News

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) / Flickr: Horst Gutmann

 

Several Illinois environmental and labor groups say the state needs more workers to upgrade its aging water and sewer systems. Money to prepare these workers could come from an infrastructure plan.

Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

Hundreds of anti-abortion protestors filled the Capitol rotunda today following the passage of a measure that would repeal parental notification of abortio

Meanwhile, a group of Republican lawmakers are speaking out against legislation intended to expand abortion rights throughout Illinois.

State Representative Terri Bryant, a Republican from Murphysboro, also spoke out against another proposal being considered that would completely overhaul abortion throughout the state. 

WBEZ

In the midst of the recreational cannabis debate, Illinois lawmakers are also looking to make the medical cannabis pilot program permanent, but it will include a few changes. 

The Parents Union - Flickr / CC-by 2.0

Illinois’s new $15 minimum wage law doesn’t guarantee better pay for workers with disabilities. An exemption in federal labor law still allows some employers to pay them less.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has submitted their final draft of rules for the industrial hemp program. There were a few noteworthy changes made from the initial draft that was posted back in late Dec. 2018. 

students at school
West 40 Regional Safe Schools

Almost two years after Illinois overhauled its school funding formula, educators are still trying to tie up a few loose ends that got overlooked in the 540-page legislation. One of those loose ends omitted funding for about 7,000 students.

Those kids are the ones who need what's called "alternative school," because they've struggled with discipline or truancy, and fallen behind. Many alternative schools are run by regional offices, rather than traditional school districts. And those regional offices weren't incorporated in the overhaul plan.

Democratic House Caucus

Illinois lawmakers  forwarded a proposal that would allow minors to get an abortion, without telling their parents.

The measure would repeal the Parental Notification of Abortion Act – a law passed in 1995, but not enforced until 5 years ago.  The law allows for minors to go before a judge instead of notifying a parent.

Democratic Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago is sponsoring the proposal that would get rid of any notification requirement.

Jonathan Laureano

State Rep. Karina Villa is a 40-year-old Democrat representing West Chicago. She's one of dozens of fresh faces at the Illinois State Capitol this year and also one of seven lawmakers in the House of Representatives whose election flipped a red seat blue -- from Republican to Democrat.

J.B. Pritzker
Brin Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has agreed to pay raises and money owed to the state’s more than 40,000 child care workers and home aides.  

Wikipedia Commons

More than a year ago, Illinois lawmakers approved a total overhaul of the way the state funds schools. That landmark legislation, known as “evidence-based funding,” got a lot of media attention. But at the same time, something else happened that went totally unreported: The state also changed the number of instructional hours required in a school day from five to zero.

Let’s be clear: The new law didn’t force any changes, so most districts carried on with their usual schedules. And as soon teachers unions noticed the five-hour requirement had been dropped, they began to lobby to reinstate it.

adapted photo from Heath Alseike/flickr

Growing and selling cannabis for medical purposes in Illinois is legal, and it's looking more likely that the state will legalize a recreational program as well. But one crucial component that remains illegal is for banks to do business with marijuana-related companies. 

Molly Marshall / Flickr (CC-NC 2.0)

A measure to expand cases when eviction records can be sealed has advanced out of a House committee.

Proponents say unsealed eviction notices can taint a renter’s record even if an eviction is never carried out. That makes it difficult for renters to find a new home.

Bob Palmer of Housing Action Illinois says,“We understand that landlords have a compelling interest in wanting to screen tenants so they can get good tenants, but we don't think that just having an eviction filing is a good reflection  on someone's ability to be a good tenant.”

Tatiana Vdb - Flickr / CC-by 2.0

Women in the Illinois Senate want to address a surge in maternal deaths related to childbirth.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly was busy this week, passing legislation intended to fight gender pay inequity, teach LGBT history, and raise the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The panel also discusses NPR Illinois' recent series examining Gov. J.B. Pritzker's proposed tax increases and expansions.

