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Illinois House extends special session, will meet Saturday

By Jim Hagerty Reporter SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois House of  Representatives will take at least another day to finish its spring session, Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said Friday. Madigan said representatives need extra time for what was scheduled to be a three-day session to resolve coronavirus-related budget issues. "We have continued our work toward a state budget and voted to secure funding that will ensure vital services like health care, education, and resources for those…

Pritzker urges Illinois churches to submit reopening plans

By Jim Hagerty Reporter SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged faith groups across the state to submit plans for reopening to his office. And the more comprehensive, the better. The governor said it has been a challenge during the pandemic to phase churches back to in-person worship and other gatherings, which is why he put a stamp of approval on the Catholic Church's detailed plan. "Every church is different--and mosque and synagogue," Pritzker said during his Thursday…

City of Rockford announces plan for outdoor restaurant, bar seating

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - The City of Rockford, onThursday, announced that it is modifying current practices to facilitate more outdoor seating for restaurants and bars as the city moves into Phase 3 of the governor's coronavirus Restore Illinois plan. To accommodate saloons and eateries to open by May 29, the city has tasked the Public Works and Community and Economic Development departments to expedited approvals of outdoor seating. Permit fees will be waived for…

Senate GOP leader files bill to reopen Illinois businesses by June 1

By Cole Lauterbach SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, has filed a measure that would require state officials to allow businesses to reopen next month, in addition to restricting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s emergency declaration powers. “The proposal put forward by the Illinois Chamber (of Commerce) is an important step in moving the discussion forward on how we safely reopen our state and get our economy moving forward more quickly,” he said. The language…

Rep. Darren Bailey tossed from session for not wearing mask, Pritzker not impressed

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - A state lawmaker who filed a lawsuit against the governor over the constitutionality of the coronavirus stay-at-home order was escorted out of a legislative session Wednesday for not wearing a face covering. After the House voted 97-12 for legislators to wear masks and Speaker Michael Madigan warned that anyone who does not comply could be removed, Rep. Darren Bailey said he was not going to follow the rule. The process to remove the Xenia Republican then…

Online grocery ordering approved for 1.8M SNAP recipients

Staff Report SPRINGFIELD - Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services on Wednesday, announced the state's plan to enable 1.8 million SNAP recipients to purchase food from participating grocery retailers online has been approved by the federal government. The new purchasing option will begin on June 2. All Link customers will be alerted when they can use their card to make food orders online. "To keep more families safe and healthy, my administration is expanding…

Outdoor seating allowed May 29 at Illinois bars, restaurants

By Jim Hagerty Reporter SPRINGFIELD - Illinois bars and restaurants will be permitted to offer outdoor seating at the end of the month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday. The announcement moves the provisions for eateries and saloons from Phase 4 to Phase 3 of the governor's five-phase Restore Illinois plan to restart an economy that's been nearly decimated under what's now been a nine-week stay-at-home order. Beginning May 29, outdoor dining will be permitted with tables 6 feet apart,…

Pritzker withdraws order that criminalizes stay-at-home violations

By Jim Hagerty Reporter SPRINGFIELD - Gov. J.B. Pritzker withdrew an emergency rule that made businesses subject to criminal prosecution if they opened earlier than specified in the state's plan to restart the economy. According to members of the bi-partisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules that Pritzker withdrew the measure Wednesday as lawmakers convened at the Capitol. The move was pushed largely by Republicans, who argued that the order exceeds the governor's authority to…

COVID-19 sacks Mike Ditka’s Gold Coast eatery

By The Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak has contributed to the closing of Mike Ditka's restaurant on Chicago's Gold Coast. Ditka's Restaurant Group announced Monday that it will permanently close the downtown location because of the ongoing economic impact of the outbreak and the impending end of its lease. "We have made the extremely difficult decision to close our Chicago restaurant due to the economic impact of COVID-19 and the short term left on our lease,"…

Illinois Republicans push to remove graduated income tax from November ballot

By Jerry Nowicki Capitol News Illinois SPRINGFIELD – State Republican leadership is pushing for a vote in the upcoming legislative session to remove a graduated income tax amendment question from the November general election ballot. “Times have changed dramatically since this initiative was first put forward,” Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said Monday in a video news conference. “But never more has our state's economy been challenged than it will be, and is today.”…

COVID-19: Illinois hospitalization, infection rates steady

Staff Report CHICAGO - The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday announced 2,294 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across the state including 59 additional deaths. Statewide deaths: Coles County: one women in her 90s Cook County: three men in their 40s, two women in their 50s, three men in their 50s, four women in their 60s, seven men in their 60s, four women in their 70s, eight men in their 70s, one unknown person in their 70s, one woman in their 80s, 10 men in…

Illinois Supreme Court disbars ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich

By Brent Rowland CHICAGO - Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was disbarred Monday when the Illinois Supreme Court confirmed a March decision by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Blagojevich, who served as governor from 2003 to 2009, was released from prison in February after President Donald Trump commuted Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence for corruption. The former governor's law license was suspended in 2008 when he was arrested on corruption…

Manteno Veterans’ Home sees third COVID-19-related death

Staff Report CHICAGO - The Manteno Veterans’ Home reported Saturday that a third resident has died from complications of COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 63 residents at the state-run facility have contracted coronavirus disease. They are among the 92,457 in Illinois to be diagnosed with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 2,088 new cases Saturday, including 74 additional deaths, 54 of which were reported in Cook…

Pritzker criminalizes stay-at-home violations, Rep. John Cabello responds

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Illinois businesses could now face jail time if they violate rules under Gov. J.B. Pritzker "stay-at-home" executive order. Pritzker filed an amendment to Illinois' public health laws Friday to include the section, "Pandemic or Epidemic Respiratory Disease -- Emergency Provisions." The section states restaurants are limited to carryout, and that gyms, salons and tattoo shops must close during a disease outbreak. Businesses owners who defy this law…

J.B. Pritzker not shaken by Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker responded Thursday to the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that did away with Gov. Tony Evers' "Safer at Home" extension. Though he expressed concern that Wisconsin's order blew up, he expects his stay-at-home edict that expires at the end of the month and restrictions laid out in his five-phase Restore Illinois plan to remain in place. "We’re well within the laws that exist in Illinois to have a disaster declaration, and there’s…