Illinois Information Service

There may soon be more restrictions on cell phone use for those who drive in Illinois.

The House Friday approved a bill that would make it illegal to talk on a handheld cell phone while driving. The measure passed on a 64-46 vote.   It would continue to allow drivers to talk on their cell phones as long as they are using a hands-free device. The restrictions would apply to smart phones, tablets, and other hand held electronic communications devices.  Texting while driving is already against the law in Illinois.

Members of the Illinois House had an angry debate Tuesday over legislation that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in public.

IDNR

It's going to cost a little more to renew your license plate beginning in January.

Governor Pat Quinn signed a law raising the license plate fee by two dollars; bringing the total up to 101 dollars for most passenger vehicles. The money raised will help fund maintenance and improvement projects at state parks.

The first case of a new form of influenza has been confirmed in Illinois.

Having a good breakfast and lunch during the summer can be a challenge for many children in low-income families across the region.

Illinois state board of education spokesperson Mary Fergus says the state is helping provide free and reduced meals to area kids this summer. About 19-hundred sites are offering the free meals.   In Jackson county, those locations include the Eurma Hayes Center in Carbondale and the Carbondale Boys and Girls club.  Murphysboro grade school and Murphysboro High School are also providing free meals to those who qualify. 

The State Fire Marshal is urging Illinois communities to take extra precautions with Fourth of July fireworks this year.

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is letting child care providers know that the checks will soon be in the mail.

The Illinois Senate voted down a bill banning pets from riding in the driver's seat.

It's Asthma Awareness Month and the Illinois Department of Public Health is urging those affected to make sure they take steps to manage their condition.

Road construction season is underway in Illinois.

Illinois lawmakers are considering legislation prohibiting teens from using indoor tanning beds.

Tornadoes do not occur very often during February in Illinois.But, as we found out last week in southern Illinois, when they do occur, they can be quite deadly.

This is national consumer protection week and the Illinois Attorney General's office is teaming up with other consumer advocates to raise awareness of what's known as "cramming."

Three southern Illinois school districts are among 31 districts overall to share more than 600 million dollars to help improve schools across the state.

The Marion Unit 2 School District will receive over 56-million dollars in capital funds, Mt. Vernon High School will receive over 47-million to help build a new school and Shawnee District 84 is receiving over 2 million dollars.

The state is working to stop unemployment fraud. Illinois Department of Employment Security spokesperson Greg Rivara says they are now better able to identify those who are working but still claiming jobless benefits.

Those caught are asked to pay back the money and if they don't he says their wages can be garnished.
Unemployment insurance benefits are funded through business contributions. State officials say preventing fraud and recovering improper payments protects taxpayer dollars and reduces the cost of doing business, which creates a climate more conducive to hiring.

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