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Some visitors to downtown Springfield have been met with a surprise this year. It’s a welcome one for fans of the blues and soul music.

violin
Jose Zaragoza / flickr.com/jose_zaragoza

A preview of this weekend's Illinois Symphony Chamber Orchestra concert at First Presbyterian Church in Springfield.  UIS Professor of Ethnomusicology Yona Stamatis talks with Ken Lam, Conductor and Music Director of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra.

Kelsey Greene Photography

In the midst of the national #metoo phenomenon, Illinois women wrestle with their own experiences.

J.B. Pritzker and Daniel Biss
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

With roughly three months to go until Illinois' primary election, there are seven men seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to be governor of Illinois.

One of the key questions facing primary voters: To counter the vast wealth of incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, do Democrats need their own billionaire at the top of the ticket?

Brian Mackey explores the potential upsides — and downsides — of an ultra-wealthy candidate.

Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

Even though the primary election is over three months away, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker has already notched a win. Pritzker was selected to be first on the primary ballot among the seven candidates running. 

Chelsea Beck / NPR

After passing their respective tax overhaul bills, the U.S. House and Senate are trying to reconcile the differences in their legislation. While they do that, President Trump makes a renewed pitch to the American people about the importance of overhauling the tax code.

Environmental groups in Illinois are renewing their push to stop fracking in Illinois before it starts. 

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Every second Tuesday of the month, a roots or folk act plays at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. It's a series that kicked off earlier this year and now has funding through 2019.

SJ-R

Sean Crawford talks with State Journal-Register Business Editor Tim Landis.

flu shot
Senior Airman Areca T. Wilson / U.S. Air Force

Several areas throughout Illinois are experiencing heightened flu activity and one preliminary report shows the flu vaccine may only be 10% effective.  

After 22 years at the helm of The Splendid Table, Lynne Rossetto Kasper is retiring from the show at the end of 2017. In this video, Lynne looks back at the show's humble beginnings, how the food world has changed during those decades, and some of her favorite guests along the way.

Splendid Table airs Saturdays 2 PM on NPR Illinois.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

In partnership with NPR Illinois, the World Affairs Council of Central Illinois presents "Trump and the World Economy" with Professor Steven Livingston. Watch or listen to the presentation below.

Donald Trump appears to be inaugurating the biggest change in America’s foreign trade policy since the 1930s. Dr. Livingston will discuss why and how he is trying to do this.  Will he succeed?  And if he does, what will result – for the U.S., and for the world?

A mix of tourists and lobbyists milled about the rotunda of the Illinois Statehouse on Tuesday.
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A Cook County Republican is running for state treasurer. Jim Dodge ran unsuccessfully for Comptroller in 2010. 

blood vials
flickr/CC Chapman

After reporting by the Chicago Tribune uncovered public health officials were failing to test babies for a devastating neurological disease, the Illinois Department of Public Health Department says the tests will begin Monday. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday declared he's "not in charge" of Illinois government. Rather, he says, House Speaker Michael Madigan is really running the show.

That same day, Rep. Jeannie Ives filed to challenge Rauner in the Republican primary, saying the governor has "betrayed" their party.

Veronica Mullen

Across the country, it appears that a cultural sea change is taking place. Sexism that has long been inherent in society is getting acknowledged perhaps more than ever, in large part due to the #MeToo movement and activist women who have organized as a result of the 2016 presidential election. It’s unclear what lasting effects might take hold.

Annette Elizabeth Allen / NPR

FBI Director Christopher Wray is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing. He is likely to face questions about the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. Last week, former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. The hearing also comes days after President Trump attacked the FBI on Twitter, saying "its reputation is in tatters," citing the investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server under former Director James Comey.

WUIS

Next year Illinois will have a new way to dispose of dead bodies where no next of kin is found,or families don’t have the means to pay for a burial and it could benefit students. 

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

School districts had a year to implement a state law that banned zero-tolerance policies and emphasized restorative justice practices. We check back in with five districts we visited  in the summer of 2016 to see how school discipline has changed.

Several women running for statewide office.
IL General Assembly, Comptroller's Office, Lieutenant Governor's Office, Friends of Nancy Rotering, Darlene Senger, Erika Harold.

National politics and the recent surge of sexual harassment allegations have resulted in calls to increase the number of female candidates in the 2018 races for legislative and statewide offices. But Illinois did not necessarily follow along with these expectations.

Rachel Otwell

Bill Crook grew up in Springfield and was inspired to draw by his mother - an active member of the Springfield Art Association. His new book, titled Springfield Illinois: A Pen & Ink Artist Looks at His Hometown, covers the artist's life work thus far. He's been at it for over 40 years. For more information about a reception and reading of the book at The Pharmacy Gallery & Art Space in Springfield on Friday night, click here.

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From now until March 20th primary - the race for governor has candidates buying advertising slots and pounding the pavement to get their names in front of voters.

frankieleon / Flickr- 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

In another step to help prevent more overdose related deaths, the state of Illinois rolled out a 24/7 opioid and substance addiction helpline Tuesday.

Buses lined up at night
flickr/Jeff Sharp

Sean Crawford talks with State Journal-Register Business Editor Tim Landis.

Carter Staley

At 6 foot 5 inches, Ian Winterbauer is a tall man. And a witty one too - his poems posted online are often accompanied by the hashtag #tallestpoetonearth. He dresses conventionally - usually in a flannel shirt and jeans. He has golden blonde hair and hip, clear frame glasses. 

Sam McCann headshot
Illinois General Assembley

A Republican state senator who had a high profile disagreement with Governor Bruce Rauner says he won’t run for re-election.  Senator Sam McCann of Plainview would have faced his second opponent backed by the governor.   

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Wikimedia

Monday is the last day to submit petitions to run for office in Illinois next year. There are several people who’ve said they’re running for high profile offices, but who have not yet turned in paperwork.

The conservative magazine National Review has called Gov. Bruce Rauner "the worst Republican governor in America." We'll discuss the claim, and how it might affect next year's elections.

Meanwhile, a group of Republican lawmakers and anti-abortion groups have sued over a new law that extends abortion coverage to women enrolled in state health insurance programs.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A group of state lawmakers and anti-abortion groups sued the state of Illinois Thursday. They’re trying to block a new law that will allow state money to pay for some abortions.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Commentary: Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Madigan fixation may reflect how little the governor has to show for his first three years in office.

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