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home : news : state news free August 3, 2020

House flippers 'unaffected' by pandemic
Chicago-area residents who have made careers out of flipping foreclosed or decrepit homes for profit say the coronavirus pandemic that’s hurt many businesses hasn’t had much impact, so far, on house flipping.

Andy Goldman, whose family has been flipping houses since the 1980s, said his business “has been surprisingly unaffected” by the pandemic.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Illinois to shift teens in state custody to smaller centers
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a plan Friday to move teenagers in state custody to small regional residential centers with a variety of services closer to their homes.

“The 150-year-old punitive model simply doesn’t fulfill its mission,” Pritzker said.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Cook County expanding community courts program
A community courts program that focuses on nonviolent crime is expanding in Cook County, officials said this week.
Saturday, August 1, 2020

Boy, 9, fatally shot while playing at Chicago parking lot
A 9-year-old boy was killed Friday night when a gunman fired several shots toward the Chicago parking lot where he was playing, police said.

Nobody else was injured in the shooting around 6 p.m. near the former Cabrini-Green housing projects on the city’s Near North Side. The boy was pronounced dead about an hour after being admitted to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest, police said.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

More counties now in COVID-19 'warning' zone
The Illinois Department of Public Health said Friday afternoon that 11 counties in the state are now in danger of having to reimpose social and economic restrictions as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Later in the day, however, the agency’s site showed two additional counties with that designation.

Cass, Champaign, Gallatin, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Perry, Randolph, Saline, Sangamon, St. Clair, White and Whiteside counties were shown as counties of concern on the IDPH site Friday evening. Those counties each experienced outbreaks associated with business operations and other activities that pose higher risks for spreading the disease such as school graduation ceremonies, parties, social gatherings and people going to bars.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Carjacking suspect charged in shooting of 3 Chicago officers
A convicted felon on parole has been charged with attempted murder in the shooting of three Chicago police officers outside a station, authorities said Friday.

Lovelle Jordan was taken to the station on the city’s northwest side after officers arrested him Thursday in connection with a June 26 carjacking in downtown Chicago, police said.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Number of House Democrats calling for Madigan's resignation grows
Cracks are beginning to show in Michael Madigan's hold over the House Democratic caucus that he has led as Speaker for all but two years since 1983.

Three more members of that caucus called for Madigan to resign this week, at least as House Speaker and chair of the state’s Democratic Party. They join another Democratic representative and three senators—all women—and a number of high-profile Republicans in calling for Madigan’s resignation from at least one of his leadership positions.

Friday, July 31, 2020

New breed of hemp growers tout resurgence of the plant
In early 2019, Rachael and Jesse Smedberg took a leap of faith and bought a corn farm in Beecher. A corn silo remains on the 65-acre property that is now Tulip Tree Gardens and Wellness Farm, but corn is no longer grown there.

Instead, the Smedbergs operate a boutique-style farm stand and grow heirloom vegetables, flowers and hemp on just 10 acres at 1236 E. Eagle Lake Road. They sow the remainder with cover crops of rye grass and small grains as part of a seven-year effort to restore the soil.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Cairo bridge to close Saturday for extensive maintenance
A bridge connecting Wickliffe, Kentucky, and Cairo, Illinois, will close Saturday for extensive maintenance, meaning a long detour for those traveling between the cities, officials said
Friday, July 31, 2020

State regulators grill ComEd execs over fraud admission
Top executives of utility giant Commonwealth Edison faced tough questions from state regulators Wednesday as they publicly apologized for the lobbying scandal that is forcing the company to pay a $200 million criminal fine.

“That’s the first words I wanted you to hear out of my mouth,” ComEd CEO Joseph Dominguez told members of the Illinois Commerce Commission. “But the last words I want to leave you with is that I've observed the character of this company. I know what our job is and leading it and I know the reforms that we have to put in place.”

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Attorney says he'll drop 'dozen or so' lawsuits against state if Legislature meets
The downstate attorney challenging aspects of Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s COVID-19 response said Wednesday he would halt the progress of his “dozen or so” lawsuits if legislators return to Springfield.

At the heart of Thomas DeVore’s many cases in several Illinois counties is the question of whether an Illinois governor is constitutionally and legally authorized to exercise unilateral control over the management of a disaster, such as the public health emergency posed by the novel coronavirus.

He also represents “hundreds” of citizens and business owners as well, he said.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Sheriffs' Association says Pritzker prisoner transfer order ineffective
While Gov. JB Pritzker issued a new executive order this week allowing for transfers into state prisons at the discretion of the Illinois Department of Corrections director, an association representing the state’s sheriffs contends that the move was more show than substance.

Jim Kaitschuk, executive director of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, said Wednesday that the new order’s stipulation that transfers are allowed “within the sole discretion of the Director of IDOC” effectively renders the latest executive order inconsequential.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

12 Bradley students test positive for COVID-19 after event
A dozen Bradley University students a, including some who attended a social gathering after leading freshmen orientation programs this month, have tested positive for COVID-19, the school said.

After the Peoria school learned of the new cases on July 23, it determined after testing and contact tracing that the outbreak apparently stemmed from a small off-campus gathering in which attendees didn’t wear masks or practice social distancing, Bradley spokeswoman Renee Charles said. Officials said they don’t believe it was connected to the orientation sessions that preceded the party.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Illinois professors disagree with school's fall proposals
Illinois’ college and university professors are pushing back against their school’s proposals for reopening schools amid the pandemic, prompting officials to adopt new norms to accommodate faculty recommendations.

Faculty concerns are becoming more urgent after reports say that students returning to college towns are spreading the coronavirus, the Chicago Tribune reported. But despite the risks, some students want to return to campus and get their money’s worth since most schools are not discounting tuition.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Suit charges ComEd with consumer fraud
A class action lawsuit filed this week against utility giant Commonwealth Edison seeks to recover potentially hundreds of millions of dollars for consumers who were charged rates under legislation that the company has admitted was aided by a bribery scheme involving Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The suit, filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, accuses ComEd of violating the state’s Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Businesses Practices Act, which is designed to protect consumers against unfair business practices.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Attention turns to Chicago's last standing Columbus statue
A Christopher Columbus statue on Chicago’s South Side that was left standing after two other Columbus statues were removed last week may yet be taken down, a City Council member says.

Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza told the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday that she has been talking to city officials about removing the statue that stands in an intersection in the South Chicago neighborhood

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

COVID-19 positivity rate continues to climb
Illinois’ seven-day rolling positivity rate for COVID-19 tests continued to rise through the weekend, reaching 3.8 percent — more than a full percentage point higher than it was at the beginning of the month.

The positivity rate for tests completed has increased for seven of the past eight days, ticking upward from 2.9 percent on July 19. It’s the highest the rolling positivity rate has been since it was 4.2 percent on June 11.

That comes after one-day positivity rates of 3.7, 3.8 and 4 percent on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, respectively. Over that three-day span, the state averaged about 1,399 new cases daily among an average of 36,537 tests completed over the same period.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Chicago Police: Violence drops after 2 new units rolled out
There has been a reduction in homicides and shooting incidents in Chicago since the city’s police force launched two units aimed at combating gun violence and ensuring protests and other large events don’t devolve into chaos, police said Monday.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said “tenuous progress” has been made in the department’s efforts to stem gun violence. There were three homicides over the weekend compared to 12 and eight the previous two weekends and  17 over the July Fourth weekend, Brown said at a news conference.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

County board candidate drops out after controversial tweet
A candidate for the DuPage County board in northern Illinois withdrew from the race after being criticized for a tweet in which she said she laughed while watching a video of a police officer getting hit in the face by a projectile during a protest.

Democrat Hadiya Afzal narrowly won nomination in the March primary to run in DuPage County’s 4th District. Afzal, 20, announced her withdrawal from the race late Sunday, saying her post was in poor taste and didn’t represent the values with which she was raised.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Bribery scheme implicating Madigan revives term limits talk
When federal prosecutors unveil a bribery scheme in the state Capitol that points a finger at the House speaker, and the speaker has been in charge for 3 1/2 decades, it’s natural that some would turn to a popular but contentious solution:

Term limits.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home moved in suburban Chicago
A suburban Chicago home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was relocated about 800 feet down the road — a short move that’s part of a local saga over the historic structure.

The one-story frame house known as the Booth Cottage was built in 1913 and designed by Wright as a temporary home for Sherman and Elizabeth Booth, according to Landmarks Illinois, a state historic preservation organization. Sherman Booth was an attorney and Elizabeth an influential suffragist.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Youth learn career skills through Boys & Girls Club program
Danasia Nelson hopes to be a dental hygienist one day.

Thanks to a partnership between the Boys & Girls Club and Workforce Investment Solutions, the 17-year-old MacArthur High School senior is getting a jump start on what it’s like to have a real-world career.

She’s involved in the CareerLaunch program available to juniors and seniors in Decatur and Macon County.

Monday, July 27, 2020

4 teens rescued on Lake Michigan after kayaking goes awry
The U.S. Coast Guard rescued four teenagers about seven miles (11.3 kilometers) offshore of Chicago’s Lake Michigan coastline early Monday after they went missing while kayaking, authorities said.

The Coast Guard searched the lake for hours before the three 19-year-olds and a 13-year-old were located sometime before 1 a.m. on two inflatable kayaks.

