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home : news : state news free February 26, 2021

Madigan successor abruptly resigns
The hand-picked successor to former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s seat abruptly resigned Wednesday, under pressure from his sponsors who accused him of unspecified “questionable conduct.“

Edward Guerra Kodatt submitted his resignation to the House clerk Wednesday morning, according to Democrat Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside, citing a spokesman for the new House speaker. Kodatt quit just three days after he was chosen from among 10 candidates to replace Madigan, a Democrat from the Southwest Side of Chicago who had held the post for more than 50 years.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Law enforcement: Criminal justice reform 'misguided'
Law enforcement groups have decried the Monday signing of a massive criminal justice reform bill into law by Gov. JB Pritzker, referring to the legislation as anti-police with provisions that will lead to unintended consequences.

House Bill 3653, referred to as the “Safe-T Act,” ends the use of cash bail by 2023 and grants increased state oversight of police agencies statewide, among other provisions. Law enforcement and Republican lawmakers opposed the legislation, citing problematic language in some provisions, while maintaining support for the law’s intent.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

State expected to hit 100,000 daily vaccines in March
Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday the state expects to be receiving up to 100,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine daily by mid-March, up from the approximately 60,000 it is currently receiving on average.

That’s counting only the already-approved Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines, and is not including a potential dosage spike that is expected occur if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves a Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Illinois hemp production drops slightly in 2020
Industrial hemp production declined slightly in 2020, the second year of legalized production in Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture said Wednesday that 2,392 acres of industrial hemp, or 87 percent of the acres planted, were harvested during the year. That was down from just over 2,800 acres in 2019.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Mayor of Chicago signs plan boosting sanctuary protection
Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed a measure Tuesday strengthening Chicago’s sanctuary policies by removing exceptions where local police can cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Wednesday, February 24, 2021

IDoA seeking nominations for 2021 Senior Hall of Fame
The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) is accepting nominations for the 2021 Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame Awards. These awards recognize adults, 65 years of age and older, and highlight the meaningful contributions they have made in Illinois.

"It's been tough this past year. We all know an older family member, friend or neighbor who has made a significant impact in their community or has gone the extra mile during these challenging times," said Paula Basta, Director of IDoA. "Now, more than ever, I encourage everyone to take some time to nominate those special individuals who should be recognized for their dedication and notable service. Please help us honor those who embody the spirit of respecting yesterday, supporting today, and planning for tomorrow."

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Darren Bailey announces run for gov
Illinois Sen. Darren Bailey, who gained notoriety for challenging Gov. JB Pritzker’s COVID-19 executive orders last year, announced Monday that he will seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2022.

Speaking before a crowd of supporters at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham Monday night, Bailey cast himself as an outsider candidate who would stand up to who he referred to as “political elites”.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Pritzker calls for $15M loan for areas hit by high gas prices
Gov. JB Pritzker announced a low-interest loan program Tuesday to help alleviate the unprecedented financial burden from soaring utility costs for certain Illinois municipalities and their residents.

The extreme weather that devastated Texas’ electrical grid last week has resulted in skyrocketing natural gas prices in Illinois directly linked to frozen natural gas wells in Texas and Oklahoma.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Hospitalizatins for COVID-19 continue on a steady decline
Hospitalizations and positivity rates for COVID-19 in Illinois continued on a steady decline Tuesday, decreasing for the 13th straight week.

As of Monday night, the state reported 1,488 individuals were in the hospital with COVID-19, including 361 in intensive care unit beds and 172 on ventilators.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Vilsak confirmed for second stint as ag secretary
The Senate on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to confirm Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary, his second run at the Cabinet post.

The former Iowa governor spent eight years leading the same Department of Agriculture for former President Barack Obama’s entire administration. He was confirmed Tuesday on a 92-7 vote.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Illinois seeks help from USDA to feed school kids
As many as 1 million Illinois schoolchildren will get more nutritious meals after state officials received an expansion of a federally subsidized pandemic-relief program, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday.

Illinois is one of 16 states that sought additional assistance from the U.S. Agriculture Department’s program. In a news conference at Washington Middle School, Pritzker said the state will more than double the benefits it had been receiving and reach an additional 200,000 children.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

State expands 1B vaccine eligibility
Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday that the state will move ahead with plans to expand vaccine eligibility under Phase 1B of its vaccination plan later this week.

A total of 73,181 COVID-19 vaccinations were administered statewide combined Saturday and Sunday. The state has administered over 2.2 million doses to date, with 4.4 percent of the state’s population being fully vaccinated.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Governor Pritzker signs criminal justice reform bill
Gov. JB Pritzker signed a criminal justice omnibus bill backed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Monday, abolishing cash bail, overhauling police certification and reforming use-of-force standards among numerous other provisions.

Pritzker signed the legislation, House Bill 3653, referred to as the “Safe-T Act,” during an event at Chicago State University alongside members of his administration and lawmakers from the Black Caucus.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Madigan also resigns as chairman of Illinois Democratic Party
Former Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan announced Monday that he is resigning as chairman of the state Democratic Party, a post he has held since 1998.

The announcement came just days after Madigan resigned his seat in the House after a 50-year career in the General Assembly.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Esports offers youths new way to connect virtually
On a typical Tuesday night Seanan AlYasiri and his family crowd around the TV in their living room.

At first glance it may appear they are watching a soccer game — one played with virtual cars instead of people — but in reality they are cheering on Alexi AlYasiri, 10, in a competitive video game called Rocket League.

Monday, February 22, 2021

SIU receives volumes belonging to late inventor Fuller
Southern Illinois University has received a collection of books belonging to the late inventor and designer R. Buckminster Fuller, who also taught at the school.

University officials said the roughly 3,000 volumes at the Morris Library’s Special Collections Research Center are part of a recent donation of artifacts and furniture to a nonprofit dedicated to restoring Fuller’s dome-shaped home in Carbondale. Fuller, known for his futuristic inventions, lived at the home from 1960 to 1971. He died in 1983.

Monday, February 22, 2021

State Police: 4 killed in suburban Chicago traffic crash
Four people, including a young child and teenager, died in a traffic crash outside Chicago, Illinois State Police said Sunday.

