Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Illinois Prison Population Down

Illinois prison data shows that the state's population of inmates has dropped by more than 4,200 since the fiscal year 2014.

Illinois Department of Corrections numbers show that the total prison population in the state was 44,380 as of July 1. That's down from 47, 165 in July and 48, 921 in June 2014. The drop comes as GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner promises to reduce the state's population by 25 percent over the next decade. Rauner created a commission to recommend how to reach that goal.

The downward trend started before the commission of convened. The Illinois Radio Network reports judges and law enforcement have taken up the panel's recommendations.

John Howard Association Executive Director Jennifer Vollen-Katz says it's a "step in the right direction" but prisons are still overcrowded. The group monitors Illinois prisons.

Information provided by the Associated Press

Former McLean Co. Board Chair Reaches Plea Deal on Fraud Charges

LLINOIS NEWS NETWORK--A former McLean County Board chairman has struck a plea deal with the government regarding alleged defrauding of State Farm Insurance although the terms of the agreement are unclear.
A lawyer for Matt Sorensen told federal Judge Ronald Guzman Tuesday morning that the former State Farm Insurance contractor and board chair has reached a deal with the government on regarding federal wire fraud charges. Sorensen’s change-of-plea hearing is set for September 28th at 2 p.m. in Chicago. A date for sentencing will likely be set at that time. The exact terms of the agreement and how much time, if any, Sorensen would serve were not disclosed.
His co-defendant Navdeep Arora has entered a not guilty plea and will go to trial sometime next year. Arora’s lawyer said that his client was suffering from unspecified mental health issues. He told the judge that Arora’s mental state would have impaired his ability to commit the fraud charges levied against him.
Whether Sorensen will cooperate in the government’s case against Arora was not disclosed.
Federal indictments from August 2015 alleged that Sorensen and Arora defrauded State Farm Insurance in Bloomington of more than $890,000 in false expenses dealing with non-existent travel and other purchases. The alleged crimes took place between 2003 and 2012. Sorensen was charged with five counts of wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine.
Sorensen resigned from his chairman position after the indictments were made public. Officials with the county confirmed that they could not find any improprieties in Sorensen’s work as chairman.
Both men are free on bond.

Lawmaker Proposes First In The Nation Pokemon Regulation

One Illinois lawmaker wants the state to get into the business of policing Pokemon Go. Chicago Democrat Kelly Cassidy has a plan to fine Pokemon Go's owners 100-dollars a day if the company doesn't ban players from certain sites within two days. Cassidy filed the idea after hearing complaints from environmentalists that players trampled grass at a local natural restoration site. Pokemon Go eventually put the park off limits, but Cassidy says they didn't act fast enough. Her proposal is the first proposed Pokemon Go regulation in the country. 

Former Governor Quinn Unveils Redistricting Plan

Eleven men and women, all appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court, would be charged with drawing the state's political map under a plan from former Governor Pat Quinn. Quinn unveiled his new redistricting plan yesterday. He says the idea is simple -- No more than six commissioners can be of the same political party and seven commissioners have to agree on a new map. Reformers say changing how Illinois draws its political map may lead to other reforms in Springfield

Illinois Prison Population Down Almost 10-Percent In Two Years

Illinois' prison population is down almost ten percent over the past two years. New numbers show the state still has more than 44-thousand people behind bars. But that's down from almost 49-thousand in 2014. Governor Rauner says he wants to cut the number of people in prison by 25-percent

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bill Raising Caregivers' Pay Vetoed By Rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed measures that would increase the minimum wage for workers who care for those with developmental disabilities and expand a child care program for low-income families, according to the Associated Press.

The Republican governor said there simply isn't enough money to support the proposals. The Chicago Tribune reports he has used the same argument to block social service funding efforts during the budget impasse.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees pushed legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for workers who help the developmentally disabled. Providers say the current wage of $9.35 has led to a staffing shortage, the closure of the group homes and families without necessary assistance.

Two days prior to vetoing the bill, Rauner had acknowledged the shortage and declared that a week in September would honor the workers.

The governor said the pay hike would cost the state an additional $330 million a year and doesn't provide any way to cover the added expense.

Information provided by the State Journal-Register, AP, and Chicago Tribune 

CAT Begins Layoffs

Caterpillar has begun its layoffs that were announced last month, and workers are finding out whether or not they are still employed.

The job cuts at CAT are the result of a new division focusing on research, technology and product development.

