Illinois Budget 11.03.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Exhibit explores Cherry coal mine disaster

SPRINGFIELD – On Nov. 13, 1909, a torch ignited a load of hay 300 feet below ground at the Cherry coal mine in Bureau County. Rescuers worked for days to save their co-workers, friends and family. Eight days after the ordeal began, 21 survivors were brought to the surface. An estimated 259 men and boys were killed. A new exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield takes a look back 100 years after the tragedy. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol Bureau.


State Briefs. News from around the state. Will be posted this evening.
This week at the Statehouse:
For Wednesday:
STATE CAPITOL Q&A: A look at the winners and losers from the fall veto session lawmakers completed last week, from college students on scholarship to video poker operators. By Ryan Keith of the State Capitol Bureau. Will be posted this evening.
TINTED WINDOWS: Workers at window-tinting shops say they're gearing up for an influx in business because of a new state law that, in part, lets anyone install "light" tinting on all their car windows. This amount of tinting would offer motorists protection against ultraviolet rays while still permitting police to see inside any vehicle that they pull over, says the bill's sponsor, Rep. Suzie Bassi. This would not change the part of state law that lets people with certain diseases, like lupus, have a darker shade of tinting. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol Bureau. Will be posted this evening.
For the weekend:
Reform report card: lawmakers touted 2009 as the year of reform after Rod Blagojevich's impeachment. A look at whether what they came up with really hit the mark, from FOIA rewrite and state purchasing to campaign finance limits. TENTATIVE.
State budget: A look at the mounting pressures on the state budget, covering everything from mounting debt and unpaid bills to spending with no way to pay for it and revenue dropping. TENTATIVE.

Farmers use rare dry day to tend to soggy crops

PEORIA – Continued delays have made this one of the slowest and latest harvests in state history. To date, only 19 percent of the Illinois corn crop has been harvested, according to Monday's crop report from the Illinois Department of Agriculture. That's the slowest since 1967, when only 10 percent of the harvest was complete on Nov. 1. By Steve Tarter of the Peoria Journal Star. To localize: Check with local farmers and see if they've been able to take advantage of dry weather so far this week.


T. rex skeleton still providing insight to Burpee researchers

ROCKFORD – Eight years after Jane, Burpee Museum’s prized juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex, was found in 2001 in Montana, researchers are still making discoveries about her. Jane’s fossils show she sustained a serious bite that punctured the dinosaur’s left upper jaw and snout in four places. While the bite mark in itself is something you might expect from a carnivore, researcher Joe Peterson said the discovery is significant because it gives some insight into the behavior of a juvenile T. rex. By Chris Green of the Rockford Register Star.

Versatility makes gourds useful for holidays

PEORIA – They are never in the leading role. They're rarely ranked as supporting actors. No, for all their versatility, ornamental gourds are almost always the extras of the fall decorating season. From Halloween to Thanksgiving, they fill in, accent and adorn porch decorations and tabletop centerpieces, pumpkin displays and fall cornucopias. By Pam Adams of the Peoria Journal Star.


BRITT: Toon on the H1N1 vaccine being in short supply. Will be posted this evening.
Chuck Sweeny: Blago’s hair stars in funny but not informative ad

Andy McKenna, one of the Republican governor candidates in the February GOP primary, is getting national exposure from his clever campaign commercial that talks about the culture of “the hair,” featuring everyone from babies to garbagemen wearing Rod Blagojevich wigs. No explanation is needed about what the culture of “the hair” means — it’s the corruption symbolized by Blagojevich’s dreaded locks.

Editorial: Hope for a federal shield law

The Free Flow of Information Act, the federal shield law for journalists, looks like it’s back on track after nearly being derailed by objections from the White House last month. The law would provide limited protection to journalists who receive information from government whistle-blowers and other anonymous sources. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.

Editorial: Quinn should sign campaign finance bill

The campaign finance reform bill passed by the Illinois General Assembly last week has been decried by some as “a crock,” “phony,” “a meaningless compromise” and “a farce.” The reform organizations that signed on were accused of being “bought out.” While recognizing that the bill failed to sever the financial umbilical cord between members and their leaders, we urge Gov. Pat Quinn to sign it. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.


Matt Trowbridge: Bears need to simplify offense

Our biggest sports legends seemingly did everything. But they are legends for a reason. Normal mortals can’t do it all. Less is often more in the sporting world. The Bears need to keep that in mind.

CHEWING UP THE YARDS: After reshaping his body –  in part because of getting his jaw wired shut last season –  Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure is a new man. He's also becoming the Illini’s lead running back. With short notes. By John Supinie. Will be posted this evening.