Thursday, 20 February 2014 14:57
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A new federal report shows Illinois has lost nearly 1,800 farms, though an increase in the state's agricultural acreage perhaps reflects consolidation.
The findings come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's farming census conducted every five years. The latest figures are as of 2012.
The report shows the number of farms statewide fell by 1,773 to 75,087 between 2007 and 2012. But the farm acreage rose to 26.94 million, up more than 162,000 acres.
The census also showed that the average size of an Illinois farm climbed by 11 acres, to 359.
Nationwide, the report says the number of farms slip 4.3 percent to 2.1 million, with the total amount of agricultural land relatively flat at 922 acres.
The report is used in evaluating and implementing agriculture policies and programs.
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 09:58
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A survey finds that Illinois leads the nation in the amount "green" building space it has.
The U.S. Green Building Council announced its top states Tuesday for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - or LEED.
Illinois certified 171 projects representing 29 million square feet in 2013 - or 2.3 square feet per resident.
The Green Building Council says LEED buildings use sustainable building design. They use less energy and water, saving money and reducing carbon emissions.
Top LEED projects certified in Illinois in 2013 included the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie; a 57-story tower at 300 North LaSalle Street in Chicago; the Caterpillar Visitors Center in Peoria; Lincoln Hall at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and Springfield's Workforce Careers Center at Lincoln Land Community College.
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 09:09
MOUNT VERNON, Ill. (AP) - Authorities in southern Illinois' Jefferson County say a man has been stabbed to death outside a gun club.
Coroner Eddie Joe Marks says 37-year-old Eric Houser died at a hospital after the altercation Tuesday night at the Mount Vernon Gun and Sportmen's Club.
There's no immediate word on any arrests or charges.
Tuesday, 18 February 2014 10:19
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The four Republican candidates for Illinois governor are set for another debate ahead of the primary election next month.
The Citizens Club of Springfield is hosting a forum Tuesday evening. All candidates are expected to attend. They are Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, businessman Bruce Rauner and state Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady.
All four appeared at a debate earlier this month in the Chicago suburb of Naperville where the main issues were state spending, taxes and Illinois' business climate.
The primary contest is March 18
Gov. Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, is seeking re-election. He faces one primary challenger, activist Tio Hardiman. Quinn's campaign says the Chicago Democrat won't participate in any debates ahead of the primary.
Tuesday, 18 February 2014 09:34
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois lawmaker wants tax soft drinks as part of an effort to promote healthy living.
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises Newspapers reports the legislation is being sponsored by Sen. Mattie Hunter, a Chicago Democrat.
Her proposal would charge a penny-per-ounce surcharge on sugary drinks that are sold in sealed containers.
Money generated from the levy would be used to pay for a variety of health services and educational efforts.
But Hunter's plan is already drawing criticism from the Illinois Coalition Against Beverage Taxes. The group is an alliance of manufacturers, retailers and union workers. They say taxing sodas would hurt the economy and cost the state jobs.
Other states have a similar tax, but previous efforts haven't been approved in Illinois.
Monday, 17 February 2014 08:28
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to follow through on its own proposal to reduce amounts of ethanol that must be blended with gasoline.
The EPA wants to reduce by billions of gallons the amount of biofuels required in gasoline sold in America. The agency says the additive is less necessary with more fuel-efficient engines and lower fuel demand.
Governor Quinn says lowering the requirement could hurt farmers growing renewable fuel crops, like corn. His office says Illinois' ethanol industry is one of the nation's largest.
Critics say ethanol isn't as environmentally friendly as advertised. The pressure to grow more crops for ethanol has led to planting in areas that might otherwise be set aside for conservation. Critics also say diverting crops for fuel has contributed to rising food prices.
But ethanol advocates say its essential to American energy independance.
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 15:37
CHICAGO (AP) - A federal lawsuit against Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford details an ex-employee's sexual harassment allegations, but government watchdog groups say the lawsuit's political corruption claims are just as worrisome.
Rutherford is in a four-way Republican gubernatorial primary. He says the allegations are false and politically motivated. He spent Tuesday refuting the claims and questioning the lawsuit's timing.
The allegations include forcing employees to do campaign work on state time, which is prohibited.
Common Cause Illinois officials say the claims raise questions about Rutherford's leadership. An Illinois Campaign for Political Reform spokeswoman says voters are already corruption weary with two previous governors sent to prison
Monday, 03 February 2014 15:47
CHICAGO (AP) - Treasurer Dan Rutherford was set to make a big splash in the Republican race for governor this week with his television ads scheduled to hit the airwaves. Instead, he's seeing headlines about allegations of misconduct made by an employee.
The Republican called a last-minute news conference last week to say unspecific claims by an employee in his office were untrue and connected to his rival Republican Bruce Rauner.
Political experts say the move was risky weeks from the March 18 primary.
For one, he opens himself up to more scrutiny. Democratic campaign strategist Pete Giangreco says there are more questions than answers.
However, Rutherford could use the attention to his advantage. Political analyst Thom Serafin says it raises Rutherford's exposure level and if handled correctly could benefit him.
Monday, 03 February 2014 14:29
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Nonprofit workers, union leaders and groups representing the developmentally disabled are making a push at the Illinois state Capitol for higher caregiver wages.
What supporters are calling the "Care Campaign" will deliver 10,000 postcards to Gov. Pat Quinn's office Tuesday. They'll urge him to support legislation increasing wages for caregivers at community nonprofits supported by state funds.
Supporters say state funding hasn't kept up with inflation, resulting in low pay for workers. They say many workers take on overtime hours, work second jobs and rely on food stamps to make ends meet.
The push comes during a difficult budget year for the state. Budget experts expect Illinois to lose about $1.5 billion in revenue next year if the state's temporary income tax increase is allowed to expire as scheduled.
Monday, 03 February 2014 14:17
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - The sub-zero temperatures Illinoisans experienced last month added up to the eighth coldest January on record.
Illinois state climatologist Jim Angel says the statewide average temperature in January was 18.2 degrees - 8.1 degrees below the average of 26.3 degrees. Angel is with the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois.
The coldest January on record was in 1977, when the average temperature was 10.3 degrees.
January snowfall was above average for most of the state except in far southern Illinois, where snow totals were from 1 to 6 inches. Northeastern Illinois had between 25 and 30 inches of accumulation thanks to lake-effect snow.
Chicago recorded low temperatures at zero or below zero on 13 days. The city had its third snowiest January on record.