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home : news : state news free May 13, 2021

Illinois Amish Heritage Center to open weekends in June
The Illinois Amish Heritage Center, located three miles east of Arthur, Illinois on Route 133, will be open to the public for guided tours and walk-throughs on Fridays and Saturdays this summer. Hours will be 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. starting Friday, June 4.

Guided tours will take visitors through four historic Amish buildings – the 1882 Daniel Schrock house, the 1866 Moses Yoder house and workshop, and the 1920 Miller Amish German School.

Thursday, May 13, 2021


Disinvestment, pandemic leave Illinois' state of mental health care in 'crisis'
Rooted in disinvestment and growing amid economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois is facing a statewide mental health crisis due to workforce shortages and accessibility.

“It's been recognized that we are no longer in an emergency, we're in a crisis,” said Marvin Lindsey, CEO of the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, which is a statewide association of mental health, substance abuse and youth service providers.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Train derails near Pesotum
A Union-Pacific train derailed about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday night near Pesotum in east central Illinois. Village officials say it could be 24 to 48 hours before the wreck is cleared.

The track on which the derailment occurred is the same U-P line which runs through Pana.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Traffic stop in northern Illinois reveals 897 tabs of LSD
A 27-year-old northern Illinois man was arrested after police during a traffic stop discovered nearly 900 tabs of LSD in his vehicle.

The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald  reported that Alek A. Montemayor of Harvard was arrested Friday after Harvard police responding to a report of an impaired driver spotted the vehicle he was driving swerve across the center line of a roadway at speeds of 80 mph.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

High court hears challenge to mandatory life sentencing for young adults in Illinois
A man who was found guilty for acting as the lookout in a double homicide nearly three decades ago is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to find his mandatory life sentence without parole unconstitutional.

A lawyer for Antonio House argued before Supreme Court Tuesday that his life sentence for a crime committed when he was 19 violates the so-called proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois Constitution.

This clause in the constitution states: “All penalties shall be determined both according to the seriousness of the offense and with the objective of restoring the offender to useful citizenship.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

LaSalle investigation prompts stronger legislation
Lawmakers representing the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, including Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, unveiled new legislation that would allow inspectors general of state agencies to subpoena former state employees.

The legislation was prompted by an investigation into the COVID-19 outbreak last year at the LaSalle home that killed 36 veterans.

The former director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Linda Chapa LaVia, and the former LaSalle home administrator, Angela Mehlbrech, both declined to be interviewed for the investigative report compiled last month by the state Department of Human Services’ inspector general.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Ill. House votes to endorse 'abolition amendment'
The Illinois House voted Wednesday to endorse a proposed U.S. constitutional amendment that would finally eliminate what some see as the last vestige of slavery in the United States – forced labor by people convicted of crimes and sentenced to prison.

House Joint Resolution 7, by Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, calls for passage of the proposed “abolition amendment,” which seeks to eliminate what’s known as the “punishment clause” of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery after the Civil War.

The 13th amendment reads in part, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Great Lakes water surge eases
A spell of dry, mild weather is giving the Great Lakes a break after two years of high water that has shattered records and heavily damaged shoreline roads and homes, officials said Monday.

Although still above normal, the lakes have dropped steadily since last fall and are expected to remain below 2020 levels for most of this year, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers forecast.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Illinois office building vaccinations being offered
The state of Illinois, working with business and labor organizations, plans to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to workers at offices around the state, officials announced Monday.

The initiative is being prompted by the return to offices by thousands of workers forced home by the pandemic. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday having vaccine available where people are working makes getting vaccinations very convenient.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Korean War soldier's remains returned to Decatur
The remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Asa E. Vance on Monday were brought to his family 70 years after he left Decatur, Illinois, to serve in the Korean War.

Niece Alma Andrews was on hand Monday when Vance’s remains were taken from a airliner’s cargo hold at St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport. The body was carried to a waiting hearse and escorted by an honor guard to Decatur.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Watchdog finds COVID-19 safety protocols not enforced at Pulaski County jail
An unannounced inspection by federal authorities of the Pulaski County Detention Center found that supervisors were not enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols, such as masking and social distancing requirements, for inmates being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The jail in Pulaski County, which is in the southernmost part of Illinois and borders Kentucky, houses inmates from Pulaski and Alexander counties, as well as individuals who are arrested by ICE and face deportation.

Monday, May 10, 2021

State budget can include added $350 million for K-12 schools
Citing an “improved” economic outlook, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday his support to increase evidence-based education funding in the state by $350 million in fiscal year 2022 which begins July 1.

In his February budget proposal, Pritzker originally proposed flat spending for education, citing “financial uncertainty” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It would have been the second consecutive year in which the state failed to add $350 million to the funding formula – a number written into state statute as a goal aimed at driving new money to the districts that are furthest from funding “adequacy.”

Monday, May 10, 2021

Electric vehicle plant invests $75M, brings Joliet 745 jobs
A Canadian electric-vehicle maker will build its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Joliet to produce small trucks and heavier electric machinery, officials said Friday .

Lion Electric Co. will invest at least $75 million in a plant that ultimately will produce 20,000 zero-emission vehicles a year and create 745 or more jobs.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

3 dead after black powder device explodes near Illinois park
Three people have died after a black powder device exploded along a bank of the Illinois River in the northern part of the state, authorities said.

First responders were called to an area west of the Starved Rock State Park boat ramp where they they discovered three dead males around 7:20 p.m. Thursday.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Illinois regulators answer queries on predatory lending law
Illinois state regulators have released answers to frequently asked questions about payday-type loans after new restrictions took effect this spring.
Saturday, May 8, 2021

JROTC archery team shows growth
When Greg Murphy decided to add archery onto his coaching repertoire this school year, it was one of few sports he did not have a background in.

So he got certified in the art and skill of shooting arrows with a bow and brought the proper steps and techniques back to the cadets in the Kays Battalion JROTC program.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

GOP leaders call out House Dems for redistricting 'hypocrisy'
Illinois House Republicans continue to demand a “fair” redistricting process, following a news report depicting Democratic lawmakers meeting behind a closed door to discuss the mapmaking process.

The “secretive” room on Capitol grounds where House Democrats are said to be drawing maps was first reported by WCIA-TV’s Mark Maxwell. In response to the report, House Republicans held a news conference Thursday outside of the room to address their concerns.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Bill proposes uniform election procedures
Two Republican senators have introduced legislation to standardize the way local election authorities across Illinois handle elections, from the training of election judges to posting information about delays in election night ballot counting.

Sens. Sally Turner, of the Logan County town of Beason, and Sue Rezin, of Morris, said during a virtual news conference Thursday their bill is intended to provide more transparency and give voters more confidence in how elections in Illinois are conducted.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Pritzker: Broader Illinois reopening to begin next week
Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday that Illinois will enter the “bridge” phase to full reopening on Friday, May 14. And barring any reversal of current trends, Phase 5, or full reopening, will begin on June 11.

He also announced that residents can now obtain COVID-19 vaccines from their physicians’ offices, rather than just designated vaccine sites, as public health officials continue to confront hesitancy within many communities to accept the vaccines.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Illinois AG responds to cyber attack
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on Wednesday addressed the recent cyber breach of his office’s online network, as well as an audit of his office released earlier this year that warned of weaknesses in its cybersecurity programs.

Raoul told a House committee his office has implemented new safeguards since the April 10 ransomware attack that compromised the office’s network and affected office employee’s email accounts.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Illinois police honors officers killed
After a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, members of Illinois’ law enforcement community gathered in Springfield Thursday to honor officers killed in the line of duty in 2019 and 2020.

In a ceremony at the Illinois State Capitol, the names of 16 Illinois officers killed in the line of duty over the past two years, as well as six historic honorees, were read and added to the Illinois Police Officers Memorial on the Capitol grounds.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Study shows working mothers hard hit by pandemic-related child care burdens
New research shows pandemic-related child care burdens have magnified economic inequalities for women in the workforce in Illinois.

That research was included in The Child Care Crisis in Illinois: A Survey of Working Mothers During the COVID-19 Pandemic, conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute nonprofit research organization.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Secretary of state calls for new Martin Luther King statue on Capitol grounds
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White on Tuesday said it’s time for the state to construct a new statue commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., as the current statue’s rendering “does not properly reflect Dr. King,” White said in a news release.

White said he would personally contribute the first $5,000 in funding the new statue that would be situated in a more prominent location on the Capitol grounds.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Catholic leaders oppose change to scholarship tax credit
The Catholic Conference of Illinois is lobbying against proposed tax changes for the 2022 fiscal year that would reduce an income tax credit gained for donations to private scholarships.

In a letter released Tuesday, Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago joined bishops representing the state's other five dioceses – administrative districts under the Catholic Church – asking Catholics to call their local legislators and ask them to oppose the measure put forward by Gov. JB Pritzker, which they called “an important matter of public policy and social justice.”

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Study shows working mothers hard hit by pandemic burdens
New research shows pandemic-related child care burdens have magnified economic inequalities for women in the workforce in Illinois.

That research was included in The Child Care Crisis in Illinois: A Survey of Working Mothers During the COVID-19 Pandemic, conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute nonprofit research organization.

A data review in that report showed the workforce participation rate among women hit its lowest level in more than three decades in January 2021, at 57 percent nationally.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Criminal probe asked for in LaSalle home deaths
Some Republicans in the General Assembly, including House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, are calling for a criminal investigation into the COVID-19 related deaths at the state-run LaSalle Veterans’ Home.

The push for a criminal probe comes after a state investigative report was released Friday that found there were widespread failures at the LaSalle facility and the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs that contributed to 36 resident deaths there since November.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Illinois economy shrinks 4% in 2020 despite 4th quarter growth
The Illinois economy shrank by 4 percent in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on many of its sectors, although there were signs of a recovery taking place late in the year.Those preliminary numbers, released last week by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, showed that the leisure, hospitality and food service sector was the hardest hit by the pandemic, reporting a nearly 30 percent drop in economic output for the year.

That was due to the forced closure of bars, restaurants, theaters, amusement parks and most tourist attractions in the early phases of the pandemic, as well as the cancellation of large conventions and business meetings.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Some Black parents say remote learning gives racism reprieve
Before schools shuttered during the pandemic, Ayaana Johnson worried every time she dropped her daughters off at school.

Johnson, a Black woman, says racism is rampant in her predominantly white Georgia town. At her daughters’ school, a student once used racial slurs and told another child he doesn’t play with “brown people.” She says teachers are quick to punish or reprimand Black children and Ku Klux Klan flyers can be found in mailboxes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Puerto Rican man missing in Lake Michigan after capsize
A Puerto Rican man was identified Monday as the boater missing in Lake Michigan after the vessel he was on capsized.

