Illinois | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois

Ledy Van Kavage, a senior legislative attorney, with the Best Friends Animal Society.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A new slate of laws meant to protect animals will go into effect in Illinois come Jan. 1. The number of laws passed in the recent legislative session has skyrocketed the state to be considered the first-ranked in the nation in terms of animal welfare, by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Missouri, on the other hand, is ranked 36th. 

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials in Metro East K-12 school districts say they have teacher shortages in some subject areas. But new teacher licensing rules that went into effect July 1 may help.

The longest time of solar eclipse totality will be viewed in southern Illinois come Aug. 21.
vbloke | Flickr

The Aug. 21 total solar eclipse event creeps ever closer. While the path of totality crosses quite a bit of Missouri, and even part of St. Louis, the longest duration of the eclipse will actually be in southern Illinois. 

In Murphysboro and Makanda, totality will last for a whopping two minutes and 40 seconds. At one point in the Shawnee National Forest, just south of Carbondale, eclipse viewers will see totality for two minutes and 44 seconds. According to eclipse enthusiasts, those seconds make a big difference.

The Illinois State Capitol.
J. Stephen Conn | Flickr

On our Friday “Behind the Headlines" segment, we take a look at a top news story from the week. This week, we turned our attention to the Illinois budget and, then, to Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' actions this week. 

The Illinois capitol building in Springfield, Ill.
The Illinois capitol building in Springfield, Ill. / Jeremy Wilburn | Flickr

  A $36.5 billion plan to rebuild Illinois' crumbling finances passed a critical test on Friday, but a powerful legislative leader said no deal would be reached before a midnight deadline — meaning Illinois will enter its third consecutive fiscal year without a budget.

The Illinois State Capitol.
J. Stephen Conn | Flickr

The state of Illinois has been without a budget for the past two years and could enter a third straight year without a spending plan if a budget is not sent to Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner by Friday.

 

 

The Illinois Senate passed a budget package Tuesday after a similar plan failed last week. The difference was several new “yes” votes from liberal Democrats. No Republicans supported either plan.

File photo | U.S. Department of Education

A report released Wednesday singles out Missouri for being the only state in the nation that requires science and social studies teachers to pass tests in all of the subject matters in which they are certified.

Sam Werkmeister, 30, sits on his porch in Granite City on March 30, 2017. Werkmeister is recovering from an addiction to opioids, which began with prescription pills.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

Sam Werkmeister, a father of two, nearly died six times last year.

He started taking pain pills to get through shifts at a restaurant. That led him to a full-blown addiction to opioids. After a relapse last summer, it took Werkmeister six months to gather the courage to go back into treatment. 

“It’s called carfentanil, and it’s really cheap,” he said, as he sat on a worn couch in the Granite City group home he shares with a half dozen other men. “It destroyed my life.”

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
File photo | Seth Perlman | Associated Press

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his State of the State address Wednesday and said he was optimistic about Illinois’ future despite the historic budget impasse that has dragged on for more than a year. 

Areli Muñoz Reyes, who is enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, attends St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For the past two years Missouri legislators in Jefferson City have sent a strong message to undocumented students in the region: you can go to college in Missouri, but we won’t make it easy.

That's what it looks like, at least, to Areli Muñoz Reyes a student  St. Louis Community College at Forest Park who started in the fall of 2015. Already worried about what will happen to undocumented students under the administration of Donald Trump, she’s also facing steep tuition rates without the state-funded scholarship she worked hard for.

Much of Monroe County bordering the Mississippi River is in a flood plain. This view of the plain is from the bluffs near Valmeyer in 2013.
File Photo | Mary Leonard | St. Louis Beacon

Only 14 counties nationwide have a lower poverty rate than Monroe County, Illinois, located directly south of St. Louis, according to a new census report.

The mostly agricultural area located across the Mississippi River from Jefferson County had a median household income of just under $80,000 in 2015, and about 5 percent of the population was considered low-income.

In November, Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky announced she would be leaving IPR for a position with WTTW-TV’s “Chicago Tonight” program in early January.

Vinicky has been a correspondent on St. Louis on the Air on many occasions and a correspondent on local newscasts. On Thursday, she joined the program to discuss what she's learned over her tenure with Illinois Public Radio and look back on the state of Illinois politics.

Joseph Bustos, a reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, discussed the 2016 election in Illinois on "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from Amanda Vinicky, Illinois Public Radio statehouse bureau chief, and Joseph Bustos, a reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, about election issues in Illinois.

Illinois is trending Democratic statewide, carried by a Democratic majority in Chicago, but southern Illinois is trending Republican, said Bustos. That’s not enough to sway the electoral vote, however.

C.J. Baricevic is the Democratic candidate for Illinois' 12th congressional district. He comes from a long line of public servants.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from C.J. Baricevic, the Democratic candidate running for Illinois’ 12th congressional district.

Baricevic is a St. Clair County native and comes from a family of public servants. He is a partner in the law firm of Chatham and Baricevic, which specializes in labor law. He has also serves part-time as a public defender.

