared with lawmakers says the state is losing out on an estimated $135 million in revenue by not allowing medical dispensaries to move without repercussions.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Aquino to replace Garcia as Illinois presidential elector
U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia will not serve as a presidential elector in Illinois. Instead, he is being replaced by state Sen. Omar Aquino, the state Democratic Party confirmed, and the reason has to do with a requirement of the U.S. Constitution.

Garcia was selected to serve as an elector when the Democratic Party of Illinois’ state central committee met in July. He was even listed on a press release the party sent out July 15.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Initiative launched to help Illinoisans expunge marijuana charges
A new state-funded initiative called New Leaf Illinois aims to connect Illinoisans who want to remove marijuana arrests or convictions from their records with 20 nonprofit organizations that provide free legal representation and information on expungements.

New Leaf Illinois was launched Thursday by the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, an organization created by a 1999 state law to distribute funding appropriated by the government to support nonprofit legal aid programs and initiatives. IEJF administers state appropriations to three programs – a broad legal aid grant program, a legal aid service for veterans, and, most recently, a marijuana offense expungement program.

Friday, November 20, 2020

'21st century mass casualty event'
The state reported its second-highest one-day COVID-19 count Thursday with 14,612, but it also reported its second-highest daily testing output with 113,447 results reported over the previous 24 hours.

The 168 COVID-19 related deaths reported Thursday made for the third-highest one-day total since the pandemic began. That brought the total death toll to 11,178 among 621,383 confirmed cases out of 9.4 million test results reported.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Support for Madigan within Democratic ranks showing more signs of eroding
Support within the ranks of Illinois House Democrats to reelect Rep. Michael Madigan to another term as speaker eroded further Thursday after federal prosecutors in Chicago issued four more indictments Wednesday night linking him to a bribery scheme involving utility giant Commonwealth Edison.

Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday put his own pressure on House Speaker Michael Madigan, saying the Democratic leader needs to answer questions from the press and the public or else resign.

Friday, November 20, 2020

State's Electoral College searching for venue for Dec. meeting
Plans are being developed in Illinois for the state’s Electoral College delegates to meet in Springfield on Dec. 14, but they are being complicated by the worsening COVID-19 pandemic as well as President Donald Trump’s refusal so far to concede the election.

A spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White said Wednesday that the ceremony, which normally draws little public attention, has traditionally been held in the Statehouse. But with the entire state now under enhanced mitigation measures to prevent the spread of the disease, officials are searching for a room, or possibly another venue, that would allow enough social distancing for the state’s 20 electors, the media and the public to remain safe.

The electoral college system is spelled out in Article I of the United States Constitution. It provides that each state receives the same number of electoral votes as it has in the U.S. House and Senate. Since Illinois has two U.S. senators and 18 representatives, it gets 20 electoral votes.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Ten lawsuits challenging dining bans are merged
The Illinois Supreme Court agreed to combine 10 lawsuits challenging indoor dining bans across the state with existing cases in Sangamon County that raise the same legal questions.

The Supreme Court’s order brings a total of 19 cases involving legal challenges to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 related restrictions that are now consolidated in Sangamon County Court before Judge Raylene Grischow.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Four indicted in scheme to allegedly influence House Speaker Madigan
Four people, including an associate of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, were indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on charges they orchestrated a bribery scheme with Commonwealth Edison.

The alleged scheme provided do-nothing jobs to Madigan loyalists in exchange for the speaker’s help with state legislation.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Illinois virus cases double in 7 weeks; Illinois death toll surpasses 11,000
As the state surpassed 11,000 COVID-19-related deaths Wednesday and the disease became the third leading cause of death in the state, health officials sought to address rumors and conspiracy theories related to the virus.

“I still hear people saying that COVID-19 isn't real, that it's just another cold or that it's a conspiracy,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at Wednesday’s daily COVID-19 briefing. “The bottom line is that COVID-19 is real. And it is worse than a typical cold. This ‘not real virus’ is overwhelming our hospitals. Right now, it's taking up one out of every four beds that's occupied in the hospitals across our state. This ‘just another cold’ is putting hundreds of people in the ICU and on ventilators.”

Thursday, November 19, 2020

4 Sangamon County restaurants shut down for COVID violations
Four restaurants in Sangamon County that continued to offer indoor dining in defiance of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigation plan were ordered to shut down temporarily Tuesday.

