Illinois Public Radio

Posts tagged with this author are either entirely or partially reported by the staff at Illinois Public Radio. If possible, the specific staff member who reported each story will be listed within the body of each corresponding post.

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Akin launches ad asking for forgiveness

U.S. Representative Todd Akin launched an ad this morning apologizing for his statement that "legitimate rape" does not cause pregnancy.

The Republican made those statements in a television interview on Sunday. They ignited a firestorm of criticism from both sides of the aisle, and calls from his own party to drop out.

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For the first time in more than a century, the Illinois House has expelled one of its members.

Lawmakers voted 100-6 on Friday to expel Chicago Democratic state Rep. Derrick Smith. And as Amanda Vinicky reports via Twitter, House Speaker Michael Madigan asked that Smith's name be moved immediately from the chamber's roll.

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Heading into special session, Ill. lawmakers remain divided on pensions

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has called for a special session on Friday to overhaul he state's pensions, even though Illinois lawmakers are still divided over the best way to do so.

There's an $83 billion gap in what the state has promised its employees they'll get when they retire, and what Illinois actually has in the bank.

Will be updated further. Updated 5:06 p.m. with Associated Press story of Quinn's veto.

Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed legislation that would have forced Illinois natural gas utilities to buy synthetic gas from a proposed plant on Chicago's South Side.

The governor vetoed the bill on Friday. It would have forced Nicor Gas and Ameren Corp. to buy synthetic natural gas from the Leucadia Corp. gasification plant for 30 years to help pay for its construction.

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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that extends the life span of a popular economic development tool in the state.

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Jobless rate drops below 8 percent in St. Louis

The jobless rate in metropolitan St. Louis is going down, and has dipped below 8 percent for the first time in more than three years.

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Good morning. Here are your starting headlines today:

Valley Park mayor resigns

The embattled mayor of Valley Park has resigned. Nathan Grellner stepped down as the top official in the St. Louis County town on Thursday, submitting a written letter of resignation. Grellner has been under fire for questionable spending with a city credit card, for missing nearly every meeting since February, and for his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence in a neighboring town in June.

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Reporting in this story from Brian Mackey.

A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday challenges Illinois' campaign finance laws. It seeks to remove limits on how much individuals and groups can donate to candidates.

The case argues there are two sets of rules under Illinois campaign law.

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Brian Mackey of Illinois Public Radio reported for this story.

The number of Illinois farmers' markets that accept electronic payment is expected to double under a new federal grant.  The program pays for machines that can swipe credit, debit and Link cards -- the modern version of food stamps.

Josh Dotson's family has been selling produce at farmers' markets for decades.

Dotson sells at markets that already accept Link cards, and he says it's brought new customers.

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Ill. Gov. calls for stricter gun laws

Days after the Colorado theater shooting, Governor Pat Quinn is calling for stricter gun laws in Illinois. Gun-rights advocates have long argued that public safety would be improved if people were allowed to carry concealed firearms. Illinois is the only state without any form of concealed carry for the general public. And Quinn says he'd oppose any attempt to permit concealed carry.

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Nixon seeks permission to ease land restrictions during drought

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has asked the federal government to allow farmers to graze cattle on land that's been taken out of crop production as part of a federal conservation effort.

Farmers in the state have about 1.4 million acres of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays them to plant other vegetation instead of cash crops like corn or soybeans. Livestock grazing is allowed on the land when there's a 40 percent shortage of hay and precipitation.

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Fireworks cancelations climb as heat lingers

The list of communities canceling their fireworks displays this year is growing longer.

St. Louis County announced today that it's postponing Tuesday's concert and fireworks at Jefferson Barracks County Park in South County because officials could not secure a permit from Lemay.

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Nixon defends, clarifies comments on health insurance mandate

Elana Gordon contributed reporting from Kansas City, Mo.

With a decision on the federal health law nearing, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon further defended his position yesterday regarding a federal health insurance mandate. 

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Mo. Supreme Court to decide fate of November ballot initiatives

The Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments this morning to determine the fate of several ballot initiatives.

Election officials still have yet to determine if supporters of increasing the minimum wage and tobacco tax, and capping the rate of payday loans, have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

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Nixon will announce budget cuts today

Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to announce today if he’ll make any reductions to the state budget – ending weeks of speculation for university and social service program administrators.

Nixon this week signed legislation funding public schools and the state departments of health and mental health without making any cuts.

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Seniority, income determining factors in new Illinois insurance law

Governor Pat Quinn's office announced early this morning that he has signed a measure that will require retired state and public university employees to kick in more money for their health insurance. 

Retirees with at least 20 years of service currently get free health coverage. Those with less time on the job pay for a portion of the cost.

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Quinn will close two prisons, including Tamms

Rachel Otwell contributed reporting from Springfield, Ill.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn made it official on Tuesday - he will close two state prisons, including the state's supermax facility in Tamms.

Rep. Brandon Phelps, of Harrisburg, says he received a brief memo from Quinn, saying that Tamms and a prison in Dwight will close, as well as juvenile detention centers in Joliet and Murphysboro. That's despite legislators including money in the 2013 budget for the facilities.

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Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey.

Illinois' pensions systems should get more scrutiny under legislation Governor Pat Quinn signed this afternoon. Illinois will be hiring its first "state actuary."

Until now, Illinois' five state pensions systems have issued their own reports on their financial health.

In the future, an independent "state actuary" will look at the retirement funds for state and university workers, legislators, judges, and public school teachers in the suburbs and downstate.

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Guards charged with assault for inmate fight

Two guards at the medium security jail in St. Louis City are facing burglary and assault charges for allegedly arranging to have one inmate at the workhouse beat up another.

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Mo. fireworks laws now in line with federal restrictions

Governor Jay Nixon has signed legislation that brings Missouri’s fireworks laws in line with federal statutes.

The governor’s office said Monday that the measure makes any fireworks allowed under federal law legal in Missouri. It also removes a discrepancy between state and federal law on the labeling of fireworks.

Nixon says the changes should make it easier for communities or organizations that sponsor Fourth of July fireworks displays. They take effect immediately.