The crash happened late Saturday evening in Rolling Meadows. All four people who died were in the same vehicle, a blue 2019 Ford Fiesta that had stopped on the right side of the road before it was struck by a black 2018 Jeep.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Democrats choose replacement for Madigan's vacant House seat
Democratic leaders on Sunday chose a 26-year-old constituent services employee to fill the Chicago-area Illinois House seat left vacant by former House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Democrats, including Madigan, met in Chicago and voted, with Edward Guerra Kodatt receiving 63% of the weighted vote. Kodatt has worked as a bilingual outreach and budget assistant in a constituent services office run by Madigan and 13th Ward Alderman Marty Quinn.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Sec of State reminds drivers of Scott's Law
ILLINOIS — Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is issuing an urgent reminder to motorists to adhere to the state’s Move Over Law, also known as Scott’s Law, designed to protect law enforcement and emergency responders who are stopped on the side of roadways. White also underscored the importance of not driving while distracted – with a special emphasis on avoiding texting while driving at all times.
Saturday, February 20, 2021

What Illinois can learn from the Texas energy crisis
SPRINGFIELD — When parts of Texas’ independent power grid went offline this week due to unusually extreme cold weather in the south, the amount of expected energy production lost was equivalent to the amount of electricity used to keep the lights on in the entire state of Illinois.
Saturday, February 20, 2021

Some IDNR services will be offline February 23 thru 28
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced that point-of-sale license and permit systems and online license, permit, campground reservation, and registration services will be offline Feb. 23-28 as part of the transition to a new system that begins operation in March.
Saturday, February 20, 2021

Vaccine doses administered top 2 million amid progress
SPRINGFIELD — The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Illinois topped 2 million Friday as the state’s case positivity rate continues to hover near pandemic lows and hospitalizations decline.
Saturday, February 20, 2021

Heroin chief cause of suburban Chicago opioid deaths
CHICAGO (AP) — A study of deaths related to opioid-related overdoses in suburban Chicago has found heroin was the chief killer, according to a report released Friday.
Saturday, February 20, 2021

ICC urges customers to continue to monitor energy savings
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Commerce Commission is continuing to monitor the power situation in Texas and other areas of the country experiencing extreme weather events and warns that increases in wholesale energy prices could have an impact on some Illinois electric and natural gas customers. The ICC is urging customers to follow winter energy-saving smart tips to keep utility bills down.  
Saturday, February 20, 2021

LLCC Giving Day is this Tuesday
SPRINGFIELD — The Lincoln Land Community College Foundation will hold a one-day fundraising event, LLCC Giving Day, on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of LLCC are welcome and encouraged to participate. The goal is to raise $5,000 to help students with emergency needs, scholarships and through donations to the annual fund.
Saturday, February 20, 2021

Memorial Health System advises how to maintain a healthy heart
SPRINGFIELD — Memorial Health System is celebrating American Heart Month throughout the month of February by asking the people in our community to consider their own heart health and take action to lessen their risk of developing heart disease or experiencing a heart attack.
Saturday, February 20, 2021

Madigan resigns effective immediately
SPRINGFIELD — Former House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, 78, announced Thursday he will step down from the state House of Representatives after 50 years in office.
Friday, February 19, 2021

Carla Barnes is first Black judge in 11th Judicial Circuit
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) — Carla Barnes continues to break milestones in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court.
Friday, February 19, 2021

Pritzker expects state vaccine deliveries to reach 500,000 doses next week
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday that he expects the state to receive up to 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from the federal government next week.
Friday, February 19, 2021

Madigan to resign from Illinois House at end of month
Former House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, 78, announced Thursday he will step down from the state House of Representatives after 50 years in office.

“I leave office at peace with my decision and proud of the many contributions I’ve made to the state of Illinois, and I do so knowing I’ve made a difference,” Madigan wrote in a lengthy emailed statement.

He said he plans to resign by the end of the month. His current term, which he won in November, ends in January 2023.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

US long-term mortgage rates rise slightly; 30-year at 2.81%
U.S. long-term mortgage rates ticked up this week but remain at historic lows as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the economy even as more Americans get vaccinated.
Thursday, February 18, 2021

Abe statues under review in Chicago
A city commission is determining the fate of monuments to Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and other historical figures in Chicago as part of a “racial healing and historical reckoning project” that began over the summer.

No decision has been made on whether any of the 41 statues and other commemorative markers of presidents Lincoln, Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Ulysses S. Grant and William McKinley, and more, will be taken down. But in a city where Lincoln Park and Grant Park attract visitors from around the world and in a state that the license plates call the “Land of Lincoln,” the review adds a new wrinkle into the national conversation about honoring historical figures tied to slavery, oppression or subjugation.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Panel approves 'culturally responsive' teaching standards
A legislative panel on Wednesday allowed the Illinois State Board of Education to move forward with new rules that call on colleges and universities in the state to change the way prospective teachers and administrators are trained in order to make them more accommodating to diverse students.

On a party-line vote, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR, declined to block the new “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards” from going into effect, despite objections by Republicans who argued the rules would ultimately require licensed teachers and administrators to adhere to a particular political ideology.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Judge ousted for putting child in lock-up seeking return
A former Cook County judge who was ousted after video captured her putting a child in a courtroom lock-up reserved for adults is seeking a return to the bench.

The video shows Jackie Portman-Brown in February 2020 taking her grandniece into a holding cell and leaving her inside alone. Portman-Brown was subsequently reassigned out of felony cases and in November ,voters rejected her retention bid, giving her 59.4% of the vote instead of the necessary 60%.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Man killed in Chicago awning collapse identified
A man who was killed when an awning at an off-track betting site in Chicago collapsed under the weight of snow has been identified.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office identified the man as 54-year-old Randy Pate Sr., of Chicago

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Woman slips, falls into Illinois creek after crash, dies
A central Illinois woman who was found dead last week near a creek succumbed to exposure after she fell down an embankment following a car accident, a coroner says.

Nanette Seacrist, 57, of Washington was pronounced dead last Friday after several children found her body near a creek, Tazewell County Coroner Charles Hanley said Monday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Central Illinois village disbands police department
The central Illinois village of Washburn has disbanded its police department, with officials citing a lack of qualified part-time police help and a recently approved state crime-reform bill.

Village President Steve Forney says in addition to the difficulty in finding reliable part-time police help, complying with the reform bill  would increase costs. That’s because of body-camera requirements, increased training and the liability issues the bill would prompt. The bill was passed in response to last spring’s civil unrest over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other people of color by police.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Pritzker issues statewide disaster proclamation amid winter storms
Dangerous sub-zero temperatures and massive snow accumulation across Illinois prompted Gov. JB Pritzker to issue a disaster proclamation for the entire state on Tuesday.

“I have directed my administration to use all resources at our disposal to keep our communities safe amid dangerous and ongoing winter weather,” Pritzker said in the news release. “I urge all Illinoisans to take this extreme weather seriously, avoid all unnecessary travel and check in on your neighbors.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Census delay creates redistricting uncertainty
Illinois lawmakers are required to draw new legislative and congressional district maps this year, but that process may be thrown into chaos because of delays in producing the census numbers needed to draw equal districts.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Friday that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other delays, it will not be able to deliver the detailed, block-level data that states need for redistricting until Sept. 30, long past the deadline spelled out in the Illinois Constitution for the General Assembly to approve new maps.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Former state senator, Republican AG candidate
Former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, who spent four years representing the 58th District and was the Republican Party’s candidate for attorney general in 2014, announced Monday he will run for governor in 2022.

Schimpf made the announcement via videoconference at 10 a.m., beginning a day of traveling the state with planned stops in Algonquin, Rock Island and Morris Monday and Decatur, Morris and his hometown of Waterloo Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Design begins on $84M, futuristic SIU communications center
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration has announced that RATIO Architects will lead the design process for an expanded communications building on the Carbondale campus of Southern Illinois University.