Kelvin Soto Crespo, 20, of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, has been missing  since Saturday afternoon after the boat he occupied capsized in Lake Michigan near the East Chicago Marina, Indiana Conservation Officer Tyler Brock said.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Illinois puts $15M into manufacturing academies
Illinois will spend $15 million on two academies that will train hundreds of workers in advanced manufacturing skills, with the first students enrolling later this year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

The advanced manufacturing academies will be located at Heartland Community College in the central Illinois community of Normal and at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, near St. Louis.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Bloomington record store aims to uplift music scene
Passion-driven risk and plucky altruism.

That’s the thesis behind “Reckless Saint,” a budding venture into vintage music, stereo equipment and ephemera with a retail storefront that aims to empower the local music scene.

Helmed by Scott McCormick, a local musician who plays the guitar, sings, writes songs, and for whom music “has been a passion my whole life,” the store opened April 2 in downtown Bloomington.

Monday, May 3, 2021

EPA rule to phase out gases used in refrigerators, coolants
In the first Biden administration rule aimed at combatting climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to phase down production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners.
Monday, May 3, 2021

Chicago man who drove into picnickers faces felony charges
A Chicago man accused of striking and seriously injuring a woman with his pickup truck when he “intentionally” drove the vehicle at a group of people having a picnic has been charged with four counts of attempted murder, police said Monday.
Monday, May 3, 2021

Officials say Illinois approaching 10M COVID-19 vaccines
Illinois is approaching 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, public health officials said Sunday.

The state has roughly 11.8 million vaccines on hand, of which more than 9.3 million have been administered, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Monday, May 3, 2021


SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday issued its second report on maternal mortality rates in the state, which found there were 103 pregnancy-associated deaths in Illinois in 2017 – the highest number of any year in that decade.

Friday, April 30, 2021

SPRINGFIELD — For the second time, a county judge in southern Illinois has ruled the state’s Firearm Owner Identification Card law unconstitutional, as applied to one state resident, Vivian Brown.
Friday, April 30, 2021

'Conversation on Clara Barton'
SPRINGFIELD — Looking for Lincoln Conversations welcomes the heroic Civil War nurse Clara Barton to the conversation! Nationally-known historical interpreter Leslie Goddard will bring Clara Barton to life, followed by an informative discussion of the impact of women in the Civil War. This live presentation will be hosted by musician and folklorist Chris Vallillo.
Friday, April 30, 2021

Plan to spend VW settlement money
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration released a revised plan for how to spend the state’s share of a multi-billion dollar Volkswagen settlement, which found the vehicle manufacturer in violation of the federal Clean Air Act.
Friday, April 30, 2021

IDNR looking for Conservation Police candidates
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is seeking applicants who are ready to combine a love of conservation, wildlife and natural resources with law enforcement and public safety. The Department is beginning the search for Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Trainees with the intent to hire up to 25 officers in December 2021.
Friday, April 30, 2021

Emergency Housing bill passed
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate voted Thursday to pass House Bill 2877, which aims to extend emergency protections to renters and homeowners financially impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday, April 30, 2021

Overcrowding, Black & Latino nursing homes
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Overcrowding at some Illinois nursing homes caused a disproportionate number of preventable deaths among Black and Latino residents living in those facilities, state officials said Wednesday.
Friday, April 30, 2021

Man, teen charged in carjacking
AURORA, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago man and a juvenile have been charged in connection with a violent carjacking that left a mother of two paralyzed, Aurora authorities announced Thursday.
Friday, April 30, 2021

GOP calls out Pritzker on mapping plan
Illinois Senate Republicans on Wednesday harshly criticized Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker, accusing him of breaking a campaign pledge to support an independent commission to redraw congressional and legislative district maps.

“What I want to say is, the gerrymandering train is on the tracks,” Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie, of Hawthorn Woods, said during a news conference.  “It is moving ahead and Gov. Pritzker has considerable power as the chief executive to make his candidate promise a reality. If the governor abandons that promise, he abandons the best chance that we have to actually have changed the nature of our politics for not only the next 10 years, but for generations to come.”

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Vaccination doses administered top 9 million
Public health officials gave an update on the status of the state's vaccination efforts Tuesday as the number of vaccines administered in Illinois topped 9 million.

Speaking in a joint hearing of the House Human Services and Health Care committees Tuesday, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the state is “closing gaps” in providing COVID-19 vaccine doses to underserved populations and anyone in the state who wishes to receive one.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

State invests $15 million for manufacturing programs
Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday the state was distributing funds to two downstate Illinois community colleges for electric vehicle manufacturing and renewable energy generation training programs.

Pritzker made the announcement at Heartland Community College in Normal, where one of the new programs will launch.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Black and Latino nursing home deaths linked to overcrowding
Overcrowding at some Illinois nursing homes caused a disproportionate number of preventable deaths among Black and Latino residents living in those facilities, state officials said Wednesday.
Thursday, April 29, 2021

COVID Combat town-to-town
Gov. JB Pritzker announced a new state program Monday that aims to increase vaccine access in low-income, vulnerable communities and to connect residents across the state to COVID-19 assistance programs for transportation, food, utilities or other resources.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Health Navigator Program serves areas of the state outside of Chicago and Cook County, and is funded by $60 million in grants from the Illinois Department of Public Health to regional organizations.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Trial date set for state senator charged with embezzlement
State Sen. Tom Cullerton, who was indicted in 2019 on charges of embezzlement, is set to go to trial in February next year, a federal judge said on Tuesday.

Cullerton, a Democrat from Villa Park, is scheduled to be tried in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, starting on Feb. 23, 2022.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

New state program aims for 'one-on-one connections' in communities to combat COVID-19
Gov. JB Pritzker announced a new state program Monday that aims to increase vaccine access in low-income, vulnerable communities and to connect residents across the state to COVID-19 assistance programs for transportation, food, utilities or other resources.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Health Navigator Program serves areas of the state outside of Chicago and Cook County, and is funded by $60 million in grants from the Illinois Department of Public Health to regional organizations.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Illinois to lose one seat in Congress due to census
The U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday Illinois will lose a seat in Congress based on the results of the 2020 census.

Illinois will move from 18 to 17 seats in the U.S. House, an expected result after some advocates had warned that an undercount could lead to the loss of two seats. The state has lost at least one congressional representative in eight of the last 9 decades after peaking at 27 seats in 1910 and remaining there until the 1940 census.

Six other states will also lose a seat, including California, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Floyd verdict won't remove blocks to police accountability
The guilty verdicts in the George Floyd murder case felt like a watershed moment to many Americans. President Biden called the verdicts a “giant step toward justice.” But pervasive legal roadblocks to police accountability remain firmly in place.

Most police officers who violate citizens’ rights get away with it because the law is heavily stacked in their favor, legal experts say. None of those legal roadblocks was removed by the guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Obama Center, Botanic Garden team up in Chicago
The planned Obama Presidential Center is getting design advice from the Chicago Botanic Garden.

The Obama Foundation recently announced the partnership. Foundation officials say the Chicago Botanic Garden will offer expertise in designing and operating a fruit and vegetable garden at the presidential complex on the city’s South Side.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Illinois reports 2,085 new COVID cases
Illinois health officials on Sunday reported 2,035 new cases of COVID-19 including 24 new deaths.

The preliminary statewide positivity rate for the past week, as a percentage of total tests, is 3.5%, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Monday, April 26, 2021

1983 Indiana remains ID'd as Chicago victim of serial killer
Human remains found at a northwestern Indiana farm have been identified as a male Chicago victim of the late serial killer Larry Eyler, authorities announced Sunday.

The Newton County Coroner’s Office in Indiana identified the victim as John Ingram Brandenburg Jr. of Chicago. No age was given. He was among four “young men“ found on an abandoned farm in rural Lake Village on October 18, 1983, according to the office.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Bill change would allow voters to lift rent control bans locally
A new amendment to House Bill 116, which advanced out of committee earlier this spring, would allow municipalities to vote on rent control measures through referendum.

HB116 as originally introduced would have lifted the state’s blanket ban on local rent control measures, which has been in place since 1997. The new amendment instead would give that power to voters and municipal governments to consider rent control measures on a community-by-community basis.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Bill allowing name changes for convicted individuals passes House
A bill allowing a person who must register with a state agency due to a criminal conviction to change their name under specific circumstances passed the Illinois House on Thursday with bipartisan support.
Monday, April 26, 2021

Lawmakers, Pritzker spar over revenue
Members of an Illinois Senate committee sparred with officials from Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration Friday in a hearing on tax changes proposed by the governor in an effort to balance the state’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year.

The Senate Revenue and Appropriations committees held the joint hearing, questioning the directors of the Illinois Department of Revenue and the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget among others.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Illinois House passes tele-health bill
The Illinois House passed a bill Friday which would make COVID-19-related expansions to telehealth services permanent through state statute.

House Bill 3498, introduced by Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, aims to reduce barriers in access to virtual and telehealth services and would bring standards for virtual care in line with physical health services.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Bill creates liaisons for homeless college students
The Illinois Senate advanced several bills to the House Wednesday, including one establishing a housing insecurity liaison for homeless college students and another allowing routine dental care to be provided at schools.

Senate Bill 190, sponsored by Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton, D-Western Springs, would require higher education institutions, including business, technical or vocational schools, to designate at least one employee to serve as a liaison between the institution and the homeless student to assist in accessing resources.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Federal investments for fossil fuel communities
Six large regions nationwide that have economies reliant on fossil fuels have been targeted for federal investment and aid to create renewable energy jobs, as detailed in a new report from President Joe Biden’s administration.

The report released Friday is part of Biden’s plan to reduce America’s use of coal and other fossil fuels in order to fight climate change. The White House held a global summit this week and Biden announced he intends to cut U.S. coal and petroleum emissions in half by 2030.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

FirstEnergy close to agreement with DOJ
FirstEnergy Corp. is cooperating with the U.S. Department of Justice while negotiating a deferred prosecution agreement over its role in secretly funding a $60 million bribery scheme to secure a $1 billion bailout for two Ohio nuclear power plants, company officials said Friday during an earnings call.

Such an agreement generally involves requiring a company to admit to wrongdoing, agree to initiate reforms, cooperate with prosecutors, pay a fine and promise not to commit additional crimes.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Man gets life for murder of mother, daughter
A central Illinois man convicted of fatally shooting his live-in girlfriend and her adult daughter last year in their rural home has been sentenced to life in prison.

A Champaign County judge sentenced Jonathon Perry, 30, on Thursday in the March 2020 killing of Kimberly Coyne, 54, and her daughter, Blair Coyne, 24. They were found shot to death at the rural St. Joseph home they had allowed the unemployed Perry to share with them.