Monday, July 27, 2020

GOP continues to pressure employment security dept. amid new fraud claims
SPRINGFIELD — Republicans on Friday continued to pressure the Illinois Department of Employment Security to resolve issues stemming from record unemployment claims the same day the state reported another 1,532 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Saturday, July 25, 2020

ISP seeks ways to halt Chicago expressway shootings
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois State Police are seeking high-definition cameras and license plate scanners as expressway shootings rise in the Chicago area but some civil rights groups contend that data from the new technology could be misused.
Saturday, July 25, 2020

House will not hold hearings on ComEd bribery
SPRINGFIELD — The chairwoman of the Illinois House Energy and Environment Committee said this week she will not hold hearings to examine what impact Commonwealth Edison’s lobbying and bribery practices have had on utility ratepayers, rebuffing a request from two Republican lawmakers.
Saturday, July 25, 2020

Four Illinois counties at warning level for virus
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported four counties in Illinois are considered to be at a warning level for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  A county enters a warning level when two or more COVID-19 risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 increase.
Saturday, July 25, 2020

State museum reopens with safety measures
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois State Museum is reopening with safety precautions in place after closing for four months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday, July 25, 2020

LLCC offers some in-person services for registration
SPRINGFIELD — Lincoln Land Community College is offering select in-person services at its main campus and Outreach Centers for students interested in registering for fall classes.
Saturday, July 25, 2020

Cannabis-adjacent businesses see uptick
CARBONDALE, Ill (AP) — With the legalization of the recreational cannabis industry in Illinois, the cannabis accessory industry has seen an uptick in Carbondale.
Saturday, July 25, 2020

What to do when your lawn is rusty
URBANA — The first hint of lawn rust often comes from the bottom of your shoes, says Chris Enroth, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. Homeowners may notice some slight discoloration of the lawn, but nothing too alarming until they slip off their shoes and notice a reddish-orange color.
Saturday, July 25, 2020

Illinois Board of High Education awards $1.3 million to colleges and universities to strengthen and diversify the early childhood workforce
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE)announced today it will award $1.3 million in grants to five Illinois colleges and universities to strengthen and diversify the early childhood workforce pipeline. The grants, funded by the federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) initiative, are awarded in partnership with the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD). The funds will support an estimated 150 students in the upcoming academic year.
Friday, July 24, 2020

Illinois EPA invests over $182 Million in Wastewater/Stormwater and Drinking Water projects in 4th quarter of FY20
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim today announced more than $182 Million in State Revolving Fund loans were issued to public and private utilities in the last quarter of State Fiscal Year 2020 (April – June). In accordance with Loan Rules, over $25 Million of those loans qualify for principal forgiveness from the State of Illinois, providing additional benefits to the recipients. The low-interest loans are made possible through Illinois EPA's State Revolving Fund (SRF), which provides funding for wastewater, stormwater and drinking water projects. These loans bring the total funding for FY20 SRF loans to more than $429 Million with over $48 Million being forgiven by the State.
Friday, July 24, 2020

Manar announces $509 million in infrastructure improvements coming to his district
BUNKER HILL — Central Illinois communities will see more than $509 million in funding for road and bridge projects over the next six years as part of the Illinois Department of Transportation's latest Multi-Year Plan under Rebuild Illinois, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced Tuesday.
Friday, July 24, 2020

Illinois Elementary School Association cancels fall sports
BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) Board of Directors held a special meeting on Thursday and after much discussion, the Board unanimously approved to cancel the regular season and IESA state series in the sports of boys and girls golf, boys baseball, girls softball, and boys and girls cross-country for the 2020-21 school year. There are no plans to try and re-schedule the activities or conduct them later in the school year in part due to if and when high schools in Illinois play their contests.
Friday, July 24, 2020

What lies ahead for Mike Madigan
CHICAGO (AP) — Federal prosecutors recently answered the question about whether Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the nation’s longest serving statehouse speaker, is a subject of a criminal investigation into influence peddling to benefit an energy utility. He is.
Friday, July 24, 2020

6 downstate counties sue Pritzker over restrictions
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Residents in six central and southern Illinois counties, including the state capital's home, filed lawsuits Thursday against Gov. J.B. Pritzker's restrictions on social interaction prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Friday, July 24, 2020

Christopher Columbus statues taken down at 2 Chicago parks
CHICAGO (AP) — Two statues of Christopher Columbus that stood in Chicago parks were taken down early today at the direction of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a week after protesters trying to topple one of the monuments to the Italian explorer clashed with police.
Friday, July 24, 2020

Pledge of cooperation eases fears after state, federal leaders clash
SPRINGFIELD —More than 200 federal agents will head to Chicago this week as state and local officials take a more measured tone of acceptance after railing against a potential federal surge earlier in the week.
Friday, July 24, 2020

COVID-19 positivity rate moves up again as 1,624 new cases confirmed
SPRINGFIELD — For the fourth straight day, the rolling seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate in Illinois is on the rise, increasing by two-tenths of a percentage point to 3.4 percent Thursday.
Friday, July 24, 2020

Pritzker administration to distribute 60,000 cloth face masks to state agencies, boards and commissions to protect returning workforce
Friday, July 24, 2020

Manar announces $509 million in infrastructure improvements coming to his district
BUNKER HILL — Central Illinois communities will see more than $509 million in funding for road and bridge projects over the next six years as part of the Illinois Department of Transportation's latest Multi-Year Plan under Rebuild Illinois, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced Tuesday.
Friday, July 24, 2020

GOP lawmakers' call for ComEd hearings rebuffed
SPRINGFIELD — The chairwoman of the Illinois House Energy and Environment Committee said this week she will not hold hearings to examine what impact Commonwealth Edison’s lobbying and bribery practices have had on utility ratepayers, rebuffing a request from two Republican lawmakers.
Friday, July 24, 2020

Bailey asks judge's permission to add fifth argument to lawsuit
SPRINGFIELD — Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey asked a judge Wednesday for permission to lodge a fifth complaint in his lawsuit against Gov. JB Pritzker: Any further disaster proclamations should not affect Clay County.
Friday, July 24, 2020

Eastland was deadliest shipwreck in Great Lakes history
ILLINOIS — The 1912 sinking of the Titanicis the nation’s most famous shipwreck, depicted on stage and screen while capturing the imagination of wistful Americans for its luxurious grandeur. Of course, the hundreds of low-fare passengers down below in steerage would have told a different story.
Friday, July 24, 2020

COVID numbers in Illinois gradually rising
The state’s rolling COVID-19 positivity rate ticked upward Wednesday for the third straight day as the Illinois Department of Public Health announced its largest one-day confirmed case count since June 2.

The 1,598 new cases reported were among 39,633 test results reported over the previous 24 hours, making for a one-day positivity rate of 4 percent, which drove up the rolling seven-day rate to 3.2 percent. That is the highest the rolling rate has been since June 14 and the third straight day of an increase by one-tenth of a percentage point.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

State employment agency hit in nationwide fraud scheme
The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Wednesday it has been affected by a nationwide fraud scheme involving the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

That program, enacted as part of the federal CARES Act, provides 100 percent federally funded jobless benefits to independent contractors, gig workers and others who don’t normally qualify for the traditional unemployment insurance program.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

AP: Violence, protests, agents put Chicago on edge
Amid a surge in gun violence and protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, the nation's third-largest city is on edge, awaiting possible greater tension as dozens of federal agents are dispatched to Chicago.

The White House plan emerged days after a downtown protest over a statue of Christopher Columbus devolved into a chaotic scene of police swinging batons and demonstrators hurling frozen water bottles, fireworks and other projectiles at officers. Then, on Tuesday in another neighborhood, a spray of bullets from a car passing a gang member's funeral wounded 15 people and sent dozens running for their lives.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Douglas' name removed from park
A park on Chicago’s West Side will be stripped of the name of Stephen Douglas and may be renamed for abolitionist Frederick Douglass, a city’s parks commission decided Wednesday.

The Chicago Park District voted Wednesday to rename the park in the largely black neighborhood, which has held Stephen Douglas’ name since 1869. Proponents have pushed the name change for years.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Capitol News: State officials offer measured approval of agents in Chicago
State leaders on Wednesday gave tentative support to a Trump administration plan to send more than 200 federal agents to Chicago, although officials said they would also be on guard for any violations of civil liberties.

In a news conference Wednesday, Trump formally announced that Operation Legend, a federal initiative boosting law enforcement efforts in Kansas City, Mo., was expanding to other cities including Chicago.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

ISP unconstitutionally delayed FOID card applications in Illinois, lawsuit says
Gun rights advocacy groups filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Illinois State Police claiming that the office in charge of handling Firearm Owners Identification card applications is unconstitutionally delaying that process.

State statute dictates that “no person may acquire or possess any firearm, stun gun, or taser,” or ammunition, without having a state-issued FOID card. ISP has 30 days from the date it receives an application and filing fee to either approve or deny that request. For renewals, state police officials have 60 days.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

State sees slight uptick in positivity rate
A juvenile detention facility and two mental health centers in Illinois each reported outbreaks of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice youth center in St. Charles reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 in staff and three new cases among youth at the facility.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Illinois unveils six-year road, bridge improvement plan
Gov. JB Pritzker joined Illinois Department of Transportation officials Tuesday to unveil a six-year, $21.3 billion statewide road and bridge improvement plan that is an extension of the Rebuild Illinois infrastructure package passed last year by the General Assembly.

IDOT is tasked with unveiling a multi-year plan each year to detail how it will spend transportation dollars on state and local highway transportation systems. For the current fiscal year, the investment in road and bridge infrastructure totals $3.15 billion, according to the governor’s office.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

House GOP seeks special session on ethics reform
Republicans in the Illinois House on Tuesday called on Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker to convene a special session of the General Assembly to focus on ethics reform.

During a video news conference, Reps. Grant Wehrli, Deanne Mazzochi and Dan Ugaste said there is an urgent need for ethics reform in light of the recent federal charges against utility giant Commonwealth Edison that implicated House Speaker Michael Madigan in a bribery scheme.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Teachers' union urges most schools to not reopen for in-person learning
One of the state’s largest teachers’ unions said Monday that most schools in Illinois are not yet ready to reopen for in-person teaching in the fall and it urged schools to continue operating remotely until the safety of students, teachers and staff can be assured.

