Illinois Issues

Thursdays

Reporting and analysis taking you beyond the daily news and providing a deeper understanding of our state. 

Subscribe for weekly Illinois Issues email alerts

Archive

Forum organizers on stage for photo
Lizzie Roehrs / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Panelists in Rockford discuss the challenges faced by small businesses - including economic growth and workforce needs. 

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, John Lucas and his granddaughter, McKenna, bet on Saber Rattler at the Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville.

"If she wins this, it'll be the third race in a row she's won," says Lucas as they watch the horses round the final stretch of the track. Saber Rattler came in second.

Lucas has been visiting the track outside of St. Louis a few times a year since the 1980s, traveling across the Illinois border from O'Fallon, Missouri.

Lucas has noticed the steady downturn in fortunes for the track.

Panelists in Alton, Illinois discussed why Illinois residents may be looking to move to bordering states. 

Questions from the audience ranged from recreational cannabis to property taxes. 

NPR Illinois news director Sean Crawford moderated a panel including:

  • Nathan Grimm, managing editor of the Alton Telegraph
  • Sara McGibany, executive director of Alton Main Street and board member of Senior Services Plus
  • Susie Harris, East Alton regional director of Caritas Family Solutions

This forum series is sponsored by AARP. 

Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman / Released by the United States Marine Corps [Public Domain]

Once considered the new frontier of drugs and drug trafficking, synthetic cannabinoids have been around for years now and they’re becoming increasingly dangerous. More recently, authorities say dozens of overdoses in Connecticut occurred due to a drug called K-2 that was possibly laced with fentanyl.  

Annabelle Shemer, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Advocates say increasing access to hormonal contraceptives could help reduce unplanned pregnancies. One legislative proposal considered earlier this year aims to do just that by allowing patients to skip a physician's visit and head straight to a pharmacist. But it is having trouble catching on in Illinois.

Community member comments.
Lizzie Roehrs / NPR Illinois

Panelists in Moline joined NPR Illinois for the Seeking Solutions forum exploring the issue of residents leaving the state to move elsewhere.

Panelists:

Online Learning Can Open Doors For Kids In Juvenile Jails

Aug 2, 2018
Students have access to hundreds of courses while they are in Illinois' juvenile justice facilities, but they tend to focus on math, language arts, social studies and science.
Tara Garcia Mathewson / The Hechinger Report

But the quality of online coursework is one of many concerns for advocates.

Isaiah Milton, 10, holds a candle at a memorial for his 19-year-old cousin Jeremiah Shaw, who was shot to death   in Chicago.
ALEX WROBLEWSKI

The gap, caused mainly by homicides, is one of the biggest in the nation.

Panelists at the Peoria forum discussed Education issues in Illinois. 

Panelists: 

  • Pastor Marvin Hightower
  • Beth Crider
  • Professor Dean Cantu
  • Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat

This forum series is sponsored by AARP. 

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This is part of our election-year series, Money Machines, looking at campaign spending in the 2018 election. The first article can be found here.

Construction sign at Broadway and Adams in Springfield
Sam Dunklau

Experts say billions in a multi-year plan won't go far enough to address infrastructure repairs and upkeep.

NPR Illinois 91.9 | UIS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on online shopping left two things clear – consumers who buy online will have to pay sales tax on more items, and some states will see more money from those online purchases.

Marcia O'Connor, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Hemp has been used for centuries to make rope, fishnets, paper, car parts, fuel and much more. It’s an unruly crop. It’s skinny, it’s tall, but what has made it controversial is that it’s a derivative of the cannabis plant.

Marcus Butler of  Springfield has been unemployed since October of 2016.
Katie Buck / NPR IllINOIS

Experts blame the long-standing problem on discrimination, especially the "inadequate, inequitable'' education funding system.

Last year NPR Illinois toured the state in partnership with NPR member stations to hear how the two-year state budget impasse impacted communities in Illinois. The adoption of a budget provided some clarity for those affected but many challenges remain. 