Most of the job cuts are in engineering.

Caterpillar is trying to find them other positions within the company, or have outplacement services to help them find new jobs at other companies. In addition, workers being laid off are getting severance packages.

Stock is currently down in the 91-year old manufacturing company as they adjust and adapt to technological changes. Spokesman for CAT said the layoffs will take affect 60 days from Aug. 29th.

Information provided by WEEK HOI-19

State Voter Registration System Hacked

The Illinois Board of Elections says the state voter registration system was hacked earlier this summer.  Officials believe the personal information of around 200-thousand voters could have been accessed by hackers.  The cyber attack began in June and board staff became aware of the security breach in July.  The FBI says they uncovered evidence that a similar data breach was recently pulled off in Arizona. 

Bloomington Bike Race Marred By Crashes Caused By Tacks

The mayor of Bloomington has asked police to investigate, but so far neither officials nor riders know who laced streets used for a bicycle race with tacks that led to flat tires and crashes. Apparently no serious injuries were reported but some cyclists described an eight-bike pileup.  The bicycles used for the race can cost as much $9,000 each and can be expensive to repair.

Normal Police Investigating Report of Assault and Robbery

Police are investigating a possible assault in Normal.  Authorities say a college student told officers he was attacked by two men early Sunday on the Constitution Trail.  The suspects took the victims wallet and ran away. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Illinois Continuing To Collect Decades Old Benefit Debt

Illinois isn't going to stop collecting on decades-old public benefit debt. A number of reports highlight the state's effort to make good on over-payments for food stamps that date back decades. Illinois' Department of Human Services says most of the debts are under 100-bucks. DHS says Illinois has always been able to collect the debt, there isn't a statute of limitations on over-payments.

State Owes Hundreds Of Millions After Rauner Fails To Block Vote

Gov. Bruce Rauner unsuccessfully waged a last-minute battle to block the downstate and suburban teacher pension system from making a move that puts the cash-strapped state government "on the hook" for hundreds of millions of dollars more in the short term, according to the Chicago Tribune. 

At issue was whether the Illinois Teachers Retirement System board should lower expectations about how much the fund might earn in the stock market. For the past two years, the TRS has assumed that its investments will earn an average rate of return of 7.5 percent. However, this time actuaries argued the figure should be closer to 7 percent, given widespread belief that retirement funds won't continue to perform as well as they have in recent years. 

The board voted for 7 percent, which is estimated to cost the state an extra $400 to $500 million a year, an expense that will be due by next July.  

Rauner and his team made an effort to block the vote after his office learned the TRS board planned to vote. Had the move been successful, Rauner may have had the majority of the votes on the board. The board is comprised of 13 members - six trustees appointed by the governor, six chosen by pension system members and is chaired by state superintendent of the schools, who is appointed by the governor as well. 

However, Rauner made a mistake by attempting to fill one of those seats with a person from Chicago. State law requires that appointees reside in an area that is covered by the retirement system, but Chicago teachers have their own pension system that aren't covered by the TRS.

Rauner's staff called the mistake a result of "miscommunication." 

A very costly miscommunication indeed. 

Information provided by The Chicago Tribune


New Bacterial Corn Disease Found In Illinois

 The presence of a new corn disease in Illinois is being reported by the University of Illinois.  The school reported on Friday that bacterial leaf streak has been found in a field in DeKalb County.  The disease has now been identified in nine states.  Researchers say not much is known about the disease currently. 

Bad Week For Illinois Corrections Officers

Another altercation between an Illinois prison inmate and correctional officer is being reported.  The incident happened Friday at the Shawnee Correctional Center.  The disturbance happened less than a week after six officers were allegedly assaulted at the correctional center in Pontiac.  A picket was held in front of the Pontiac prison on Friday in response to last weekend's attack. 

Illinois' Unfunded Pension Liability Set To Get Larger

Action taken by the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Teachers Retirement System is expected to translate into a large increase in Illinois' pension contributions.  The board voted Friday to lower its rate of return on investments from seven-point-five-percent to seven-percent.  The "Chicago Tribune" reports the vote means an increase of between 400 and 500-million dollars annually in how much the state chips in.  Illinois currently has an unfunded pension liability of nearly 111-billion dollars, the worst-funded pensions system in the country. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Live Long and Prosper in Illinois Corn Field

A corn maze in northern Illinois celebrates the original "Star Trek" television show's 50th anniversary, according to The Northwest Herald.