“At this point, our recommendation is schools should return to online or remote learning after the beginning of the school year,” Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, said during a video news conference. “That is the safest and best option. It's safest for the students and their families. And it's also the most practical.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Trump to send federal agents to Chicago
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is planning to deploy federal agents to Chicago and possibly other Democrat-run cities as he continues to assert federal power and use the Department of Homeland Security in unprecedented, politicized ways.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Teachers' union urges most schools to not reopen for in-person learning
SPRINGFIELD — One of the state’s largest teachers’ unions said Monday that most schools in Illinois are not yet ready to reopen for in-person teaching in the fall and it urged schools to continue operating remotely until the safety of students, teachers and staff can be assured.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Illinois eviction rule change to benefit tenants, landlords
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Supreme Court announced last week that it approved a change to rules governing eviction proceedings that will simplify the process for both landlords and tenants.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Pritzker backs local actions aimed at slowing COVID-19 spread at bars
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday gave support to a pair of Illinois mayors who recently enacted policies aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 in bar and tavern settings.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Chicago man reunites with family after 40 years
CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man whose relatives had not heard from him in nearly four decades has been reunited with family members, thanks to a nursing home administrator who turned to social media after the 77-year-old man entered the home with no known next of kin.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Peoria police vow crackdown on roving street parties
PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Peoria’s police chief said Monday there will be a crackdown on “roving street parties” in the wake of a weekend shooting that left 13 wounded.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Chicago violence sparks war of words between Trump, mayor
CHICAGO (AP) — The war of words between Chicago’s mayor and President Donald Trump escalated Monday after a weekend when 12 were killed in the city and dozens injured by gunfire, with Lori Lightfoot rejecting any suggestion federal law enforcement officers should be dispatched to the city and Trump all but promising to send them.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

House progressive caucus weighs in on Madigan, ComEd
CHICAGO (AP) — Members of the Illinois House of Representatives’ progressive caucus said Monday longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan must resign if allegations of a bribery scheme involving utility ComEd are true.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Chicago officials again impose restrictions on bars, gyms
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago will again impose restrictions on bars, gyms and personal services, like facials, to combat a recent spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

IEMA encourages learning lifesaving
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois officials are encouraging residents to learn lifesaving skills which could make a big difference for family and neighbors during a disaster.
Monday, July 20, 2020

Feds seek tax records on properties including Pritzker Chicago mansion
CHICAGO (AP) — Federal prosecutors have sought records on property tax appeals made to former Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios on more than 100 properties, including a Chicago mansion owned by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, according to a newspaper report.
Monday, July 20, 2020

State increases apprenticeship funding
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois is expanding an apprenticeship program that officials hope will help people in underserved communities learn skills and connect with employers amid a difficult job market.
Monday, July 20, 2020

Illinois county sheriff tests positive for COVID-19
CHICAGO (AP) — A county sheriff in southwestern Illinois has tested positive for COVID-19, according to officials.  The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department said Sheriff Neal Rohlfing has been in quarantine since he had symptoms earlier this month. He received a positive test on Wednesday, according to a department statement.
Monday, July 20, 2020

Data: Complaints against CPD rise
CHICAGO (AP) — Complaints against Chicago police officers rose to record levels amid protests throughout the city following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, city data shows.
Monday, July 20, 2020

13 shot and wounded at gathering in Peoria
PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Police said that 13 people were shot and wounded early Sunday after a fight broke out along the riverfront in the central Illinois city of Peoria.
Monday, July 20, 2020

Pritzker: Illinois speaker 'must resign' if allegations true
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan “must resign” if allegations of corruption are true against the fellow Democrat long considered the state’s most powerful lawmaker.

Madigan, who also serves as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, denied wrongdoing through a party spokeswoman, who said he received subpoenas for documents Friday morning.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Woman who killed her 5-year-old son gets 35-year prison term
A northern Illinois woman who subjected her young son to years of physical and emotional abuse culminating in his beating death last year was on Friday sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Saturday, July 18, 2020

Rockford ice cream vendor in 'constant fear' after robbery
It hasn’t been easy for Pablo Arroyo Perez to go back to work after he was robbed at gunpoint on July 3 while pushing his ice cream cart in southwest Rockford.

The 50-year-old Mexican immigrant had heard the stories about the other ice cream man, Isidro Duran — who was shot and killed 13 years ago selling ice cream in the same neighborhood — and was always a little concerned for his safety.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Illinois programs to get $7M in federal COVID-19 relief
More than $7 million in federal funding will be going to organizations to help Illinois communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, state officials said.

The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority said it will distribute $7.1 million in U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance money made available through federal stimulus legislation last spring.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Pritzker seeks school face mask order
Gov. J.B. Pritzker took the unusual step Thursday of preemptively filing a lawsuit to ensure school children wear face coverings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus when schools reopen in a few weeks.

The action filed late Thursday in Sangamon County Circuit Court by the state attorney general seeks a judge’s approval of Pritzker’s order that schoolchildren, teachers and staff wear coverings over mouths and noses among other measures to reduce the chance that the highly contagious and potentially deadly virus can spread.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Madigan implicated in ComEd bribery
Electric utility ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

The company has admitted that it arranged jobs, subcontracted work and monetary payments related to those jobs “for various associates of a high-level elected official for the state of Illinois,“ the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a news release.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Chicago's ex top cop drove impaired, lied to public
An inspector general’s report concluded Thursday that former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson drove a city vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and lied about the incident that led to his December firing.

Johnson was  found asleep behind the wheel of his police car in October after consuming “several large servings of rum” at a downtown restaurant with a member of his security detail, according to the Chicago Office of the Inspector General.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Virus cases level; state unemployment sees decrease
Illinois saw 37,626 new unemployment claims for the week ending July 11, a decrease of more than 1,000 from the previous week as continued claims numbered 663,399.

That represented a 0.7 percentage point decrease to the state unemployment rate, which was 14.6 percent, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. U.S. Department of Labor data shows there were 4,061 fewer continued claims for the week ending July 12 than there were the previous week.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Chicago teachers union wants virtual start to school
Chicago Public Schools should start the fall semester with virtual classes rather than calling students back to buildings left empty since March, the union representing thousands of teachers in the nation’s third-largest school district said Thursday.

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in dozens of states, there is no way to ensure the safety of students and teachers in schools this fall, leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union said. The union also wants charter schools to start the year virtually.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Pritzker unveils playbook in case of surge
As Illinois’ rolling COVID-19 test positivity rate saw a modest tick upward Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker laid out a new virus mitigation framework dividing the state into 11 regions for purposes of slowing the coronavirus’ spread.

That’s an increase from the four broad regions in the Restore Illinois reopening plan in place before Wednesday’s announcements.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Group launches push for constitutional amendment
A group pushing for approval of the graduated tax constitutional amendment on Nov. 3 used tax day to further its cause Wednesday, the second of a two-day push promoting an overhaul of Illinois’ current income tax system.

In Rockford, Peoria and the Metro East on Tuesday and in Chicago, its suburbs and Springfield on Wednesday, graduated tax proponents organized by the Vote Yes for Fair Tax ballot initiative committee made their case for a change to the state’s constitutionally-enshrined flat tax to one that allows the state to charge different rates on different levels of income.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Deadline for marijuana social equity grants July 20
The application deadline is approaching for one of the key programs driving the state’s equity-centric approach to marijuana legalization, and the state is looking to hire hundreds from disadvantaged communities to review those applications.

The R3 – Restore, Reinvest and Renew – Program has $31.5 million in grants available for organizations in communities disproportionately impacted by poverty, gun violence or the war on drugs, and the deadline to apply is Monday, July 20.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

As election approaches, House GOP again demands ethics reform laws
With fewer than four months remaining until the general election, House Republicans said Tuesday they want to remind Illinoisans of Democratic lawmakers’ “failure” to address corruption in the General Assembly.

It has been 260 days since former Chicago Democratic Rep. Louis Arroyo was charged by federal officials with bribery, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said during a virtual news conference. Arroyo’s case remains pending.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Superintendents say state must address educational recovery
For months, we have witnessed in awe the resilience displayed by our students, families, and school staff as they navigate the COVID-19 crisis that has shuttered our campuses. Although many school buildings remain closed through the summer, educators and parents around the state are working diligently to ensure that learning continues.

However, we know this past semester did and will have an impact on our students. Many children were without access to the tools they needed to learn effectively during remote learning. This was particularly acute where parents in “essential” jobs continued to leave the home, even as child care disappeared. For others, being absent from the classroom and their caring teachers, peers,  support staff, and administrators compounds the trauma they experienced more generally due to the coronavirus. And, while some schools are hosting limited in-person summer school, we know that’s not sufficient.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Cook County officials say opiod deaths are on the increase
Opioid-related deaths in 2020 in Cook County have passed numbers from last year at this time, officials said.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office has confirmed 773 deaths between Jan. 1 and July 13. The number was 605 during the same period in 2019.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Chicago police rescue a miniature horse found tied to a truck
A Chicago police officer rescued a miniature horse after finding the animal tied to a truck outside without access to water or shade, police said.
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Judge says media can't use autopsy photos of boy from mom's sentencing
A northern Illinois judge on Tuesday ruled that media must not publish or broadcast images of autopsy photographs of 5-year-old AJ Freund during the sentencing hearing of his mother, who has pleaded guilty in his murder.

McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt agreed with the prosecutor’s objection to letting the five photographs or videos to be photographed or shown on television as part of the coverage of JoAnn Cunningham’s sentencing that starts Thursday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Eastern Illinois woman dies after being shot by a child in car
An eastern Illinois woman died over the weekend after she was accidentally shot by a child who was riding in a car with her, police said.

Marita Hile, 64, died Sunday afternoon at a Danville hospital about an hour after she was shot and her vehicle crashed into a gas station’s sign in Tilton, said Capt. Mike Hartshorn of the Vermilion County Sheriff’s Office.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Pritzker: 'Watching numbers closely'
Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday gave only vague answers to reporters’ questions about potential future restrictions Illinois might put in place to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in certain areas.

He took the inquiries Tuesday morning at an unrelated news conference in Chicago, hours before the Illinois Department of Public Health announced another 707 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 26 more virus-related deaths. That brought the total COVID-19-related casualties in Illinois to 7,218 among 155,506 confirmed cases.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Marijuana sales creat $52M in revenue, 1st 6 mos.
Since January, Illinois residents and visitors have spent nearly $240 million on legalized recreational marijuana, producing $52 million in state revenue, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Of that, $34.7 million came from excise taxes, while $18 million came from sales taxes.

Per the law, 8 percent of that revenue will be shared with local governments, while the Illinois Department of Revenue estimates $25.9 million from excise and sales taxes will be directed to the state’s General Revenue Fund.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Chicago expands quarantine for visitors
People traveling from Iowa and Oklahoma to Chicago will have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival or face possible fines starting Friday.

Chicago first issued a quarantine order early this month for 15 other states based on increasing numbers of confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The city updated the order Tuesday, bringing the total number of affected states to 17.

States are included based on the rate of new confirmed cases per 100,000 residents.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

COVID-19 positivity rate in Illinois at 3%
The state’s COVID-19 test positivity rate remained at 3 percent Monday as the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 883 new confirmed cases of the virus.

The 30,012 test results reported Monday followed more than 70,000 total reported the previous two days, driving Illinois to more than 2 million tests conducted since the pandemic began. Illinois became the first state in the Midwest to reach that milestone and the fifth state in the U.S., following California, New York, Florida and Texas.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Suspect in Illinois child death gets 28 years in prison
A man accused of murder in the death of his 6-year-old daughter in a St. Louis suburb was sentenced Monday to 28 years to life in Nevada state prison for his conviction on felony child sex charges.
Tuesday, July 14, 2020

N. Dakota urges court to halt pipeline shutdown
North Dakota is urging a federal appeals court to block a judge’s order to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline.

