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NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll: Republicans Sour On Mueller, FBI

Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided on how they see special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to President Trump's campaign, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll . Overall, the former FBI director's favorability ratings have dropped over the past month as Trump and other Republicans have ratcheted up their attacks on Mueller and his ongoing probe. There's been a net-negative swing of 11 points over...

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Illinois Prison System's Budget, A 'Five-Alarm Fire'

The Illinois Department of Corrections says a major cash crunch has it struggling to keep its facilities running. The warning came Wednesday at a Senate budget hearing. But some Democratic lawmakers say that was the first time they were hearing the situation was so dire.

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Statehouse

Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers are moving ahead with legislation that would harshen penalties for texting and driving. The bill will allow law enforcement to issue a moving violation on a first offense. That  carries a fine of $75 for the first violation. Current law only allows a ticket to be issued on the second or subsequent stops.

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Education Desk

Copyright 2018 Wyoming Public Radio. To see more, visit Wyoming Public Radio.

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Health+Harvest Desk

pills pouring from bottle into palm
frankieleon / Flickr- 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The opioid epidemic continues to hurt communities across the state. But for Illinois’ youth, it’s not the illicit drugs, it’s the prescription pain pills that can too often be easily accessed from their home medicine cabinet.

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Arts & Life

NPR Illinois will host a letter-writing station throughout the month of April, which will lead to this reception. The public is asked to contribute "survivor love letters" - anonymously written and addressed in support of those who have survived sexual assault. This will result in a community art exhibition of the letters at the gallery in the NPR Illinois station.

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Equity

LGBTQ rights advocates have been pushing a measure they say would amend school code in a way that would be beneficial when it comes to noting the community's role in state and national history. Last week those representing groups like Equality Illinois urged lawmakers to pass the proposal, which has yet to reach a vote outside of committee.

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Illinois Economy

russellstreet / Flickr- CC BY-SA 2.0

Illinois needs more money to cover its deteriorating transportation systems, but the federal government’s new infrastructure plan doesn’t offer much. 

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Just over two weeks remain before the Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for the summer, on May 31st. They still have a lot to deal with in that time — like pensions, concealed carry, same-sex marriage, and next year's budget. But an incident Wednesday in the Illinois House shows tempers are already starting to flare.

Amanda Vinicky

After several stumbles, an agreement  has been reached on how to regulate "fracking" in Illinois.  A House committee could vote on the package Thursday morning.  

  The oil and natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing has been a boon for job creation in places like  North Dakota and Pennsylvania.

State legislators want the same in Illinois.

As do oil and gas drillers looking to make a handsome profit.

John Michael Presney is a Rochester native who’s spent the last couple years touring the country as part of a musical production that he played rockabilly star Carl Perkins in. But 25 year old Presney has crafted a music-style all his own. And he has a new EP called ‘The Nighttime and the Dawn’ to prove it.

  The third Springfield PrideFest is this Saturday. The all-day event celebrating gay pride includes food, drinks, and performances. The festival will be on Capitol Avenue between 4th and 6th streets downtown. WUIS’ Rachel Otwell recently spoke with Jonna Cooley about it, she’s the executive director of The Pheonix Center which puts on the event:

CLICK HERE for more info about the event on Saturday in downtown Springfield from noon to 9pm.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

A local elementary school is teaching students about growing their own food with a hands-on project. Rachel Otwell recently visited the community garden across from McClernand Elementary School and spoke with instructors and students as they planted and tended to plots. She brings us this story:

Thinkprogress.org

Could Illinois be getting closer to legalizing the medical use of marijuana?  Dan Riffle is with the Marijuana Policy Project, which has lobbied state lawmakers to approve the law.  He was a guest on WUIS’ Illinois Edition with Sean Crawford. 

road construction
Gary Brown via Flickr (gsbrown99)

Less than half of the money in Illinois' Road Fund actually pays for highway construction and maintenance. That's the finding in a new audit (pdf) that also says the Road Fund overpaid for employee health insurance.