The Richardson Adventure Farm has turned 28 acres of corn into images of Captain James T. Kirk, Spock and the Starship Enterprise.

The attraction in Spring Grove opens Sept. 3.

The corn maze involves 11 miles of trails cut into a cornfield. When seen from above, the maze appears as an elaborate "Star Trek" tribute.

Co-owner George Richardson tells the newspaper it took length negotiations to get permission to use the images in the corn maze. He says William Shatner, who played Kirk, approved the likeness of his face only after it was made less stern and given a slight smile.

Information provided by The Northwest Herald and the State Jouranl-Register

Governor Signs Second Chance Law With Help From Decatur Woman

Some former felons in Illinois now have a second chance.

Governor Rauner yesterday signed a new law that ends Illinois' regulations that banned people with a criminal background from some state-licensed jobs. 

Decatur resident Lisa Creason found out a 23-year-old conviction meant she could never be a nurse. Her ambitions led to the new legislation allowing felons to petition the state for a health care worker license. 

After earning an associate degree at Richland Community College in 2014, Creason discovered she was prohibited from taking the Illinois exam to become an RN because of an attempted robbery conviction 20 years prior. 

Creason vocalized her dilemma and became part of a task force organized by Democratic state Rep. Camille Lilly of Chicago to change the law. 

The governor says Creason is just one of many ex-offenders who've turned their lives around and deserve a second chance. 

Information provided by the Associated Press and Springfield State Journal-Register

PARCC Scores Show Most Students Miss Math, Reading Benchmarks

Between 60 and 70-percent of students in Illinois aren't where they should be in reading and math. Preliminary results from last year's PARCC test show most students are below grade level in the two subjects. Illinois Superintendent of School Tony Smith calls the numbers "sobering." 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gill To Remain On Ballot

According to the Springfield State Journal-Register, independent candidate David Gill will remain on the Nov. 8 ballot in the the 13th Congressional District, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

The decision comes a day after Gill appeared in a federal court in Springfield to seek a preliminary injunction that would prevent the State Board of Elections from removing his name from the ballot despite an earlier State Board of Elections staff review that found Gill had 8,593 signatures considered valid. The number he needed, according to state law, was 10,754.

He turned in more than 11,300.

Rauner Trying To Curb Discrimination Against Business Owners

Governor Bruce Rauner is touting a new program aimed at helping minority-owned businesses in the IT industry.

The governor attended the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce's annual convention in East Peoria Wednesday to talk about what's known as the "shelter marketplace." A shelter market is a state contract that only businesses owned by women, minorities and people with disabilities will be able to bid on.

Rauner says a study that found a history of discrimination against women, minorities and people with disabilities prompted the initiative.

Information provided by WEEK HOI-19

Angry Parents Address Unit 5 Board Over Bus Fiasco

It began with an apology from Superintendent Mark Daniel with a vow that the problems of overcrowding, long rides and students being dropped off  at the wrong locations would be resolved this week. Some Unit 5 board members put the blame squarely on the contracted bus service provider, First Student. Many parents voiced their anger and frustration with the new routes and  bus plans put together after the Unit decided to cut 40 buses due to lack of funds. 


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

VIDEO: Renner Talks About First-Term Accomplishments and Announces Bid for Another Term

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner spoke to Cities 92.9 about what he felt were the biggest accomplishments in his first term.

Renner cited what he feels is a "new openness" to city hall--making things more transparent and making himself more accessible.

As far as jobs are concerned, Renner said the arrival of Hy Vee and Dick's Sporting Goods are high on the list. Other positives he spoke of included the revisions made to the Galaxy Theater and the Ovation 10 Cinema. He also talked of the closing of Mitsubishi, saying that it could have been worse had the plant employed much younger workers.

We also asked how he would defend the establishment of new taxes and a sale tax increase during his first term.

Renner largely avoided a direct answer and responded in a "moving forward" fashion. He also offered an alternative answer asking where a different mayor would start cutting: Police? Firefighter? Public Works?

Rauner Says Pension Fund Will Have 'Devastating Impact' On Education

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration says a pending move by Illinois' largest public-pension fund could increase the state's required payment by hundreds of millions of dollars.

They say that would have a "devastating impact" on education and social services.

The Teacher's Retirement System board is scheduled to vote Friday on whether to adjust its expected rate of return on investments. The action comes as pension systems nationwide are reporting lackluster returns. Analysts and rating agencies are pressuring them to lower assumptions to ensure there's enough money to pay benefits.

