Stories by Cole Longcor — Capitol News Illinois

Advocates from the organization Moms Demand Action gather outside the Illinois State Capitol on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. They are urging lawmakers to pass legislation they believe will reduce gun violence. (Andrew Campbell / Capitol News Illinois)

Advocates Renew Push to Tighten Gun Laws Aimed at Protecting Domestic Violence Victims

“These policies support those communities most impacted by the gun violence crisis,” Yolanda Androzzo, One Aim Illinois program director, said at a rally. “It’s an opportunity to ensure protection and justice for survivors of gun violence.”

(WTTW News)

As Illinois Continues to Inventory Lead Pipes, Full Replacement Deadlines Are Decades Away

Illinois has the most lead pipes per capita of any state, according to a 2023 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Karen Conn, president of Conn’s Hospitality Group in Springfield, speaks at a news conference April 3, 2024, at the Capitol. She said she will have to raise prices and cut employees’ hours and benefits if the state eliminates a tipped wage credit. (Cole Longcor / Capitol News Illinois)

Bill Ending Illinois’ Tipped Wage Advances, But Prospects Are Uncertain Amid Pushback

Current Illinois law allows employers to pay their tipped workers 60% of the state’s minimum wage. That amounts to $8.40 hourly, compared to the minimum wage of $14 per hour. If their wages plus tips do not equal minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference.

Breakwater structures being constructed along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Illinois Beach State Park. (Courtesy of Michels Construction Inc.)

State Spends $73M to Protect Illinois’ Only Undeveloped Lake Michigan Shoreline

Illinois Beach State Park in Zion on the state’s northern border contains about 10% of Illinois’ Lake Michigan shoreline, with 6.5 miles. But the undeveloped shoreline can erode up to 100 feet per year.

State Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, is pictured on the floor of the Illinois Senate in 2023. (Jerry Nowicki / Capitol News Illinois)

Battery Storage, Disposal Would Be Further Regulated Under Bills in Illinois Senate

One bill would require facilities that store electric vehicle batteries to register with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency by 2026. The state’s Pollution Control Board would set the regulations for the proper storage of EV batteries.

Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Terry Prince (third from left) testifies before the Illinois Legislative Audit Commission at the Capitol in March 2024. He was testifying regarding an audit of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans Home that killed 36 residents in 2020. (Andrew Campbell / Capitol News Illinois)

Officials Say Illinois Veterans Homes Have Reformed Since Deadly 2020 COVID-19 Outbreak, But Staffing Challenges Remain

Beginning in October 2020, LaSalle Veterans Home experienced a COVID-19 outbreak that sickened nearly 200 people. A whopping 85% of residents and 35% of staff tested positive for the virus, which eventually killed three dozen residents.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Westchester, speaks at a news conference Wednesday, March 6, 2024, at the Illinois Capitol to highlight the findings of a new report on state funding for public universities. She was the co-chair of the commission that found Illinois underfunds public universities by about $1.4 billion. (Andrew Campbell / Capitol News Illinois)

Illinois Underfunds Public Universities by $1.4B, State Commission Says

A state commission found that dedicating an added $100-135 million annually to public universities would allow Illinois to bridge the funding gap in 10-15 years.