North Dakota Solicitor General Matt Sagsveen filed a document Monday supporting operator Energy Transfer’s efforts to keep the oil line open while the Texas-based company appeals.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Former U of I professor, now lightning strike expert, discusses victims' trauma
Justin Gauger can remember almost everything from the day that changed his life.

He was on a family fishing trip near Woods Canyon Lake in Arizona in August 2014 when lightning struck his back, propelling him 50 feet sideways until he landed face-first in a pile of rocks.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

COVID-19 positivity rate levels at 3 percent as state passes 2 million tested
SPRINGFIELD — The state’s COVID-19 test positivity rate remained at 3 percent Monday as the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 883 new confirmed cases of the virus.
Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Here are excerpts of editorial opinions from newspapers throughout Illinois.
Monday, July 13, 2020

Illinois launches campaign to prevent abuse of seniors
Illinois is launching a $2.1 million campaign to prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation of seniors and adults with disabilities, a problem officials fear has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Illinois Department on Aging’s Office of Adult Protective Services received federal funds for the three-year Engage2Change campaign. It will include ads on television, online and via email that will encourage people to report suspected abuse of people age 60 and older and of disabled adults. Some funds also will be used for training caseworkers and legal professionals.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Cook County residents can report police misconduct online
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office is launching a new online process to report allegations of criminal police misconduct including excessive form and intimidation.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced the new complaint form Thursday. Members of the public will be able to directly upload photo and video evidence to submit for review by prosecutors who’ll determine whether it should be referred to an investigative agency or closed.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Federal court denies relaxed requirements for Illinois constitutional amendment
SPRINGFIELD — An Illinois group trying to get a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot is not entitled to looser regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
Saturday, July 11, 2020

New COVID-19 cases top 1,000 for second straight day 
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Friday that the number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed over the previous 24 hours topped 1,000 for the second straight day while the percentage of tests coming back positive also grew.
Saturday, July 11, 2020

Comptroller criticized for handling of late bill payments
SPRINGFIELD — A program that helps vendors get paid even when the state is late paying its bills might be in danger, the head of one financial company said, because of the way Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is prioritizing the bills that she does pay.
Saturday, July 11, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on birth control doesn't affect Illinois' insurance mandates 
SPRINGFIELD — A U.S. Supreme Court decision this week that could make it more difficult for women to access birth control will not impact Illinois law, state officials and advocacy groups say.
Saturday, July 11, 2020

Federal court denies relaxed ballot requirements for constitutional amendments 
SPRINGFIELD — An Illinois group trying to get a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot is not entitled to looser regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
Saturday, July 11, 2020

Presidential Library welcomes five millionth visitor
SPRINGFIELD – The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum welcomed its five millionth visitor with gifts, music and an appearance by Lincoln himself, just days after the museum reopened to the public.
Saturday, July 11, 2020

Online series of programming features life and times of Abraham Lincoln
ILLINOIS — Looking for Lincoln is proud to announce it will host Lincoln, The Great Communicator online seven times with partner communities around the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.
Saturday, July 11, 2020

Another 39K file jobless claims in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – The state of Illinois saw slight decreases in the number of people filing first-time unemployment claims as well as the number of people receiving continuing benefits during the week that ended July 4.
Friday, July 10, 2020

Record testing pushes daily COVID-19 count past 1,000 for first time since June 2
SPRINGFIELD — New Illinois COVID-19 cases topped 1,000 Thursday for the first time since June 2, but the high number coincided with the state’s highest recorded single-day testing output.
Friday, July 10, 2020

As marijuana sales boom, social equity applicants sweat licensing delays
SPRINGFIELD — One of the few things unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic’s presence in Illinois has been recreational marijuana sales.
Friday, July 10, 2020

Madigan: Remove images of Stephen Douglas from Statehouse
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on Thursday called for removing statues and portraits of the 19th century U.S. Senator Stephen A Douglas from the Statehouse along with other known slaveholders.
Friday, July 10, 2020

Group says local governments' hands tied in COVID-19 economic response
SPRINGFIELD — Local government officials in Illinois have their hands “tied behind their back” when responding to COVID-19-related economic struggles, three community and business advocacy groups argued Thursday.
Friday, July 10, 2020

Company will look at weather's effect at Wrigley
CHICAGO (AP) — The wind blowing out at Wrigley Field. The tricky breeze in San Francisco. The heat in Los Angeles.
Thursday, July 9, 2020

Pritzker lays out federal COVID-19 response wish list to congressional committee
SPRINGFIELD — Testifying before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker said he would like to see a coordinated national COVID-19 containment strategy that requires people to wear masks, and he reiterated the need for a federal financial support package for states.
Thursday, July 9, 2020

AG asks Clay County judge to rule on last issue in Bailey's lawsuit
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois attorney general’s office on Tuesday night asked a downstate judge to address the one outstanding issue in Rep. Darren Bailey’s lawsuit challenging Gov. JB Pritzker’s executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, July 9, 2020

CPD forming unit to fight gun violence
CHICAGO (AP) — After a spate of shootings over the July 4 weekend that left 17 people dead and dozens more wounded, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown is creating a specialized citywide unit that will be quickly deployed to halt sudden outbursts of gun violence.
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

U of I rolls out saliva tests instead of nasal swabs
URBANA, Ill. (AP) — Students and staff at the University of Illinois can be tested for the coronavirus with a saliva sample instead of an uncomfortable nasal swab.
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Uof Chicago removes tributes to Stephen Douglas
CHICAGO (AP) — The University of Chicago has removed a bronze plaque and stone that publicly honored Stephen Douglas, a U.S. senator from Illinois in the 1800s.
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Jesse White announces expired driver's licenses, ID cards and license plate stickers extended an additional month - until Nov. 1
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Opposing groups readying for battle over tax amendment 
SPRINGFIELD – Days after the governor donated $51.5 million of his personal fortune to a committee supporting a graduated income tax constitutional amendment, a new coalition has begun an effort to defeat the measure.
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Illinois, regional economies shrink in first quarter
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois economy shrank at an annual rate of 5.4 percent during the first quarter of 2020 compared to the previous quarter, according to federal data released Tuesday, an indicator of just how severely the COVID-19 pandemic affected commercial activity.
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Elections Board wants to continue challenge of third-party ballot access
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ chief election authority told a federal appeals court Monday it wants to continue its appeal of looser election rules for third-party candidates.
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

State's seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate ticks slightly downward 
SPRINGFIELD – The state’s rolling seven-day COVID-19 test positivity rate ticked downward to 2.5 percent Tuesday as the state remained among the lowest in the Midwest in the metric.
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

IDOT warns intense heat could cause roads to buckle
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois transportation officials are warning motorists to watch for damaged roads during intense heat.
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

'The Blues Brothers' Wauconda beach will reopen
WAUCONDA, Ill. (AP) — Wauconda’s iconic beach seen in the “The Blues Brothers” movie is set to open after a $3 million renovation.
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

GOP congressional hopeful Oberweis gets virus relief loan for family dairy
CHICAGO (AP) — A dairy owned by Illinois Republican congressional candidate Jim Oberweis received a loan worth $5 million to $10 million from the federal rescue package aimed at helping small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released Monday.
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Rep. Arthur Turner, deputy majority leader in the House, announces retirement
SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Arthur Turner, D-Chicago, announced his retirement from the Illinois House effective Friday, July 3.
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

COVID-19 deaths dip to lowest daily number since March
SPRINGFIELD – Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Illinois declined significantly over the holiday weekend and into Monday, touching their lows since the state began reporting the figures daily in April.
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Bruno the Bear tranquilized in Missouri
According to the website, Bruno the Black Bear was tranquilized Sunday in Missouri.

Bruno, as he was fondly named by many who followed his story, trekked hundreds of miles from Wisconsin, through Illinois and into Missouri looking for a mate.

Monday, July 6, 2020

17 dead, 70 wounded in Chicago
One of Chicago’s bloodiest holiday weekends in memory ended with 17 people fatally shot, including a 7-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, and 70 more wounded, despite a concerted effort to quell the violence with an additional 1,200 police officers on the streets.
Monday, July 6, 2020

Chicago's July 4 weekend ends with 14 killed, 63 wounded
CHICAGO (AP) — One of Chicago’s bloodiest holiday weekends in memory ended with 14 people fatally shot — including a 7-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy — and 63 more wounded, despite a concerted effort by the police department that included an additional 1,200 officers on the streets.
Monday, July 6, 2020

Judge denies GOP request to allow large gatherings
SPRINGFIELD — A federal judge on Thursday denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed Illinois Republican Party groups to host large fundraising events.
Monday, July 6, 2020

State unemployment 29,511 better than prior week
SPRINGFIELD – The number of Illinois workers receiving state unemployment benefits fell by more than 29,000 during the last week of June as many businesses resumed operations after 14 weeks under a stay-at-home order brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monday, July 6, 2020

Police chief shot while guarding Reagan is retiring
ORLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago police chief who was wounded in the assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan is retiring after nearly half a century in law enforcement.
Monday, July 6, 2020

Millikin's new president is at home for career's final chapter
DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — Millikin University’s new president, James Reynolds, did not grow up planning a career in academia.
Monday, July 6, 2020

Officer shot and killed, suspect found dead in Ohio
An officer who was responding to a disturbance call in a store parking lot was shot and killed early Saturday morning by an intoxicated man holding a beer, police said.

Toledo Officer Anthony Dia was shot in the chest just after midnight in the parking lot of a Home Depot, and later pronounced dead at a hospital, Police Chief George Kral said at a news conference.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Pawn shops report sales boom despite pandemic
Providers of fast money, pawn shops throughout the region have taken on an enhanced profile in an economy turned upside down by the coronavirus.

Instead of being busy providing loans, Pigg and West Quincy Pawn Shop owner Lionel Hammond said the pawn shops have been swamped with customers coming in buying guns, jewelry, electronics and other goods.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Illinois regulators warn casinos to take virus precautions
Casinos that fail to follow guidelines aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus could be disciplined, including loss of their license, Illinois regulators warned this week.
Saturday, July 4, 2020

Man charged with murder of Southern Illinois toddler
A man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 23-month-old girl who died after her head was apparently slammed against a wall of her mother’s Southern Illinois home.
Saturday, July 4, 2020

Illinois opening more centers to support small businesses
Seven new state-run centers will open this summer to support Illinois small businesses.