A retirement system spokesman says the recommended change and its potential impact won't be public until Friday.

Rauner's office says the lack of public discussion amid a budget crisis is "troubling."

Illinois has the worst-funded state pensions, with $111 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Information provided by the the Associated Press

Blagojevich To Appeal Prison Sentence

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich continues to take legal action in an effort to shorten his prison stay.

The ex-politician's lawyer filed a notice yesterday in Chicago federal court, saying he will appeal the 14-year sentence given to him earlier this month.

Blagojevich had sought to have some time taken off after five of his 18 criminal convictions were tossed out by a federal appellate court. However, a judge decided to stick with his original sentence.

Renner Announces Bid for Second Term

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner is announcing today he is running for another term. A handful of other possible candidates have yet to make it official.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pedestrian Hit By Car In Normal Has Died

An elderly man is dead after he was hit by a car in Normal.  Authorities say a vehicle ran over Lanny Lobdell yesterday morning near the corner of Grandview Drive and Vernon Avenue.  The 74-year-old died at the hospital.  The accident is under investigation.

 Below is the media release given by the Normal Police Department.

--- Tuesday around 9:36 a.m. officers from the Normal Police Department were dispatched to the intersection of Vernon Avenue and Grandview with a report of a pedestrian struck by a car. Normal Police and Fire Departments arrived and found the pedestrian pinned under the vehicle. The injured male pedestrian was freed from the vehicle and immediately transported to Advocate Bromenn Medical Center. The 74-year-old male was later pronounced deceased and the McLean County Coroner's Office was notified and responded to the hospital.

The driver of the vehicle was not injured and is cooperating with the ongoing investigation. Accident Reconstructionist and Crime Scene Technicians from the Normal Police Department have processed the crash scene and the intersection of Vernon Avenue and Grandview Drive is open to vehicle traffic.

The McLean County Coroner is in the process of making notification to the next of kin and no other information available at this time. The name of the deceased male will be released once notifications to the family have been made.

This incident remains under investigation by the Normal Police Department and the McLean County Coroner's Office ---

Note: Cities 92.9 will continue to update the story as more information becomes available.

Rauner To Sign Bill Concerning Gun Control

Gov. Bruce Rauner will move to clamp down on rampant gun violence in Chicago Tuesday, when he signs legislation to punish people convicted of trafficking firearms into Illinois with prison sentences of up to 30 years.

There have been more than 400 homicides in Chicago so far this year, despite the city's strict gun policy that requires permits to screen for criminal records and other disqualifies.
Investigators say most of the firearms recovered at crime scenes in recent were bought in other states.

Under the new law, a first conviction of trafficking guns will carry a sentence of four to 20 years in prison. A subsequent offense will be punishable by up to 30 years.

Information provided by the Springfield State Journal-Register

Bloomington City Council:$5 Million Surplus?

According to a report, there is a $5 million surplus overall for the City of Bloomington, including a $4 million surplus in the general fund. The surplus is mostly credited to increased revenue from the sales tax that went into affect in January and savings on expenditures, including solid waste.

Bloomington Sets TIF District Hearing

The City of Bloomington is taking steps to create a TIF district in the downtown area.

A TIF district provides tax incentives to help draw in business development to a certain area. Monday, the city council set a hearing for next month, or order to hear public feedback. It would cover several buildings, including the Front N' Center building, the Commerce Bank building, and the Elks Lodge.

The public hearing will be next month, on September 8.

U.S Cellular Coliseum Holding Job Fair Today

The U.S Cellular Coliseum is searching for workers.  The arena is holding a job fair today.  Openings including positions in operations, ticket staff and the production crew.  The fair runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Governor Signs Criminal Justice Legislation Package

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a package of legislation involving criminal justice, saying the system needs to be approached "with more compassion."

The Republican governor signed the five bills Monday morning at an Illinois Department of Corrections adult transition center on Chicago's West Side. Rauner's office says the measures are aimed at reducing recidivism and helping low-level offenders.

Rauner says the state needs to be "balancing punishment with rehabilitation and not needlessly tearing families and lives apart."

IDOC Director John Baldwin says the legislation will "help ensure that we are giving young men and women a second chance at life."

Among the measures Rauner signed into law Monday are items that change the minimum probation period for young offenders and address phone call costs for inmates.

