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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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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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Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois House is poised to vote Thursday on an overhaul of the state's pension systems. The plan easily advanced out of a House committee Wednesday morning. But the Senate's working on different method. 

Wednesday began with a widespread feeling that after more than a year of failed attempts to reduce the state's pension debt, House Speaker Michael Madigan's proposal might be it. 

Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan)
Illinois Senate

The Illinois Senate has once again approved an expansion of gambling. But it remains to be seen whether Governor Pat Quinn will go along with the plan.

The Illinois House is poised to vote Thursday on an overhaul of the state's pension systems. It would reduce state workers', teachers', and university employees' future retirement benefits. The plan easily advanced out of a House committee Wednesday morning. 

There's a feeling in the capitol that after countless attempts to reduce the state's pension debt, this may be it. Insiders say it's significant that the plan's sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan — who rarely takes action without having support locked up. 

afscme31.org

Illinois’ new deal with the state’s largest public employees union could be null and void.   The union is going to take a second vote on its contract agreement with Governor Pat Quinn’s administration.  Amanda Vinicky reports from the WUIS Statehouse Bureau.

It took 15 months for AFSCME to reach an agreement.   They finally got a deal in late February.

But AFSCME says because a key condition of the settlement has not been met,  it will ask members if they still want to proceed with the new contract.

The survey of employers find many have positive expectations for their own firms, but have a negative overall outlook for the coming year.  Ashley Kirzinger, Director of the UIS Survey Research Office, spoke with us about the findings:

The survey is sponsored by the University of Illinois Springfield's Chancellor's Office, the Center for State Policy and Research at UIS and the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

A plan to have a form of concealed carry in Illinois is in for changes in the state Senate

Beason Slayings Trial To Begin In Peoria

Apr 29, 2013
pjstar.com

The trial for the first of two brothers charged in the killing of a Logan County family more than three years ago is scheduled to begin Monday in Peoria.

Christopher Harris and his brother, Jason Harris, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Rick and Ruth Gee in September 2009 at their home in Beason, ten miles east of Lincoln.

16-year-old Justina Constant, 14-year-old Dillen Constant and 11-year-old Austin Gee were also bludgeoned to death with a tire iron.  Three-year-old Tabitha Gee was the only survivor.

Springfield Park District

Want to play golf at the Springfield Park District courses?  Previously, you had to call to find out tee times.  But a new website will allow you to find and book a tee time online.   Paul Loutzenhiser, the district's head golf professional and Lance Flury, the golf pro at the Pasfield course, talked with WUIS' Sean Crawford about it.  Lance says along with helping golfers get out on the links, it will benefit the park district.

Deathpenaltyinfo.org

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced the death at age 81 of former Chief Justice Moses Harrison.  
Harrison died Thursday at a St. Louis hospital. The cause of death wasn't immediately revealed.  
Harrison began his career on the bench in 1973 as a circuit court judge. He was serving on the 5th District Appellate Court when he was elected to the Supreme Court in 1992. He served as chief justice from 2000 to 2002.

WUIS Spring Drive Progress
Randy Eccles

WUIS program funding is $30,000 short at the completion of the spring on-air drive.

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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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