The Capital Development Board has released $8.3 million for a preliminary design for the $84.7 million project.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Ex-medical manager wins $3.6M in whistleblower settlement
An Indianapolis-based medical supply company’s former manager has won $3.6 million in a settlement of her whistleblower lawsuit accusing that company and a health insurance company of defrauding a government insurance program.
Monday, February 15, 2021

Chicago opens 4 COVID-19 vaccine sites for school employees
Four COVID-19 vaccination sites dedicated to Chicago Public Schools teachers and staff are expected to be fully operational in the coming week, district officials said.

Starting Monday, Chicago will reserve 1,500 shots weekly for employees in the nation’s third-largest school district. That’s on top of about 2,000 doses offered in recent days to teachers who are at higher risk of illness or starting back in classrooms sooner as the district gradually reopens. Some pre-K and special education students started in-person classes Thursday.

Monday, February 15, 2021

House GOP members criticize Pritzker over tax incentives freeze
House Republican lawmakers criticized Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday ahead of his budget address next week, calling on the governor to reinstate busines tax incentives he froze last month.

In a Friday news conference, state representatives Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, and Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, called on Pritzker to resume offering tax credits to new businesses through the 2019 Blue Collar Jobs Act, a bipartisan economic reform package pushed by House Republicans and signed into law as part of Pritzker’s first-year operating budget.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

State reaches record 95,000 vaccine doses administered in one day
The statewide seven-day rolling COVID-19 positivity rate dropped Friday to a low not seen since the summer as the state reached a record 95,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered the day prior.

The positivity rate was 3.1 percent Friday, a low last recorded July 21. The 95,375 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered Thursday topped the previous record set Feb. 4 by more than 20,000.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Fuller family returns artifacts to Bucky's Dome Home
Many people might not be excited to have two large ceramic dogs arrive at their home, but for the members of the R. Buckminster Fuller Dome Not-For-Profit, the dogs — and other artifacts that came with them — are quite exciting.

The foo dogs, or lion dogs, were owned by R. Buckminster and Anne Fuller and sat in the living room area of their dome home in Carbondale when they lived there. In Chinese culture, they are believed to protect the building and the people within it.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Exhibition to feature traditional Korean garment Hanbok
The Korean Cultural Center of Chicago is hosting an exhibition to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

“The Unique Lines of Korea: Hanbok” is the title of the exhibition highlighting a major holiday in South Korea.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

First case of B.1.351 COVID-19 variant in Illinois
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced the first case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant B.1.351, which was first identified in South Africa.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the variant in a Rock Island resident.  Illinois is currently reporting 22 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom.

"We expected to see more cases of variants detected in Illinois, including the B.1.351 strain," said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  "These variants seem to spread more rapidly, which can lead to more cases of COVID-19 and even another surge.  Our best path to defeating this virus as quickly as possible remains wearing our masks and getting vaccinated when it's our turn."

Friday, February 12, 2021

Vaccine operations increase with federal aid
Vaccine operations and eligibility are expanding across the state as Illinois’ seven-day rolling positivity rate remained at 3.3 percent for the fourth consecutive day Thursday.

While touring an Illinois Department of Human Services vaccination site at the Elgin Mental Health Center Thursday, Gov. JB Pritzker announced that over the last week, Illinois was the number one state among the top 10 most populous states in the nation for per capita vaccinations.

Friday, February 12, 2021

U.S. attorney in central Illinois submits resignation
The U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois on Thursday submitted his resignation to the Biden administration despite the state’s senators and two congressmen advocating for his retention.

In announcing his resignation, effective Feb. 28, John C. Milhiser thanked Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, and Representatives Davis, LaHood for their support.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Chicago teen police impersonator arrested again as adult
A man arrested three times for impersonating a Chicago police officer, including once at age 14, has been arrested again for the same crime, police said.

Vincent Richardson was arrested Wednesday and charged with felony impersonation of an officer, police said Thursday. He is accused of pretending to be a Chicago police sergeant on Jan. 14, Jan. 27 and Feb. 3. Authorities haven’t released details on Richardson’s latest actions.

Friday, February 12, 2021

2 killed, 2 injured when car plunges off Chicago expressway
Two people were killed and two more were seriously injured early Friday when their vehicle hit a concrete wall along a Chicago expressway and plunged off the highway onto a street 50 feet (15 meters) below, police said.
Friday, February 12, 2021

State opens up vaccines to people with health issues
Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday that the state plans to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to individuals of all ages who have comorbidities and underlying conditions by Feb. 25.

Pritzker said the expansion of eligibility would include individuals with comorbidities as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as diabetes, cancer, lung disease or heart disease.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Illinois House to play by new rules
The Illinois House adopted new rules on Wednesday that Democrats say are intended to make the legislative process more transparent, but Republicans argue they don’t go far enough in reforming how the General Assembly operates.

The new rules represent one of the first attempts by newly-elected House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch to break from the practices and traditions of his predecessor, former Speaker Michael Madigan. Madigan’s opponents claimed he exercised vast authority to decide which bills would be assigned to committees, which ones would come to the floor for a vote, and which ones would not.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

After bitter union fight, Chicago to return to school
Chicago parents Willie and Brittany Preston have spent nearly a year wrestling with online school schedules for their six children, often with everyone hovered over devices around the dining room table.

Starting Thursday, they’ll get relief. Their youngest daughter, 4-year-old Lear, returns to class as the nation’s third-largest school district slowly reopens its doors following a bitter fight with the teachers union over COVID-19 safety protocols.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Committee questions IDES over fraud and delays
Representatives of the Illinois Department of Employment Security on Wednesday testified before the Senate Labor Committee about fraudulent claims, continued delays in responding to unemployment applicants and a multibillion dollar deficit in the fund that pays out benefits.

Acting Illinois Department of Employment Security Director Kristin Richards and members of the department’s staff fielded questions about the backlog that individuals face when they contact the agency with questions about their claims.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Chicago hotel's license suspended after shootings
A suburban Chicago mayor has temporarily suspended a hotel’s business license after a deadly mass shooting there last weekend.

The action by Bloomingdale Mayor Franco Coladipietro means the Indian Lakes Hotel must cease operations for 10 days while the west suburban village considers other action, WLS-TV reported.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Pritzker: No tax hikes in new budget
Gov. JB Pritzker’s office says he will propose a budget with no tax increases for the upcoming fiscal year, and the deficit is now projected at about $2.5 billion less than previously thought.

The governor introduces his proposed budget each year, but lawmakers in the General Assembly have the ultimate say as to what funding gets appropriated. Pritzker is scheduled to outline his full budget proposal on Feb. 17 in a virtual message, although details have not been finalized, according to his office.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Lawmakers reintroducing Clean Energy Jobs Act
Following the admission in court by utility giant Commonwealth Edison to a yearslong bribery scheme, lawmakers are reintroducing the Clean Energy Jobs Act in the 102nd General Assembly with an increased focus on holding utility companies accountable.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act, or CEJA, which was introduced in 2019, is an overhaul of the state’s energy industry crafted with a focus on carbon reduction as well as social and environmental justice.

Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, House sponsor of CEJA, joined Senate sponsor Sen. Cristiana Castro, D-Elgin, and other advocates Tuesday in pledging to pass CEJA by the end of May

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

State's vaccination numbers continue to improve
Public health officials announced 58,189 COVID-19 vaccinations were administered statewide Monday, nearly double the one-day total from the same day a week ago.

Compared to the 32,559 does administered last Monday, the one-day total reflects a steadily improving vaccination picture statewide as Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration faces continued criticisms for the state’s rollout of the vaccine.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Illinois politicians from both sides trade barbs over new GOP chairman
The Illinois Republican Party Central Committee on Saturday named Springfield attorney Don Tracy as its new chairman, replacing Tim Schneider, who had held the post for more than six years.

Tracy, a partner in the firm Brown Hay and Stephens, also served as chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board during former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.

“I ran for this position because I love Illinois – it’s my home – and I believe the ILGOP can be a tremendous catalyst for change in this state,” Tracy said in a statement after the election. “The upcoming election cycle can be monumental if we seize on the tremendous opportunities before us.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

New legislators appointed to the Illinois Senate
Two new Democratic Senators were sworn in Saturday to fill vacancies in the Illinois General Assembly.

Doris Turner, a former Springfield city councilperson, and Mike Simmons, former policy director for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, are also the two newest members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Senate to hold hearing on COVID vaccine rollout
Public health officials on Monday reported 1,747 new and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois and 35 new deaths.

The latest numbers continue a trend of lower daily cases that are matching what was seen in the fall. The last date the state has seen a daily case count below 2,000 was on Oct. 6, when Illinois logged 1,617 new cases.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Governor's Hometown Awards honor community volunteers
Applications for the annual Governor’s Hometown Awards are available through Feb. 19.

The Governor’s Hometown Awards give formal recognition to people who contributed to projects sponsored by local government bodies that improved their communities.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Jesse Jackson released following surgery
The Rev. Jesse Jackson has been released to a Chicago physical therapy center following gallbladder surgery and medical observation, a spokesman said Sunday.

The 79-year-old civil rights leader experienced “abdominal discomfort” on Jan. 29 and was admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he underwent an undisclosed surgery, according to a late Saturday statement from Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Jackson’s longtime spokesman Frank Watkins confirmed Sunday it was gallbladder surgery.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Library, foundation team up for youth film contest
In order to help fight inequality and build a better Illinois, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is offering students a chance to use their creativity to promote racial healing in the “No Malice Film Contest.”

Illinois youth ages 11-21 can create short films on topics related to racial healing. The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation will help run the contest and select winners in three age groups.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Chicago mayor touts deal with union to reopen school
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot touted a preliminary agreement with the teachers union over COVID-19 safety protocols on Sunday, potentially averting a strike in the nation’s third-largest school district.

Some students could return to classrooms as soon as Thursday, with the reopening of school phased-in by grade. Also, the city agreed to vaccinate 1,500 teachers and staff weekly at vaccination sites dedicated to Chicago Public Schools. The possible deal — which still requires approval from the Chicago Teachers Union —- also includes metrics that would trigger school closings when cases spike.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Former gaming board chair new head of state GOP
The Illinois Republican Party’s new chairman is a Springfield attorney and businessman.

Top Republicans chose Don Tracy in a weighted vote on Saturday. He is the former chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board and co-owner of a family business, Dot Foods, based in Mount Sterling. He was also an unsuccessful lieutenant governor candidate in 2010.

Monday, February 8, 2021

FEMA provides $22.8 million to Illinois for mobile vaccination support
CHICAGO — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) announced today that $22,876,827 in federal funding has been made available to IEMA for vaccination costs related to the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the federal disaster declaration of March 25, 2020.
Saturday, February 6, 2021

1 dead, several injured in Chicago hotel shooting
BLOOMINGDALE, Ill. (AP) — A shooting early Saturday at a hotel in suburban Chicago left one person dead and several others injured, police said.
Saturday, February 6, 2021

New single day vaccine record for state
From its foundation in the late 1860’s, it was a men-only fraternal organization. Many lodges, including Pana, had female auxiliary organizations known as “Lady Elks,” but when the Elks Grand Lodge changed the rule in 1995, those organizations disappeared and women were on equal footing with men. Carol Anderson Franklin was the first female inducted in 2000. Currently, about 25 women are Pana Elks members.
Saturday, February 6, 2021

Complaint filed against IEPA prompts federal discrimination investigation
SPRINGFIELD — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched an investigation into the Illinois EPA over whether the planned relocation of an industrial scrap shredder on Chicago’s southeast side unfairly discriminates against communities of color.
Saturday, February 6, 2021

Federal court refuses to drop IDOC transgender suit
SPRINGFIELD — A federal district court in Southern Illinois denied a request Thursday from the Illinois Department of Corrections to dismiss a class-action lawsuit against the department for its treatment of transgender prisoners.
Saturday, February 6, 2021

ISP actively investigating Virden homicide
VIRDEN, Ill. — Illinois State Police (ISP) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) – Zone 6 continues to actively investigate the homicide in Virden, IL that occurred on February 1, 2021.
Saturday, February 6, 2021

COVID-19 cases stable, vaccinations slowly increase
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — State officials announced 69 more deaths from COVID-19 Thursday among 3,328 fresh infections of the coronavirus illness.
Friday, February 5, 2021

$22,000 flute lost on Chicago train, in pawn shop
CHICAGO (AP) — Anyone who’s left so much as a hat on Chicago Transit Authority train knows that whatever leaves the station without its owner often is gone forever.
Friday, February 5, 2021

February special prices, events at Lincoln Library
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is offering free admission Feb. 12 in honor of Lincoln’s Birthday and to celebrate the museum reopening to the public. In addition, children will be admitted free on Presidents Day and everyone gets in for half price throughout the month of February.
Friday, February 5, 2021

Welch's ascension provides golden opportunity to change House rules for the better 
Very seldom does any one individual have the type of golden opportunity that recently elected Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch has been presented.
Friday, February 5, 2021

All regions reopen under Phase 4
SPRINGFIELD – All of Illinois’ COVID-19 mitigation regions are under Phase 4 guidelines as of Thursday, allowing for youth sports and indoor dining with loosened restrictions.
Friday, February 5, 2021

Illinois to receive nearly $20 million in opioid settlement
SPRINGFIELD — The state will receive $19.8 million from a settlement reached Thursday between a coalition of attorneys general, including Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, and the consulting firm McKinsey.
Friday, February 5, 2021

Lawsuits over indoor dining ban proceed as all regions reopen
SPRINGFIELD — Although the governor’s latest indoor dining ban has been lifted in all areas of the state, some lawsuits brought by restaurants challenging the ban remain active.
Friday, February 5, 2021

First-time jobless claims drop sharply
SPRINGFIELD — First-time unemployment claims in Illinois dropped sharply in the last week of January as most regions in the state slowly began reopening following the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday, February 5, 2021

State to ramp up vaccine distribution
The state will soon start ramping up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as part of its effort to further limit the spread of the disease.

