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   CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago's mayor and the governor of Illinois are among those celebrating the life of gay rights activist Vernita Gray, who died Tuesday at age 65.
   Gray and her partner, Patricia Ewert, wed in the state's first same-sex marriage in November. Her terminal cancer and her wish to marry convinced a federal judge to order an expedited marriage license. That allowed the couple to get married before the June 1 effective date of Illinois' new same-sex marriage law.
   Gray had worked for gay rights for decades.
   Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised Gray's work for equality and civil rights in a statement Wednesday, calling her "an inspiration to all who crossed her path."
   Gov. Pat Quinn says Gray "fought for what she believed in and made a difference for people across Illinois."
Published in Local News
VIENNA, IL (AP) – Voters in southern Illinois’ Johnson County have rejected a ballot referendum that could have prompted the county’s governing board to restrict a form of oil drilling.
 
The ballot measure involving hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was defeated by a 600-vote margin. More than 2,220 people voted against the provision, while about 1,600 supported it.
 
The non-binding referendum was meant to advise the Johnson County Commission whether it should resist efforts to open the county to fracking. The process involves blasting rock formations deep underground with water, sand and chemicals to release trapped oil and gas.
 
The issue for months has hijacked the County Commission meetings, pitting neighbor against neighbor.
Annette McMichael of Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment says it’s unclear where the anti-fracking effort in the county goes from here.
Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - Republicans spent the day after the Illinois primary stressing the need to work together to reclaim the governor's mansion in November.
 
New GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner told a group of party officials at a "March to Victory" luncheon in Chicago that "division doesn't help anything."
 
The Winnetka businessman says the party must effectively communicate that it cares for people from different backgrounds.
 
Rauner was the victor of a costly, four-way primary Tuesday. He'll face Gov. Pat Quinn in the November general election.
 
Illinois GOP party Chair Jack Dorgan says the party must expand and appeal to Democrats and independents in all races.
 
Democrats also held a party breakfast at the Billy Goat Tavern in downtown Chicago on Wednesday stressing party unity.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois State Police say two southwestern Illinois firearms instructors were improperly certifying students trying to get concealed carry permits.
 
The agency says Tuesday that nearly 100 students who were taught by the pair will have their training invalidated and their applications denied. The instructors won't be able to teach and the agency is forwarding its findings to the St. Clair County State's Attorney's office.
 
More than 2,700 firearms instructors have been certified by the state to teach gun safety classes as part of Illinois' new concealed carry law.
 
All applicants have to attend at least 16 hours of training before they can apply for the licenses. The first licenses were distributed earlier this month.
 
About 46,000 applications have been submitted. Officials expect about 300,000 applications to be filed this year.
Published in Local News

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - A question for registered voters in Illinois, have you voted today? If you answered no, you are in what appears to be an overwhelming majority.

 

Keith Dudding is an election judge in Madison County and says this year's attendance could be one for the books. Dudding says at his location, on two of 300 registered voters had cast a ballot in the first two-and-a-half hours of voting.

 

KTRS has discovered the same experience at other polling places. Our reporter visited three separate polling places and officials at all locations gave a similar story--turnout is historically low.

 

There is still time to get to the ballot--polls close at 7 PM. 

Published in Local News

 

GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (AP) - Republican primary voters are talking about wanting a shake-up in Springfield and say they believe they have a real chance of putting one of their own back in the governor's office.
 
The big issues, they say, are reversing the state's indebtedness and keeping businesses from leaving Illinois. Some are after term limits that they say would do away with "career politicians" too cozy with special interests and unions.
 
Joan Youhn of the western Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn is an 81-year-old retired medical biller who voted Tuesday for venture capitalist Bruce Rauner. Weighing on her mind, she says, is the economy because her architect son was out of work until recently.
 
She says Illinois needs more statesman-like politicians "who care about what they're doing, not just getting re-elected."
Published in Local News

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - UPDATE: Authorities have reopened 64 near 159 in Illinois.

 

EARLIER: Still no timeline as to when officials will reopen lanes on I-64 near Fairview Heights.

 

Sometime after 11 AM, a semi truck hit a power pole, knocking down the lines onto the road. Authorities have closed all lanes of 64, in both directions near Route 159. On ramps in the area are also closed.

 

Drivers are being told to avoid the area until the situation changes. 

Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, IL (AP) – A measure allowing high school testing companies other than GED Testing Services to operate in the state is advancing in the Illinois Legislature.
 
Lawmakers say a recent GED price increase from $50 to $120 strains low-income test takers. They say changing the law could drive down costs.
 
The proposal aims to open up competition by substituting “GED” with “high school equivalency tests” in the current law. New tests would still need to pass the state’s education standards for approval.
 
Kari Docherty is a GED examiner in Jefferson and Hamilton counties. She tells WSIL-TV the state could run into problems if the rest of the country still only uses the GED program.
The bill passed the House last week and now moves to the Senate.
 
Published in Local News
VANDALIA, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Conservation Police is investigating the illegal killing last week of more than 30 ducks at the Carlyle Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area near Vandalia.
 
The ducks killed includes several northern pintails and mallards. Several ducks were left crippled. Duck hunting season closed Jan. 7 in the South Central Zone which includes Carlyle Lake.
 
Aerial surveys conducted in May indicated pintails numbered 3.3 million on the breeding grounds in the north-central United States and Canada. Waterfowl biologists and habitat managers have worked hard to keep pintail numbers at levels high enough to sustain harvest.
 
Spring duck hunting was eliminated a century ago by the McLean-Weeks Act, which regulated the shooting of migratory birds in the United states. The act was replaced in 1918 by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A study contends that Illinois wears a "scarlet letter" when it borrows money - which has cost at least $80 million over a five-year period.
 
The review by the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs estimated the state's "risk premium" in selling bonds to raise money. This cost is on top of additional interest charges paid because of Illinois' worst-in-the-nation credit rating.
 
The study found that on bonds sold from 2005 to 2010, bond-buyers demanded the premium based only on the state's fiscal reputation. It notes the Prairie State's credit rating has fallen further since 2010.
 
Authors of the study collected data on all state general obligation bonds sold during the period and calculated interest charges above the extra paid based on credit rating.
Published in Local News
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