The Small Business Development Centers set to launch in July or already opened are in Chicago, Elgin and Joliet. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development said the $11.5 million effort brings the total of centers statewide to 42.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Founder of Edwardsville at the center of statue debate
The figure at the center of a statue debate in the Metro East city of Edwardsville has a final resting place at Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Ninian Edwards, who served one term as Illinois’ third governor from 1826 to 1830, is buried in the “Aristocracy Hill” part of the cemetery.

Edwards also served as territorial governor for three terms before Illinois was granted statehood in 1818.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Illinois soldier kills fellow soldier, self
Federal and military investigators say a soldier missing since April was killed and dismembered by a fellow soldier stationed at the same Texas base. The revelation followed demands for the Army to release details about its investigation of the disappearance.

A criminal complaint released Thursday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas charges a civilian with helping hide the body of 20-year-old solider Vanessa Guillen. The document, prepared in conjunction with the Army Criminal Investigative Command and the FBI, says the civilian helped the other soldier get rid of evidence after he bludgeoned Guillen with a hammer at Fort Hood in Central Texas and later dismembered and dumped the body.

Friday, July 3, 2020

COVID-19 hospital bed usage in Illinois highest since June 19
COVID-19 hospitalizations rose above 1,651 for the first time in seven days at the end of Wednesday, increasing by 140 from the day before and by 187 from its June 27 low.

The number is also the highest single-day tally for hospital bed usage since June 19, when there were 1,699 people hospitalized with the virus.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Downstate judge rules Pritzker's orders are void
All of Gov. JB Pritzker’s executive orders since April 8 pertaining to the novel coronavirus pandemic are void because he exceeded his authority when he used his emergency powers for more than 30 days, a Clay County judge ruled Thursday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health instead has “supreme authority” to close businesses and restrict residents’ activities in a public health crisis, Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney added.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Judge denies GOP request to allow large gatherings
A federal judge on Thursday denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed Illinois Republican Party groups to host large fundraising events.

In the lawsuit, the state GOP argued that Gov. JB Pritzker’s 50-person cap  on gathering sizes — which was a 10-person cap when the lawsuit was filed — does not apply to religious organizations, and the governor “declined to enforce” his order against protesters demanding an end to systemic racism.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Police chief shot while guarding Reagan is retiring
A suburban Chicago police chief who was wounded in the assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan is retiring after nearly half a century in law enforcement.

Tim McCarthy, who has served as Orland Park’s police chief for 26 years, is retiring Aug. 1.

Friday, July 3, 2020

State unemployment 29,511 better than prior week
The number of Illinois workers receiving state unemployment benefits fell by more than 29,000 during the last week of June as many businesses resumed operations after 14 weeks under a stay-at-home order brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday there were 676,338 people in Illinois receiving continuing unemployment benefits during the week that ended June 27. That was 29,511 fewer than the previous week.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Lincoln Association announces plan to reconstruct Lincoln Cottage in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD – The Abraham Lincoln Association today announced a plan to reconstruct the original cottage where Abraham Lincoln and his family lived before it was expanded into what is now known as the Lincoln Home.
Thursday, July 2, 2020

Springfield man killed in fall from Colorado summit
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Authorities have released the name of a hiker who died after falling about 30 feet (9.1 meters) near the summit of a mountain peak south of Boulder.
Thursday, July 2, 2020

Cass only county in state in virus warning category
SPRIGNFIELD — Illinois announced another 828 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday among 33,090 tests completed for a one-day positivity rate of 2.5 percent.
Thursday, July 2, 2020

State reports another 828 COVID-19 cases among 33K tested
SPRIGNFIELD — Illinois announced another 828 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday among 33,090 tests completed for a one-day positivity rate of 2.5 percent.
Thursday, July 2, 2020

Raoul asks federal judge to force recognition of Equal Rights Amendment's ratification
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ top lawyer wants a U.S. court to compel a federal official to formally acknowledge the Equal Rights Amendment received enough state support to be added to the U.S. Constitution – a largely procedural step that has thus far blocked the amendment from ratification.
Thursday, July 2, 2020

Mendoza: New fiscal year will be even more challenging than height of budget impasse
SPRINGFIELD — The state of Illinois, like most states, began a new fiscal year on July 1 and the person in charge of managing the state’s bank accounts said she fears it could be one of the most difficult years in modern memory.
Thursday, July 2, 2020

Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum reopens
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is excited to be open to the public again.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Cook Co. won't prosecute protestors for minor acts
CHICAGO (AP) — The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office announced Tuesday that her office won’t prosecute protesters for minor offenses such as disorderly conduct, unlawful gathering and violating curfew.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

COVID-19 update: Hospitalizations tick upward as positivity rate remains low 
SPRINGFIELD – The state’s hospital bed usage by COVID-19 patients ticked slightly upward Tuesday as the Illinois Department of Public Health announced another 725 confirmed cases and 23 COVID-19-related deaths.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Pritzker signs bill paving way for Chicago casino

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill into law Tuesday that paves the way for development of a major casino in Chicago, something officials expect to provide significant revenues for the state’s recently-passed capital improvements plan known as Rebuild Illinois.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Secretary of State Jesse White and IDOT alert drivers to two new traffic safety laws effective July 1
ILLINOIS — Secretary of State Jesse White and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced two new laws that take effect July 1 which establish tougher penalties for drivers who seriously injure others while texting and driving and for those who cause severe injury to pedestrians.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Facebook to build $800M data center in DeKalb
Facebook has announced it will build an $800 million data center in DeKalb that will create about 100 permanent jobs and depend on 100 percent renewable energy.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

COVID-19 1-day death toll of 14 is lowest since March
The seven-day rolling positivity rate for COVID-19 tests conducted remained at 2.7 percent Monday as the state reported the lowest single-day death total related to the pandemic since March 30.

There were 14 deaths reported Monday after 15 were reported Sunday and 26 on Saturday, bringing the COVID-19-related death toll since the pandemic began to 6,902 among 142,461 confirmed cases statewide.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Chicago releases video of ex-top cop asleep at wheel
CHICAGO (AP) — Documents, audio of a civilian 911 call and police body camera footage showing the former head of Chicago police allegedly asleep in October at the wheel of his vehicle were released to the public Monday by the city of Chicago.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Billiken Parade in Chicago canceled
CHICAGO (AP) — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of Chicago’s Bud Billiken Parade, a traditional African American back-to-school event for about 90 years, organizers announced Monday.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Policy Institute report says Illinois was ill-prepared for pandemic
SPRINGFIELD – A new report from an Illinois think tank says the state was ill-prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily because of a pre-existing shortage of nurses, and that the pandemic has left the state even more vulnerable in the event of another public health crisis.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

HSHS offers practical safety tips regarding the use of fireworks
SPRINGFIELD — With the Fourth of July just around the corner, thoughts turn to celebrating the holiday with fireworks. Although fireworks can be exciting, festive and fun, the HSHS Illinois hospitals of HSHS want to remind community members that fireworks can also be very dangerous.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Coroner: 3rd Illinois warehouse shooting victim identified
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The third person who died after being shot at a warehouse in central Illinois has been identified.
Monday, June 29, 2020

Start of July brings increase to Illinois minimum wage
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois’ minimum wage increases to $10 per hour this week, and state officials are reminding workers to make sure their paychecks reflect the change.
Monday, June 29, 2020

Construction halted for Aon Center observatory in Chicago
CHICAGO (AP) — Construction of an observatory atop Chicago’s third-tallest skyscraper will not start for almost another year due to the pandemic.
Monday, June 29, 2020

Illinois reports 646 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, 15 deaths
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois public health officials reported 646 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 15 deaths.
Monday, June 29, 2020

Shootings across Chicago kill 3 kids; activists seek change
CHICAGO (AP) — Activists and local leaders called for more state and federal support Sunday as weekend shootings across Chicago left three children dead, including a 10-year-old who was struck by a stray bullet that came through an apartment window.
Monday, June 29, 2020

Area medical district partners encourage blood donations
 SPRINGFIELD — Leaders from HSHS Illinois, Memorial Health System, SIU Medicine, Springfield Clinic and the Sangamon County Department of Public Health are partnering with the Central Illinois Community Blood Center (CICBC) to ask donors to step forward in support of the region's blood supply. A joint news conference was held today to help raise awareness of the importance of donating blood to ensure an adequate supply for patients in central Illinois.
Monday, June 29, 2020

Illinois Department of Public Health expands newborn Screening
SPRINGFIELD – Beginning Monday, the Illinois Department of Public Health will test every baby born in Illinois for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).  SMA is a group of hereditary diseases that progressively destroys motor neurons—nerve cells in the brain stem and spinal cord that control essential activities such as speaking, walking, breathing, and swallowing, leading to muscle weakness and atrophy.  When there are disruptions in the signals between motor neurons and muscles, the muscles gradually weaken and begin wasting away.
Monday, June 29, 2020

Presidential Library reopening Wednesday
SPRINGFIELD — After a series of changes to protect visitor health, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is finalizing plans to reopen to the public on Wednesday, July 1.
Saturday, June 27, 2020

State reopens, positivity rate slightly up
SPRINGFIELD – As the state entered Phase 4 of its COVID-19 reopening plan Friday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported more than 800 new cases of the virus among more than 30,000 tests completed for the second straight day.
Saturday, June 27, 2020

State museum offers free 4th of July activity kits for families
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois State Museum (ISM) announces "Red, White, and Blue Super Saturday" will occur online during the 4th of July weekend, Friday, July 3 to Monday, July 6, 2020. Join the Illinois State Museum and celebrate the 4th of July holiday by engaging in art and science activities while at home. Families are encouraged to interact with the Museum online to complete red-white-and-blue themed activities and share their experiences. 
Saturday, June 27, 2020

Springfield shooter kills two coworkers and himself
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The 48-year-old man suspected of fatally shooting two coworkers and critically wounding another at a central Illinois warehouse Friday died after apparently shooting himself, the city’s police chief said.
Saturday, June 27, 2020

IDOC employee arrested; custodial sexual misconduct and official misconduct
SPRINGFIELD — On Jun.25, 2020, the Illinois State Police (ISP) Division of Internal Investigation (DII) arrested Daniel Lara, 30-year-old male of Springfield, for one count of Custodial Sexual Misconduct (Class 3 Felony) and one count Official Misconduct (Class 3 Felony).
Saturday, June 27, 2020