Perry was arrested after his mother called 911 on her son after he made alarming comments to her after the shooting.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Midwives license act passes House
The certified professional midwife profession in Illinois moved one step closer to becoming an officially licensed occupation on Thursday with the passage of House Bill 3401.

HB 3401 creates the Licensed Certified Professional Midwife Practice Act, which would license individuals who perform out-of-hospital births and have earned the credentials associated with being a professional midwife.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Lawmakers question the Exelon audit
Members of a state Senate committee sharply criticized a recent audit of Exelon’s nuclear power plant operations that suggested ratepayers may need to subsidize two of those plants by as much as $350 million over the next five years.

Gov. JB Pritzker’s office and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency commissioned the audit last year, at a cost of $208,000, after Exelon announced in August that it plans to shutter its Byron and Dresden power plants later in 2021.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Review of state monuments, statues begins at Statehouse
A House committee tasked with reviewing statues and monuments on state property held its first meeting Wednesday, hearing from professors and state government associations on what frameworks can be established to guide the review process.

Rep. Tim Butler, a Springfield Republican who serves as minority spokesperson on the task force, said House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch’s creation of the review body is an “important and correct” decision.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Casino developer sought by city of Chicago
Chicago is laying its cards on the table and officially seeking bids to build the first casino in the nation’s third-largest city.

City leaders want a “world-class” resort  that’ll draw locals and tourists while boosting Chicago’s finances, but several steps remain.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday that Chicago is officially seeking proposals to operate a resort that includes a casino, a hotel of up to 500 rooms, restaurants and bars. Whoever gets the license will also get to run slot machines at both of Chicago’s airports. Overall, the operator will be allowed up to 4,000 “gaming positions”, or seats where bets are placed.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Bill passed to reclassify small drug possession
A bill to lessen penalties for possessing and selling small amounts of drugs, including heroin and cocaine, narrowly passed out of the state House of Representatives Wednesday after a contentious debate.

The discussion over House Bill 3447 provoked strong emotions on both sides of the aisle, passing by a 61-49 vote, or just one more than was needed to pass.

The bill — filed by Rep. Carol Ammons, an Urbana Democrat — would reclassify small amounts of drug possession from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

GOP puts new twist on Illinois redistricting plan
Illinois Republicans have added a new twist to their call for an independent redistricting commission in hopes of overcoming Democrats’ claims that their plan would likely be found unconstitutional.
Thursday, April 22, 2021

High court: Petition circulators confined to gathering signatures for one party
An Illinois Supreme Court decision Wednesday clarified that the state election code prohibits a person from collecting signatures for both a party candidate in a consolidated primary and an independent candidate in the consolidated general election that follows.

The court interpreted the section of the election code that is referred to as the prohibition on “dual circulators.”

Thursday, April 22, 2021

East St. Louis extends school year at least a month
Public school students in East St. Louis will be attending class a month longer this year to make up for a loss in educational progress due to COVID-19.

East St. Louis School District 189 board voted late Tuesday to extend the school year by nearly a month. Instead of ending the school year on May 26, the last day of school will arrive June 29.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Priest removed from parish post after assault allegations
The pastor of a Catholic parish has been asked to step aside following allegations he sexually assaulted a minor 36 years ago, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced Wednesday.

In a letter to members of Christ the King parish, Cardinal Blase Cupich said the Rev. Larry Sullivan will live away from the parish while the allegation is investigated.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

EPA report finds delays in inspections of cancer-causing emissions
A senior federal official stalled inspections by regional offices to monitor cancer-causing emissions at suburban facilities in Illinois, according to a report by the inspector general which audits the performance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The report also found EPA officials delayed informing suburban residents about the ethylene oxide emissions at a Willowbrook sterilization facility and did not conduct public meetings with residents living near two other facilities in Lake County.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Lawmakers spar over using estimates in redistricting
Democrats and Republicans in the Illinois General Assembly are continuing to wrangle over the possible use of census estimates, as opposed to official numbers, to redraw state legislative and congressional district maps.

It’s a decision that could have a significant impact on whether Illinois residents are equally represented in the Statehouse and Congress, and one that is particularly important for communities of color and other underrepresented groups.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Elections chief resigns; extortion attempt
The executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, who was placed on leave after being the subject of an extortion scheme online, will resign effective June 30, according to an agency news release.

Steve Sandvoss made the announcement about his resignation at an elections board meeting Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Municipal leaders decry cuts to local budgets
Municipal leaders are pushing back on a proposal by Gov. JB Pritzker that would further reduce state funds given to local governments each year.

Several municipal groups held a virtual news conference Tuesday to outline their concerns with the governor’s suggestion, representing over 200 municipalities in the Chicago-Metro area. Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley, who serves as vice president for the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference, acted as a moderator for the event.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Lawmakers push to require nursing homes to offer virtual visits
Lawmakers and advocates are calling for the Illinois General Assembly to pass a bill that would require nursing homes to offer virtual visits for residents to prevent social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AARP Illinois, the senior advocacy group which helped craft Senate Bill 2137, held a virtual news conference Tuesday to emphasize the necessity of such legislation as the ongoing pandemic prevents nursing home residents from in-person visits and participating in other daily social activities.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Audit of Lincoln Museum shows gaps in internal controls
Leadership at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum assured state lawmakers Tuesday that its new policies for loaning artifacts will correct the insufficient oversight that led to the improper loan of an original copy of the Gettysburg Address in 2018.

ALPLM Acting Executive Director Melissa Coultas said the agency has established safeguards to protect the safety of artifacts and collection items, including a new policy that requires the ALPLM Board of Trustees to approve any loan requests.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

House bill would free up Medicaid spending for autism
Braxton Lear is 5 years old and tall for his age. He runs – not walks – from his scooter, to the swing set, to the trampoline in his great-aunt’s backyard in Caseyville, about 12 miles east of St. Louis.

Braxton’s mom, Shannon Lear, asks him what’s his name, how old is he, and what’s her name. He answers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Affordable housing tax credit bill advances
A bill that would offer state tax credits to owners and developers of affordable housing units passed out of committee last week at the Illinois Capitol.

Senate Bill 2445, also known as the Build Illinois Homes Tax Credit Act, is an omnibus bill that aims to address the shortage of affordable housing stock in Illinois by offering incentives to landlords who maintain qualified affordable housing properties and for the purchase of building materials to be used for the construction of new affordable housing units.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Bill would make killing police dog a felony
Lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday to make it a felony offense if a person kills or injures a police animal while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, sponsored House Bill 3019, which passed with 72 votes in favor. He said it was brought to him by a state’s attorney from his district..

Monday, April 19, 2021

Proponents cheer new Illinois coal ash safety
Environmentalists are cheering rules that Illinois regulators have adopted to govern toxic byproducts from burning coal.

The Illinois Pollution Control Board last week approved guidelines for detecting and cleaning up harmful coal ash contamination from groundwater. They are the first rules in Illinois directed at the residue from burning coal to produce electricity.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Pritzker announces $1.6 billion in federal funds for early childhood services
Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday that $1.6 billion in federal funding will be allocated toward early childhood education and child care providers in Illinois.

The funds will be provided through the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March, Pritzker announced at a news conference in Aurora on Friday, and will include $140 million in direct grants for child care providers to be dispersed over the next three weeks.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Ag director planning for a state fair in DuQuoin
DU QUOIN, Ill. (AP) — Illinois’ Agriculture Director said plans are underway for a state fair in Southern Illinois after the annual event in Du Quoin was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday, April 17, 2021

Conservation District announces summer camps
DECATUR — The Macon County Conservation District is offering a variety of nature camps this summer for children ages 1-15. These camps have been connecting children with nature, encouraging exploration, and creating lasting memories since 1982. All camps meet at Rock Springs Conservation Area.  Online registration is open at MaconCountyConservation.org.
Saturday, April 17, 2021

UofI researchers offer advice on reducing food waste
 URBANA, Ill. — Food waste and obesity are major problems in developed countries. They are both caused by an overabundance of food, but strategies to reduce one can inadvertently increase the other. A broader perspective can help identify ways to limit food waste while also promoting healthy nutrition, two University of Illinois researchers suggest.
Saturday, April 17, 2021

Vaccine available today in Spfld. for college students
SPRINGFIELD — With young people driving the increase in COVID-19 cases in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is announcing "College Vaccination Days" to encourage all community college and public and private university students across Illinois to get vaccinated at mass vaccination sites. This weekend and next week state-supported mass vaccination sites across Illinois will have COVID-19 vaccination appointments available for college and university students. IDPH is partnering with colleges and universities in Illinois to help them direct their students to state-supported sites.
Saturday, April 17, 2021

Registration open for LLCC summer and fall '21 classes
SPRINGFIELD — Registration is now open for summer and fall 2021 classes at Lincoln Land Community College. LLCC’s offerings include academic transfer as well as career training programs. The summer session begins June 7 and fall semester begins Aug. 21.
Saturday, April 17, 2021

Pritzker announces $1.6 billion in federal funding for early childhood services
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday that $1.6 billion in federal funding will be allocated toward early childhood education and child care providers in Illinois.
Saturday, April 17, 2021

Quarter of Illinois' population fully vaccinated
SPRINGFIELD — Nearly one quarter of the state’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data released Friday by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Saturday, April 17, 2021

HSHS Launches COVID-19 Vaccine scheduling by phone
CENTRAL ILLINOIS — You can now call 1-844-216-4707 to make an appointment for a COVID vaccine at any HSHS vaccine clinic.
Friday, April 16, 2021

Elected Chicago school board bill passes House
SPRINGFIELD — A bill which would implement an elected Chicago school board passed the Illinois House Thursday, while opponents of the legislation continued to push for compromise amendments.
Friday, April 16, 2021

DUI bill would make injuring, killing a police dog a felony
SPRINGFIELD — Lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday to make it a felony offense if a person kills or injures a police animal while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Friday, April 16, 2021

State unemployment falls to 7.1% in March; virus rate remans near 4%
SPRINGFIELD — The statewide unemployment rate in Illinois fell three-tenths of a percentage point in March, to 7.1 percent, as the daily count of new COVID-19 cases and the case positivity rate appeared to be leveling.
Friday, April 16, 2021

Chicago schools, teachers union reach agreement
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Teachers Union and the city’s school district reached a tentative agreement Thursday that could lead to high school students returning to class for the first time in more than a year.
Friday, April 16, 2021

Quincy bar owner charged in student attack
QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — An aggravated battery charge has been filed against a Quincy, Illinois, bar owner in connection with an attack on a Black suburban Chicago college student.
Friday, April 16, 2021

Preliminary work begins on Obama Center
Preliminary work on the construction of the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side is scheduled to begin later this month city officials announced Wednesday as a new lawsuit trying to stop the project was filed.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have committed $200 million for Jackson Park and infrastructure work needed to facilitate construction of the center and for redevelopment in nearby communities.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Illinois shows growth in electric transportation
A national clean energy trade organization has released a report showing growth in electric transportation-related jobs in Illinois could position the state to lead the domestic supply chain.