Equality Illinois

LGBTQ activists are speaking out about  proposed legislation that would punish medical  professionals who treat transgender youth.  

Under Republican sponsor Tom Morrison’s (R-Palatine) plan, medical professionals performing sex-change surgeries or prescribing certain hormones could have their licenses suspended or revoked.

Advocates pointed to Morrison’s history of proposing legislation hurtful to transgender youth, including an unsuccessful measure that would have required transgender students use the bathroom or locker room corresponding to their gender at birth.

Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker
still image from video / ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV)

Last year’s election was historic by several measures: the amount of money spent, the surge in turnout, and the Democratic sweep of Illinois government.

Every four years, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale analyzes the election, looking at everything from spending patterns to changes in voter behavior.

Lori Stalteri - Flickr / CC-by 2.0

Some Illinois lawmakers want to make it easier for worker cooperatives to grow.

Despite all the focus on solving the state's teacher shortage, a new survey finds the problem is getting worse. That has sparked more discussion on how to recruit more teachers.  We'll hear why some want to change teacher licensing standards. 

We also get a recap of the 2018 governor's race, which saw spending at record-setting levels.  And we learn how one community is coping with a rise in gun violence.  

That and more on this week's Statewide:

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) / Flickr: Ryan McGilchrist

The Illinois Senate Thursday approved raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. All eyes now turn to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has yet to say where he stands on the idea. 

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

A survey released this week suggests Illinois’ teacher shortage is getting worse, not better. Eighty-five percent of superintendents who responded said they’re having a tough time finding qualified teachers to fill vacancies. That’s up from 78 percent in 2017.

Lawmakers have been scrambling to figure out how to recruit more teachers. State Rep. Sue Scherer, a Decatur Democrat, is holding a hearing Wednesday afternoon, focused on changing licensure standards for teachers.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Many communities in Illinois have rules that say renters can lose their housing if someone in the home is connected to a crime. City leaders who back the policies say the rules make neighborhoods safer. But fair housing advocates question the tactics.

Illinois House Democratic Caucus

Illinois could become the most progressive state in the nation on abortion rights if a proposed bill is approved this year.

BrettLevinPhotography / Flickr

Governor J.B. Pritzker wants to create a host of new taxes to help balance Illinois’ budget – on everything from e-cigarettes to medical insurance companies. 

John Lodder / Flickr: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

It's not the first time some Illinois lawmakers are pushing to end the so-called gender pay gap. The House of Representatives approved a measure Wednesday that could be a first step. 

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

The Illinois House Wednesday approved a plan that would require k-12 history textbooks to include LGBTQ  figures.

Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, a Glenview Democrat and supporter of the bill, says if it had been law 15 years ago, her brother would not have been denied tenure in a suburban Chicago public school for his decision to talk about sexuality with his students.

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

There's an old saying that the hardest animal to kill is a school mascot. But Illinois lawmakers are taking a look at possibly thinning the herd.

 

Illinois has some school districts operating with only elementary grades, some with only high school grades, some with fewer than a hundred children — a total of 852 school districts. That's more than any other state except California and Texas, both of which have more than twice our population.

Does it matter?

a plastic bag in a tree
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to create a host of new taxes to help balance Illinois’ budget — on everything from e-cigarettes to medical insurance companies.

NPR Illinois reporters have been breaking down those revenue-generating ideas. Today we’re looking at a potential tax on shopping bags.

Flickr: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) / Flickr: Julie

Illinois lawmakers in the House voted Tuesday to raise the age to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21.  Last year, the proposal made it to the governor’s desk, but then-Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it. Supporters of the change are more optimistic this time.  
 

Mike Mozart - Flickr / CC-by 2.0

Walgreens customers want the company to pay up for charging an extra tax on some water bottles. The Illinois Supreme Court is considering whether the charges were fraudulent.

Blogtrepreneur - Flickr / CC-by 2.0

Young adults could be tried in juvenile court up to age 21 under legislation being considered in the Illinois Senate.

Pages