Information provided by the Associated Press

UPDATED: Union Comments On Pontiac Prison Assault, Officers Released

The Pontiac Correctional Center has been put on lockdown while state officials investigate the assault of six employees by five inmates. Illinois Spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said the prison will remain on lockdown until the investigation is finished.

The Union representing Illinois prison workers says an inmate punched a female correctional lieutenant, knocking her down and sparking the ensuing altercation.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said Monday that four correctional officers and two lieutenants at the prison were treated for abrasions, contusions and possible concussions suffered in the incident Sunday.

They have all been released from the hospital.

Information provided by the Associated Press

Survey: Illinois 23rd In Bullying Survey

A new survey says Illinois is in the middle of the pack when it comes to bullying.  The WalletHub survey ranks states based on bullying prevalence and anti-bullying laws.  Illinois is 23rd overall.  But the state ranks fourth on the list of states with the highest cost of truancy due to bullying.  Michigan is the worst state for bullying, Massachusetts is the best. 

Hunters, Fisherman Have New Options

You can now, legally, shoot a catfish with a bow and arrow in Illinois. Governor Rauner signed a handful of conservation laws over the weekend. One law adds catfish to the list of bow-fishing species.  Another law allows young hunters to also trap.

Rauner Signs Human Trafficking, DCFS Bills

A new task force set up to combat human trafficking is authorized after the latest bill signed by Governor Bruce Rauner.  It was a busy weekend for Rauner, as he signed a package of bills affecting the Department of Children and Family Services, including one that drops the term "ward of the state" when referring to foster children, changing the term to "youth in care."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Illinois Rep. Criticizes Legislation Over Exploitation Of Elderly

State Rep. Gary Forby says legislation that Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law will extend statutes of limitations on crimes that financially exploit the elderly, according to the Associated Press.

Forby tells The Carbondale Southern Illinoisan that the law extends statues of limitations from three to seven years, which means charges can be brought up against individuals accused of financially exploiting seniors or the disabled for seven years instead of three years. 

Forby, a Democrat from Benton, was a co-sponsor on the legislation. He says the legislation is important because such crimes can put victims "in dire financial situations, robbing them of their savings." 

The voters on the legislation were unanimous in both the Illinois House and the Senate. 

Information provided by the Associated Press

Overpacked School Buses Causing Problems For Unit 5

A video recorded this week showing an overcrowded bus has led to criticism of Unit 5. 

A Normal Community West Freshman captured footage of school buses that were packed beyond capacity. The student said there were three people to a seat, people standing in the aisle and bags everywhere. 

The buses even caused multiple students to be late for school and some weren't even allowed rides home. 

The mother of the student blames the district for cutting 20 buses and combining some high school and junior high bus routes to save money during the state budget deficit. While many are pointing fingers, it's difficult for school districts to provide the proper care when so many education costs have been cut. 

District officials apologized for the first week chaos. They plan to move some students to less-crowded buses while they figure out how many riders they actually have. 

The officials notified parents that it could take a couple weeks for them to work out the issue and come up with a solution. 

Information provided by WEEK HOI-19

New Report: Midwest Economy Still Lagging

A new survey says the economy in the middle of the country is still lagging. Creighton University's Rural Mainstreet Index says the Midwestern economy has stayed flat for the past 12-months. One reason, researchers say is the price of farmland is falling. The same report says farm ground values could drop almost seven-percent over the next year.

Jesse White: No Intention To Run Again

Illinois' longest serving Secretary of State says he still plans on retiring in two years. Jesse White yesterday told reporters he still has no intention of running for reelection in 2018. White has locked-down the Secretary of State's office since the 1998 election. White would be 84 come election day in 2018. 

Democrats Talk Trump At Their State Fair Rally

Illinois Republicans barely mentioned Donald Trump at their State Fair rally Wednesday. Illinois Democrats talked about little else at their rally yesterday. Democrats flocked to the fairgrounds in Springfield to talk about the Republican candidate for president. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says Republicans are afraid of their nominee, while Democrats embrace Hillary Clinton. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Life Flight Called After Semi-Truck Flips

Life Flight was called to the scene of a semi-rollover in Tazewell County, according to CI News Now.

The accident happened around 7:30p.m. Wednesday on southbound I-155 near Townline Road, in the Hopedale area. The truck was lying on the side of the roadway, and police blocked off the highway for a few miles.

Sources believe there was only one person in the truck, and he was taken by Life Flight to OSF St. Francis Medical Center. His condition is unknown.