Advanced Energy Economy, an industry association which promotes advanced energy technologies and services, released its “Electrifying Illinois” report which shows the state is on pace to reach 83 percent job growth in electric transportation-related work by 2024, regardless of legislative action. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Family sees video of teen's fatal shooting by police
The family of a Chicago teenager fatally shot by a police officer  last month has viewed video of the shooting, the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability announced late Tuesday.

The agency said it would not immediately release the video at the request of the family of Adam Toledo, 13.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Protections for sexual assault survivors expanded
The Illinois House Judiciary Criminal Committee advanced two bills Tuesday with unanimous support, one to decriminalize transmission of HIV and another to expand protections for survivors of sexual assault.

An amendment to House Bill 1063, introduced by Democratic state Rep. Carol Ammons, of Urbana, changes several Illinois statutes related to persons living with HIV/AIDS and its transmission.

Under current Illinois law, a person who transmits HIV to another person can be charged with “criminal transmission of HIV.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Housing advocates seek support for homelessness prevention bills
Housing advocates including former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti joined state Rep. La Shawn Ford and state Sen. Karina Villa Tuesday to call for support for a measure aimed at supporting low-income renters.

House Bill 2775 and Senate Bill 2492 are a pair of identical bills which aim to create additional legal defenses for renters and protections against discrimination based on source of income, as well as preventing undue administrative burdens when applying for housing assistance.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Illinois State Police: FOID, concealed carry permits extended again
The Illinois State Police has given another 150-day extension to people whose Firearms Owners Identification cards or Concealed Carry Licenses have expired due to a backlog in processing renewal applications.

A panel of state lawmakers gave approval Tuesday to that emergency rule after ISP officials assured them that the agency had made significant progress toward clearing a backlog of renewal applications.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Chicago protests over Wright shooting
Dozens of people marched around downtown Chicago on Tuesday to express solidarity with the family of Daunte Wright, a Minnesota man fatally shot by police officer during a traffic stop.
Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Illinois expands Medicaid coverage for mothers, including postpartum
Illinois will now provide Medicaid benefits to eligible mothers for up to 12 months postpartum, a major extension from the previous 60-day limit.

Gov. JB Pritzker made the announcement Tuesday after a waiver submitted in 2019 by the state to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was recently approved.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Congressman joins Statehouse GOP in calling for redistricting commission
Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis joined his Republican colleagues in the General Assembly Monday in calling on Gov. JB Pritzker to support legislation to form an independent commission to redraw congressional and state legislative district maps.

“In the end, I think the public is demanding an open transparent process,” Davis, of Taylorville, said during a Statehouse news conference. “And many of our colleagues, including Gov. Pritzker, have said in their own words, that they would like an open and transparent process, one that's going to stop politicians from picking their own voters.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Illinois' vaccination pace increases
Over the past seven days, 132,188 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered daily on average in Illinois as of Monday, an increase of more than 27,000 from the daily average one week ago.

That average was driven upward by a one-day record of 175,681 doses administered Friday, the third day in a row the record was broken.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Judge says ex-senators should be paid
Two former Illinois state senators have a “clear right” to receive portions of their legislative salaries that were withheld by Illinois Comptroller Mendoza and her predecessors, a Cook County judge decided last week.

But Mendoza said she intends to appeal the ruling, meaning this latest development is likely not the last word in the case brought by former Democratic Sens. Michael Noland, from Elgin, and James Clayborne Jr., from Belleville.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Video shows black high school foot ball player forced to sit near banana peels
A black football player at a northwest Illinois high school is seen on video sitting down in a locker littered with banana peels after a teammate threatens to break his knees if he doesn’t comply.

Moline Police Chief Darren Gault called the incident at Moline High School a “disturbing racist scene.” Detectives interviewed student athletes, coaches and staff members over the weekend and turned their findings over to prosecutors, Gault said.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Urban farmers bring fresh food to southern Illinois
During the beginning of the pandemic, as many people were trying to grasp what exactly COVID-19 was, Eugenia Alexander decided she’d start growing produce for her family and the community at her Glen Carbon home. She thought she needed it for survival.

“I wanted to do that because what was happening was a lot of fruit was being recalled,(and) a lot of veggies were being recalled during the pandemic when it first started, so I was just like, you know what, us getting food from these grocery stores isn’t like promised,” Alexander said. . “Anything can happen. If it wasn’t a pandemic, to where it could be shut down and what are we gonna do?”

Monday, April 12, 2021

Tourism, hospitality leaders call for state guidance amid recovery
Leaders from the state’s tourism and hospitality industry asked legislators for additional support and reopening guidance during a Thursday committee hearing as the state plans next steps for its COVID-19 economic recovery.

Michael Jacobson, President and CEO of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association, told the House Tourism Committee Thursday that hotels have “been among the hardest hit” segment of the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the industry may not see a full recovery until 2024 at the earliest.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Toddler shot on Lake Shore Drive out of coma
A toddler who was shot last week during a road rage incident on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive has been removed from a medically induced coma, according to doctors treating the 21-month-old child.
Monday, April 12, 2021

Pekin book club members find oasis in community of readers
The origins of the Next Chapter Adult Book Group go back far enough, the current facilitator is not quite sure how long the club has been in existence.

“I know it’s been at least 15 years,” said Beth Bradford, head of information services at the Pekin Public Library.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Long sentence for man accused of trying to aid Islamic State
An Illinois man who believed he was giving phones to help the Islamic State group commit violence was sentenced Friday to 13 1/2 years in federal prison.
Saturday, April 10, 2021

Tourism and hospitality leaders call for state support, guidance amid COVID-19 recovery
Leaders from the state’s tourism and hospitality industry asked legislators for additional support and reopening guidance during a Thursday committee hearing as the state plans next steps for its COVID-19 economic recovery.

Michael Jacobson, President and CEO of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association, told the House Tourism Committee Thursday that hotels have “been among the hardest hit” segment of the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the industry may not see a full recovery until 2024 at the earliest.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Mayor pardoned by Trump wins another term in Illinois town
Voters in a small Illinois town reelected a mayor who ran a write-in campaign after President Donald Trump pardoned him in a gambling investigation.
Saturday, April 10, 2021

Illinois Emergency Management Agency shares some valuable lessons learned from the pandemic
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency was forced to adapt quickly to a new role when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit last year, and the agency’s director told a legislative committee that more work needs to be done to prepare for the event of another statewide disaster.

“Even though we provide resources to counties and local jurisdictions during times of disaster, we really never had a logistical arm to the organization. That has since changed,” IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau told a Senate budget committee. “So overnight, we turned into a Fortune 500 logistical supply chain management system. And you can imagine the lessons that are learned from trying to do that.”

Friday, April 9, 2021

Universal vaccine eligibility draws near for Illinois
Gov. JB Pritzker reiterated Thursday that all Illinois residents age 16 and older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday, April 12, as vaccine supply – but also virus transmission rates and hospitalizations – continues to increase.

More than 80 of the state’s 102 counties have already opened eligibility to individuals age 16 and over in advance of the April 12 eligibility expansion date.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Chicago coach charged with nude photo scheme
A former track and field coach at Boston’s Northeastern University was arrested Wednesday and charged with using bogus social media accounts to try to trick female student-athletes into sending him nude photos of themselves, prosecutors said.

Steve Waithe, 28, of Chicago, is accused of creating fake social media accounts to contact track and field athletes and offering to help get rid of compromising photos of them he claimed to have found online.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Lawmaker seeks to bring early childhood education bachelor's programs to state community colleges
A bill that would allow community colleges to grant bachelor’s degrees for early childhood education is awaiting consideration before the Senate Higher Education Committee.

Senate Bill 1832, sponsored by Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas, D-Chicago, would give Illinois community colleges the option to apply for accreditation to offer a baccalaureate-level early education program.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

State court expands legal protections for tenants
The Illinois Supreme Court issued an order this week creating stronger safeguards for tenants seeking rent relief under the governor’s eviction moratorium.

The court’s revised order makes clear that landlords challenging a tenant’s eviction moratorium protections have to state the legal and factual basis for such a challenge, said Chief Judge Eugene G. Doherty, of the 17th Judicial Circuit, which spans Boone and Winnebago counties.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

'Great concern' over rising trends
Public health officials on Wednesday announced 3,790 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 out of 80,628 test results reported over the previous 24 hours, bringing the statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate to 4.1 percent, the highest that figure has stood since Jan. 30.
Thursday, April 8, 2021

Toddler shot in car on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive
Toddler shot in car on Chicago’s Lake Shore DriveCHICAGO (AP) — A 21-month-old boy was shot in the head Tuesday morning while riding in a car on Chicago’s famed Lake Shore Drive just hours after seven people were shot and wounded in a fight a few miles away, in what is shaping up to be one of the most violent years for the city in memory, police said.
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Toddler shot in Champaign
A 2-year-old central Illinois boy was shot when his home was hit by gunfire, authorities said.

The house in Urbana was hit several times around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Department said.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

COVID-19 increasing; state boosting vaccinations
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to rise Tuesday as state officials announced that additional resources were being deployed in the state’s vaccination efforts.  

Public health officials announced 2,931 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 out of 51,625 test results Tuesday, bringing the statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate to 3.9 percent, the highest that figure has been since Feb. 1. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

ISBE director on leave after attempted extortion
One day before Tuesday’s consolidated election, the Illinois State Board of Elections executive director was placed on administrative leave after being the subject of an online extortion attempt, ISBE said in a news release.

The eight-member elections board voted unanimously on Monday to place Director Steve Sandvoss on leave, according to the release. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

COVID cases, hospitalizations in Illinois continue to see an uptick
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to rise in Illinois as the statewide seven-day rolling case positivity rate reached 3.8 percent for the third consecutive day Monday.

The case positivity rate had not been near 3.8 percent since the beginning of February, when it hit 3.9 percent on Feb. 1, and then continued to decline throughout the month and into March. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

7 shot in Chicago as gunfire erupts during fight
Seven people were shot and wounded in a Chicago neighborhood in a burst of gun violence during what’s shaping up to be one of the city’s most violent years in memory, police said.
Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Event at bar in Illinois caused 46 COVID-19 cases
An indoor event at a bar in rural Illinois triggered 46 cases of COVID-19, the hospitalization of a resident of a long-term care facility and a school shutdown, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Monday.

