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One Week Left And Miles To Go

6 hours ago
NPR Illinois

Recreational pot, construction projects and more — here’s what we know.

When Gov. J.B. Pritzker introduced his freshman budget this winter, he proposed a range of new or increased taxes. It was intended to let Illinois government hobble through next year’s budget on its way to a graduated income tax.

Joshua Cohen

WUIS' Bedrock 66 Live! welcomes legendary Memphis rocker Tav Falco and his Panther Burns to Bar None, 245 S. 5th St. in downtown Springfield Thursday, May 23 at 8 pm. opening the show will be Springfield surf rock favorites Go! Tsunami. Tickets are available at www.bedrock66.com

Illinois State Fair crowd
flickr/Randy VonLiski - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

State fairgoers will get a break on admission, at least for part of this year's event.  The State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon announced today that daily admission will be lowered to $5 for adults on Sunday through Thursday.  That's half the regular price.  Senior admission will remain $3 and children 12 and younger get in free.  Gordon said the change is an attempt to make the fair a more affordable, family-friendly experience.  

Fair attendance was down 8% last year compared to 2017.  Many vendors complained about the slow foot traffic.

Delia Ramirez
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Affordable-housing advocates are joining the chorus calling on Illinois lawmakers to approve an infrastructure plan.

guns ammo bullets
Tony Webster - Flickr / CC-by 2.0

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to overhaul the application process for Firearm Owner’s Identification cards.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Most of the electricity used in Springfield comes from the coal-fired power plant on Lake Springfield. The city's public utility, City Water, Light and Power, is considering a recommendation to shut down a large part of that plant and move to wind or solar.

Some CWLP workers are worried about their jobs in light of the study. Meanwhile, environmentalists who support the move away from fossil fuels have said the city can limit the impact on workers with retraining and other job opportunities.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois officials faced tough questioning Monday over the lease of a warehouse for file storage.

The Legislative Audit Commission hearing also got at broader questions over how state government spends money.

cannabis ladies
State Sen. Heather Steans / State Sen. Heather Steans

Earlier in May when language for Illinois' recreational cannabis proposal was unveiled, it was Gov. J.B. Pritzker who stole the headlines, receiving much of the credit. While it's his signature that will ultimately appear on any proposal passed by the legislature, it was four female lawmakers who chose to embark on the difficult path to legalization years ago. 

Courtesy of repmmurphy.com

Pleasant Plains is a small but prosperous town about 15 minutes northwest of Springfield. Its schools are all rated “commendable,” and their test results outshine state averages in every subject.

And yet, in March, the high school principal, Luke Brooks, asked Illinois lawmakers to stop requiring algebra.

road construction
Gary Brown via Flickr (gsbrown99)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is finally getting specific on what could be in a massive statewide building plan — and what taxes and fees could be raised to pay for it.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Republicans are trying to get back in on next year's budget negotiations. Meanwhile, as red states compete to place more and more restrictins on abortion, activists want Illinois to move the other way.

Sports betting in a Nevada casino.
Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar / Flickr: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

One year after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states outside of Nevada to set up their own sports betting rules, some experts are offering Illinois lawmakers tips as a final proposal is drafted. 

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Republican on Thursday were trying to elbow their way back into budget negotiations.

The move comes as lawmakers have just two weeks left in their annual legislative session, with a long to-do list that includes passing a state budget.

Families of those who died at the Quincy Veterans’ Home during a Legionnaire's Disease outbreak are still upset.  Those deaths happened on the Rauner Administration’s watch.  But now they are questioning if the new governor is doing enough.  

Four women who are friends -- and also state lawmakers -- talk about how working on a key piece of legislation has brought them closer together.

And in southern Illinois, one of the oldest homes still standing is state-owned.  But there appears to be no plan for what's known as the Old Slave House. 

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

Peter Gray / NPR Illinois

Drive down a major road or highway in Illinois and you’ll likely feel the bump of potholes. A report from TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based research group, put a number on what it costs drivers to travel these roads — $18.3 billion. That includes additional car repairs, time lost in traffic, and crashes caused by poor road conditions.

