Illinois | WGLT

Illinois

Headlines from around the state, curated by the GLT newsroom. If you want more state news, listen to Illinois Public Radio's The 21st on Mondays-Thursdays at 11 a.m., and Statewide at 11 a.m. Fridays.

JB Pritzker at a podium.
Gov JB Pritzker / Facebook

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has joined the list of Midwestern governors issuing disaster proclamations as frigidly cold weather starts hitting the region .

Pritzker released a statement Tuesday noting that plummeting temperatures are expected to hit Illinois on Tuesday and stay through Thursday morning. The Democrat calls the weather "potentially historic."

Forecasters say the temperature in northern Illinois could dip to negative 27 degrees (negative 33 Celsius) with wind-chill values as low as negative 55 degrees (negative 48 Celsius).

Tax Season Is Underway — With Some Changes

Jan 28, 2019

Tax season kicks off in Illinois today, and taxpayers may notice some differences in the filing process.

NIU students walk
NIU

Northern Illinois University has a new enrollment plan that aims to have 18,000 students by fall 2023.

Rod Blagojevich
M. Spencer Green / AP

Ten years ago this month, Rod Blagojevich was impeached and removed as Illinois governor. Blagojevich was later convicted of corruption, including attempts to sell a U-S Senate seat.  He received a 14 year sentence and remains in prison. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order making Illinois the 18th state to join the Unites States Climate Alliance on Wednesday. The alliance was created when President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris climate change agreement back in 2017. 

Ashoor Rasho has spent more than half of his life alone in a prison cell—22 to 24 hours a day. The cell was so narrow he could reach his arms out and touch both walls at once.

Maybe you’ve seen the new Netflix show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Maybe you’ve even been inspired to declutter your own home. Turns out, you’re far from alone. Lots of people have been tidying up unwanted items this month, and secondhand stores are seeing the results.

On the show, Kondo encourages viewers to declutter their homes by getting rid of things that don’t “spark joy” for them. 

As suicide and opioid death numbers climb, researchers investigate how strong a connection exists.

Like many people coming out of prison, Perry Cline never thought he’d get a college degree.

 

“I thought I was just going to be another bum in the streets,” he said. “So I thank God that he got something else for me. And this is just the beginning.”

JB Pritzker
Nam Y. Huh / AP

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has authorized state licensing of firearms dealers after his Republican predecessor rejected the idea.

On his way out of office, Gov. Bruce Rauner is offering a few pointers to the Illinois Republican Party. He also touts what he views as the main achievements of his administration. 

With growing support among politicians and the public, Illinois could likely legalize recreational marijuana as soon as next year. But, passing legislation may hinge on where the revenue will go. 

Illinois is continuing to lose population, according to new Census estimates out Wednesday.

Come January 14, Illinois will have a new

Two small towns in rural Illinois recently lost their Walmart stores -- more than three decades after the retail giant came in and pushed out mom and pop shops. Now, the communities have lost convenience as well as major property and sales tax revenue. Some see it as an opportunity to revitalize main street, while others are not so optimistic.

Four years ago, Chris Miner decided to apply to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Then 40-years-old, Miner was encouraged to apply by a counselor at the community college he attended. He was told he was a shoo-in.

He sat down at his computer and started the application. But then Miner faced this question: Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

“I just sat there and stared at the screen for like 10 minutes,” he said. “It was like everything, every advancement I had made so far might be over with, maybe this is the end of the ride.”

Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker is making legalizing marijuana one of his top priorities.

The push to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois could get a jump-start early next year. State Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, said this week she plans to introduce legislation early next year to tax and regulate the use and sale of marijuana. Incoming Democratic governor J.B.

A new report says Illinois lacks comprehensive guidelines when it comes to dealing with sexual misconduct cases in elementary and high schools.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, a few high school students are measuring and cutting siding.

They’re building a house in the trades class at the Capital Area Career Center in Springfield and learning construction skills, like putting on a roof or installing a window.

Shelby Landers is one of the students hammering siding on to the front of the house. The 17-year-old senior says he was happy to leave the classroom and get more hands-on experience.

News Analysis — This coming Sunday, December 9, marks the 10th anniversary of the day the FBI arrested Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The event led to his impeachment, criminal conviction and a 14-year prison sentence. There were also changes in state ethics laws.

But there are those who say the corruption was not the worst part of the Blagojevich administration — and I am among them. I'll make that argument in this week's Illinois Issues in-depth report.

The Illinois Statehouse is looking festive this year, with its annual outdoor lights descending from the dome to the ground. But on the inside, things look a little less traditional.

Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker and a new crop of legislators will take office come January. Those crafting state education policies say they will continue one of the biggest fights in recent years, finding more funding for teachers, students and schools.

Hundreds of Chicago murder cases from as far back as 2014 have DNA evidence from the crime scene: it just hasn’t been processed yet by Illinois’ Forensic Science Lab. State senators met in Chicago on Monday to find out why.


Marijuana plants
Teresa Crawford / AP

A new report suggests Illinois state and local governments would take in a combined $525 million in new tax revenue if the state legalizes recreational marijuana.

Illinois prison inmates will continue to pay $5 for medical and dental visits, after the legislature tried and failed to get rid of the fee last week.

Prison reform advocates want to eliminate the co-pay, saying it deters inmates from seeking necessary treatment. An Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman emphasized that no one is denied care for not being able to pay.  

The effort to get rid of the co-pay comes at a time when medical care in the correctional system is under scrutiny due to a class-action lawsuit in federal court.

Prairie politicians didn't let challenges, like rules, get in their way, historians say.

A year before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, he made a visit to Springfield where he stumped for congressional candidates.   It appeared everything went as planned. 

But recently, unclassified documents were made available explaining an incident that seemed to foreshadow what took place in Dallas.  

Bruce Rauner addressing the Illinois General Assemble in February of 2016.
AP

The Illinois General Assembly convenes Wednesday as its fall session winds down.

The House voted Tuesday to override a veto on raising to $2 million the cap on damage awards in lawsuits against the state. The law is now in effect.

Supporters say the $100,000 cap set in the early 1970s didn't fairly compensate victims. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner had suggested a $300,000 cap.

Tony Sanders is the CEO of Unit 46 in Elgin — the state's second-largest school district, with almost 40,000 students. Right now, he's short at least 30 teachers. He's using retired teachers as long-term substitutes. Even though those retirees can teach only 120 days out of the 178-day school year, Sanders knows he’s got it better than superintendents in districts that don’t have a deep bench of subs.

"Yeah, if it weren't for retirees, we would really be in a jam,” Sanders says. “Luckily, a lot of retirees like to come back and still be in a classroom."

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