Attendees of the bar opening event in February reported “inconsistent” mask wearing and lax physical distancing. In the end, those who tested positive for COVID-19 included three bar staff members, 26 patrons and 17 others who were infected by those who went to the bar. A 650-student school had to shut down because so many people were in quarantine, according to the CDC.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Mayor demands to know how teen got gun
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday that she has directed the Chicago Police Department to capture and bring to justice whoever gave a 13-year-old boy the handgun he was carrying last week when he was fatally shot by a police officer.

Adam Toledo was shot in the chest after he ran from officers in the Little Village neighborhood shortly before 3 a.m. on March 29. He died at the scene and a gun was recovered.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

LaHood resigns Lincoln Museum job after loan fiasco
Former Illinois congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has resigned as chairman of the board of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, officials announced Monday.

The move comes days after federal prosecutors in California revealed LaHood paid a fine in 2019 for failing to disclose a $50,000 loan from a foreign national while a member President Barack Obama’s cabinet.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Schools: 'Use funds to overcome learning loss'
Gov. JB Pritzker took to the road Monday to urge local school districts in Illinois to carefully target the roughly $7 billion in federal funds they will soon receive in order to help students overcome the learning loss they may have suffered during the pandemic.

“We’re all wondering if this was a lost year for our children,” Pritzker said at an early childhood learning center in the Champaign school district. “We worry if a year’s worth of online classes and virtual play dates will impact their future in some negative way in the future.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Suburban Chicago man charged in relative's stabbing death
A suburban Chicago man charged in a relative’s fatal stabbing used a “samurai knife“ to stab the 76-year-old victim dozens of times inside her home, a prosecutor said.
Monday, April 5, 2021

Iowa State crew club president discusses boat's capsizing
The president of Iowa State’s student crew club said winds that had been forecast to remain low picked up suddenly, causing a boat to capsize before the crew could return to shore, killing two crew members last week.
Monday, April 5, 2021

Sharon Cohen, much-honored AP national writer, dead at 68
Sharon Cohen, a matchless reporter who told American stories with great skill and compassion over more than four decades at The Associated Press, died Monday at her Chicago home. She was 68.
Monday, April 5, 2021

Chicago Transit Authority tests electric buses
The Chicago Transit Authority is testing more electric buses on the city’s streets.

CTA officials say six prototype buses will be used for passengers on the 66 Chicago route that runs east and west. Based on the buses’ performance on the road, CTA officials plan to OK the manufacture of 17 more vehicles.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Gov commutes life sentence of Gerald Reed, an alleged torture victim by Chicago police officers
SPRINFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday commuted the life sentence of a 57-year-old man who alleged he was tortured by Chicago police officers into confessing to two murders.
Saturday, April 3, 2021

Governor signs measure into law that expands vote by mail and curbside voting for all future elections
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law Friday a measure that expands vote-by-mail and curbside voting for all future elections.
Saturday, April 3, 2021

Democrats continue redistricting public hearings
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Public hearings continue next week as the Illinois House Redistricting Committee gathers information for the Legislature’s once-a-decade adjustment in political boundaries.
Saturday, April 3, 2021

Illinois human service agencies make the case for funding increases
SPRINGFIELD — State agencies that serve Illinois seniors and children in state care pleaded their cases Friday for increased funding in next fiscal year’s budget.
Saturday, April 3, 2021

Spruce, Callery pear have no place in Illinois landscapes
URBANA — They are beautiful, tempting, and frequently for sale in Illinois garden centers, but many nonnative trees are less than ideal for land of Lincoln landscapes.
Saturday, April 3, 2021

4-year.-old dies in crash with IDOT truck
SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. (AP) — A 4-year-old Chicago boy died when a car rear-ended an Illinois Department of Transportation help truck along a freeway and caught fire in a Chicago suburb, state police said.
Friday, April 2, 2021

Jesse White unveils new Organ donation campaign
ILLINOIS — Secretary of State Jesse White unveiled a new ad campaign today featuring White Sox All-Star relief pitcher and longtime radio voice of the team, Ed "Farmio" Farmer, who died last year. The campaign marks the beginning of National Donate Life Month in April.
Friday, April 2, 2021

3,526 new virus cases are one-day high since Feb. 5th
SPRINGFIELD — The state reported 3,526 new confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the highest one-day total since Feb. 5.
Friday, April 2, 2021

State school board makes case for funding
SPRINGFIELD — State education officials made their case Thursday for a funding increase above and beyond what Gov. JB Pritzker has recommended, arguing that schools need the additional money to overcome the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on student learning.
Friday, April 2, 2021

3,526 new virus cases are one-day high since Feb. 5th
SPRINGFIELD — The state reported 3,526 new confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the highest one-day total since Feb. 5.
Friday, April 2, 2021

GOP seeks expanded COVID liability protection
SPRINGFIELD — The top Republican in the state Senate has introduced a bill to shield healthcare providers and others from being held responsible for injuries or deaths related to COVID-19 exposure.
Friday, April 2, 2021

Video may be released of Chicago police shooting boy
The agency that investigates Chicago police shootings said it is trying to figure out a way to legally release body camera video of an officer fatally shooting a 13-year-old earlier this week.
Friday, April 2, 2021

Number of people shot, killed in Chicago climbs
CHICAGO (AP) — This year continues to shape up as deadlier in Chicago than last year as the first three months of 2021 ended with more homicides and shooting victims than were recorded during the same period of 2020, according to police department statistics released Thursday.
Friday, April 2, 2021

Decline in small business as lawsuits proceed
SPRINGFIELD — Hospitality jobs in Illinois have declined nearly 52 percent since the pandemic began, according to new data, as lawsuits continue against the governor’s orders to close nonessential businesses.
Thursday, April 1, 2021

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
ILLINOIS — The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services today joined Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, the Poshard Foundation for Abused Children, Jackson County States Attorney Joe Cervantez, Associate Judge of the First Judicial Circuit Court Christy Solverson and John A. Logan College President Dr. Kirk Overstreet at a virtual press conference to commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Thursday, April 1, 2021

State releases guide to school reopening
SPRINGFIELD — Educators, students and families will face a host of new challenges in overcoming the learning loss that occurred over the past year of mostly remote learning as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available and schools prepare to fully reopen for in-person learning.
Thursday, April 1, 2021

GOP proposes independent redistricting oversight
SPRINGFIELD — Republicans in the General Assembly have introduced a new bill that would hand over the process of drawing new legislative and congressional district maps to an independent commission that would be required to use official Census Bureau, rather than survey estimates, to draw the maps.
Thursday, April 1, 2021

State Supreme Court to hear case over weapons ban
SPRINGFIELD — Legal challenges against a ban on assault weapons in suburban Deerfield have reached the state’s highest court.
Thursday, April 1, 2021

Easing of restrictions in Illinois slows as COVID-19 cases surge
Increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are delaying Illinois’ reopening plans, state public health officials said Tuesday.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

GOP proposes independent redistricting oversight
Republicans in the General Assembly have introduced a new bill that would hand over the process of drawing new legislative and congressional district maps to an independent commission that would be required to use official Census Bureau, rather than survey estimates, to draw the maps.

The latest bill, introduced Tuesday as an amendment to Senate Bill 1325, mirrors a proposed constitutional amendment that was introduced in 2019. That proposal, which had 37 cosponsors, died in the 101st General Assembly without receiving a hearing.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

State Supreme Court to hear case over weapons ban
Legal challenges against a ban on assault weapons in suburban Deerfield have reached the state’s highest court.

Two consolidated lawsuits against the Lake County suburb were among the 14 total criminal and civil cases that the Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to hear on appeal.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Duckworth's memoir details her path to the senate
Her fellow crew members initially thought Tammy Duckworth had been killed when a rocket-propelled grenade punched a hole in the helicopter she was flying in Iraq and exploded, ripping off her legs and severely wounding her right arm.

But Duckworth hadn’t endured rough circumstances as a child overseas and then as a high schooler in Hawaii to be deterred by that loss or any other obstacle.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

In Illinois, COVID positivity continues to trend upward
COVID-19 hospitalizations and case positivity rates continued to trend upward Monday, leaving entry into a recently-announced “bridge” phase of reopening uncertain even as the percentage of seniors vaccinated continued to increase.

The COVID-19 case positivity rate was 3.3 percent Monday, having risen for the fourth straight day. It marked a 50 percent increase since March 14.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Union-backed coalition outlines new energy plan
As the clean energy conversation in Illinois continues, a coalition of lawmakers and labor unions introduced another regulatory overhaul bill that focuses on employing union workers as the state begins to transition to a clean energy economy.

The Climate Union Jobs Act intends to put hundreds of union laborers to work on building new clean energy projects by mandating union labor on any project that receives state subsidies.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Illinois Auto Dealers Association sues Jesse White
The Illinois Automobile Dealers Association has filed a lawsuit against Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office, alleging that White is allowing unlicensed, unregulated dealers to operate in Illinois, in violation of state law.

At issue in the case is whether automobile manufacturers should be allowed to own and operate their own dealerships rather than contracting with independent dealership franchises, which has been the case in Illinois and most other states for decades.

But in recent years, there has been a growing trend of “vertical integration” within the industry, especially within the electric car industry where manufacturers like Tesla and others have insisted that they have a right to sell their own products directly to customers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Five killed today in pair of wrong-way crashes in Chicago
Five people were killed in separate, fiery wrong-way crashes on a Chicago expressway early Monday, state police said.

The first crash along the Eisenhower Expressway, or Interstate 290, occurred about 1:10 a.m. in west suburban Forest Park when a wrong-way driver hit a car in the eastbound lanes, killing both drivers while their vehicles burst into flames, said Illinois State Police spokeswoman Gabriela Ugarte.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Picking up highway trash costs the state $6 million a year
 Before you toss trash out the car window while cruising down an Illinois highway, think of this: Taxpayers pay $6 million a year to clean it up.

The Illinois Department of Transportation says proper disposal of waste saves in other ways too.



Monday, March 29, 2021

Illinois police car stolen by Dillinger in jailbreak returning to scene of the crime
A police car that notorious 1930s gangster John Dillinger stole after his daring escape from a northwest Indiana jail will get a police motorcade and a parade next month when it returns to the scene of his jailbreak.

After Dillinger escaped from jail in Crown Point, Indiana, in March 1934 by fooling jailers with a gun carved out of wood, he stole Lake County Sheriff Lillian Holley’s 1933 Ford V8 police car and drove it to Chicago, where he abandoned it.

Monday, March 29, 2021

ACA enrollment deadline in Illinois extend, Aug. 15
Eligible Illinoisans now have more time to sign up for ACA Health Insurance Marketplace plans. President Biden has extended the deadline for the Special Enrollment Period in Response to COVID-19 from May 15th to August 15th.