In addition to receiving increased shipments of vaccine from the federal government, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced that it plans to redirect 97,000 excess doses of vaccine from the federal Pharmacy Partnership program, which is in charge of administering vaccines to residents and staff at nursing homes, to make them available to people eligible under Phase 1B of the vaccination program.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

New state committee will prioritize mental health issues
Leadership in the Illinois Senate has formed a new committee to focus on mental health issues in the current General Assembly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to significantly alter everyday life.

“Although it’s always been important, because mental health and physical health are one in the same in my opinion, now because of COVID it’s become even more essential that we really address these problems head on,” said Sen. Laura Fine, D-Glenview.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Illinoisans to bet on Super bowl, but not on novelty action
While this is the first year Illinois gamblers can place bets on Sunday’s Super Bowl, they won’t be able to wager on novelty action, like the length of the National Anthem.

The  Chicago Sun-Times reports Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter said during a meeting last week the agency will only allow bets on “activity directly within the control or jurisdiction of the NFL and or individuals subject to the NFL integrity policy.”

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Former senator, candidate for governor is indicted
A former Republican state Senator and Conservative Party candidate for governor on Wednesday joined the list of ex-state officials who have been indicted.

Springfield-area lawmaker Sam McCann, who frequently butted heads with Republican ex-Gov. Bruce Rauner and eventually challenged him as a third-party candidate in 2018, was indicted on charges of fraud, money laundering and tax evasion related to his alleged use of campaign funds for personal expenses, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of Illinois.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Chicago mayor demands teachers return to class
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot demanded Thursday that the city’s teacher’s union reach agreement on COVID-19 safety protocols by the end of the day and bring students back to the classroom, but did not say what she would do if that doesn’t happen.

Speaking during a news conference, Lightfoot was visibly angry at the Chicago Teachers Union for giving her the runaround, saying that her office and the school district officials have not received a straight answer on the union’s demands.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Republicans seek measures allowing voters to recall lawmakers, overturn state law
Republican lawmakers from both chambers of the General Assembly are promoting three legislative proposals to give voters greater authority to amend the state constitution, recall legislative leaders and other lawmakers, and repeal recently-passed state laws.

The “Voter Empowerment Project” includes three amendments to the state constitution, meaning each would need approval from three-fifths of lawmakers before it would head to voters for approval in a statewide election year. The threshold for approval from voters on a constitutional amendment is 60 percent of voters on the specific question or the majority of those voting in the election.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Lawmakers consider Illinois Supreme Court decisions to help them craft legislation
In its annual report to the General Assembly, the Illinois Supreme Court asked lawmakers to consider seven decisions it issued during 2020, including three in criminal cases.

The three criminal law cases pertain to three separate areas of the state’s criminal code: stalking, regulations for sex offenders in public spaces and obstruction of justice by providing false information.

Chief Justice Anne Burke wrote in a letter prefacing the report that summaries of the decisions “are offered for the General Assembly’s consideration.”

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Prosecutors seek new arrest warrant for Illinois teen in shooting
Prosecutors asked a judge Wednesday for a new arrest warrant for an Illinois teen charged with shooting three people, killing two of them, during a protest over police brutality in Wisconsin after he apparently violated his bail conditions.

Kyle Rittenhouse failed to inform the court of his change of address within 48 hours of moving, Kenosha County prosecutors alleged in a motion filed with Judge Bruce Schroeder. The motion asks Schroeder to issue an arrest warrant and increase Rittenhouse’s bail by $200,000.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Chicago Seven activist dies at age 80
Rennie Davis, one of the “Chicago Seven” activists who was tried for organizing an anti-Vietnam War protest outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago in which thousands clashed with police in a bloody confrontation that horrified a nation watching live on television, has died. He was 80.

Davis died Tuesday of lymphoma at his home in Berthoud, Colorado, his wife, Kirsten Liegmann, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

After delays, construction on Obama library to start in 2021
Construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago will move forward this year after a four-year federal review and other delays, officials said Wednesday.

Former President Barack Obama chose a South Side lakefront park as the site for his presidential library in 2016, not far from where he began his political career, taught law and lived with his family. However, the planning hit numerous snags due to a legal battle with park preservationists and protests from neighborhood activists who feared the planned $500 million center would displace Black residents.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Fifth victim dies after January attacks in Chicago
A 15-year-old girl has become the fifth person to die from a series of shootings last month by a Chicago gunman who was later killed in a suburban police shootout, authorities said.

Damia Smith was pronounced dead Tuesday at Comer Children’s Hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. She was riding in a vehicle with her mother when she was shot and had been hospitalized.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

DCFS reports a 17% decline in child death cases
Child welfare officials in Illinois reported a 17 percent decline in the number of child death cases they investigated during the previous fiscal year, an indicator, they say, of progress in addressing previous shortcomings.

According to the latest annual report by the Department of Children and Family Services’ inspector general, the agency opened 102 child death investigations during the fiscal year that ended June 30, down from 123 the previous year.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Illinois Speaker Welch assumes 'of counsel' role at law firm
Since assuming his new role a few short weeks ago, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch has distinguished himself from his predecessor, Rep. Michael Madigan.

For example, Welch has unveiled changes to his leadership team and signaled plans to adjust the House rules governing the processes of bill movement.

Welch’s approach to his law firm role is yet another departure from Madigan, who remained a partner at his property tax law firm Madigan & Getzendanner during his entire tenure as House Speaker.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

New Illinois juvenile facility to be located in Lincoln
Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration announced the planned opening of a new center for incarcerated youth in central Illinois Tuesday, the latest step in a plan to reform the state’s juvenile justice system.

The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice is establishing an Illinois Youth Center in the city of Lincoln in Logan County. The facility will be part of the state’s ongoing effort to secure incarcerated juveniles in smaller dorm-like facilities based on community, rehabilitation and restorative justice, rather than only detention.

Gov. JB Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton unveiled their overhaul of the juvenile justice system last July. The four-year plan, called the “21st Century Illinois Transformation Model,” is split into three phases. Execution of the plan is the purview of the Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative that operates out of Stratton’s office.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Most of state's virus restrictions ease up
On Tuesday, suburban Cook County moved into more relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, leaving only three of the state’s 11 COVID-19 mitigation regions still under Tier 1 and Tier 2 restrictions.

Regions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10 and 11 have all entered Phase 4, meaning indoor dining and competitive high school sports can resume in those areas.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

GOP hopes to block 'culturally responsive' teacher standards
Republican Illinois state lawmakers are pushing back on proposed new standards for teachers and administrators that are scheduled for a hearing before a legislative rulemaking committee later this month.

Supporters of the proposed “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards” say they’re merely an attempt to make sure that all educators are trained in ways to reach students across all racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. But critics are calling them a form of political indoctrination that seeks to inject partisan, liberal ideology into the classroom.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

A virtual Legislature: Lawmakers plan spring work by video
Illinois lawmakers will begin their spring session working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate announced Tuesday that its members will convene in committees by video conference on the days it was scheduled to be in session this month, Feb. 9-11 and 16-18. The House had scheduled nine work days this month but has settled on only one in which members can arrange for remote work.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Old power station building in southern Illinois imploded
Part of a shuttered power plant in southern Illinois has been demolished.