Lawmakers are using the new report to push for a multibillion-dollar infrastructure plan, paid for in part by a gas tax hike and higher vehicle and registration fees.

Illustration by Brian Mackey / Photo by Kenwood

News Analysis — The Illinois Department of Corrections did not fare well in a recent state audit. Among the findings was that the agency could not account for 3,568 pieces of equipment.

Dig into the numbers and property records, and you’ll find a bigger story about the challenges of pursuing efficiency in state government.

Executive Cannabis
Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

Illinois has an official proposal to legalize recreational cannabis, but the bill language is still a work in progress. On Wednesday, legislators in the Senate Executive committee were able to pick apart details of the legislation and make suggestions for changes. 

Maureen McKinney / NPR Illinois

The Alabama legislature approved some of the most restrictive abortion rules in the country this week. A group of lawmakers wants to make Illinois the most progressive state.

Seventy-five women dressed in long red robes and white bonnets gathered at the capitol Wednesday. They represent characters from the dystopian Margaret Atwood novel and recent television series The Handmaid’s Tale.

Dana Vollmer / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced plans Wednesday to overhaul the state’s troubled child welfare system. That comes after a report criticized the Department of Children and Family Services’ reluctance to remove children from their homes.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Some rock and roll star power showed up in the Illinois Statehouse Wednesday to help push for a new casino. 

outside of house
Courtesy of Byron Hetzler/Southern Illinoisan

One of the oldest buildings remaining in southern Illinois is home to a lot of history.  It’s called the Crenshaw House, because it was owned by John Crenshaw, who made his money running salt mines. 

But it’s probably better known as the Old Slave House.  For decades, the house - in Gallatin County ironically near a community called Equality - was privately owned and open for public tours.  Stories that slaves had been held captive inside were passed along. 

smart phone texting
Marko Verch - Flickr / CC-by 2.0

The Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday over whether the First Amendment protects “revenge porn.”

Pritzker Scott's Law
Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

So far in 2019, sixteen Illinois State troopers have been hit on the road and three have been killed. Of those three, two of them were killed by drivers in violation of Scott's Law according to the Illinois State Police. 

Madelyn Beck

Floodwaters on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers may be going down, but rain has continued to soak farmland around much of the state. More rain could be on the way later this month.

Wet fields make it hard to plant because farmers use large, heavy machinery in the fields. Even if a field is dry enough for equipment not to get stuck, too much pressure on wet soil makes it hard for seedlings to develop solid root systems.

Equality Illinois

Illinois' MAP grants — the monetary award program for low-income college students — would be available to more students if a bill approved by the legislature this month becomes law. MAP grants are currently unavailable students who don't qualify for federal financial aid. In Illinois, that includes about 1,200 students who immigrated to the US as children.

Jeffrey Beall / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Illinois could become the third state in the nation to require that single restrooms in offices, restaurants and other public places be gender-neutral.

Similar laws are in place in California and Vermont.

doctor medicine stethocope
Chemist 4 U - Flickr / CC-by 2.0

Illinois lawmakers want to eliminate medical co-pays for prisoners.

Stateville Correctional Center
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Governor J.B. Pritzker has nominated an Ohio prison official to lead the Illinois Department of Corrections.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois gets an April surprise — $1.5 billion in unexpected revenue — as lawmakers debate what the windfall means. The public also got its first look at the long-anticipated language in a proposal that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Meanwhile, an audit found that child abuse and neglect investigations suffered during the budget impasse of 2015-17, and lawmakers advanced legislation that would more than double the gas tax in order to pay for infrastructure building and repair.

Wikimedia Commons

Last year, a school nurse in East Moline faced a moral dilemma when a diabetic student lost consciousness in her office. Now she’s trying to make sure no other school nurse has to face the same tough choice.

Low blood sugar can usually be cured with orange juice and a granola bar. But those snacks and glucose tabs weren’t helping the 7th grader sitting in Jennifer Jacobs’ office.

“Her blood sugar kept falling, and we kept pushing the snacks,” Jacobs says.

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