Water-quality grants available from EPA
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has opened the application period for grant programs worth more than $9 million to improve water quality in the state .
Saturday, June 27, 2020

Public Health Dept provides Phase 4 guidance for swimming facilities
SPRINGFIELD — Under Phase 4 of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Restore Illinois plan, swimming facilities licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) can open at a maximum of 50% of capacity. This includes swimming pools, water parks, splashpads, and beaches.
Saturday, June 27, 2020

Farmers' struggles with mental health intensify during pandemic
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Meg Moynihan knows what it’s like to struggle.
Saturday, June 27, 2020

Minimum wage in Illinois goes up on July 1
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois' minimum wage will make its second increase this year to $10 per hour beginning July 1. The Illinois Department of Labor urges minimum wage earners to make sure their checks reflect the increase following July 1.
Friday, June 26, 2020

Officers respond to active shooter at Springfield Bunn
SPRINGFIELD — Law enforcement personnel responded to a report of an active shooter at BUNN-o-Matic at 1400 Stevenson Drive in Springfield Friday morning.
Friday, June 26, 2020

24 charged in Chicago drug operation
CHICAGO (AP) — An investigation of an illegal drug trafficking operation on Chicago’s West Side has led to federal charges against 24 purported gang members as well as the seizure of more than 30 guns and more than $1.3 million in cash, authorities said today.
Friday, June 26, 2020

Biggest priest class since 1964: Eight men ordained to priesthood in Diocese of Springfield in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has eight new priests, the largest class of newly- ordained priests since 1964. The priests, who represent a wide spectrum of ages and backgrounds and who come from different parts of the diocese and the globe, were ordained by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Friday, June 26, 2020

State continued unemployment claims remain over 700,000Pritzker says unemployment security agency continually trying to expand capacity

SPRINGFIELD — The U.S. Department of Labor released statistics Thursday showing 705,878 Illinoisans received unemployment insurance for the week ending June 20.

Friday, June 26, 2020

As state enters Phase 4 Friday, Pritzker 'not afraid' to move backwards if COVID-19 cases surge
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker announced a new tool to track county-by-county progress in the fight against the novel coronavirus Thursday, but as the state readied to enter the next phase of reopening, he also warned that he would not hesitate to move certain regions backward if progress subsides.
Friday, June 26, 2020

AG: Gathering restrictions regulate Illinoisans' conduct, not speech
SPRINGFIELD — State regulation of the number of people allowed at gatherings does not violate Illinoisans’ First Amendment rights, the attorney general’s office argued in a court document.
Friday, June 26, 2020

GOP senate candidate seeks looser ballot access requirement
SPRINGFIELD — A central Illinois Republican state senate candidate who does not have enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot asked a federal judge Tuesday to also apply loosened election requirements to him.
Thursday, June 25, 2020

Innocence Project clears wrongfully convicted man
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois man is free after getting his 2008 murder conviction vacated following new evidence that revealed he was not responsible for the death of his infant son, partly because of efforts from a group in the state that’s cleared more than a dozen people wrongfully convicted of crimes.
Thursday, June 25, 2020

More details released on COVID recovery grants
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced this week that it will soon start releasing funds from two grant programs aimed at helping small businesses that have suffered losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest that occurred during recent protests over racial injustice.
Thursday, June 25, 2020

Illinois Right to Life sues to hold large gatherings
SPRINGFIELD — An Illinois pro-life nonprofit filed a federal lawsuit challenging Gov. JB Pritzker’s social gathering restrictions, arguing it should be excluded from caps on attendees to charity, planning and educational events.
Thursday, June 25, 2020

Applications available for $60 million in business interruption grants
SPRINGFIELD — Applications are now available for the new Business Interruption Grant program, which will make $60 million available for 3,500 small businesses affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Valparaiso University provost tapped for Blackburn College presidency
CARLINVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A top Valparaiso University administrator has been chosen as the next president of southern Illinois’ Blackburn College.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

State's blood supply critically low; blood centers in dire need for organizations to host blood drives
PALATINE, Ill. — Officials from the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers (ICCBC) gathered today to make the public aware of Illinois’ dwindling blood supply and the dire need for organizations to step up and continue to host blood drives in their communities, especially as Illinois advances to Phase 4 of Restore Illinois. Following the national trend, Illinois Blood Centers are currently running on 2 day or less supply of blood, putting them at a “critically low” level.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

New guidelines released for return to in-person education
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois released new guidelines for schools, colleges and universities to return to in-person learning in the fall, but leaders warned those plans could change if health metrics related to the COVID-19 pandemic stop improving.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Entering Phase 4 out of 5 on Friday
SPRINGFIELD — Restaurants across the state are set to open for indoor dining Friday among other additions to allowable activities under the state’s Restore Illinois plan. The state released new guidance for reopening businesses Monday.
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

No further changes to ballot access for third party
SPRINGFIELD — A federal court has denied the Illinois State Board of Elections’ request to suspend enforcement of looser ballot access requirements for third-party candidates in the November election.
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Farm Bureau invites you to learn about pollinators
ILLINOIS — During this time of year, you might look out your window to see bees and butterflies buzzing around nearby flowers, moving from one plant to the next, pollinating along the way. Many of the fruits and vegetables we enjoy in the summer are a result of the important work these insects do.
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Illinois reports 658 additional COVID-19 cases, 23 deaths
Illinois is poised to enter its next phase of reopening Friday, allowing museums, gyms, performance venues and zoos across the state to open their doors with restrictions in place. 
Monday, June 22, 2020

100+ shot in Chicago this weekend
Fourteen people, including five children, were killed as more than 100 people were shot in a wave of gunfire in Chicago over the Father’s Day weekend that produced the city’s highest number of shooting victims in a single weekend this year.

Among the victims was 3-year-old Mekhi James, who police said was fatally shot Saturday as the boy was in a car with his father in the south Austin neighborhood.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Illinois Senator says 1968 report shows not much has changed in race relations
In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson appointed a commission to investigate the causes of race riots in the U.S.. and to offer recommendations for the future.

While its full name is the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, the panel is more widely known as the Kerner Commission, so called because it was chaired by Illinois’ then-governor Otto Kerner Jr.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Elections board asks judge to suspend ballot access rules
The Illinois State Board of Elections asked a federal appeals court to suspend a lower judge’s order amending ballot access requirements for third-party candidates this election cycle.

That request was filed one month after Rebecca Pallmeyer, chief judge of the Northern District of Illinois, gave those candidates a little less extra time to gather petition signatures amid Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home and social distancing restrictions.

The elections board now, after analyzing “the competing requirements it and local elections authorities face in preparing for the November election,” is alleging Pallmeyer’s order handicaps its ability to “administer a timely and fair election,” according to court filings.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Edwardsville groups seeks to remove statue of state's 3rd governor, a slave owner
Residents of a southwestern Illinois community want a statue of the state’s third governor removed from a public plaza, arguing that he owned slaves and used his power to protect the practice.

Nearly 500 people have joined a Facebook group that supports petitioning the city of Edwardsville to tear down a Ninian Edwards statue and also rename a plaza with his moniker, according to The Edwardsville Intelligencer.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Advice to Grow By: Green is the new orange
When asked what color goes with everything in your garden, the answer is green, albeit working with the many shades of green in the plant world will certainly put a new spin on this.  In the plant world, the color green has its roots in chlorophyll, needed for converting the nutrients of sunlight into energy for growing things.  

Uncovering bulbs hidden below winter leaves often exposes yellow foliage which takes a few days to assume a healthy green color. At the end of the season, trees and many other plants begin to lose the chlorophyll, revealing the red, orange, yellow, or purple hues of those leaves as the days grow shorter.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

COVID-19 closes suburban Chicago Drivers Services office
The Illinois Secretary of State’s office has closed a Drivers Services Facility in suburban Chicago for two weeks, and staff is being quarantined for 14 days, after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The Schaumburg facility will be closed until July 2, WBBM-TV reported.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

World trapshooting meets cancellation angers southern Ill.
The decision by Illinois officials to cancel a world sport-shooting championship in southern Illinois because of the coronavirus pandemic has lawmakers from the area upset.

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports that the 121st Grand American World Trapshooting Championships at a state-owned complex near Sparta, scheduled for Aug. 5-15, is canceled.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

What will school be like this fall? Guidelines expected soon
School will be different when a new academic year starts this fall, but whether students are still learning remotely or the number of days per week they attend class will likely vary by location and district.
Saturday, June 20, 2020

Illinois PTA calls for statewide learning recovery plan
As the current school year ends in districts across our state, school staff, from teachers and principals to bus drivers and school nurses, have shown to be true heroes for our students and families in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. These truly essential employees have delivered our communities meals, provided health alerts and information, supported our children with a quick transition to remote learning, and served as vital lifelines for countless students and families. We are extremely grateful to them and applaud their strength and commitment.
Saturday, June 20, 2020

State on pace to enter Phase 4 June 26
Illinois’ unemployment rate fell to 15.2 percent in May, according to the state Department of Employment Security, representing a 2 percent drop from the previous month.

Nonfarm payrolls added 62,200 jobs in May based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job losses for April were also revised downward to 738,600 jobs lost, down from 762,200 in previous estimates.

Friday, June 19, 2020

University of Illinois announces fall in-person instruction
In-person instruction will take place in the fall at the University of Illinois, with COVID-19 safety precautions in place to protect students if the state has moved into Phase IV of its reopening schedule, officials said Thursday.

Students who don’t or can’t return to the central Illinois campus can take classes online, according to the university. Those who have signed up to live in university housing or freshmen required to live on campus will have to submit special documentation and receive approval to learn from a distance.

Friday, June 19, 2020

COVID-19 closes one suburban drivers office
The Illinois Secretary of State’s office has closed a Drivers Services Facility in suburban Chicago for two weeks, and staff is being quarantined for 14 days, after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The Schaumburg facility will be closed until July 2, WBBM-TV reported.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Lawsuit says firm responsible for unemployment data breach
The firm contracted to launch an unemployment claims portal is solely responsible for a data breach that made available almost 33,000 Illinoisans’ personal information, a St. Clair County resident has alleged in a federal lawsuit.