According to the most recent federal CMS numbers, more than 5,300 Illinois consumers purchased and enrolled in health plans since February when President Biden signed an executive order to open the ACA Marketplace for the Special Enrollment Period. Unlike other SEPs, consumers are not required to provide proof of a qualifying life event, such as getting married, having a baby, or losing job-based coverage to enroll.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Chicago police kill suspect in 'armed' confrontation
A Chicago Police officer responding to a scene where gunfire had been detected fatally a shot a person early Monday in what the department called an “armed confrontation” with police.

According to police the officers had been dispatched to the Little Village neighborhood on the city’s West Side shortly after 2 a.m. after what is called ShotSpotter technology detected the sound of gunfire in the area.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Illinois-made 'Coolest Thing' keeps ice off stop lights
The next time you’re in a blinding snowstorm but can clearly see the traffic signal ahead, thank the producers of “The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois.”

The Self-Regulating Traffic Signal Heater, manufactured in Elk Grove Village, was declared the winner last week of the second annual “Makers Madness” contest.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Book examines 1955 murder in Mattoon, subsequent manhunt
Judy Rosella Edwards was born after her sister, 14-year-old Doris L. Edwards, was murdered in 1955, but grew up feeling her absence from the lives of her Mattoon family.
Saturday, March 27, 2021

Chicago man says 60 stops by police due to mistaken identity
A Chicago man says he has been detained by law enforcement more than 60 times over 15 years because he has the same name and birth date of a man wanted on an apparent traffic violation.
Saturday, March 27, 2021

Vaccinations expanded, teams dispatched in COVID-19 uptick
Illinois public health officials on Friday approved universal COVID-19 vaccination in areas where demand for the shots is lagging and pledged to dispatch mobile teams to boost vaccine distribution in one trouble spot as the disease’s toll started to creep back up.
Saturday, March 27, 2021

Shooting at Chicago gathering leaves 1 dead, 7 hurt
A shooting at a gathering on Chicago’s South Side early Friday left one person dead and seven others wounded, police said.

At least two males opened fire and a 26-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene in the Ashburn neighborhood with a gunshot wound to the head, according to preliminary information from police.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Lawmakers pass bill on pre-trial interest in PI cases
The Illinois Senate passed a bill Thursday to allow victims in personal injury and wrongful death cases that reach a verdict to collect interest on money they receive from court, with the intent of incentivizing settlements in these cases.

Gov. JB Pritzker vetoed an earlier version of the bill that was approved by both chambers in the January lame duck session.

The current version of the bill, Senate Bill 72, will now head to Pritzker’s desk for his signature after passing the House last week.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Curbside, mail voting expansion bill heads to gov
A bill to expand the use of vote-by-mail and curbside voting in future elections passed the Illinois Senate Thursday, meaning it needs only a signature from the governor to become law.

House Bill 1871, which was approved by the House last week, would revise the state election code to make permanent some of the changes that were widely adopted across Illinois for the 2020 general election in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the bill is sent to the governor and signed quickly enough, it would take effect immediately, possibly in time for the April 6 elections.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Pritzker vaccinated as positivity rate rises
Gov. J.B. Pritzker rolled up his sleeve Wednesday to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

The 56-year-old governor said was eligible for the vaccine as a government worker and stepped up at the mass vaccination site on the Illinois State Fairgrounds to set an example.

“I’m deeply grateful that so many of our residents have embraced this life-saving protections, but I also want Illinoisans to know, especially those who may not yet feel confident enough to get vaccinated, that I’m not asking you to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself,“ Pritzker said.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

New report examines attitudes toward education
The Illinois Education Association, one of the largest teacher unions in the state, on Tuesday released its third annual state of education report examining attitudes towards public education in Illinois.

The poll, conducted by Normington Petts and Next Generation Strategies, surveyed 1,000 different Illinois adults of varying backgrounds and regions of the state by phone or online.

One of the main takeaways from the poll, according to IEA, was that nearly 8 in 10 adults believe the COVID-19 pandemic has made teaching and learning more difficult.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Illinois lawmaker advances bill to repeal state's overreach on rent control
The House Committee on Housing on advanced a bill Wednesday that would allow local municipalities to implement measures regarding rent control.

House Bill 116, introduced by Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, would repeal the state’s Rent Control Preemption Act of 1997 and enable local municipalities to impose caps on rent prices.

Guzzardi said the rent control repeal would aim to give more “flexibility” to local municipalities in order to make their own decisions regarding rental costs.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Chicago sees 'worrying' uptick in COVID-19 cases
Chicago experienced a significant spike in COVID-19 cases in the last week, triggering fresh concerns Tuesday from the city’s top health officials.

The average number of confirmed daily cases in the nation’s third-largest city was 350 Tuesday, up 23% from 285 the week before, according to city data.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

1,000 Illinois inmates to go free under virus suit
About 1,000 Illinois inmates scheduled for release in the next nine months could soon be set free as part of a settlement of a federal lawsuit filed last spring amid a growing COVID-19 health crisis in state lockups, a lawyer involved in the case said Tuesday.

The settlement calls for the release of low- to medium-risk inmates who are within nine months of their release date and are eligible for certain good-time credits, according to a court document filed Tuesday. The Illinois Department of Corrections agreed to “use its best efforts” to process the awards within the next month, the document states.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Infection control policy deficient at state VA homes
A joint report from two state agencies and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found Illinois’ four state-run veterans homes lack standardized infection prevention policies despite previous audits suggesting they be implemented.

The report from the Interagency Infection Prevention Project, or IIPP, calls for the facilities to create a new infection control position and increase staffing and training.

The goal of the IIPP is to “support an integrated and comprehensive response to COVID-19” at the state’s veterans homes, according to the joint report of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and USDVA.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Chicago lawmaker looks to lift ban on inmate voting
A bill that would repeal an existing law that prohibits prison inmates from voting is working its way through the General Assembly, although the chief sponsor of the bill says it’s only one part of a broader process to restore voting rights to prisoners.

House Bill 1872, sponsored by Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, was the subject of an informational hearing in the House Ethics and Elections Committee Monday.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Peoria to remove name of 3rd president from school
The Board of Education in Peoria has voted to remove the name of the third U.S. president from a city primary school because of his legacy on human rights and slavery.

The board voted late Monday to change the name of Thomas Jefferson Primary School. No name has been proposed as a replacement and no timeline has been set.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Chatham officer justified in shooting man with knife
A central Illinois police officer who shot a knife-wielding man four times when the man charged at him won’t face charges in the shooting, a prosecutors says.

Sangamon County state’s attorney Dan Wright said Monday in a news release that Chatham police Officer Adam Hahn was justified in using force likely to cause death or great bodily harm “under the totality of the circumstances reflected“ by an Illinois State Police investigation.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

ICC okays plan for consumers hit with high utility bills
On Thursday, the Illinois Commerce Commission unanimously approved historic consumer protection agreements to help electric, natural gas, water, and sewer residential customers hard hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to mitigate outstanding consumer debt and prevent disconnections before the voluntary winter moratorium on disconnections expires on March 31, 2021.

Consumers struggling to pay their energy bill must call the utility to receive benefits and prevent disconnection. The stipulated agreements were negotiated and signed by the ICC Staff, the state's largest public utilities, and participating consumer advocate groups.   

The large electric and gas  agreement includes the following utilities: Ameren Illinois Company (Ameren), Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Northern Illinois Gas Company (Nicor Gas), North Shore Gas Company and The Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company (Peoples Gas).

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Davis defends remarks about Asian Americans
Less than a week after a deadly attack on Asian Americans in Atlanta, Gov. JB Pritzker and members of the General Assembly's Asian American Caucus spoke out against the murders and against discrimination generally toward the Asian American community.

"I do not pretend to know the pain of this moment, for those who look at the Atlanta victims and see their own mothers, daughters and sisters, or themselves," Pritzker said at a news conference Monday in the Chinatown neighborhood in Chicago. "But I want the (Asian American Pacific Islander) community in Illinois to know that I see you, and I see the fear and anxiety that these events have forced into your lives and the lives of your loved ones, and I want you to know that Illinois is your home. You are our friends and our neighbors and our family members, and I will do everything in my power as governor to protect you and to welcome you."

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

State nears 'bridge' phase as more seniors get vaccine
With 64 percent of the state’s seniors having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Illinois is nearing the “bridge” phase of reopening that will allow for greater capacity limits at businesses and social gatherings.

That number must hit 70 percent to enter the bridge phase, which would trigger another 28-day monitoring period. If virus transmission and hospitalization metrics don’t worsen during the monitoring period, Phase 5 can begin, removing all capacity restrictions.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

HUD reports uptick in homelessness in Illinois
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report Part 1 to Congress. The report found that 10,431 people in Illinois experienced homelessness on a single night in 2020, an increase of 2.3% from 2019 and a decline of 36.2% since 2007.  "The findings of the 2020 AHAR Part 1 Report are very troubling, even before you consider what COVID-19 has done to make the homelessness crisis worse," said Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia L. Fudge.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Evanston first for Black reparations
Evanston, Illinois, on Monday became the first U.S. city to make reparations available to its Black residents for past discrimination and the lingering effects of slavery.

The Chicago suburb’s City Council voted 8-1 to distribute $400,000 to eligible Black households. Each qualifying household would receive $25,000 for home repairs or down payments on property.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Illinois Regenerative Agricultural Initiative meeting scheduled for April 9
The new Illinois Regenerative Agriculture Initiative (IRAI) is inviting interested farmers, researchers, nonprofit groups, and others with a stake in resilient agriculture and food production to join its second public meeting on April 9.

Launched in October at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, IRAI is a home for regenerative agriculture research, education, and outreach. With support from Fresh Taste, it will gather stakeholders on campus and beyond to create agriculture and food systems resilient to climate change, improve soil and water quality, support healthy communities, and enhance food security.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Scholarships help keep health care in rural Illinois
For about 30 years, Illinois Farm Bureau has injected about $320,000 into the mission to get health care for farmers, by means of the Rural Nurse Practitioner Scholarship Program.

This year alone, the bureau will award 15 scholarships in the amount of $4,000, funded by the Rural Illinois Medical Student Assistance Program.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Budget targets 'loopholes' critics call crucial to renewal
Not everyone’s happy with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget proposal. But the “pain,“ the deep cuts and the across-the-board tax increases that the Democrat predicted would follow last fall’s failed amendment to generate more income tax revenue haven’t materialized.

Instead, the spending plan Pritzker presented last month and which lawmakers will contemplate in coming weeks eats up a projected $2.6 billion deficit in part by curtailing spending by $400 million and raising $1 billion in taxes through eliminating what he calls “unaffordable” corporate loopholes — several of which weren’t loopholes two years ago when he signed them into law.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Health officials urge precautions against rabies
Illinois health authorities are reminding residents to be cautious of bats and other animals that could have rabies as the weather warms.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said the year’s first reported case of a bat testing positive for rabies has already occurred in DuPage County.

