Illinois Information Service

Illinois state Republicans are introducing a new package of bills they say is their effort to end the budget impasse.

 

The Republicans’ proposal includes some of the same ideas that were sticking points for Democrats, including the length of a property tax freeze and how much to raise income taxes.

Legislation headed to the governor's desk is designed to help protect students who take out loans for college.

The Student Loan Bill of Rights requires lenders to explain repayment options to struggling borrowers and to inform graduates that they may be eligible to have their loan forgiven under certain circumstances.

Lawmakers have approve funding for 9-1-1 centers throughout Illinois.

The funding mechanism for call centers ends June 30...so this new legislation is needed to keep 9-1-1 up and running.

The first signs of West Nile Virus are popping up in Illinois.

The virus has been confirmed in a batch of mosquitoes in Godfrey in Madison County.

Illinois Senate Republicans officially opened their third annual Memorial Day Wall of Remembrance display in the state Capitol Rotunda Tuesday.

With the Illinois legislative session scheduled to end on Wednesday, lawmakers were busy trying to deal with some measures still needing action.

The Illinois Senate has approved a $5 billion income tax increase to fund what Democrats say would be a balanced, $37.3 billion budget.

A Democratic majority pushed the measures through despite opposition from Republicans.

New legislation aims to keep more students at Illinois colleges and universities.

Democratic Representative Lou Lang says high school grads are leaving Illinois in droves for out of state schools...with up to 35 percent never returning. He says his three-pronged bill could help slow that trend.

The Illinois Senate has scheduled a do-over for some pieces of legislation that are part of the so-called grand bargain budget compromise.

Democrats who control the Senate on Tuesday used a procedure to move bills that have already been approved by the Senate back into position for votes again.

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Governor Bruce Rauner is activating the state's Emergency Operations Center to help flooded communities.

The center helps coordinate emergency and relief efforts to rain soaked areas. The governor says a big focus now is on river flooding that will increase throughout the week.

House republicans says the governor's office is rescinding the layoff of 124 Illinois Department of Corrections nurses.

The plan was to replace the nurses with private contractors...but Representative Tim Butler of Springfield says they will not lose their jobs after all. He says he hopes both sides can return to the bargaining table very soon.

House Democrats are working on a proposal to fund fiscally starving social services and higher education.

The more than 750 million dollar plan uses money sitting in unused special state funds, directing dollars towards state colleges and universities as well as MAP grants.

Seventeen school superintendents sued the state of Illinois Wednesday.  They're asking Governor Bruce Rauner and the state board of education to come up with a funding formula that would help schools meet the state's learning standards.

The University of Illinois is proposing a financial aid package designed to keep students at Illinois schools.

The U of I's "Invest in Illinoisans" plan would provide 170 million dollars a year in aid to undergrads and hopefully stem the tide of kids heading to other states.

An Illinois House committee has cleared a proposal that would require public universities to admit first-time freshman applicants who finish with a GPA in the top 10 percent of their high school's graduating class.

The News-Gazette reports the House Higher Education Committee passed the bill Wednesday despite opposition from the University of Illinois and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Governor Bruce Rauner has consistently praised the Senate leadership in its bi-partisan approach to create a spending plan called the Grand Bargain.

During his budget address Wednesday, Rauner repeated his call for term limits, worker's compensation and pension reform and reining in state employee health insurance costs.

New legislation aims to give the public a stronger voice in Illinois elections.

The measure, sponsored by Senator Dan Biss of Evanston, creates a small donor match program for constitutional officers and legislative elections. He says that way, everyday people, not just the wealthy can make an impact in political races.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Lawmakers in the Illinois House want you to be ready for anything... and are declaring October "Zombie Preparedness Month" in Illinois.

Representative Chris Welch of Westchester is leading the charge against the undead, hoping it spurs families into action.

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Foresight Energy LLC

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commision says it has resolved two lawsuits against a group of affiliated coal mining companies accused of hiring practices that effectively excluded women from working in the underground mines and in other coal production positions.

Two lawsuits alleged that various coal companies didn't hire some applicants for underground and production jobs because of their gender.

The Illinois Policy Institute introduced a budget reform plan that it says balances the state budget and closes Illinois' projected $7.1 billion budget deficit without a tax increase.

Institute CEO John Tillman says raising taxes will not fix Illinois. He says the state must reform the way it spends the taxpayers' money.

The state's new "Life Insurance Policy Locator Service" has already helped families recover more than one point seven million dollars in benefits.

The service makes it easier for Illinoisans to determine if a loved one who has passed away has any life insurance policies they may not know about.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking a judge to tell state employees: No budget, no paycheck.

She’s trying to force an end to the political battle that's devastated Illinois finances over the last 19 months.

The Illinois Senate is ditching its promise to vote on a compromise budget plan by the end of the month.

The plan was to vote on the massive bipartisan effort this week...but Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno says they weren't quite ready.

The number of inmates in Illinois prisons has dropped by nine percent since Governor Bruce Rauner took office nearly two years ago.

Governor Rauner set a goal of reducing the prison population by 25 percent by the year 2025.

The governor says they've really tried to focus on rehabilitating offenders.
 
Efforts to rehabilitate inmates include making sure they have a state ID card as they are released from prison and identifying offenders who might benefit more from substance abuse treatment than sitting in jail.

Jimmy John's sandwich shops won't be able to restrict where their employees get another job under a settlement with Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office.

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State of Illinois

The state of Illinois is officially filing for a waiver from the federal government to help provide better mental health services to Medicaid recipients.

The waiver would give the state access to two point seven billion dollars in federal Medicaid funds to restructure how the program handles mentally ill patients. Governor Bruce Rauner says the idea is to create a system that focuses on early intervention and prevention.

An innovative new project at the Trail of Tears State Forest in southern Illinois includes cutting down several trees.

You wouldn't think the State Department of Natural Resources would get rid of trees...but DNR Forest Ecologist Ben Snyder says that's exactly what they're doing.

Campsite reservations are now open for those hoping to camp out and watch the solar eclipse in southern Illinois next summer.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Tim Schweizer says you should probably reserve your spot now if you want to get a good seat to view the total solar eclipse on August 21st.

The Du Quoin state fair kicks off in southern Illinois Friday.

Du Quoin fair spokesperson Rebecca Clark says the event runs through Labor Day and includes harness racing, grandstand concerts and plenty of free entertainment.

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Governor's office

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Tuesday signed into law a measure that would increase the sentences for illegal gun sales.

People with a record of firearms offenses who try to sell guns will face harsher penalties. The governor says the law targets so-called straw purchasers.

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