The order from a Sangamon County judge states that the four restaurants — Charlie Parker’s Diner, D&J Cafe, Sweet Basil Cafe, and Fox Run Restaurant and Lounge — “are prohibited from selling food items,” effective immediately.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Stricter mitigations start Friday
Gov. JB Pritzker announced the entire state will enter Tier 3 of his mitigation plan starting Friday as he noted the best way for Illinoisans to avoid another stay-at-home order was by staying home.

“Tier 3 boils down to this: if you don’t need to do it, don’t,” Gov. JB Pritzker said of leaving the home as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to soar.

Pritzker, at his daily briefing, said the Tier 3 mitigations stop short of a stay-at-home order, although staying home was the best option for limiting the virus’ spread. More businesses are allowed to remain open than when he issued a stay-at-home order in March because more is known about the virus, he said.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

FAA clears Boeing 737 Max to fly again after nearly two years
After nearly two years and a pair of deadly crashes, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has cleared Boeing’s 737 Max for flight.

The nation’s air safety agency announced the move early Wednesday, saying it was done after a “comprehensive and methodical” 20-month review process.

Regulators around the world grounded the Max in March 2019, after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet. That happened less than five months after another Max flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea. A total of 346 passengers and crew members on both planes were killed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Forecasters project long-term deficits, growing backlog of bills
A new report from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget shows that without significant new revenue, spending cuts or a combination of both, the state will face a budget deficit of $3.9 billion in the current fiscal year and continuing deficits of $4 billion or more in each of the next five fiscal years.

It also projects that the state’s backlog of unpaid bills could grow to as much as $33 billion by fiscal year 2026, up from the current backlog total of about $7.8 billion, if lawmakers do not make structural changes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Judge finds for Pritzker; rules executive orders legal
A Sangamon County judge on Monday ruled Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration has power under state law and the state constitution to issue executive orders that mandate public health measures at schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision, issued by Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow after a roughly two-hour hearing, relates to two lawsuits — Mainer v. Illinois Department of Public Health and Pritzker v. Board of Education of Hutsonville — that arose from Pritzker’s June executive orders regarding schools.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

COVID-19 surges in Illinois: 'We're in for a rough ride for the next 3 months'
Illinoisans should stay home as much as possible, wear face coverings and rethink their Thanksgiving plans as hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to rise, state officials reiterated Monday.

“We are in for a rough ride for the next three months or so,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at a COVID-19 briefing Monday. “Just how bumpy it really gets depends on each of us. Let's hang in there together and be all in for Illinois.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

New Supreme Court justice brings decades of experience to bench
When Justice Robert Carter, who is slated to become the newest member of the Illinois Supreme Court when he is sworn in in December, was a chief circuit judge, he would remind the nascent trial judges to be humble in their new role.

“I always told the new judges that everything you do should be done with the greatest amount of humility because you don't have all the answers. You're just trying to do the best based on the facts as you find them, and the law that applies to those facts,” Carter said in a phone interview this week with Capitol News Illinois

Monday, November 16, 2020

2 young sisters found by themselves on Chicago street
Police say two young sisters were found by themselves on the street in Chicago, prompting a search for their parents

Two young sisters were found by themselves on the street in Chicago, prompting a search Monday for their parents, police said.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Gettysburg Address to be on display
A handwritten copy of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech will be on display for two weeks in a Springfield museum.

Officials with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum said it is only one of five surviving handwritten copies. The 1863 speech starts, “Four score and seven years ago...” Lincoln delivered it at the dedication of a cemetery for soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Illinois reports $285 million in September sport bets
The latest numbers released by the Illinois Gaming Board show bettors in the state wagered more than $285 million on sports contests in September.

Gamblers can place bets on sporting events at seven of Illinois’ casinos and one horse racing track. The state’s most lucrative casino and its first to start taking sports bets, Rivers in Des Plaines, accepted about $105 million in wagers in September, the most of any Illinois casino, according to the gaming board.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Illinois reports 10,631 new COVID-19 cases and 72 deaths
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 10,631 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the state and 72 confirmed new deaths.