This year, we aim to seek solutions to many of the fiscal problems that persist and discuss the prominent issues in the 2018 elections. 

Panelists

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois will host what could be the most expensive race for governor in U.S. history. The huge increase in campaign spending raises a lot of questions about the rise of big money in politics. Between now and the election, Illinois Issues will examine the impact in a series we're calling Money Machines.

Brian Mackey

On Wednesday, Illinois ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed change to the U.S. Constitution — 46 years after Congress approved it.

Panel at forum.
UIS Office of Electronic Media / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Watch this Illinois Issues Forum from Naperville.  Our 2018 election coverage continues with a discussion of economic development in the collar counties of Chicago and how the state issues influence their well-being.

This forum is produced and hosted by NPR Illinois with support provided by AARP Illinois. 

Flickr User: Stanford EdTech

A measure that has passed the Illinois House would require hospitals to have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) who can treat and examine victims of sexual assault. Some say it would mean better collection of forensic evidence and better treatment of victims.

Illinois State Police

 

For this week’s Illinois Issues, we bring you a story about a measure that would train more nurses how to collect DNA evidence after a sexual assault for use in a criminal trial, often referred to as rape kits. NPR Illinois spoke with Melissa Souto about her experience undergoing the testing.

Souto, a 23-year-old Chicago resident, said she was sexually assaulted two years ago on an Illinois college campus. She could not say where since her legal case is pending. Following the incident, Souto decided to get a rape kit.

Molly Marshall / flickr cc nc2.0

Keeping cases unsealed leaves guiltless tenants at risk for rejection, but that could make it difficult for landlords to be diligent in screening, Realtors say.

Panel listens to an audience member question at an Illinois Issues Forum
UIS Office of Electronic Media / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Watch the first Illinois Issues Forum from Springfield.  Our 2018 election coverage starts discussing the fiscal health of Illinois. 

This forum is produced and hosted by NPR Illinois with support provided by AARP Illinois. 

The Panel:

Flickr User: soundfromwayout

Chris Quintana covers the "culture wars" on college campuses and other news for The Chronicle of Higher Education. He was intrigued by the story of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's one-time icon, Chief Illiniwek. Quintana visited the school and surrounding area for a story released earlier this year.

Methodist College students take a break between classes at the campus in Peoria, which is a former furniture store.
Mary Hansen / NPR IllINOIS | 91.9 UIS

As more retail chains shut down, cities across Illinois figure out what to do with millions of square feet of empty space.

Jaclyn Driscoll

In the wake of mass shootings comes the debate around gun laws. This week, I explore a different angle: the personal responsibility of carrying a firearm. 

Wikimedia Commons

Last month, the state's voters decided on the Republican and Democratic nominees for governor. But with the primaries behind them, the winners still have to convince those who wanted someone else at the top of the ticket.

Mary Cullen / NPR Illinois

Illinois’ bicentennial commission finds ways to commemorate the state’s 200th with little time and limited budget.

Illinois will celebrate its 200th birthday with statewide events, building projects, specialty Pepsi cans, stamps, rosé, apparel and even an officials brew, "1818 Prairie State Farmhouse Ale."

Illustrator Pat Byrnes​

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, state lawmakers have tried to address sexual harassment in a variety of ways. We explore what's been done and what some say may be ahead.

Last year, NPR Illinois toured the state to discuss the ways in which the people and businesses of Illinois had been affected by the budget impasse. This year, we are touring again to explore new issues and start a conversation on how best to approach long-term solutions. 

Our goal with the Election 2018-Seeking Solutions forums is to explore prominent issues discussed by candidates in the 2018 Illinois gubernatorial election.  We want to educate the public on state concerns and have a conversation about ways to solve them.   

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Pickup trucks and construction equipment crowd the lawn of the Illinois Executive Mansion and the block across the street.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana, have raised the money for the $15 million mansion makeover, which is slated to be complete by the end of the summer. And the governor is eyeing the city-owned block, dubbed the “Y-block” for the YWCA that used to sit there, as an extension of that project.

Pages