The cause of the wreck is still under investigation.

Information provided by WEEK HOI-19

Surprise Surprise: Madigan Not Fond of Rauner, Trump

Continuing his feud with blood rival Gov. Bruce Rauner, Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan compared Rauner to Donald Trump at the Illinois State Fair Thursday, according to the State Journal-Register.

Calling them "two peas in a pod" and "joined at the hip," Madigan said it's clear that Rauner is supporting Trump. However, the governor, who has declined to discuss presidential politics, has said he's "disgusted" by some of Trump's remarks and hasn't officially endorsed the presidential nominee.

Madigan said Rauner's plans for Illinois would "lower wages" and "lower the standard of living."

Republicans had their day at the state fair on Wednesday, when Rauner said the GOP would outspend Democrats.

Information provided by the Springfield State Journal-Register

Fire in Bloomington Displaces 5 Families

A fire at an apartment building in the 400 block of West Graham has displaced five families. Bloomington Fire Dept. responded to the blaze just before 5 PM. Damage was mostly contained to the first floor. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Illinois Comptroller: No Budget, No Pay

Illinois lawmakers are already waiting months for their paychecks.  They'd have to wait longer under a new plan from Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger.  She's pushing an idea she calls "No budget, no pay."  Munger's plan would stop paychecks for Illinois' statewide officials and all 177 lawmakers until there's a balanced state budget.  Illinois went a full year last year without a budget and only has a six-month spending agreement this year. 

U Of I Researching How To Protect Nation's Power Grid

The University of Illinois is receiving nearly 19-million-dollars from the federal government to design ways to protect the nation's power grid.  The university will use the grant money to test the country's response and recovery to an attack.  Experts say threats to the power grid could come from nature and cyber criminals.  

Storms Set To Return

Enjoy the clear skies while they last because forecasters say we could see more severe weather by the weekend.  The National Weather Service is expecting rain and thunderstorms for parts of western Illinois both Friday and Saturday.  Forecasters say some of the storms could be severe.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rauner Plans To Outspend Democrats

Gov. Bruce Rauner promised Wednesday that Republicans would outspend Democrats this fall in a GOP effort to reclaim the Illinois General Assembly.

Rauner said Democrats have far outspent the GOP in recent elections, but that "this year, we're going to go toe-to-toe with them."

He didn't mention the source of the funding, but he has previously poured millions of his personal wealth into party coffers. He claimed that Illinois voters will stand with the GOP to defeat Democrats who have taken over.

Rauner extolled the virtues of term-limits, which cannot be on the ballot until 2018 at the earliest. The Illinois Republican Party put out a terms limit news release Wednesday with a picture of a young Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan calling him a "career-politician since 1971."

In 20 months, Rauner has been unable to get a full-year budget with legislative Democrats - let alone portions of his pro-business agenda.

Information provided by the Springfield State Journal-Register

Number Of Illinois Traffic Deaths Disturbing

Illinois is on pace to cross a terrible milestone for the first time since 2008, HOI-19 reports.

Safety and insurance industry experts said traffic deaths in the state this year are expected to pass 1,000. 629 people have died so far this year, which is up 50 from the same time last year.

Much of the rising toll has been on rural interstates, according to Itasca-based National Safety Council statistics manager Ken Kolosh.

Last year there were a total of 998 road fatalities. For 2016, experts have said several factors have led to the increase in traffic-related deaths. Among those factors are higher speeds, more miles being driven and an increase in the number of younger drivers.

Information provided by WEEK HOI-19

Illinois Voters to See Roads 'Lockbox Amendment' on November Ballot

When Illinois voters head to the polls in November, their first ballot question won't involve U.S. presidential candidates, but a measure aimed at preventing transportation-related funding in the state from being used for other purposes. The so-called "lockbox amendment" on the Nov. 8 ballot proposes the money be used solely for transportation-related purposes, such as construction or paying debt related to transit projects. State officials have long noted Illinois' deteriorating system of roads, bridges and railways, something the Chicago-based Metropolitan Planning Council estimates it'd take $43 billion in spending over 10 years to address.

Illinois Establishes Private Fundraiser For State Fair

A private foundation will be raising money for the Illinois State Fair.  Governor Rauner announced yesterday the formation of the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation.  The non-profit organization will be in charge of generating funds for repairs and upgrades to the state fairgrounds in Springfield and Du Quoin.  Both sites need an estimated 180-million-dollars worth of work done.