With the latest announced number, Illinois has reported 573,616 cases of COVID-19, including 10,742 deaths. The latest confirmed and probable cases were the result of 84,831 tests administered over 24 hours. The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 14.8%.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Judge rules against group of cannabis license holders
SPRINGFIELD — A Sangamon County court on Thursday denied a restraining order requested by cannabis dispensary license finalists in an attempt to stop the state from rescoring the applications of losing applicants. 
Saturday, November 14, 2020

Lawmakers see hearing on veterans' home outbreak
SPRINGFIELD — Republicans on the Illinois House Veterans’ Affairs Committee called for a hearing this week to investigate a COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home where at least nine residents have died after testing positive for the virus.
Friday, November 13, 2020

Governor implores people to stay home; warns of possible stay-home order
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois residents are being urged to stay at home as much as possible for at least the next three weeks as the second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks continues to sweep across the state.
Friday, November 13, 2020

Memoir by Tammy Duckworth coming in March
Sen. Tammy Duckworth has written a memoir, “Every Day Is a Gift,” which comes out March 30.

Twelve, a Hachette Book Group imprint, announced the deal with Sen. Duckworth on Thursday, the 16th anniversary of the day she was shot down in a helicopter while serving in Iraq and lost both of her legs.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

State seeks tougher licensing for law enforcement
Lawmakers, in tandem with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, are looking to bolster the state’s system of certifying and decertifying law enforcement professionals.

At a joint hearing of the state Senate Criminal Justice Committee and Special Committee on Public Safety Tuesday Raoul testified to lawmakers that the current metric for decertifying members of law enforcement leaves open too much room for misconduct, especially compared to the licensing and certification systems for other states.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Chicago police the target of 520 complaints since May
The Chicago Police Department has received hundreds of complaints against its officers since late May, when demonstrations broke out in the wake of the death of George Floyd  in Minneapolis, according to police officials.

Eight officers have been stripped of their police powers since that time due to the complaints, according to police officials. Details of the conduct that led to the actions against the officers were not immediately available. However, officials say some officers working the demonstrations were accused of verbally abusing protesters, denying them access to attorneys, and carrying out improper searches among other allegations.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Yesterday the sixth deadliest day since the pandemic began
Illinois health officials urged residents Wednesday to stay home and strictly limit travel and social gatherings over the next three weeks, after the state recorded its sixth-deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic and a new high for hospitalizations.

The 145 fatalities from COVID-19, the illness caused by the highly contagious virus are the highest one-day total since May 27. Among the deaths was a seventh resident of the Illinois Veterans Home in LaSalle, where nearly 150 residents and staff members have tested positive.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Investigators looking for cause of Chicago Jewelry Center fire
Two Chicago firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion early Thursday after helping battle a fire in a high-rise commercial building that houses several jewelry stores in the city’s Loop, officials said.

Chicago fire Commissioner Richard C. Ford said about 200 firefighters were called to the 22-story building known as the Mallers Building after the fire was reported about 4 a.m.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

COVID surge forces postponement of veto session
Leaders of the Illinois General Assembly announced Tuesday the postponement of the Legislature’s veto session due to the surge of COVID-19 in the state.

Senate President Don Harmon said the surge of the pandemic is no time to bring together hundreds of people from around the state. The veto session was scheduled for Nov. 17 through 19 and Dec. 1 through 3.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Illinois Supreme Court appoints justice
The highest court in Illinois appointed a new member to its bench on Tuesday.

Justice Robert L. Carter, 74, will join the Illinois Supreme Court, effective Dec. 8, according to a news release from the Illinois Supreme Court.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

ISBE's proposed new 'culturally sensitive' teacher standards spark controversy
The Illinois State Board of Education is considering a set of new standards for teachers and administrators that are aimed at making them more sensitive to students of different cultures and backgrounds, but the proposal is sparking controversy among some religious conservatives.

The “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading” standards would amend current standards that apply to all teachers and administrators by adding a host of new requirements meant to ensure they understand how certain population groups have been marginalized in society and encourage them to adapt their teaching methods to be more inclusive of students with diverse cultures, family backgrounds, languages, sexual identity and orientation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

COVID-19 hospitalizations far higher in most regions than in first wave
With no signs of slowing, key metrics measuring the spread of COVID-19 – including hospitalizations – continue to push numbers not seen since April and May.

The 4,742 people hospitalized in Illinois due to COVID-19 as of Monday night marked the highest number since May 8, which was right around the peak of the first wave of the virus. It’s the 16th straight day of increases for hospitalizations, marking an 82 percent increase since the beginning of that 16-day period.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Illinois marijuana sales top $100 million in October
Illinois saw more than $100 million in marijuana sales in October, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported Monday.