Crews imploded the Wood River Power Station building in East Alton shortly after 8 a.m. Monday,

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Bodies of couple found after house fire in Inverness
A suburban Chicago woman whose body was retrieved Sunday from the burning home she shared with her husband died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said Monday.

Inverness Police Chief Bob Haas said 82-year-old Marlene Pieracci, was found inside a vehicle in the garage of the home. Hass said her husband, Mario Pieracci, 84, was found in the living area of the house and appears to have died as a result of the fire.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Illinois groundhog calls for early spring
The country’s most famous groundhog may have predicted six more weeks of winter out in Pennsylvania on Tuesday morning but the one in the Illinois community where Bill Murray made the rodent a movie star didn’t see it that way.

In the northern Illinois community of Woodstock, where Murray filmed the 1993 motion picture, “Groundhog Day,” Woodstock Willie didn’t spot its shadow the way Punxsutawney Phil did. That means Willie, unlike Phil, is calling for an early spring.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Illinois officer fatally shoots suspect after being stabbed
An Illinois police officer fatally shot a suspect in a domestic violence incident early Tuesday after the officer was stabbed and wounded by the suspect during a traffic stop, police said.

Police had responded to a domestic violence call in the central Illinois city, but the suspect left the scene before police officers arrived, said East Peoria Police Chief Rich Brodrick.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

COVID-19 picture continues to improve amid widespread reopening
COVID-19 hospitalizations and positivity rates continued on a steady decline in Illinois Monday as the state reported just 16 virus-related deaths over the previous 24 hours.

Daily death counts fluctuate significantly and are generally lower on Mondays than the rest of the week, but the 16 deaths – recorded in people from their 40s to their 90s – marked the lowest one-day total since Nov. 9. It followed death counts of 40 and 65 the previous two days.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Popular family event returns to Grafton after year off due to virus
GRAFTON, Ill. (AP) — The popular Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair at Pere Marquette State Park will return after skipping 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monday, February 1, 2021

Ending cash bail abolishes penalty on poverty, some say
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An overhaul of Illinois’ approach to public safety, defending criminal defendants’ rights and keeping would-be rogue police officers in line won legislative approval in January and was lauded as a damaging blow to injustice in crime and punishment. Now it’s absorbing critics’ rebukes that it would make streets less safe, overburden police and drive dedicated professionals away from law enforcement careers.
Monday, February 1, 2021

Chicago schools reopening uncertain as union talks stall
CHICAGO (AP) — A plan to reopen Chicago schools remained in doubt Monday as last-minute negotiations over COVID-19 safety measures with the teachers’ union stalled, amplifying the possibility of a strike or lockout if teachers and staff in K-8 do not show up for work.
Monday, February 1, 2021

Bill aims to reshape health care delivery
During the early hours of the morning on one of the last days of the lame duck session, Illinois lawmakers passed a sweeping piece of legislation that seeks to revamp the way hospital services and health care generally are delivered in communities throughout the state.
Saturday, January 30, 2021

Trump supporting Illinois couple charged in US Capitol riot
Federal authorities have charged an Illinois couple who posed for a photograph inside the U.S. Capitol decked out in Trump 2020 attire during the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.

According to a federal criminal complaint, Christina Gerding, 46, and Jason Gerding, 50, of Quincy in western Illinois were arrested Thursday on charges of unlawful entry, disorderly or disruptive conduct on any restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Illinois officials will accept tax returns starting February 12
Individual income tax returns for Illinois may be submitted starting Feb. 12.

The Illinois Department of Revenue  announced that Feb. 12 is also the first day that the Internal Revenue service will begin accepting federal returns.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Longtime JCAR director to retire after 47-year career in state government
Vicki Thomas, who will retire as head of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules after this week, has occasionally been asked what it feels like being the most powerful person in Illinois state government.

She’s heard of JCAR referred to as “obscure but powerful,” and she knows the organization is “a place where the entirety of state government flows through,” as she puts it.

Still, this question evokes her laughter.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Pritzker sending Nat'l Guard to DC for 'security mission'
About 500 Illinois National Guard members will be heading to Washington D.C. where they will stay until mid-March for a “security mission,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday.

The U.S. Defense Department asked for Illinois guard troops to assist federal and local agencies to secure the capital as fears remain of violence due to dissatisfaction with the November election results. The request follows the Jan. 6 violent siege of the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump that left five dead and others injured.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Emmett Till home gets landmark status
The Chicago home of Emmett Till, the Black teenager whose 1955 lynching galvanized the civil rights movement when his mother insisted his mutilated body be displayed in an open casket, has been granted landmark status.

The City Council on Wednesday issued an ordinance that protects the South Side home from demolition.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Quincy, Illinois couple charged in US Capitol riot
Federal authorities have charged an Illinois couple who posed for a photograph inside the U.S. Capitol decked out in Trump 2020 attire during the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.

According to a federal criminal complaint, Christina Gerding, 46, and Jason Gerding, 50, of Quincy in western Illinois were arrested Thursday on charges of unlawful entry, disorderly or disruptive conduct on any restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Illinois man accused in Capitol riots
Federal authorities have arrested an Illinois man who they say can be seen on video fighting with National Guard members outside the U.S. Capitol during the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6.

Mathew Capsel, who also apparently goes by the name Mateo Q Capsel in social media posts, was arrested Tuesday on charges of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted area and resisting law enforcement.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Space heater to blame in deaths of 5
A fire in a suburban Chicago apartment that killed four young girls and their mother may have been caused by a space heater that also could have blocked the family’s only path out of the burning building, fire officials announced Thursday.

The space heater was at the top of stairs that were the only way in and out of the second-floor unit, where all of the family members were found, the Des Plaines Fire Department said in a news release. No smoke detectors were on the second floor.

The investigation is continuing and will include an “engineering analysis” of if and how the heater may have started the blaze, the department said. Foul play is not suspected.

Friday, January 29, 2021

State Republicans slam Pritzker as vaccinations lag
Illinois public health officials announced Thursday nearly 56,000 people in the state were vaccinated against COVID-19 on Wednesday as state Republicans questions Gov. J.B. Pritzker on why Illinois’ efforts in the area is lagging.

In a letter addressed to Pritzker, members of the Senate Republican Caucus said Illinois ranks 47th in overall vaccine distribution, with just 4.8% of Illinoisans receiving at least one shot as of Thursday.

Friday, January 29, 2021

14-year-old boy is arrested for role in Chicago carjacking spree
A 14-year-old boy has been arrested for taking part in multiple carjackings including one involving an off-duty police officer, Chicago police said Thursday.

The boy’s arrest on Wednesday comes during a surge of carjackings that have alarmed both residents and city officials. Chicago police say carjackings rose about 135% last year to 1,415 and continue at a high pace this year.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Chicago Democrats head up new committees
On Thursday, Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch announced the committees and their respective chairs for the 102nd General Assembly, including the addition of six new committees.