The state Department of Employment Security announced on May 18 that the web-based system built and maintained by Deloitte Consulting LLP – an international business services company – to process some unemployment claims allowed public access of applicants’ names, Social Security numbers and street addresses.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Chicago ok to keep old police complaints
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled today that Chicago can keep all records of complaints against police officers that are more than five years old, delivering a victory for police reform advocates who say the records are crucial to keeping track of officers accused of brutality and misconduct.

Though the ruling is part of a legal battle that started long before last month's death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, it deals with many of the issues that demonstrators have been raising at the widespread protests over Floyd's death, racial inequality and police accountability.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

State rep calls for investing in black communities
The St. Louis metropolitan area is no stranger to racial tension. In 2014, the Missouri-side suburb of Ferguson was rocked by protests and riots when an African American teenager named Michael Brown was shot and killed by police.
Brown’s death has been cited as one of several high-profile police killings that propelled the Black Lives Matter movement to national attention.

Now, in the wake of the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer, the Black Lives Matter movement is gaining broad-based public support that crosses racial lines. It is inspiring protests and demonstrations throughout the U.S., including many cities in Illinois.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Governor announces $900 million in rent support, business relief and more
Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday he will extend a moratorium on evictions in the state until July 31, and a new state grant program that will begin in August to give assistance to those who are behind on rent.

There will be $150 million dedicated to each an emergency rental assistance and emergency mortgage assistance program, which will begin in August. Those were two of several programs totaling $900 million in state aid that were highlighted in a Chicago news conference by Pritzker and legislative leaders.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

AG Raoul tests positive; gov to be tested
Attorney General Kwame Raoul has tested positive for COVID-19, his office announced in a news release Tuesday, and the governor plans to get retested as well.

“After experiencing minor symptoms over the weekend, I consulted with my health care provider using telehealth services. Upon the advice of my doctor, I was tested yesterday and informed today that I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Raoul said in a news release.

Raoul said in the statement his symptoms remain mild and he continues to be in contact with staff to manage operations of his office. The programs and services provided by the attorney general’s office will continue uninterrupted, he said.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

State lawmakers used procedural maneuver to secure firearms bill
New permanent regulations that govern licensed firearms dealers in Illinois have been approved 18 months after Gov. JB Pritzker signed the bill into law.

The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR, gave its okay to the rules at a meeting Tuesday in Springfield.

The Firearms Dealers License Certification Act passed the General Assembly in May 2018, when Republican Bruce Rauner was governor. But knowing he was likely to veto it, lawmakers used a procedural maneuver to hold the bill until Democrat JB Pritzker took office in January. He signed it on Jan. 17, four days after being inaugurated.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Governor Pritzker signs vote-by-mail expansion
Anyone who cast a ballot in the last three years or who registered to vote or changed addresses after the March primary will be sent an application to vote by mail after Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill expanding the program Tuesday.

In a news release, Pritzker’s office said the program is aimed at ensuring “safe and active participation in the 2020 general election during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1863 and House Bill 2238, which also expands early voting hours at permanent polling places and makes election day a state holiday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Chicago aldermen propose removing police officers from public schools
Chicago aldermen announced a plan Tuesday to remove police officers from city schools amid growing outcry for police reforms in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

The proposal ending the city’s $33 million deal with the Chicago Police Department follows similar action in Minneapolis and Seattle.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

State GOP sues for same social gathering exclusion as churches, protests
The Illinois Republican Party wants to be excluded from the state’s social gathering restrictions, as it alleged in a federal lawsuit that churches and political demonstrations already enjoy such exclusions.

Throughout the year, the party holds a state convention, strategy meetings and candidate rallies — all with more than 10 people present. Under Gov. JB Pritzker’s May 29 executive order addressing the continued spread of COVID-19, those in-person gatherings are banned.

According to a court filing, the governor carved out an exception for religious institutions, which can hold socially-distanced services of more than 10 people. It also alleges he “declined to enforce” his order against protesters demanding an end to systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Perils of police at high speeds calls for more reform
A tragic chain of events that led to the death of a retired elementary teacher in Chicago started when a police officer confronted a man in a West Side alley. After issuing a call for help, the officer could be heard over the police radio screaming, “Drop the gun!”

Three minutes later and just two blocks away, two police vehicles speeding to the officer’s aid collided at an intersection, one catapulting the other onto a sedan taking 84-year-old Verona Gunn home after a family cookout. She died hours later on an operating table.

That crash last year and another this month that killed a young Chicago mother highlight a police reform issue that hasn’t received as much attention as the use of excessive force: The hundreds of deadly crashes involving speeding police that occur nationwide each year.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Illinois announces expansion of emergency assistance programs
As Illinois prepares to enter the next phase of Gov. JB Pritzker’s reopening plan, his administration is launching a number of initiatives to help individuals and families who have been financially impacted from the economic shutdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, Pritzker was in Belleville to announce the expansion of two existing programs, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program, or LIHEAP, and the Community Services Block Grant program, which provide food, utility and other kinds of assistance to people who are struggling financially.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

IDNR cancels 2020 waterfowl blind drawings
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) announced it has elected to cancel all waterfowl blind drawings for 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Existing blind holders will be allowed to maintain their blinds through the 2020-2021 waterfowl season; drawings canceled in 2020, as well as those drawings scheduled for 2021, will resume in 2021.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Report: 75% of Chicago curfew violation arrestees were black
Black people made up 75% of those arrested in Chicago for alleged violations of a curfew imposed during demonstrations following George Floyd’s death, according to a newspaper report Sunday.

The Chicago Sun-Times analyzed data, obtained through an information request, for the first five days of a curfew imposed May 30 and lifted June 7. The newspaper found 329 of the 440 people arrested were identified as African American.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Officials: Illinoisans can preregister for license, ID needs
Illinois residents can preregister online when applying for a driver’s license or identification card, Secretary of State Jesse White announced Friday.

White said he hopes preregistering will save time at driver’s services facilities, where residents have encountered long lines after weeks of the offices being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Perspectives on Progress: West says listen to the 'unheard'
In the wake of the protests and violence that have beset many communities in Illinois, state Rep. Maurice West says he thinks it’s time for everyone to listen to the voices of people who rarely get to speak.

A Democrat from Rockford and a member of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, West talked candidly during a podcast interview as part of Capitol News Illinois’ “Perspectives on Progress” series. He talked about the demonstrations that took place in his community and the mood of his constituents in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who was killed in Minneapolis by a white police officer May 25.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Chicago triples per capita police spending since '64
CHICAGO (AP) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot has rejected demands to defund the Chicago Police Department, arguing that neighborhoods want more police support.CHICAGO (AP) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot has rejected demands to defund the Chicago Police Department, arguing that neighborhoods want more police support.

But an analysis shows Chicago is spending more on policing per person than at any time in the last half-century despite a persistent drop in crime over the last two decades, while the vast majority of murders remain unsolved.

Chicago allocated about $750 million in today’s dollars to the police department in 1964 from the city’s general operating budget. About 3.5 million people lived in Chicago then, meaning the city funded the police at a rate of $215 or so per resident, adjusted for inflation.

This year, Chicago budgeted $1.6 billion for its police department, excluding money set aside for police misconduct lawsuits and police pensions. That means Chicago is planning to spend more than $600 per resident on policing in 2020, according to an Injustice Watch analysis of census figures and police budget appropriations compiled by data scientist Forest Gregg.

Chicago’s per capita spending on policing is more than double that in Miami-Dade County in Florida, which has a similar population, and higher than Los Angeles, which is home to 1 million more residents, according to an analysis of publicly available data.

Police records show violent crimes have steadily declined in Chicago after peaking in the 1990s. The rate at which police solve murders in the city has also cratered. Still, the police budget has consistently taken up about 40% of the city’s general operating budget.

For activists and city leaders calling on Lightfoot to cut the police budget, it’s clear that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

“Right now, we’re paying the police to kill folks like me, that’s what’s happening,” said Ald. Jeanette B. Taylor (20th), one of six democratic socialists on the City Council. “We can’t get a nurse, a social worker, or a counselor in schools, but we can always afford more police? That’s not common sense.”

Taylor and the rest of the caucus penned an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times Monday, arguing that the bloated police budget prevents the city from effectively tackling the coronavirus pandemic, which has carved a $700 million hole in the city’s 2020 budget.

“Chicago needs enormous public investment to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and when we sit down to hash out a budget this year, we will be faced with a choice: We can cut policing, or we can slash basically everything else,” the caucus wrote.

Protests continued this week in Chicago and around the nation, spurred by outrage over the May killing of George Floyd, who died in Minnesota after an officer knelt on his neck, and the long list of Black people killed by police. Protestors have decried systemic racism and called for police accountability, and demanded that police be defunded or abolished so governments can spend more money on social services.

The mayor’s office did not respond to specific questions about Injustice Watch’s analysis of police per capita spending. But at a news conference Tuesday, Lightfoot said she disagrees that adequately funding social services and keeping the police budget intact are mutually exclusive.

“I don’t think it’s an either-or proposition,” she said. “The investments we’re committed to make in mental health, in affordable housing, in workforce development, we need to make those investments, period. And we committed to that.”

While funding for the Chicago Police Department has steadily increased over time, the number of violent crimes committed in the city has fallen dramatically since its peak in the early 1990s.

What’s also dropped since then is the rate at which Chicago cops solve murders.

In 1967, the police reported solving 90% of homicide cases. By 1997, the murder clearance rate was 57%. In 2017, the department reported clearing less than one in four homicide cases. An analysis of police records by NPR from October showed the murder clearance rate was even more abysmal when the victim was Black or Latinx.

Nationally, police departments around the country had a murder clearance rate of about 62% in 2017, according to the FBI.

Despite its failures to find and capture most murderers, the Chicago Police Department budget nearly doubled between 1967 and 2017, going from $867 million to $1.5 billion, adjusted for inflation.

This year’s police budget is the largest on record. Salaries, wages, and overtime pay together take up more than 80% of the funds. There are more than 13,000 sworn Chicago police officers today, the most since 2008.

Municipal finance expert Michael D. Belsky said the most obvious way to slash the police budget is to have fewer officers on the city’s payroll. That means layoffs, said Belsky, executive director of the Center for Municipal Finance at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

But there’s no way to lay off scores of officers without going through the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, a trade union with nearly 350,000 members nationwide.

“It’s very difficult to remove someone; sometimes you have to go to arbitration, sometimes you end up getting sued by the officer and have to settle,” he said. “It’s not that easy to just take out your budget ax and start cutting unionized employees of any sort.”

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 in Chicago did not respond to requests to comment.

