Rauner picks up Chicago Tribune's endorsement
CHICAGO (AP) - Editorial boards at some major Illinois newspapers are weighing in on the primary election to pick Illinois' next governor.
The Chicago Tribune has endorsed businessman Bruce Rauner (ROW'-nur). He's one of four Republicans running March 18. In an editorial published in Friday's newspaper the Tribune says the Winnetka venture capitalist is "best equipped to be governor."
The other candidates are Treasurer Dan Rutherford (ROOTH'-ur-furd) and state Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady.
The editorial board at the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald says it's backing Dillard.
Crain's Chicago Business endorsed Rauner earlier this month.
The Chicago Sun-Times announced in 2012 that it would no longer endorse candidates. The newspaper's publisher and editorial page editor said the "multitude of information" sources allow voters to be better informed than ever.
Campaign finance lawsuit unlikely to affect 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A lawsuit challenging Illinois' caps on political donations is unlikely to be resolved before the 2014 elections.
That means limits put in place after Gov. Rod Blagojevich's impeachment will probably remain in place for the rest of this election season.
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports that a federal judge this week dismissed most of the challenges brought by the Liberty Justice Center.
The judge kept one element of it alive for debate, but an attorney for the Chicago-based group says it will take months to play out.
As a result, attorney Jacob Huebert says it's unlikely it will be settled by November.
The group argues the donation limits in the 2009 law are unconstitutional because contributions from legislative leaders are not capped in general elections.
State Farm raises Illinois insurance rates
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Several years of severe weather is costing Illinois homeowners more for insurance through one major carrier.
The Bloomington Pantagraph reports State Farm raised homeowner insurance premiums an average of 4.9 percent this year.
Angie Rinock is a spokeswoman for the Bloomington-based insurer. She says rates are being raised because of weather damage and the rising cost of building materials and labor.
This year's increase is more than the company's 2013 rate hike, which was 4.7 percent. In 2012, State Farm raised rates an average of 6.3 percent.
About one-third of Illinois homeowners have State Farm coverage.
HEALTH OVERHAUL-CONSUMER TOOL
Tool to compare health plans tested with consumers
CHICAGO (AP) - A website being tested in Illinois aims to address widespread confusion about choosing an insurance plan on the government sites that are a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's health care law.
It's now nearly impossible to compare the out-of-pocket costs of insurance policies on government websites. Picking the wrong plan could mean paying up to thousands of dollars a year more.
A nonprofit group is offering a tool with information to help people choose. The free website - HealthPlanRatings.org - estimates total annual costs for each health plan tailored to a consumer's profile. It offers a doctor directory so consumers can see immediately which plans include their favorite doctors.
So far, it's available only for Illinois, but its software may someday be used to improve the exchanges run by governments.
Report: Ill. communities spurring renewable energy
CHICAGO (AP) - A new report says Illinois leads the nation when it comes to switching to renewable energy.
The report is being released Friday by national and state environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund and the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center.
An Illinois law passed in 2009 allows communities to buy their own electricity, rather than relying on a central purchasing agency.
Since then, more than 600 communities have opted to do just that. And the report says 91 of them are providing 100 percent renewable energy, either by buying it directly or buying credits that help fund renewable energy development.
Keya Chatterjee ((KAY'-yuh CHAT'-uhr-zhee) is senior director for renewable energy at the World Wildlife Fund.
She says no other state comes close to the renewable energy Illinois is purchasing.
Chicago's Cardinal George faces more chemotherapy
CHICAGO (AP) - Cardinal Francis George is starting another round of chemotherapy to address signs of cancer returning to the area around his right kidney.
The Archdiocese of Chicago announced the treatment plans for the 77-year-old spiritual leader Friday. George leads the archdiocese, which serves more than 2 million Roman Catholics.
He was diagnosed with cancer in August 2012 and had chemotherapy then. The diocese says the cancer was dormant for more than a year. Now the newly seen cancer cells are confined to the area of his right kidney. George's medical team is recommending chemotherapy drugs that are more aggressive than those used the first time.
George plans to keep working, but may reduce his workload occasionally because of lowered immunity caused by the treatment. He survived bladder cancer eight years ago.
U OF ILLINOIS-PRESIDENT
U of Illinois to create presidential search panel
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - The University of Illinois hopes to have a new president selected by January.
The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports a 19-member search committee will be appointed in May to recruit and review candidates to replace President Robert Easter.
Easter is retiring in June 2015 when his contract expires.
He was named president in March 2012 and planned at the time to keep the job only until June 2014 before school trustees voted to extend his contract in July.
Easter replaced Michael Hogan who resigned under pressure from faculty who were unhappy over his plans for the university.
The search committee will include trustees, faculty members, students, as well representatives from UI Alumni Association and the UI Foundation.
Trustees will have the final vote.
MURDER SUSPECT ARRESTED
Murder suspect arrested in Racine
RACINE, Wis. (AP) - Racine police say they've arrested a suspect in a Chicago area murder.
Authorities say the 19-year-old man was arrested Thursday on an Illinois warrant after officers pulled him over in Racine.
The suspect is wanted for fatally shooting 20-year-old Kenneth Groves during a house party in Kankakee last November. A second person was shot, but suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Man arrested after fires in small Illinois town
ST. LIBORY, Ill. (AP) - Authorities say a man has been arrested after allegedly setting a motorcycle and an apartment on fire in a small southwest Illinois town and trying to attack a firefighter.
According the Belleville News-Democrat, St. Libory Fire Chief Casey Trentman was called to put out the motorcycle fire in the small town Thursday afternoon. St. Libory is about 20 miles southeast of St. Louis.
When Trentman turned an extinguisher on the fire, the man tried to re-ignite it and then tried to spray ether on Trentman.
The man then ran into the apartment and started a fire there before trying to flee through a rear window.
Big pelicans spotted on southern Illinois lakes
CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) - Midwest weather hasn't felt much like spring the past two weeks but the big pelicans on a pair of southern Illinois lakes are nonetheless headed north after leaving winter homes on the Gulf of Mexico.
T.J. Benson is an avian ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey. He tells the Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale that the birds on Crab Orchard Lake and Rend Lake are white pelicans.
Benson says they pass through Illinois twice a year travelling between summer homes in North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada and their winter habitat.
He says the birds are hard to miss. They're huge with wing spans of almost 8 feet.
The pelicans may have gone unnoticed in the past but Benson says their population is getting larger for reasons that aren't clear.
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