There was a record $75 million in recreational pot sales last month, up nearly $8 million from the previous month. Sales of medical marijuana totaled another $33 million, according to officials. The first 10 months of legal cannabis sales total more than $500 million, with about $300 million in medical marijuana sales.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Our region headed for more mitigation
Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday that three more regions of the state will be placed under even stricter COVID-19 restrictions starting Wednesday as the state’s rates of infections and hospitalizations continue to climb.

“The virus is winning the war right now,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Kane Co. restaurant loses appeal over restrictions
An appeals court has handed down a favorable ruling to Gov. JB Pritzker in a legal challenge to his administration’s restrictions on bars and restaurants to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The 2nd District Appellate Court overruled a Kane County judge’s decision to temporarily block Pritzker’s indoor dining ban from taking effect at the FoxFire Restaurant in Geneva.

The state court on Friday decided that Pritzker has the power under state law to issue successive disaster proclamations.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Experts advise state lawmakers on health care policy
State legislators heard testimony from health care experts Monday on policies the state could pursue to address racial disparities in health outcomes and access.

That testimony was given during a joint hearing of the Senate Health and Human Services and Public Health committees prompted by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, which has highlighted health care disparities in the past.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

UIC gets grant to study support for rape victims

The University of Illinois Chicago has received a nearly $900,000 federal grant to help study the support rape victims receive and the outcomes of their recovery, according to university officials. 

The money for the three-year grant comes from the National Institutes of Health and will focus on “how support processes from social networks impact victims’ adjustment,” according to the university. 


Monday, November 9, 2020

After okaying three-town merger, voters will pick new leaders

Local leaders in three communities that will merge after voters approved the plan say the next steps are preparing for a new city government and planning ways to inform residents. 

Residents in Cahokia, Centreville and Alorton recently approved a referendum to merge the three cities into a single town that’ll be called Cahokia Heights. 


Monday, November 9, 2020

Ample Illinois hunting opportunities prompt IDNR safety-tip reminders

Hunters in Illinois should think safety before, during and after their time in the field this fall and winter as waterfowl, upland game, furbearer, and firearm and archery deer seasons provide ample opportunity to enjoy time in the outdoors in Illinois. 

"We want to encourage hunters to make safety their first priority as they head out to enjoy what we hope will be a successful hunting season for everyone," said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Colleen Callahan. "Illinois' hunting heritage is best celebrated by making sure hunters can spend their time experiencing the bounty nature provides for us and returning home safely to plan for their next hunting adventure."


Monday, November 9, 2020

Chicago study finds nursing home COVID cases rising four-fold

Despite Trump administration efforts to erect a protective shield around nursing homes, coronavirus cases are surging within facilities in states hard hit by the latest onslaught of COVID-19.

An analysis of federal data from 20 states for The Associated Press finds that new weekly cases among residents rose nearly four-fold from the end of May to late October, from 1,083 to 4,274. Resident deaths more than doubled, from 318 a week to 699, according to the study by University of Chicago health researchers Rebecca Gorges and Tamara Konetzka.


Monday, November 9, 2020

Data center serving Chicago opens in Indiana

A $40 million data center that’ll serve the Chicago area has opened in northwestern Indiana. 

National companies will store their data at the Digital Crossroads data center, in Hammond, according to The (Northwest Indiana) Times. The 105,000-square-foot center was designed to serve soaring demand for data storage, such as for streaming movie and music services. 

 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Illinois officials announce 10,009 new COVID cases
 Illinois public health officials on Sunday announced 10,009 new cases of COVID-19, including 42 additional deaths as cases surge nationwide. 
Monday, November 9, 2020

Illinois governor isolates after possible COVID-19 exposure
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker self-isolated Friday and was awaiting test results after learning that he may have been exposed to the coronavirus at a meeting earlier this week, the third time during the pandemic that the Democratic governor has taken the step.
Saturday, November 7, 2020

Lawmakers eye limits on qualified immunity for law enforcement
SPRINGFIELD — State legislators are considering eliminating or limiting aspects of qualified immunity for law enforcement..
Saturday, November 7, 2020

State COVID death toll surpasses 10,000
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker warned Thursday that additional social and economic restrictions may need to be imposed statewide in the near future if the surge in new COVID-19 cases continues on its current path.
Friday, November 6, 2020







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