Illinois

Previously, parts of the St. Louis Public Radio listening area were under a tornado watch. This tornado watch has now been lifted.

For the latest updates from the National Weather Service, see this update page.

Joplin, Mo. was also hit particularly hard from this round of tornadoes and storms. Fatalities have been confirmed.

See previous updates after the break.

(Illinois House of Representatives via Google Earth)

Democrats have released their proposal for new Illinois House districts that would make political life harder for Republicans.

The map was made public Friday afternoon. Democrats plan a hearing on Sunday where more detail may be available and critics can air their concerns.

The proposal throws some Republicans into the same districts.

Others would lose territory that could be used to help elect Democrats.

(via Flickr/Cast a Line)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Luke Runyon used in this report.

A plan to prohibit public disclosure of licensed gun owners is headed to the Governor, who has indicated he supports it.

The 42 to 1 Senate vote Friday would overturn a ruling earlier this year by Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office that the names are public under the Freedom of Information Act.

Madigan responded after the Illinois State Police refused to release the names to reporters.  Roughly one million people are registered to own firearms in Illinois.

Soprano and Illinois native Christine Brewer — once a music teacher in a small former coal-mining town — writes about not underestimating adolescents' powers of subtle understanding.

If you were choosing repertoire to explore with this age group, what would you pick? Tell us in the comments section below.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

Illinois' unemployment rate fell to 8.7 percent in April, improving for the 15th consecutive month.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security released the new figures on Thursday.

(Illinois Senate via Google Earth)

Updated at 1:28 p.m. with Republican reaction via the Associated Press:

Some Republican Illinois senators are satisfied with a newly proposed remap of their legislative
districts.

Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale says his new district would grow by about 7,000 people and pick up parts of Cook County in a proposed Senate redistricting map released Thursday.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Illinois lawmakers face some big decisions in the next two weeks, including how much to cut the budget and whether to overhaul workers' compensation.

The spring legislative session is supposed to end by May 31, but there are still three different budget plans on the table. They're roughly $2 billion apart on how much to spend.

Now lawmakers must decide whether to back one particular proposal or come up with a compromise.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 1:49 p.m. with sentence decision:

Christopher Coleman has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the Belleville News-Democrat reports.

Original Story:

At 1 p.m. today, Circuit Judge Milton Wharton will decide the fate of Christopher Coleman, the Belleville News-Democrat reports.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

The Illinois state House has rejected a measure that would have allowed Illinois residents to carry a concealed weapon.

(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers video screen grab)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is continuing to blow holes into agricultural levees to relieve rising floodwater on the town of Cairo, Ill. (See video footage of today's second blast below).

However, sparing Cairo came at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars of Missouri crops.

Ed Marshall farms about 8,000 acres in Mississippi County in southeast Missouri.  At this time of year he normally looks out on miles of corn and wheat, but right now, his view is different.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

Governor Pat Quinn sent a message Tuesday asking lawmakers to reject a plan that would allow concealed carrying of firearms.  But an Illinois House committee ignored Quinn and advanced the measure.   It could be called for a floor vote this week.

Quinn says he doesn't want residents carrying loaded guns.

Illinois senators have rejected a plan to streamline government across the state.

The plan would have established a commission to recommend which units of government to eliminate. Then lawmakers would have voted to accept or reject the recommendation.

Only 14 senators supported the idea Tuesday. Thirty voted "no."

Updated 1:23 p.m. May 3 with information about lawsuit:

Via the Associated Press:

A group of 25 southeast Missouri farmers is suing the federal government over its decision to blow a hole in a levee, causing their farmland and houses to flood.

Cape Girardeau attorney J. Michael Ponder filed the lawsuit Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detonated explosives on the Birds Point levee to ease pressure from the swelling Mississippi River.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn wants to suspend about $1 billion in state income tax payments to cities and counties unless he gets legislative approval to borrow billions of dollars to pay overdue bills.

Quinn floated the plan in draft legislation he showed lawmakers earlier this week. It was first reported by the Chicago Tribune.

(via Flickr/The National Guard/M. Queiser/Missouri National Guard)

The floods affecting southern and southeastern Missouri and towns along the Mississippi River have resulted in hundreds of closed roads in the state, along with neighboring areas in Illinois.

Updated 1:32 p.m. April 26:

The City of Fenton has announced that The River Road in Fenton, Mo. at the intersection of Yarnell Road and Larkin-Williams Road is now closed.

In Missouri:

(via Flickr/photohome_uk)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Luke Runyon used in this report.

The Illinois Department of Transportation doesn't keep statistics on accidents unless a moving car is involved.  That's why Ed Barsotti with the League of Illinois Bicyclists says "dooring" was invisible in state record books.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn granted 85 clemency petitions and denied 189 others in the latest round of action to clear a backlog of cases left by his predecessor, ousted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Quinn granted pardons and expunged convictions in most of the cases Friday that included offenses from burglary and drug charges to armed robbery and reckless discharge of a firearm.

This latest action brings the number of clemency petitions Quinn has granted to 467. He has denied 728 other petitions.

(via Flickr/KellyB.)

State officials say the March unemployment rate dropped in every Illinois metropolitan area for a record seventh consecutive month.

A report released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security shows that the Rockford metropolitan area with the state's highest unemployment rate, at 13.3 percent. That's almost 4 percentage points lower than the same time last year.

The Kankakee-Bradley metropolitan area March rate was second-highest, at 12.7 percent.

Other metro areas with jobless rates over 10 percent were:

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Illinois lawmakers have set aside billions of dollars to pay state obligations as part of what Democrats call a more responsible approach to the budget.

The state Senate sent the governor legislation that devotes nearly $8 billion to paying off debt and making pension payments.

Senate President John Cullerton said Friday the goal is to make sure the state doesn't duck these obligations or pay them with borrowed money.

(via Flickr/soundfromwayout)

The federal judge for Rod Blagojevich's second corruption trial almost immediately refused a request from the former governor's lawyers this morning to delay by several weeks the opening of the proceedings

Pages