Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Newsroom is a regional journalism collaboration focused on expanding access to trusted, timely and relevant information across three key statewide topics: Education, Political Impact and Health/Environment.

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You might have seen social media posts saying Tuesday was the voter registration deadline in Illinois.

But don’t worry: Illinois residents can sign up to vote through Election Day.

Two competitive judicial races for circuit court are on the ballot in Champaign County this year, which doesn’t happen often. Illinois elects its circuit judges to six-year terms, after which they run unopposed to be retained and are rarely unseated.

An older woman in a hospital bed, next to a younger woman wearing a mask and gown.
Donna Patton

 

Two years ago, Donna Patton became one of the nearly 800,000 Americans who suffer a stroke each year. She still remembers waking up from surgery and hearing the reaction from her medical team.

 

“He just said, ‘do you believe in a higher entity?’” she recalled. “And I said, ‘I sure do.’ He said, ‘you should, because luck's been on your side all day long.’”

 

Ask The Newsroom: The State Of State Parks

Sep 26, 2018
Ranger standing at trailhead.
Kevin Boucher/WSIU

Recently, we received a question from Mark Porter, who wanted to know more about the state of state parks in Illinois. Mark asked:

 

“What is the governor doing to protect our natural resources in Illinois and what is being done to support the State Parks and county forest preserves?”

 

Rural counties are facing a lot of heat over Illinois’ booming solar power development.

In 2000, Charles Davidson was arrested the day before the 4th of July for a crime he said he didn’t commit. Urbana Police responded that evening to a complaint of fireworks and came upon Davidson, who claims he made the complaint on behalf of his mother. According to court records, police accused the now 68-year-old youth mentor of providing officers with the false last name of “Edwards.” Davidson said “Edwards” was his mother’s last name, and he simply gave police his first name.

In the past, Ann Quackenbush would wake up early on election day to get to her polling place. The elementary school teacher in Champaign says it was often hard to make time to vote during a busy school day.

For the primary last March, she tried something different – mailing in her ballot before election day.

“It is just incredibly convenient,” said Quackenbush, who has already requested a mail-in ballot for the mid-terms in November.

LA Johnson/NPR

Illinois schools will soon have to publicly report and be evaluated on a new performance measurement: chronic absence. But researchers and superintendents have raised questions about whether or not that data will be meaningful or fair.

Technology changing access and outcomes in abortion debate

Data Show Opioid Prescriptions Declining In IL

Sep 11, 2018
Steve Buissinne CC0 Creative Commons

There is some good news in the fight against opioid abuse in Illinois. Doctors prescribed fewer opioids to patients in 2017 than 2016, according to numbers from the statewide prescription monitoring program. The database can’t track illegal narcotic use, but the drop in prescriptions is still widely seen as a good sign as the majority of heroin users say their first experience with opioids came from a prescription drug.

Battling Drug Addiction: What Comes After Detox?

Sep 10, 2018
Director John Steve washes dishes in an industrial kitchen sink.
Steph Whiteside/WSIU

Like many states, Illinois is battling an opioid epidemic. Loran Owens, who lives in Franklin county in Southern Illinois, knows what the epidemic is like first-hand.

 

 

"My brother, [when] I was in jail, my brother got arrested and he was in there about four months," Owens said. "And he shot up heroin, more or less. It was OxyContin and stuff ... and while he was in there, he was trying to get help. He was wanting to go to rehab when he left there."

Experts Explore Reasons, Solutions for Teacher Shortage

Sep 5, 2018

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a slew of legislation this month intended to alleviate Illinois’s teacher shortage. But some teachers and union leaders doubt the measures are enough. Illinois Newsroom’s Lee Gaines spoke with Linda Darling-Hammond to find out what legislative fixes actually work.

You want to be an informed and confident voter this election season, and Illinois Newsroom wants to help. Our statewide public media collaboration is delivering you the highest quality information around the Midterm Elections. And you’ll be our guide.

Pesticides are all over, from backyard gardens to cornfields. While their use doesn’t appear to be slowing, concern over drift and the resulting effects on health is driving research — and more worries.

Those concerns are bringing pesticides to a different venue: courtrooms. 

Julia Fiedler, CC0 Creative Commons

A recent Supreme Court decision limiting regulations for anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers in California could affect patients in Illinois.

In the California case — known as NIFLA v. Becerra — operators of self-described crisis pregnancy centers argued that requiring facilities to post information about services available through other healthcare providers, including abortion, violated their free speech.

U Of I Students Design Virtual Reality For Incarcerated People

Jul 12, 2018

Simple, everyday tasks  – like ordering coffee, crossing the street, or getting gas – can be an obstacle, or an intimidating challenge for people recently released from prison. This is especially true for people who have spent many years behind bars.


What Will It Take To Fix Illinois' Teacher Shortage?

Jun 27, 2018
School
Lee V. Gaines/Illinois Newsroom

Chuck Bleyer is worried the southern Illinois school district he heads won’t be able to fill an open teacher position by the time classes start this fall.

Abigail Irby Fights For Family, Community Despite Loss

May 16, 2018

In Peoria, at least 251 people were hurt and 26 killed by gun violence between 2015 and 2017.

Abigail Irby moved her family to the South Side of Peoria because she felt called to make a difference. Twenty years later, she's a survivor of the chronic violence felt across the state and says, “I’m not going anywhere until God says it’s time for me to go.”

How Schools Can Help Kids Traumatized By Gun Violence

May 15, 2018
School
Lee V. Gaines/Illinois Newsroom

Last month, about a dozen people gathered in the basement of a church in Champaign, Ill. to learn about how traumatic experiences affect the lives of children and young adults, and what they can do to mitigate its effects.

 

His name was Devon McClyde, and he was 16 years old when he was caught in the crossfire of an argument while playing basketball one evening in a local park in Danville on June 8, 2016.

He died three days later – the victim of another gun crime in Central Illinois.

 


Every Sunday, a group of women meets in the basement of a church in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood to sort and package boxes of books. The boxes are sent to women in prisons in Illinois and beyond the state’s borders. In total, the group, Chicago Books to Women in Prison (BWP), has sent nearly 20,000 books to incarcerated women in the last five years, and tens of thousands since the organization was founded in 2002.


Passing a state budget is arguably the most important thing the Illinois General Assembly does every year — or at least should do every year.

After last year's drama — when a two-year standoff ended with a Republican revolt against Governor Bruce Rauner — it's an open question about how things will go this year.

So I set out to answer a simple question: Will there be another impasse?

Gov. Bruce Rauner is scheduled to unveil his fourth budget proposal Wednesday in a speech to the General Assembly.

Illinois lawmakers have only enacted a budget for one of the three years he’s been in office.

That led to service cuts and some layoffs, but the state didn’t collapse. For most people, life went on as normal.

So we asked Statehouse reporter Brian Mackey: Does it really matter if Illinois has a budget?