(screenshot via Google Maps)

Updated at 5:45 p.m. with additional comments from Gov. Quinn and comments from Sen. Durbin. Brian Mackey contributed reporting.

Updated at 2 p.m. with statement from Gov. Pat Quinn.

The federal government has agreed to purchase the underused Thomson Correctional Center in northwest Illinois to relieve crowding in its facilities, despite fervent opposition from members of Congress.

(via Flickr/Tracy O)

Illinois is getting $2.7 million to strengthen its efforts to fight waste and fraud in unemployment claims.

The grant from the U.S. Labor Department will help beef up anti-fraud programs launched in the past year.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security says it has begun garnishing tax returns of unemployment cheats, working more closely with the attorney general and holding business leaders personally liable for misstating company obligations.

Bringing Springfield's Photos Back To Life

Sep 26, 2012

The first photography staff at the Illinois State Journal carried heavy, clumsy and slow Speed Graphic cameras. They shot on glass plates, and only had a few precious exposures to use throughout their day.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Three people killed on Grand Bridge following early morning police chase

The Grand Bridge was closed for several hours early Thursday morning as the result of a vehicle crash that left three people dead and another person critically injured.

The crash happened as the car was fleeing police.

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

A federal appeals court has upheld the Illinois law that requires disclosure of most campaign spending by groups in excess of $3,000.

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

A federal appeals court has reinstated the wire fraud conviction of a former supervisor for the Illinois secretary of state's office.

Cecil Turner was convicted on four counts of wire fraud in 2006 for covering up a scheme in which three janitors were paid for hours they didn't work.

Turner did not take any illegal money. He was convicted on the legal theory that he denied taxpayers the honest services they deserved.

The U.S. Supreme Court later narrowed the scope of "honest services" violations, and Turner's conviction was reversed.

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Two major Illinois prisons and other facilities will stay open for at least another month after an arbitrator ruled Gov. Pat Quinn's administration violated workers' rights in rushing to close them

Arbitrator Steven Bierig concluded Friday that the state departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice did not properly negotiate with workers over the impact of closing the supermax Tamms prison, the Dwight women's lockup and several juvenile facilities. 

(Amanda Vinicky/Illinois Public Radio)

Tropical Storm Isaac has dismantled Illinois Republican’s convention plans. With national convention events canceled, they're no longer spending Monday nominating Mitt Romney as their candidate for president. That leaves an opportunity for them to focus on state politics.

Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky reports from the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

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Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed a bill that would have required plastic bag manufacturers to set up collection and recycling programs, calling it a "roadblock" for local communities to make their own choices.

He rejected the proposed law Sunday.

Wallula Junction / Flickr

Since late last year, almost a quarter of Illinois state park superintendents have retired, taking with them in many cases 30 or more years of experience that will be hard to replace.
The loss of that institutional knowledge is one more cost of the state's deep financial crisis. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is among state agencies hit hard by years of budget cuts.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

A failed special session that was supposed to lead to the passage of pension reform has pushed Illinois closer to a downgrade of its credit rating.

Gov. Pat Quinn ordered lawmakers back to Springfield last Friday to deal with the state's massively underfunded pension systems, but the chambers could not agree on a deal.

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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.

ollesvensson / Flickr

With hotter-than-usual temperatures, orchards in southern Illinois are reporting their apple crops are weeks ahead of schedule.

Tom Range of Braeutigam Orchards in Belleville says they picked Gala apples last week. Normally they pick them in the middle of August.

Another surprise this year - the sugar content of the fruit is very high, making for sweeter fruit.

Sherry Chase of Mills Apple Farm in Marine explains that the apples "tend to be sweeter because the sugars are more concentrated."

Illinois is getting tougher on those involved in human trafficking and forcing the vulnerable into prostitution.
 Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law Saturday that strengthens the ability of prosecutors to target those behind what he called "a tragic trade."
The measure also offers greater protection to the victims, who are often from vulnerable groups like runaways, abused children and immigrants.

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People who serve on juries in Illinois are now required to accept small payments for their time, but that's about to change.
Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Friday that gives jurors the option of refusing the money if they don't need it. The law takes effect in January.
Current law requires counties to pay jurors from $4 a day to $17.20. They can also get money for mileage and child care.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews/Malory Ensor)

Dry conditions are expected to get worse in the coming days, and it will take a whole lot more than scattered thunderstorms to break the drought. 

“We’re way, way, way below normal in rainfall,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Fred Glass said.  “Most of the area is in severe drought conditions, it’s going to quite a bit of rain to make that up, probably in many areas 8-12 inches, and in some areas in excess of 12 inches.”

KellyB. | Flickr

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says it has started checking the roll of people receiving unemployment benefits for those who might be ineligible because they're in jail.
Spokesman Greg Rivara says the department found 420 people receiving benefits who were behind bars sometime during the first two weeks of the review. Now the department will check to see if they might have been only briefly locked up and were still eligible or if they really weren't available to work. Availability to work is a key part of the criteria to determine unemployment eligibility.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says he won't sign a gambling expansion bill in exchange for a promise that legislators will pass an ethics measure in the fall.
Quinn made the comment Monday at a ceremony during which he signed a measure into law that expands a tax credit program for businesses that hire veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Legislature passed a bill earlier this year that would create five new casinos - a land-based site in Chicago and four more on riverboats.

(via Wikimedia Commons/J. Pelkonen)

A new Illinois law is supposed to make it harder for fugitives to give authorities the slip.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Thursday that's designed to close a loophole in the state's criminal code that effectively exempts relatives from punishment if they aid a family member on the lam.

But the new law makes it a felony for immediate family members to help fugitives avoid arrest. A conviction could result in a maximum three-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine.

Illinois officials say Gov. Pat Quinn has decided three state facilities helping former prison inmates transition into society will remain open, a reversal of plans to close them because of budget constraints.
Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Stacey Solano said Monday the governor plans to keep the Fox Valley Adult Transition Center open. Kelly Kraft of Quinn's budget office also said the Peoria and Chicago's North Lawndale adult transition centers were also saved.