The committee announcement comes as Welch canceled all but one of the House session days that had been set for next month.

Friday, January 29, 2021

U of Chicago gifted $75 million for school of social work
The University of Chicago has received a $75 million donation for its school of social work, the school announced Wednesday.

University officials asserted the gift from investment magnates James and Paula Crown, is the largest of its kind in American higher education to support social work. The money will be used to increase financial aid, support research, hire faculty and engage community stakeholders. A university spokeswoman said the gift will be paid over time.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

State plans to move out of Thompson Center
State officials on Wednesday announced the purchase of a 17-story office building in Chicago’s West Loop for $73.25 million, a move Gov. JB Pritzker’s office said will “pay for itself.”   

The 429,316-square-foot building at 555 West Monroe is set to become the new office space for over 1,000 Chicago-based state employees currently working in the James R. Thompson Center and other downtown locations leased by the state.

A spokesperson for the state’s department of Central Management Services said that state agencies expect to begin moving into the new building as early as April of this year. Once the move is completed, it will signal the end of the state’s time at the aging Thompson Center on Randolph Street, which has housed the state’s Chicago offices since 1985.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Illinois records highest one-day total of vaccines administered
The number of vaccinations administered in one day in Illinois saw a record spike Tuesday as the statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate continued to decrease to levels not seen since mid-October.

The rolling case positivity rate hit 4.5 percent as of Wednesday, decreasing for the 19th consecutive day to hit its lowest number since Oct. 13.

That came as the state reported 53,628 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered Tuesday, the highest reported one-day total to date. It was more than 25,000 doses higher than were administered the day prior and almost 20,000 more than were administered the previous seven days on average.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

3.2 million in Illinois eligible for Phase 1B vaccination
Two more Illinois regions will see COVID-19 mitigations scaled back amid declining positivity numbers, state officials announced Tuesday.

The state’s seven-day rolling case positivity rate stood at 4.6 percent Tuesday, the 18th consecutive day that figure has dropped, and the lowest mark it has reached since Oct. 14. The state reported 3,667 new and probable COVID-19 cases Tuesday out of 69,285 test results reported over the previous 24 hours.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

HHS launches probe into Illinois abortion law
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched an investigation to determine whether Illinois has violated federal law by enacting and enforcing the 2019 Reproductive Health Act which, among other things, requires certain health insurance plans to cover abortion services.

In a letter dated Jan. 19, which was the last full day of the Trump administration, HHS’s Office of Civil Rights notified the Chicago-based Thomas More Society that it had received a complaint the group filed in October 2019 and had agreed to open an investigation to determine if certain portions of the act violate federal law.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Walgreens taps Starbucks exec Brewer as new CEO
Walgreens said Tuesday it has tapped Starbucks executive Roz Brewer as its new CEO, which will make her the only Black woman leading a Fortune 500 company.

Starbucks announced Tuesday that Brewer was departing after a little more than three years as its chief operating officer. Walgreens later confirmed that Brewer will take over as its CEO on March 15.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Chicago schools union fight escalates
Chicago ditched plans Tuesday for thousands of teachers to report to schools this week ahead of students after the teachers union said its members wouldn’t comply and were prepared to picket over coronavirus safety concerns.

The reversal in the nation’s third-largest district also meant roughly thousands of pre-K and special education students who started in-person classes earlier this month as part of gradual return would shift back to online learning. The district went remote last March, but district officials say it’s not working, particularly for many low-income Black and Latino students who comprise the majority of the district.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Rittenhouse and mom fixated on social media after his arrest
An Illinois teen accused of killing two people during unrest in Wisconsin and the teen’s mom were fixated on social media comments about them in the hours after his August arrest, newly released police video shows.

Police in Antioch, Illinois, on Monday released four hours of video taken after Kyle Rittenhouse turned himself in hours after the Aug. 25 protest in Kenosha, the  Chicago Tribune reported.  The protest was part of a series of chaotic demonstrations that ensued after a white Kenosha officer shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, in the back seven times during a domestic dispute. Rittenhouse is white.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

SCOTUS declines to hear Janus lawsuit seeking union dues reimbursement
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a case Monday that sought to compel public employee unions to reimburse nonmember employees for mandatory fees which the court ruled as unconstitutional in 2018.

The case was brought by Mark Janus, a former Illinois government employee whose original lawsuit resulted in the landmark 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision, “Mark Janus v. American Federation for State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Court deadlocks on interpreting juvenile court law
The state’s highest court deadlocked Friday over how to interpret a state law that outlines the procedure judges must follow to sentence a minor who is found guilty of a crime to a state juvenile detention center.

The case, out of Rock Island County, raised the question of whether, under Illinois law, a judge must state directly in the court record that commitment to a juvenile detention facility is the “least restrictive” sentencing option.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Brothers in 60s accuse prominent Chicago priest of sexual abuse
Two brothers in their 60s on Monday described years of sexual abuse by a firebrand activist priest who has gained fame speaking out on national politics from the pulpit and for taking on drug dealers in South Side neighborhoods around his Chicago church.

The abuse began in the 1970s when Father Michael Pfleger was a seminarian at a West Side church and they were in their early teens singing in the church choir, the brothers said in written statements and during comments at a Monday news conference.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Virus eases up but state reports more cases of contagious variant
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot received a COVID-19 vaccine shot Monday as Illinois touted online signups and efforts to address racial equity at the start of its latest vaccination phase covering essential workers and residents ages 65 and older.

The newest round of vaccinations,  following health care workers and nursing home residents, covers about 3.2 million people including grocery store workers, teachers and public transit employees. Health officials unveiled a new state website for online signups but cautioned that Illinoisans will face wait times due to limited supplies. The next phase is expected to last about two months.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Illinois woman sentenced to 18 months prison in medical hoax
A 36-year-old southern Illinois woman has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison in a medical hoax that tricked people who gave her money and other benefits.

Sarah Delashmit of Highland pleaded guilty in October to multiple fraud charges after authorities claimed she defrauded nonprofit organizations by pretending to have muscular dystrophy and breast cancer.

Monday, January 25, 2021

97-year-old author surprised when decades-old book is found
A lifelong historian and writer, 97-year-old Margery Frisbie of Arlington Heights no longer sees well enough to read books, not even the recently unearthed novel she wrote decades ago.

“The funny thing is, I have no idea what the plot of the story is. I have no idea,” Frisbie says, her words gaining momentum and volume as she ponders the possibilities. “I’m as surprised as the reader. Isn’t that fun?”

Monday, January 25, 2021

Chicago teachers vote to teach from home, defying district
The Chicago Teachers Union said Sunday that its members voted to defy an order to return to the classroom over concerns about COVID-19, setting up a showdown with district officials who have said that refusing to return when ordered would amount to an illegal strike.