Democrat Sheila Simon and Republican Paul Schimpf
From campaigns

In Illinois’ 58th district, it’s lieutenant governor versus lieutenant colonel in a race for the Metro East’s only open state senate seat.

Republican David Luechtefeld of Okawville is retiring after 22 years in office. He has endorsed Paul Schimpf of Waterloo, a former Marine and political newcomer. Schimpf is running against a familiar name in Illinois politics, former Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, a Democrat from Carbondale.

Ah, Friday. Fri-yay, as some have come to call it. And this is not any Friday—it happens to be a Friday that also marks the end of presidential convention season.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the winners, losers and what exactly you should take away from the Democratic and Republican National Conventions… from a Missouri perspective. Jason has been reporting from the Democratic National Convention and spent significant time with the Missouri delegation this week.

Cahokia Power Plant from The American Bottom
Provided by Jennifer Colton

Driving down Interstate 70, headed west toward St. Louis, Jesse Vogler looked out the window and was shocked to see a giant mound rising from the earth. Excited, he mistook a large landfill for The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, which preserves the remains of a prehistoric civilization.

MISO control room
Provided by MISO

A battle over power is shaping up in Illinois. It involves lawmakers, but unlike with the state budget crisis they are not playing a central role. This fight involves electricity plants, regulated and unregulated energy companies and the nonprofits that act as air traffic controllers for the electric grid.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson takes questions from Alderman Sam Moore (in hat), D., 4th Ward, at a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee on June 1, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed the top news stories that caught St. Louisans’ attention this week, with the people who produced them and contributed to them.

This week, we discussed public outcry about public safety in St. Louis, the NGA announcement and the Illinois budget situation after Illinois’ spring legislative session closed on Tuesday.

Here’s who joined us:

Inside Amazon fulfillment center
Amazon.com

Amazon has announced plans to open two distribution centers in Edwardsville.

The company says the facilities are expected to eventually employ more than 1,000 full-time workers.

Heidi Cruz takes a picture with a supporter at Eckert's Restaurant in Belleville. Heidi Cruz is campaigning across Illinois for GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Inside a restaurant dining room that was packed to the gills, Heidi Cruz gave a promise to Republicans in the Metro East and around the country: Her husband, GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz, could unite a party that appears to be at war with itself.

And she added that the at-times contentious Texas senator can bridge divides without giving up his core beliefs.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Sixteen million dollars. That’s how much the state owes four southern Illinois hospitals, including St. Elizabeth’s in Belleville, according to hospital executive James Dover. He estimates that figure represents 10 to 15 percent of his operating budget over a six month period.

“It’s huge,” said Dover, president and CEO of the Southern Illinois Division of Hospital Sisters Health System, which is headquartered in Springfield. “We’ll never turn away a patient, but what other business would continue to take care of people while the state says ‘Sorry, we’re not going to pay you because we failed to pass a budget?’”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses nearly five thousand people on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Illinois on March 4, 2016.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

Inside a packed basketball arena in southern Illinois, Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders’ made Weasel Forsythe’s day.

Forsythe was one of several thousand people who saw the Vermont senator speak Friday on the campus of Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville. When Sanders was through with a roughly 50-minute speech, he gave Forsythe a hug.

Ruby Allen-Ellis, a public health administrator with the East Side Health District in St. Clair County, Ill., will no longer have a job as of Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, due to the Illinois budget impasse.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

As of Friday, Ruby Allen-Ellis will no longer have a job.

Allen-Ellis serves as a public health administrator with East Side Health District. She is one of thousands in the state of Illinois that have been laid off from their jobs in social service because of the state’s budget impasse over the past eight months.

Deer visit the SIU-Edwardsville campus.
Pete Burzynski | Flickr | 2007

The interim chancellor of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville insists that his campus is financially strong and will not close because of the state’s budget stalemate.

But Stephen Hansen wrote to his colleagues at SIUE that he expects the political rhetoric between Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers to escalate as the spending standoff moves toward a critical point.

East St.  Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

East St. Louis employees across all departments could be facing layoffs due to a budget deficit approaching $5.7 million by 2016.

“We will make every effort as an administration to review all legal options and only look at layoffs as a last resort. However at this point we really do not see how the city will avoid layoffs,” said Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks in a prepared statement to news outlets Sunday afternoon.

(Courtesy of the City of Belleville)

The board of Belleville Township could soon be voting to dissolve itself.

Currently an Illinois township can only be dissolved by a referendum of the people and approval from surrounding townships, but a bill awaiting consideration by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner would allow the Metro East township’s elected officials to vote for dissolution instead.

via Flickr\Orbspiders

What is art?

That is the question Alton, Ill. residents and council members debated after the owner of a tattoo parlor, Grand Piasa Body Art, proposed relocating his business to East Broadway Street, in the city’s historic downtown district.

Alex Heuer

Representative John Shimkus, a Republican who represents Illinois' 15th Congressional District, joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to discuss some of the issues he’s dealing with as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and other matters in Washington. Shimkus represents a large portion of the Metro East as well as parts of eastern and southeastern Illinois.

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