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Pritzker signs $43B budget; plan relies on federal assistance

By John  O'Connor AP Political Writer SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law Wednesday an Illinois budget heavily reliant on borrowing because of revenue lost to COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and social interaction.  But even short of revenue, Democrats who control the General Assembly sent the Democratic governor a $42.9 billion spending plan, 7.5% larger than the current year's outlay. It takes effect July 1.  The legislation allows the state to borrow up…

Pritzker pushes for expedited insurance claims for businesses damaged by rioters

By Jerry Nowicki Capitol News Illinois SPRINGFIELD - Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Insurance are calling on insurers to expedite claims and payments to businesses hit by looters in recent days. “It is my expectation and the expectation of the Illinois Department of Insurance that insurance companies will do everything in their power to give their customers the resources they need to rebuild and get back on their feet as soon as possible,” Pritzker said. “To that end,…

Illinois COVID-19 cases continue to drop

Staff Report SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday announced 867 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including 43 additional confirmed deaths. Sunday's deaths include 33 Cook County: a man in his 30s, five women in their 60s, six men in their 60s, five women in their 70s, six men in their 70s, two women in their 80s, a man in his 80s, four women in their 90s, three men in their 90s. There have been 127,757 cases of COVID-19 statewide, including 5,904…

Family cat tests positive for coronavirus; state infection rate steadies at 6%

By Jim Hagerty Reporter SPRINGFIELD - Illinois health professionals, on Friday, reported that a family cat has been infected with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. "The cat was in a home with people who had tested positive," the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a release. "This is the first animal to test positive for the virus in Illinois.  There is no evidence COVID-19 is transmitted from animal to humans.  However, if you are sick, you…

$1.3M in COVID-19 relief awarded to rural Illinois communities

Staff Report SPRINGFIELD - Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), on Friday, announced the first round of grants awarded as part of the new Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program. The fund was created to support small businesses in downstate and rural counties across Illinois that have experienced a negative impact due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "As businesses across Illinois grapple with the devastating financial…

Pritzker adds five counties to disaster proclamation

Staff Report CHICAGO - Gov. J.B. Pritzker added five counties to an existing disaster proclamation Wednesday to aid local jurisdictions in their efforts to keep communities safe. Lake, Peoria, Rock Island, Williamson and Stephenson counties were added to the edict because they represent a threat for looting or destruction through planned protests. To date, 15 counties are included in the current disaster proclamation. Pritzker activated 375 Illinois National Guard soldiers Sunday to…

Illinois reports 982 new cases of COVID-19

Staff Report SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Department of Public Health, on Wednesday, announced 982 new cases of COVID-19, including 97additional deaths. Wednesday's deaths include a Winnebago County main in his 70s and 56  people in Cook County. Deaths were also reported in DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Peoria, St. Clair, Stephenson County, Union and Will counties. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 123,830 cases, including 5,621 deaths, in 101 counties.…

Governor declares disaster in 9 Illinois counties

Staff Report CHICAGO - Illinois Gov.  J.B. Pritzker on Monday signed a disaster proclamation for nine counties in Illinois to expedite the use of state resources, personnel and equipment to help municipalities keep residents safe from looters and rioters. The counties include Champaign, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Macon, Madison, Sangamon and Will. The Governor also activated an additional 250 members of the Illinois National Guard to support various jurisdictions throughout the state in…

J.B. Pritzker accuses Trump of making George Floyd aftermath worse

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Gov. J.B. Pritzker accused President Donald Trump Monday of making the aftermath of George Floyd's death worse with what he called “inflammatory” and “dangerous” rhetoric about the nationwide protests. Pritzker unloaded on Trump during a conference call with several governors that was leaked to media Monday morning. “I’ve been extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that’s been used by you,” Pritzker said. “It’s been inflammatory, and it’s not…

Pritzker activates National Guard to help with protest street closures

Staff Report CHICAGO - In response to a City of Chicago request, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, on Sunday, activated 375 Illinois National Guard soldiers to assist the Chicago Police Department in protecting the City of Chicago and its residents. The guard will carry out a limited mission to help manage street closures and will not interfere with peaceful protestors exercising their First Amendment rights. "At the request of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, I am activating the Illinois National Guard to…

J.B. Pritzker: Donald Trump is a racist, misogynist, homophobe and xenophobe

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker minced no words Friday when asked about President Donald Trump's tweets regarding the death of George Floyd and rioting that's erupted in Minneapolis. "From the very moment I announced my decision to run for governor three plus years ago, I said that this president is a racist, a misogynist, a homophobe, a xenophobe," Pritzker said. "I was right then, and I am right now." Pritzker was responding to tweets in which Trump accused…

Restore Illinois: Pritzker walks back restrictions on church services

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Illinois houses of worship are no longer restricted by Gov. JB Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan. Instead, the governor's office, on Thursday, released non-mandatory guidelines for places of worship to reopen, including recommendations for indoor services. The state recommends outdoor worship gatherings including drive-in services, where congregants remain inside vehicles, and indoor meetings of 10 people or fewer. However, for churches where those…

Illinois lawmakers forego vote on governor’s pandemic authority

By Greg Bishop SPRINGFIELD - While they passed a budget, expanded mail-in-voting and even approved cocktails to go amid a pandemic, Illinois state lawmakers didn’t provide a check on the governor’s authority to reshape the state’s economy. The Illinois General Assembly was scheduled for three days last week, but ran into overtime ending in the wee hours of Sunday. Things that were top of mind just a handful of months ago were left on the cutting room floor. Lawmakers passed a $40…

Chicago-area churches hold services, say they’re taking precautions

By Sophia Tareen Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois churches holding services Sunday despite warnings about health risks during the coronavirus pandemic said they're taking precautions to protect congregants, from scrapping communion to requiring masks.  While President Donald Trump's Friday order declaring houses of worship essential prompted some to expand, others said it was simply time to reopen as more people suffer in the pandemic.  "It's like a physician knowing that…

DOJ: Illinois coronavirus restrictions ‘appear to reach far beyond’ governor’s authority

By Jim Hagerty Reporter WASHINGTON, D.C. - Although he means well, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home orders may exceed this authority to keep parts of the state closed amid the coronavirus pandemic. That is the opinion of the U.S. Department of Justice, which filed a statement of interest in federal court Friday in an attempt to become a party to the lawsuit filed by Illinois Rep. Darren Bailey, who is challenging the constitutionality of Pritzker's executive order. "However…