In a statement, the Chicago Police Department said it supports investments in community-based organizations and city departments that provide youth programming, family services, drug rehabilitation treatment, and other services. But the department did not answer specific questions about cutting its budget.

Tamar Manasseh, founder and president of Mothers Against Senseless Killings, or MASK, an anti-violence community group on the South Side, said she’s in no rush to dismantle the police department. But she thinks the city should redirect policing dollars to grassroots efforts that stomp out crime at the root.

“I don’t know if there’s enough commitment from the community yet to police our own neighborhoods, but I know that we can get there. We don’t need as many police as we have now,” she said.

Manasseh’s group is headquartered at a vacant lot straddling the border between Englewood and Auburn Gresham. The group prioritizes keeping the peace in the neighborhood without getting law enforcement involved.

“In the six years I’ve been here, sitting in one of the most dangerous corners of the city, I’ve never called 9-1-1, and I have yet to be murdered, even though this is a ‘hot spot,‘” she said.

Volunteers run MASK, but the group provides stipends to a handful of community residents that mediate disputes between other residents. The group also pays for a handful of young people to attend trade schools.

Manasseh said the city could learn from the group’s approach to reducing crime and violence in poverty-stricken neighborhoods.

“We sent kids to a trade school and gave them a stipend, and guess what? Violence dropped,” she said. “We’re not asking the city to do anything that we haven’t experimented with — we know it works, and all you have to do is pay people to police their own communities and guess what? Everything will change.”

“You don’t want to do it too quickly, because when all hell breaks loose, the community will beg for the police to come back,” Manasseh said, “but if this is done the right way, it’s revolutionary.”

Matthew Wilbourn is a youth organizer with the anti-violence group GoodKids MadCity and (hash)NoCopAcademy, a coalition opposed to the construction of a $95 million police and fire training facility on the West Side. He said calls to defund the police force city leaders to reimagine what public safety could look like.

“I think people are very scared of that buzzword of ‘defunding’ the police because it sounds like you’re taking away, but it’s all about redistributing that money into something else,” he said.

“The mental health problem in Chicago is frightening, and it has to do with shootings and misunderstanding between people and the police because they’re not equipped to handle this.”

Wilbourn’s comments echo statements Chicago police Supt. David Brown made four years ago when he led the Dallas Police Department. In the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting that claimed the lives of five officers and injured nine others, Brown contended, “we’re asking cops to do too much in this country.”

“Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve,” he said. “Not enough mental health funding, let the cop handle it. Not enough drug addiction funding, let’s give it to cops.”

“I’ll just ask other parts of our democracy — including the free press — to help us, to help us and not put that burden all on law enforcement to resolve.”

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Additional 77 COVID deaths are reported; Chicago average 18 per day
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Friday 77 additional fatalities related to COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 6,260.
Saturday, June 13, 2020

Extension offers advice on planting, caring for basil
URBANA — Nothing says summer like enjoying freshly harvested herbs from your garden or patio.
Saturday, June 13, 2020

New daily COVID-19 cases fall below 600 for the first time since March
SPRINGFIELD – The number of new novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, cases reported in the last 24 hours fell below 600 on Friday for the first time since March 30.
Saturday, June 13, 2020

Perspectives on Progress: West says listen to the 'unheard' Rockford lawmaker, minister reflects on how to move forward
SPRINGFIELD – In the wake of the protests and violence that have beset many communities in Illinois, state Rep. Maurice West says he thinks it’s time for everyone to listen to the voices of people who rarely get to speak.
Saturday, June 13, 2020

Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs cancelled due to COVID-19
SPRINGFIELD — Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Pritzker is issuing an Executive Order cancelling the Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs this year. The announcement of the cancellations has prompted the Department of Agriculture to offer a safe, creative way to ensure youth exhibitors still get a chance to showcase their hard work. The annual State Fairs, which attracted over 600,000 visitors combined in 2019, will return in August 2021.
Saturday, June 13, 2020

Data science helps guide Memorial Health System during virus pandemic
SPRINGFIELD — Cutting-edge data science that guided Memorial Health System’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic this year will serve patients well if cases rise in coming weeks and months, a Memorial official says.
Saturday, June 13, 2020

Enter state writers competition now
ILLINOIS — Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White announced today that entry forms are available for the 16th annual Illinois Emerging Writers Competition Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award.
Saturday, June 13, 2020

Honor flights suspended nationwide for 2020
ILLINOIS — Land of Lincoln Honor Flight (LLHF) received notice today from its National governing organization that all honor flights nationwide have been suspended through the end of 2020 due to continued concerns related to COVID-19.   This was a difficult but necessary decision to ensure the safety and continued health of our country's most important national resource - - our Veteran heroes.
Friday, June 12, 2020

Perspectives on Progress: Evans says conversation with police should be about 'bad individuals'
SPRINGFIELD — Rep. Marcus Evans would like to see the conversation around policing in the U.S. and Illinois focus on “bad individuals” using police powers wrongly, rather than as a condemnation of policing in general.
Friday, June 12, 2020

Churchs file lawsuit claiming Reproductive Health Act's insurance mandate violates religious freedoms
SPRINGFIELD — Insurance provisions of Illinois’ reproductive health care law violates residents’ religious freedoms, a coalition of Baptist churches and two state businesses allege in a circuit court lawsuit filed Wednesday.
Friday, June 12, 2020

Nationwide Honor Flights have been suspended for the remainder of 2020 
ILLINOIS — Land of Lincoln Honor Flight (LLHF) received notice today from its National governing organization that all honor flights nationwide have been suspended through the end of 2020 due to continued concerns related to COVID-19.   This was a difficult but necessary decision to ensure the safety and continued health of our country's most important national resource - - our Veteran heroes.
Friday, June 12, 2020

Chicago investigating officers 'lounging' during unrest
CHICAGO (AP) — More than a dozen Chicago police officers and supervisors were captured on video “lounging” inside a burglarized congressional campaign office and even appeared to be making popcorn and brewing coffee as people vandalized and stole from nearby businesses as protests and unrest spread across the city, a visibly angry Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday.
Friday, June 12, 2020

UIS drops admissions test requirement for 2021 due to virus
SPRINGFIELD — The University of Illinois Springfield will not require college bound high school seniors to submit standardized test scores as part of the application process for fall 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday, June 12, 2020

LLCC recognized for online learning
SPRINGFIELD – Lincoln Land Community College has been named a top school for online learning by the Guide to Online Schools in its recently published “2020 Best Online Community College Rankings by State.” 
Friday, June 12, 2020

Driver's facilities offer online preregistration for quicker service
ILLINOIS — Illinois Secretary of State office has launched an online driver’s license and ID card preregistration application program to reduce the processing time of transactions at Driver Services facilities. It is a proactive approach that will save customers time during their facility visit.
Friday, June 12, 2020

HSHS and Memorial Health System update visitor guidelines
SPRINGFIELD — Visitor restrictions put in place at Memorial Health System (MHS) and HSHS Illinois hospitals in March have been updated due to a decline in COVID-19 numbers in central and southern Illinois.
Friday, June 12, 2020

Jesse White launches driver's license/ID card preregistration application
ILLINOIS — Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced today that his office has launched an online driver’s license and ID card preregistration application program to reduce the processing time of transactions at Driver Services facilities. It is a proactive approach that will save customers time during their facility visit.
Friday, June 12, 2020

Medical examiner confirms 9-month-old died from COVID-19
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Wednesday that a Chicago infant’s death in March was caused by COVID-19, a rare instance of a baby dying from the virus.
Thursday, June 11, 2020

Gov: Follow rules and we shouldn't see second spike
Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday that Illinois is on pace to enter the next phase of reopening after COVID-19-related shutdowns later this month, and added he doesn’t expect a second surge of the virus in the fall as long as safety guidelines are followed.

“If you go to the (Illinois Department of Public Health) website you'll see that every one of the metrics, every one of the metrics by which the epidemiologists say we should be measuring our progress is going in the right direction,” the governor said. “Every one of them, and it's because of what everybody has done across the state.”

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Rep. Tarver urges honest conversations on race
Daily demonstrations held across Illinois and the U.S. calling for an end to systemic racism are bittersweet, according to state Rep. Curtis Tarver.

Public outcry after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, shows “there are more people out there who believe in good,” he said. But at the same time, it is “frustrating” because protests demanding racial equity have happened before and will happen again.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Governor signs $43-billion Illinois budget heavily reliant on federal assistance
Gov. JB Pritzker signed a state budget for fiscal year 2021 Wednesday, but there is no more financial clarity now than there was when lawmakers passed the measure last month.
Thursday, June 11, 2020

Chicago coronavirus survivor gets lung transplant
Surgeons in Chicago have given a new set of lungs to a young woman with severe lung damage from the coronavirus.

Only a few other COVID-19 survivors, in China and Europe, have received lung transplants.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Chicago cancels Lollapalooza and more
Chicago officials on Tuesday canceled Lollapalooza and other summer festivals through Labor Day, citing concerns about the spread of coronavirus as the pandemic’s financial toll worsened.

Lollapalooza draws hundreds of thousands of people over four days to a lakefront park, generating more than $5 million for Chicago, but city officials said it was too risky with crowds packed close together.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Parts of Chicago's Navy Pier are reopening today
Chicago’s Navy Pier is reopening today, nearly three months after closing as part of state and city efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Initial reopening plans include outdoor restaurant spaces, tour boats, parking garages and outdoor parks and piers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Co-defendant in shooting of trooper enters plea
A co-defendant in the August 2019 fatal shooting of an Illinois State Police trooper has pleaded guilty to a federal gun charge.

U.S. District Chief Judge Nancy Rosenstengel has ordered Al Stewart Jr., 20, to remain in jail until his sentencing in September. Stewart had been indicted on one count of unlawfully using a controlled substance while in possession of a gun. He faces armed violence, obstruction of justice and unlawful delivery of cannabis in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

State rep calls for systemic reforms after protests
In the wake of nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, Chicago-area Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch is calling for a statewide response to hold police accountable for excessive use of force and to address what he sees as “institutional racism” that has devastated many black communities in Illinois.

“We need a statewide system where bad police officers can be held accountable for the deaths of our black men and women in Illinois and across this country,” he said during a recent interview. “We can't have police officers fired from one department and then bouncedto another department. We have to hold them accountable. But we also have to address poverty. We have to create a pipeline to advance black students at community colleges, state colleges and private universities.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Trinity Dodge Fixed
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