Illinois News Connection

Children in Illinois are doing better than in recent years, and advocates are calling on state and federal leaders to avoid reversing those gains.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is urging Democrats to return to Springfield and pass a budget following a federal court ruling requiring the state to pay more toward Medicaid.

Wednesday, a judge ruled in favor of some low income Medicaid patients-who say the state's gotten so late with its healthcare reimbursements that doctors may stop treating them.

This time of year, cycling is many people's choice to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

But, a study by Yale researchers in 2006 linked cycling to problems with sexual health and urinary dysfunction. Now, a new team of scientists disputes those results.

People
AARP

Nominations are being sought for those who donate their time and energy to improve the lives of others.

Fifty of Illinois' "unsung heroes" are being recognized for their work helping nonprofits, arts and culture, and small businesses in their communities with a special emphasis on those who can think outside the box and find creative ways to make Illinois a better place.

The American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for help.

The organization needs blood and platelet donors after 37-thousand fewer donations than expected came in at blood banks across the nation in November and December.

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.

Exactly how much money did candidates running for office during the November general election spend?

Recent data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics shows that just those trying to win state House and Senate seats raised more than $95 million this election cycle. Illinois ranks second nationally in money raised for state legislative races.

Most who watched the second presidential debate at Washington University will likely agree there was more jabbing and political rhetoric than substance.

Advocates are hoping the third and final debate will turn out differently.

Fossil-fuel companies Murray Energy and Southern Company paid for private meetings with Republican state attorneys general to discuss opposition to the EPA's Clean Power Plan less than two weeks before the same officials asked a federal judge to block the measure.

That's according to documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy.

Illinois voters like labor unions, but generally find Governor Bruce Rauner's approach to labor negotiations to be unfavorable, according to a new poll.

More than 10-percent of Illinoisans are living with a disability, and this week the focus is on making sure they get an equal chance to vote.

As one in seven people in Illinois continues to struggle with hunger, this weekend the state's letter carriers will be working to help.

Saturday, May 14 marks the 24th annual Letter Carriers' Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

Some Illinois educators are backing the new replacement to the No Child Left Behind Act.

Many Illinois families that need access to affordable housing are finding it more difficult this year to get on a waiting list for housing vouchers.

Children
National Farm to School Network

School cafeterias around Illinois are using more locally grown fruits and vegetables, while teaching children a thing or two about the benefits of healthy eating.

Governor Bruce Rauner is in the midst of a heated debate over bobcat-hunting in Illinois.

Animal welfare organizations are urging him to veto a bill that would allow the animals to be hunted, while supporters of the measure say it's necessary to control the bobcat population.

Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle says bobcats are small, elusive creatures, yet he believes lawmakers are painting a negative view of them as menacing predators and exaggerating their size.

Marijuana may be legal for medicinal use in Illinois, but patients who qualify to use it for chronic conditions will have to wait.

Many Illinois educators are having a difficult time planning for the next school year because of uncertain funding.

According to the Illinois Board of Education, the state cut more than 500 million dollars from schools this year.

At the Unity Point School District in Carbondale, that means a loss of $500 per student.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Women's groups who are crunching the numbers say it looks like the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that Congress has imposed on itself will be hurting low-income women and children the most.

Paula Gianino with Planned Parenthood is concerned about the women who will lose reproductive health care. The sequester takes 15 million from Title Ten family planning programs on top of 23 million that had already been cut over the last two years.

A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics says boys and girls who don't conform to gender expectations could be at risk of abuse and PTSD.

Flu.Gov

If it seems like everyone around you is sick, you may be right. The Centers for Disease Control says flu season has picked up steam in the last three weeks.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Chris Harrison says it's definitely getting worse, so if you haven't been sick yet, you might consider getting yourself and your children vaccinated.  Harrison says for children, we know that the nasal drop vaccine is maybe ten to fifteen percent more effective than the shot, which also might make the kids happy, too, if they don't have to take a shot.