Calvin Christian

Members of the Springfield City Council are looking for a way to prevent further incidents like the one in April in which police records were apparently shredded or deleted after they were requested by a local reporter through the Freedom of Information Act.

Tuesday night aldermen passed out of committee an ordinance that would require all changes to union contracts be approved by the Council and signed by the Mayor.  Such contractual changes are known as memorandums of understanding, or MOUs. 

The Illinois House approved legislation Friday intended to crack down on so-called "flash mobs." It allows a longer prison sentence for anyone who uses social media to organize an attack.

 The Springfield school board decided last night it will begin interviewing search firms and may hire one to find a new superintendent for district 186. The district has an interim superintendent who took over for Walter Milton at the beginning of April. It’s been debated since then how to go about finding someone to permanently replace him.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Will Illinois Face Another Budget Impasse?

Passing a state budget is arguably the most important thing the Illinois General Assembly does every year — or at least should do every year. After last year's drama — when a two-year standoff ended with a Republican revolt against Governor Bruce Rauner — it's an open question about how things will go this year. So I set out to answer a simple question: Will there be another impasse?

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Featured

Will You Soon Have To Pay Sales Tax On Every Online Purchase?

Going into Tuesday's arguments at the Supreme Court, it looked as though the court was headed toward reversing a 50-year-old decision and allow states to tax all online sales. But after the arguments, the vote on the court looked extremely close with the states looking like they could lose. It's a multibillion-dollar dispute, and the decision will directly affect consumers, cash-strapped states and companies large and small. On one side of the case are states, almost all of them with sales...

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Illinois Issues

Illustrator Pat Byrnes​

Illinois Takes On Sexual Harassment

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, state lawmakers have tried to address sexual harassment in a variety of ways. We explore what's been done and what some say may be ahead.

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Politics

States are continuing to do battle with budget-busting prices of prescription drugs. But a recent federal court decision could limit the tools available to them — underscoring the challenge states face as, in the absence of federal action, they attempt on their own to take on the powerful drug industry.

It's been almost a year since since James Comey first learned that President Trump had fired him. The former FBI director was in Los Angeles visiting the field office for a diversity event when a ticker announcing his ouster scrolled across the bottom of a TV screen.

"I thought it was a scam," Comey says. "I went back to talking to the people who were gathered in front of me."

Charlie Dent was already one of a record number of House Republicans who weren't running for re-election this November. Now he's rushing out the door even faster.

The moderate Pennsylvania Republican — who hasn't been shy about voicing his frustrations with the congressional GOP and disdain for President Trump — on Tuesday announced he would soon resign from Congress instead of sticking around until January.

The Supreme Court declared a clause in federal law, requiring the deportation of immigrants convicted of a "crime of violence," unconstitutionally vague Tuesday.

It's a blow to the Trump Justice Department, and came at the hands, ironically of conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, who sided with the court's liberals in a 5-4 decision.

In 2015, the court also held that a clause alluding to a "violent felony" in the Armed Career Criminal Act was unconstitutionally vague.

For background on the case, Sessions v. Dimaya, here's Oyez's summary:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Turning The Tables: The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women (As Chosen By You)

The results are in for the first-ever NPR Turning the Tables readers' poll, and they send a strong message to anyone fancying themselves a cultural justice warrior in 2018. It is this: check your intervention . The original list of 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women , assembled by a committee of nearly 50 NPR-affiliated women, sought to correct a historic bias against putting women's stories, and their artistry, at the center of popular music history. Your votes and comments, which deeply...

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NPR Illinois Classic | 91.9-2 HD

Vespers Or Vision Quest? Soulful Music For A Violin In Flight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN6P8m9w8bA Vespers, the traditional late afternoon prayer service, gets an enigmatic twist in a new video by director James Darrah, premiered here, with music from Missy Mazzoli , performed by the spirited violinist Olivia De Prato. The track is from her new album, Streya . The narrative, shot in slow-motion, opens with dancer Sam Shapiro's character, heavy with sleep, stirring on a sun-drenched morning. It mysteriously unfolds as a kind of barefoot vision...

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