Monday, March 22, 2021

On federal death row, inmates talk about Biden, executions
On federal death row, prisoners fling notes on a string under each other's cell doors and converse through interconnected air ducts. A top issue these days: whether President Joe Biden will halt executions, several told The Associated Press.

Biden hasn't spoken publicly about capital punishment since taking office four days after the Trump administration executed the last of 13 inmates at the Terre Haute, Indiana, penitentiary where all federal death row inmates are held. The six-month run of executions cut their unit from around 63 to 50. Biden's campaign website said he'd work to end federal executions, but he's never specified how.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Chicago History Museum CEO wants to diversify attendance
The new president of the Chicago History Museum says he wants to make the city’s oldest museum interactive and to increase and diversify attendance.

CEO Donald Lassere says 80% of those visiting the museum on the city’s North Side are White in a city that has a majority-minority population. The newly hired Lassere comes to the Chicago History Museum from the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Illinois reports 1,431 new COVID-19 cases, with 22 deaths
Illinois public health officials on Sunday reported 1,431 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the state, and 22 additional deaths.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced the state has seen more than 1.2 million coronavirus cases, including 21,081 deaths.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Man who fired on police charged with attempted murder
Attempted murder charges were filed against a man who allegedly fired on Chicago police officers, striking one, authorities said Sunday.

Officers were investigating a report of shots fired in the Austin neighborhood Saturday when Tracey Thomas Jr., 29, allegedly opened fire. Thomas then barricaded himself in a building and continued firing. A female officer was struck in the hand. The unidentified officer was treated at Mount Sinai Hospital and later released.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Tips for starting your spring garden off strong
URBANA — Cloudy, cold winter days may seem endless, but as the weather warms, bulbs will bloom and grass will green, giving way to sure signs of spring.
Saturday, March 20, 2021

Illinois youth learn skills to become healthy living changemakers
URBANA, Ill. — The past year has presented many challenges to people's physical, emotional, and mental health. Risk factors such as poverty, neglect, and violence can make the challenges more intense, and social isolation and uncertainty from COVID-19 may continue to negatively impact community health for some time to come. 4-H Youth now have the tools to become healthy living changemakers right in their communities through the leadership of prominent lifestyle and health experts at the recent National 4-H Summit for Healthy Living.
Saturday, March 20, 2021

Dear farmer: Young farm fans express their gratitude
ILLINOIS — A big block of Swiss cheese and gallon of milk perfectly illustrate Nora Sweitzer’s farm favorites. That and a little Holstein waving from the side.
Saturday, March 20, 2021

Funding for small businesses announced
CHICAGO—The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Local Initiatives Support Group (LISC) and Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI) today announced the first round of small businesses receiving grants as part of the Rebuild Distressed Communities (RDC) program, with $1.7 million awarded to 58 small businesses facing significant damages due to events of civil unrest.
Saturday, March 20, 2021

Illinois State offers well being days, not spring break
NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State University sophomore Jasminh Randall, a finance major from Rockford, was planning to spend her spring break in Cancun with her three roommates.
Saturday, March 20, 2021

Illinois to expand vaccine eligibility ahead of April 12 universal rollout

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Friday that more groups of people will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of April 12 when everyone over age 16 will become eligible.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Lake Land College to host graduation parade
MATTOON — Lake Land College is adding a new feature to the graduation ceremonies this May. In addition to a virtual commencement ceremony, the college will host a parade for all graduates on campus on May 14, 2021.
Saturday, March 20, 2021

Farm Credit provides special $10 million patronage payment to farmers
ILLINOIS — In response to last year’s unprecedented conditions faced by agriculture and the overall economy, the Farm Credit Illinois (FCI) Board of Directors declared a one-time $10 million preseason patronage distribution being delivered this week to the cooperative’s farm family members.
Friday, March 19, 2021

Illinois youth opioid use linked with other substance misuse, mental health
URBANA, Ill. — Opioid use has dramatically increased in the 21st century, especially among young adults. A new study from the University of Illinois provides insights on usage patterns among Illinois high school students to help inform prevention and treatment strategies.
Friday, March 19, 2021

Fraudulent calls to members posing as LLCU representative
ILLINOIS — Land of Lincoln Credit Union (LLCU) wants to alert the community to a fraudulent call that has been circulating among LLCU members. Several LLCU members have reported calls received where the number on Caller ID matches that of the LLCU Lincoln Line Telebank phone number.
Friday, March 19, 2021

Gov. Pritzker announces income tax filing extension
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pritzker announced today that his administration is extending the individual income tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to May 17. The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) will continue to process tax refunds for those filing ahead of the deadline. The filing extension does not apply to estimated tax payments that are due on April 15, 2021. These payments are still due on April 15 and can be based on either 100% of estimated or 90% of actual liability for 2021, or 100% of actual liabilities for 2019 or 2020.
Friday, March 19, 2021

$100,000 bail for woman with history of airline stowaways
CHICAGO (AP) — A judge on Thursday ordered a 69-year-old woman with a history of stowing away on airliners be held in jail in lieu of $100,000 bail, two days after she was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, where judges have previously prohibited her from going.
Friday, March 19, 2021

$100,000 bail for woman with history of airline stowaways
CHICAGO (AP) — A judge on Thursday ordered a 69-year-old woman with a history of stowing away on airliners be held in jail in lieu of $100,000 bail, two days after she was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, where judges have previously prohibited her from going.
Friday, March 19, 2021

Health care reform legislation passes state House
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House passed a massive health care reform bill Thursday, marking the passage of the final of four legislative agenda pillars outlined by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus last year.
Friday, March 19, 2021

Girl, 8, throws mattress from burning home, jumps to safety
CHICAGO (AP) — An 8-year-old Chicago girl whose mother was at work somehow managed to toss a mattress from her family’s third-story window during a fire and then jump onto it to safety, a fire official said Thursday.
Thursday, March 18, 2021

Experts: There are redistricting options
SPRINGFIELD – Two national experts on reapportionment and redistricting told an Illinois Senate panel on Wednesday that there are a variety of options at the state’s disposal besides using detailed census data to redraw the state’s congressional and legislative district maps.
Thursday, March 18, 2021

Bill aims to provide more support to renters, owners
SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, reintroduced a bill on Wednesday that would offer emergency support to tenants, landlords and homeowners struggling to make payments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, March 18, 2021

Red Cross announces volunteer recruitment open houses
ILLINOIS — The Red Cross is actively in need of Blood Donor Ambassadors and Blood Transportation Specialists, Virtual DAT Team members and Duty Officers/Dispatchers, and Disaster Caseworkers, and Volunteer Recruitment Team Members.
Thursday, March 18, 2021

Mandatory K-12 sex edbill advances in Illinois House
SPRINGFIELD – An Illinois House committee advanced a bill Wednesday that would mandate all public school districts in the state provide a comprehensive, age-appropriate curriculum on sex education, sexual abuse awareness and healthy relationships for all grades, K-12.
Thursday, March 18, 2021

Joyner-Kersee joins discussion of women in sports
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The federal law "Title IX" revolutionized women's sports in America, allowing millions of female athletes to get off the sidelines. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will examine the law's impact March 25 with a panel of experts, including Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Thursday, March 18, 2021

Dems push repeal of parental notification abortion law
SPRINGFIELD — Some Democratic lawmakers want to repeal an abortion law that requires girls under the age of 18 who are seeking an abortion to notify their parents at least 48 hours before the procedure, with some exceptions.
Thursday, March 18, 2021

Wildflower Walks on Elkhart Hill
ELKHART — The April wildflower walks will be offered twice a day, 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. and are scheduled for every Saturday in April starting April 3 for the very earliest of the spring ephemerals such as spring beauties and Dutchmen’s breeches, and later in the season concluding with the vast sweeps of Virginia Bluebells.
Thursday, March 18, 2021

Crowded bars: March Madness or just madness?
CHICAGO (AP) — The NCAA Tournament and bars were made for each other, with fans of powerhouse teams like Gonzaga and longshots like Colgate pouring in to cheer their teams. Until last year, that is, when COVID-19 blew up everybody’s brackets.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Illinois Senate begins the redistricting process today
An Illinois Senate committee held its first hearing today to begin the process of redrawing congressional and state legislative districts in line with the 2020 census, despite the fact that detailed census data will likely be unavailable until September.

Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said in an interview that despite the delay by the Census Bureau, he expects the General Assembly to complete the process before the June 30 deadline set in the state constitution.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

State still working on outbreak protocol for VA homes
At a committee hearing Tuesday, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs officials reported that all four state-run veterans homes have no staff or residents currently positive for COVID-19, but the agency is still working to produce uniform infection control procedures for the facilities.

IDVA Chief of Staff Tony Kolbeck, who testified during the virtual House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, said he expects those protocols will be finalized within two weeks.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

House committee advances election bills
The Illinois House Ethics and Elections Committee advanced a bill Monday that would expand ballot drop boxes and curbside voting throughout the state.

House Bill 1871 would make changes similar to those passed ahead of the 2020 presidential election during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was introduced last month by Democratic Rep. Katie Stuart of Edwardsville.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Guard members return from U.S. Capital
Approximately 400 Illinois National Guard members return home Monday following a drawdown of National Guard forces in Washington, D.C.

Approximately 100 Illinois National Guard members have volunteered to remain in the nation's capital as part of nearly 2,300 National Guard members who will provide continued support to the U.S. Capitol Police until about mid-May. The U.S. Department of Defense approved an extension of this mission. These 100 Illinois National Guard Soldiers volunteered to continue supporting this mission as part of the overall National Guard force provided by the Governors of multiple states.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Naperville house is deconstructed for preservation and reuse
The bits and pieces of World War II hero Arnold “Arnie” Massier’s life will be preserved in Naperville and perhaps around the country rather than headed to a landfill.

When Massier died at age 97 in February 2020, neighbor Jennifer Reichert became executor of his estate, including his home in Naperville, which is suspected to date to the late 19th century.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Missing Illinois hunter's body found in Michigan's UP
The body of a hunter missing since November has been found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Off-duty Chicago police officer shot, the second in 2 days
An off-duty Chicago police officer was shot in the abdomen Monday when he was attacked while his personal vehicle was stopped at a traffic light on the city’s South Side, authorities said.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Advocates, lawmakers look to restore regulatory oversight of gas utility surcharges
Advocates and lawmakers have reintroduced legislation that would end a special gas utility surcharge that allows companies to raise customer bills in order to pay for infrastructure development with limited regulatory oversight.

The gas utility surcharge, known as the Qualified Infrastructure Plant, became law in 2013 after similar formula rate legislation that benefited utility giant Commonwealth Edison was passed.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

2 killed, 13 wounded at party on Chicago's South Side
Gunfire erupted at a party on Chicago’s South Side early Sunday, killing two people and wounding 13 others in what authorities say may have been a gang-related shooting.

