CHICAGO (AP) - Up and down the state, Illinois voters are electing mayors, highway commissioners and filling school boards and fire protection districts.
Tuesday's turnout is expected to be low. And it won't be helped by rain in some parts of Illinois or by the many races in which candidates are running unopposed. Still, a number of communities do have real contests, including West Chicago, where three candidates are running for mayor.
The race to replace former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has received the most attention in the Chicago area.
Voters in some places will be asked to do more than elect candidates, including Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall and Fulton Counties, where voters will decide if they want to add a 1 percent sales tax to fund school facilities improvements.
CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he's confident same-sex marriage will become law in Illinois.
Quinn told reporters in Chicago on Monday that supporters are "very close" to the votes needed in the state House to pass legislation that grants same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.
The Illinois Senate already approved it. But getting the 60 votes needed in the House is proving harder. Quinn didn't suggest a current vote count, but he said "we're going to get it done."
The Chicago Democrat says he's reached out personally to ask legislators to support the measure.
If the bill does become law, it would make Illinois the 10th state to allow same-sex marriage. The state approved civil unions in 2011.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - State auditors say the Illinois Department of Natural Resources didn't employ enough mine-safety inspectors the past two years to comply with state law.
An Illinois Auditor General's report released Thursday says the department had 10 inspectors for more than 40 mines. The state Coal Mining Act calls for at least 16 inspectors.
A spokesman for the department was not immediately available to comment on the audit.
Phil Smith is a spokesman for the United Mineworkers of America. He said many of the state and federal agencies responsible for mine safety lack the money to do their jobs.
The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration says one miner died on the job in Illinois over those two years. Another miner died this year.
MELROSE PARK, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says the focus of his upcoming trip to Mexico is jobs and increasing trade and Illinois tourism.
The Chicago Democrat departs tomorrow for the three-day trip. He'll be the first Illinois governor to visit Mexico in 13 years.
His meetings will focus on water treatment and technology in Mexico for Illinois companies.
He'll also meet with Mexico's secretary of agriculture, mayors and state governors.
Quinn told reporters Tuesday that Illinois and Mexico have many ties and it's important to strengthen them.
The delegation will include representatives from Motorola Solutions, GSG Consultants and Elan Technologies.
Quinn says he's paying his own way for the trip through his campaign fund.
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois jury has acquitted one of four people who had been accused in the 2011 stabbing death of a Georgia man.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that 39-year-old Christopher Mays of Caseyville was found not guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder and felony murder.
Authorities say 38-year-old Melvin Gregory moved to the area from Conyers, Ga., to live with his girlfriend. After those two got into an altercation that involved Mays and two other defendants, Gregory's body was found in August 2011 on the side of a road by horseback riders near Cahokia.
The three other defendants have pleaded not guilty and await trial.
The Democratic senator from Illinois sent a letter Monday to the CEOs of Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster asking for an explanation for the companies' sponsorship of sporting events that target children.
Durbin says the companies have often claimed they do not market their drinks to youngsters. But he says he is aware of multiple situations that contradict their claims.
Durbin cites several examples in his letter, including a high school football tournament and a motorcycle race for children as young as thirteen endorsed by Red Bull.
Durbin says his letter stems out of growing concerns during the past year about the potential health risks posed by energy drinks.
He spoke yesterday just days after House lawmakers approved their third pension-related bill. The latest would reduce and delay cost-of-living increases in state employees' retirement pay.
Pensions have been Quinn's top issue for more than a year. He says lawmakers' work last week was a step in the right direction but there's further to go. Quinn says any reform package should address retirement age and pensionable salary.
Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension debt because lawmakers skipped or shorted pension payments for years.
House lawmakers recently OK'd bills that would cap the salary on which benefits are based to the limit set for Social Security and delay the retirement age incrementally.
The Southeast Missourian reports that the Missouri mining industry stands to gain from an increased need for silica sand, which is used in the process of large-scale hydraulic fracturing - or fracking.
Missouri is not an abundant resource of oil or natural gas, but it is a resource for silica sand. The silica sand is critical for the process of fracking.
Environmentalists in Missouri say there is concern that expanded sand mining will cause environmental damage.
The January 2013 Mineral Commodity Summary by the U.S. Geological Survey says Missouri is the sixth-largest producer of industrial sand and gravel.
After Larkin's first field goal in about 9 1/2 minutes, D.J. Richardson missed a 3-pointer. In the fight for the rebound, the ball appeared to ricochet off the hands of Miami's Kenny Kadji out of bounds. But the Hurricanes kept the ball, and Durand Scott made two free throws after that.
Miami (29-6) is in the round of 16 for only the second time in school history. The Hurricanes play Marquette (25-8) in Washington D.C. on Thursday night.
Larkin, the only non-senior starter for Miami and the ACC player of the year, finished with 17 points. Rion Brown had 21 with five 3s.
Brandon Paul had 18 points for Illinois (23-13).
The agency announced Friday that it will begin closing 149 air traffic facilities starting April 7.
The affected Illinois towers are at St. Louis Regional Airport in East Alton, Central Illinois Regional Airport at Bloomington-Normal, Decatur Airport, Southern Illinois Airport in Carbondale and Waukegan Regional Airport near Chicago.
All of the affected airports will remain open. Under long-established procedures, pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency without help from controllers.
The FAA is being forced to trim $637 million for the rest of the fiscal year under the federal cuts known as sequestration.