Chicago Public Schools, which is the nation’s third-largest district, wanted roughly 10,000 kindergarten through eighth grade teachers and other staffers to return to school Monday to get ready to welcome back roughly 70,000 students for part-time in-school classes starting Feb. 1. No return date has been set for high school students.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Rock Springs Nature Center reopens, new programs
DECATUR —  Now that Macon County’s region of Illinois has fewer covid-19 mitigation measures in place, the Macon County Conservation District has re-opened Rock Springs Nature Center for its regular hours beginning Friday, January 22.
Saturday, January 23, 2021

State historic sites in Springfield will reopen this week
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum will begin welcoming visitors again on Monday, Jan. 25, with clear, simple safety protocols to protect all guests.
Saturday, January 23, 2021

State board members criticizes new graduation requirements
SPRINGFIELD – New high school graduation requirements that were part of an omnibus education bill passed during the lame duck session are drawing criticism from some members of the Illinois State Board of Education.
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Lawmakers concerned about 'decoupling' bill
SPRINGFIELD — A bill endorsed by Gov. JB Pritzker that would eliminate expanded federal tax deductions for businesses created under the CARES Act, failed to pass in the lame duck session.
Saturday, January 23, 2021

COVID restrictions ease up as numbers statewide continue to improve
SPRINGFIELD — All high school sports – including the higher-risk football, basketball and wresting – may now be played in three regions of Illinois as the state continues to loosen restrictions amid the pandemic.
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Trump impeachment to go to the Senate Monday, launching start of trial
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to send the article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, launching the start of the former president’s trial on a charge of incitement of insurrection over the deadly Capitol riot.
Friday, January 22, 2021

Look back: How the Black Caucus passed criminal justice reform
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois General Assembly passed a massive criminal justice omnibus bill on Jan. 13 with only Democratic support, navigating initial opposition from labor unions and municipal interest groups, as well as intense Republican and law enforcement pushback.
Friday, January 22, 2021

Field Museum reopening to public
Sue the T. rex and the rest of the dinosaurs at the Field Museum are about to start seeing visitors again.

Two months after the famed natural history museum on Chicago’s lakefront closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the museum will once again open its doors this week.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Joking push leads to fatal car crash
A car crash that killed a northwest Indiana teenager occurred after the front seat passenger jokingly pushed on the steering wheel just before the car plowed into a utility pole, police said.

The 20-year-old woman passenger “pushed the steering wheel to the left in a joking manner” last Friday, causing the 20-year-old driver to lose control of his car, the Porter County Sheriff’s Department said.

The vehicle went left of northbound U.S. 231’s center line and when the driver tried to regain control the car left the road’s right side, struck a utility pole and rolled into a ditch, police said.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Missouri abortions drop as patients cross into Illinois
New restrictions caused a sharp drop in the number of women who had abortions at Missouri’s only provider last year but the clinic has not stopped performing the procedure, Planned Parenthood said.

Officials with Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region were rejecting an assertion by Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion Christian organization, that Missouri has become the first state to no longer provide abortions.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Vaccination phase 1C will include 16-64 year olds with medical conditions
The state continued to see progress with its rolling seven-day average COVID-19 case positivity rate, which decreased for the 12th straight day Wednesday.

The rolling positivity rate stood at 5.5 percent, a decrease of two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous day, marking its lowest point since Oct. 20.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Education bill will emphasize black history, computer science
Social studies classes in Illinois public schools are about to get a major overhaul, with more emphasis on Black history and the contributions of other underrepresented groups to American culture.

In addition, within the next few years, all school districts in the state will be required to offer computer science courses and more instruction in computer literacy.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Steans to resign from Illinois Senate; Rep. Cassidy intends to seek her seat
Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, plans to resign at the end of the month, after a 12-year tenure in the Illinois Senate.

“It’s been the privilege of a lifetime to represent the most diverse Senate district in the State of Illinois,” Steans said in a written statement issued Tuesday. “I’ve benefited tremendously from the many perspectives of the people a I’ve represented. We’ve made great progress together, and now it’s time to pass the baton.”

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Bill: Victims can collect pretrial interest on damages
The Illinois General Assembly last week pushed through legislation to allow victims in all personal injury and wrongful death cases to collect interest on money they were awarded by a court starting from the moment the alleged injury or death took place.

House Bill 3360 is meant to deter companies or individuals who are sued from intentionally stalling or delaying cases that would be successful at trial, according to the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association — a major lobbying force behind the bill.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

State seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate his lowest point since late October
The state’s COVID-19 seven-day average case positivity rate dropped to 5.7 percent Tuesday, the lowest it has been since Oct. 23.

The positivity rate peaked at 13.2 percent on a rolling average as of Nov. 13, and the entire state entered strict Tier 3 mitigations on Nov. 20. Since then the positivity rate has been on a continual downward trend except for the two weeks following Christmas day when it rose from just under 7 percent to over 8.5 percent before beginning to fall again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Life feeling more like normal again here as COVID restrictions ease up
The requirements to move to Tier 1 include a test positivity rate below 8 percent for three consecutive days, with the same criteria for hospitalizations and bed availability as the previous tiers.

Region 8 in the west suburbs, Region 9 in the north suburbs, Region 10 in suburban Cook County and Region 11, which covers the city of Chicago, are all in Tier 2, meaning there is still no indoor dining allowed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Vote by mail, remote voting, 'decoupling' bills all fail in Illinois lame-duck legislative session
The 101st Illinois General Assembly took historic action by passing legislation to end cash bail prior to electing a Black House Speaker for the first time in the 102nd General Assembly.

But lawmakers ran out of time on several consequential measures— including bills that would have expanded vote-by-mail, allowed lawmakers to conduct business remotely during the pandemic and eliminated newly expanded income tax deductions for business owners. Another bill relating to the state’s rollout of legalization of adult-use marijuana also failed to pass, as did a measure that was part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ health care agenda.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Heightened security still in place at Capitol after quiet weekend
While there have been no confirmed threats made against the Illinois Capitol, heightened security measures remain in place “out of an abundance of caution” after a quiet weekend in the capital city.

State officials said it will remain that way until sometime after the Wednesday inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

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

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

Monday, January 18, 2021

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

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

Monday, January 18, 2021

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

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

Monday, January 18, 2021

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

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

Monday, January 18, 2021

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

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

Monday, January 18, 2021

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

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

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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

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

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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

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

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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

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

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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

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

Friday, January 15, 2021

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

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

Friday, January 15, 2021

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

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

Friday, January 15, 2021

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

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

Friday, January 15, 2021

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

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

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

Friday, January 15, 2021

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

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

Thursday, January 14, 2021

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

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

Thursday, January 14, 2021

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

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

Thursday, January 14, 2021

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

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

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

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

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

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

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

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 11, 2021

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

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

Monday, January 11, 2021

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

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

Monday, January 11, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 7, 2021

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

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

Thursday, January 7, 2021

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

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

Thursday, January 7, 2021

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

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

Thursday, January 7, 2021

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

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

Thursday, January 7, 2021

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

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

Thursday, January 7, 2021

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

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

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

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

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

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

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

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

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 2, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 24, 2020

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

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

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

Thursday, December 24, 2020

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

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

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

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

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

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

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

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

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

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

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