Officers responded at around 4:40 a.m. to reports of a shooting at a towing company where the party took place, police said. Jose Jara, a department spokesman, said in a statement that those shot were between the ages of 20 and 44.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Committees to address state's mental health care needs
Committees dealing with mental health and addiction met in both the Illinois House and Senate Friday to discuss a new crisis born from the COVID pandemic.

“We're fully into what I consider to be the second pandemic, which is mental health and addiction, and we have so much work to do,” Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, said during a meeting of the House Mental Health and Addiction Committee, which she chairs.

According to Conroy, the isolation and loss of normalcy caused by the pandemic has exacerbated the prevalence of drug abuse and mental illness, which Conroy says are the same problem. It’s also caused distress in populations much younger than usual with the closure of schools.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Chicago food truck owner admits to selling guns from eatery
The owner of a Chicago food truck admitted Friday he illegally sold guns from his mobile eatery along with sandwiches piled high with salami, roast beef and turkey.

Terry Ferguson, 56, of Willowbrook, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to narcotics and gun-trafficking charges that included the 2015 sale of two dozen guns from the back of his truck known as “Chicago’s finest Deli on Wheels.”

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Republicans urge responsibility in use of federal stimulus dollars
One day after President Joe Biden signed a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package, Illinois House Republicans called for the General Assembly to oversee the appropriation of funds in order to support businesses and individuals most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Friday news conference, state Reps. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, and C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, urged responsibility in the allocation of federal funding and warned against using the stimulus as a “magic bailout” to fund new state programs.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Founder has memories, hope for Arlington Park's next chapter
His heart and soul are a part of Arlington Park, but Dick Duchossois says he’s fine with the new owners selling the horse-racing palace he made that is an institution in Arlington Heights.

“We built it,” Duchossois, 99, said during a telephone interview Monday from the Barrington Hills equestrian estate where he lives with his wife, Judi. The man synonymous with Arlington Park poured millions into the track he bought in 1983, and millions more into a glorious rebuild after a devastating fire in 1985, before merging his creation with Churchill Downs in 2000. But he has no regrets that the 326 acres, including the 94-year-old track, are for sale and destined to be developed into something else.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

2 killed in Evanston shooting, no one in custody at this time
A gunman shot and killed two men and wounded a third Friday on the porch of a house in suburban Chicago, authorities said.

Police officers in Evanston responded to reports of shots fired and found three wounded men at the scene. The victims were taken to Evanston Hospital where two men were pronounced dead from their injuries. A third man was being treated for non-life threatening injuries, according to authorities.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Dog is finally adopted after 2 years in Illinois shelter
A dog that spent more than two years at a southern Illinois animal shelter waiting to be adopted has finally found a new family.

Demi spent 809 days at Helping Strays of Monroe County before a family adopted her March 7 from the shelter in Columbia, Illinois, just south of St. Louis, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Old State Capitol closed through April for $1.5M renovation
The Old State Capitol in downtown Springfield is closed to visitors through April while it undergoes repairs and renovation work.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources administers the historic site, which served as Illinois’ statehouse from 1840 to 1876. Abraham Lincoln served in the Legislature there and in 1858 gave his famed “House Divided” speech in the Hall of Representatives.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Lawmakers revisit data collection privacy laws
State lawmakers are considering changes to an internet privacy law that recently led to a $650 million settlement between Facebook and more than 1 million of the website’s users in Illinois.

A state House judiciary committee advanced House Bill 559 on Tuesday, a measure that would revisit the Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008, known as BIPA, to include provisions which sponsors say will protect small businesses but detractors say will render the privacy law obsolete.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Lawmakers from both parties want role in spending federal stimulus money
Lawmakers from both parties told officials from Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration on Thursday that the General Assembly should have some say in how the state spends the $7.5 billion in federal funds that Illinois expects to receive from the newly-enacted American Rescue Plan.

Those comments came during a virtual hearing of the House Revenue and Finance Committee that took place just hours after President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill into law.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Chicago police boost patrols as carjackings spike
Chicago police Superintendent David Brown on Wednesday said 44% of the more than 300 people arrested on motor vehicle-related charges, including carjackings, have been juveniles.

Brown revealed the information as he announced a new section of the Chicago Police Department website. Brown said it includes information on its recently organized carjacking task force, which includes Illinois State Police, the Cook County sheriff’s office and federal law enforcement.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Virus relief plan follows party lines
Democratic state officials in Illinois applauded the final passage Wednesday of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal relief package, which includes billions of dollars in aid to cash-strapped state and local governments.

The “American Rescue Plan” passed the U.S. House on Wednesday, 220-211, largely along party lines. No Republicans voted in favor of the bill while only one Democrat voted against it. The White House has indicated that Biden plans to sign the bill Friday.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Lightfoot to aldermen: No wish lists
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned the city’s aldermen on Wednesday not to produce wish lists now that Congress has passed a COVID-19 relief package that will send nearly $2 billion to the city.

The $1.9 trillion package passed Wednesday by the U.S. House and headed for President Joe Biden’s desk is expected to deliver about $7.5 billion to state government and about $6 billion for local government.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Bill advances okaying use of campaign funds for care
A bill that would expand the use of political campaign funds to include child care and elderly home care expenses advanced out a state Senate committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 536 would amend the state election code to allow candidates to spend political committee funds on part-time or full-time child care or dependent elder home care expenses, as long as those expenses are “necessary for fulfillment of political, governmental or public policy duties, activities or purposes,” the bill states.

The bill would also apply to candidates running for political office, as well as officeholders, campaign staff or volunteers.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

State outlines new changes to housing relief plans
The Illinois Housing Development Authority presented their plans for how to use incoming federal COVID-19 assistance during an Illinois House of Representatives Housing Committee hearing Wednesday.

Kristin Faust, IHDA Executive Director, provided an update on two state initiatives that leverage funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to help tenants and homeowners who experienced a loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those are the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

House bill on animal cruelty advances
The Illinois House Judiciary Criminal Committee advanced several bills Tuesday, including measures pertaining to animal cruelty laws, record expungement and the study of gun violence in Illinois.

House Bill 168, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Daniel Didech of Buffalo Grove, would amend the Humane Care for Animals Act to remove domestic pets from the household of persons known to the courts as a danger to animals.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Proposed bill would ban ceremonial balloon releases
The Illinois House Energy and Environment Committee advanced a pair of bills in a Monday hearing, one that would ban ceremonial balloon releases and another that would make utility companies responsible for the response to gas leaks.

House Bill 418, introduced by Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, would impose a $500 penalty for first-time offenses when knowingly releasing balloons into the atmosphere, as in the case of celebrations and special events.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

State Police sued over concealed carry license delays
Four Illinois residents who have been waiting for months for their state-issued Concealed Carry Licenses are suing officials with the Illinois State Police for allegedly depriving them of their right to bear arms and right to due process.

The lawsuit, filed Friday by the four individuals as well as the Illinois State Rifle Association and the gun-rights group Second Amendment Foundation, claims the state’s concealed carry law is unconstitutional.

Under Illinois law, the Illinois State Police must either approve or deny an application for a CCL card within either 90 days if the application includes fingerprints or within 120 days if the application does not include fingerprints.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

State Board of Education gives new in-person guidance
New COVID-19 safety guidelines released Tuesday by the Illinois State Board of Education suggest in-person learning should be prioritized over extracurricular activities.

The guidelines released in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Public Health say capacity limits for in-person learning, and activities like lunch, will be determined by the space’s ability to accommodate social distancing. The board now defines social distancing for in-person learning as three-to-six feet for students and fully vaccinated staff, although the board says six feet distance remains safest.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Old State Capitol being closed for restoration project
The Old State Capitol building in Springfield will be closed to visitors March 10 through late April while contractor crews work on a repair and restoration project at the state historic site, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) announced today.

The project, managed by the Illinois Capital Development Board (CDB), will install a new roof on the drum that supports the Old Capitol dome, and restore the drum columns and drum windows.  The project will also involve painting of the interior and exterior of the drum, as well as plaster repair and painting of interior ceilings and walls.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Extension webinars cover family, food and finance
The University of Illinois Extension will offer several webinar opportunities March 9-23, 2021. You are encouraged to take part in one or all classes. If you have any questions, you may contact them at 217-333-5900 or email extension@illinois.edu
Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Positivity, hospitalizations remain at pandemic low
The state’s rolling seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate held steady near two percent Monday as officials continue to increase vaccination efforts in all parts of the state.

The positivity rate stood at 2.3 percent, a number that has not moved more than two-tenths of a percentage point for the past 10 days.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Eviction moratorium expands tenant protections
Gov. JB Pritzker’s latest executive order extending the eviction moratorium for residential tenants adds a new legal protection for tenants who are unable to pay rent due to the pandemic.

Executive order 2021-05, issued on Friday, prevents landlords from pursuing legal action in court against a tenant as long as the tenant gives notice of their inability to pay, and the tenant is not “a direct threat to the health and safety of other tenants or an immediate and severe risk to property.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Bill creates plan for St.L-Chicago high speed rail
A House transportation committee on Monday advanced two bills, one lowering toll rates for small trailers and another creating a forum on future railway infrastructure.

House Bill 394 and House Bill 399 were both sponsored by Rep. Martin Moylan, D-Des Plaines. Both received a unanimous 13-0 vote to move to the House floor.

HB 399, which would create the High Speed Railway Commission to explore new infrastructure for electrified trains and buses, also advanced Monday.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

State school board requests $400M funding increase
Illinois State Board of Education officials on Monday made their case for an added $362.1 million to the state’s evidence-based funding formula and $50 million in early childhood education grants, pushing back on the governor’s proposal to keep state K-12 education funding flat next fiscal year.

In total, the board recommended a $406 million, or 4..6 percent, increase in fiscal year 2022 in state general revenue funding, increasing the state’s share of education funding to $9.3 billion for the budget year that begins July 1.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Pritzker signs Black Caucus-backed education equity bill into law
Gov. JB Pritzker joined members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus on Monday to sign a measure aimed at advancing equity in education in the state.

House Bill 2170, known as the Education and Workforce Equity Act, contains over 20 provisions aimed at decreasing racial gaps in opportunity and attainment that currently persist in the state’s education system. The legislation is the second major omnibus bill backed by the Black Caucus that Pritzker has signed this year.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Illinois reports 1,068 new COVID-19 cases, and 14 new deaths
Illinois public health officials on Sunday reported 1,068 new COVID-19 cases in the state, including 14 additional deaths.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced that within the past 24 hours, laboratories have conducted 68,094 coronavirus tests, resulting in a seven-day positivity rate of 2.3%.

Monday, March 8, 2021








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