FILE - Illinois State Capitol

The dome of the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois.

Bipartisan budget talks underway in Springfield

Statehouse Democrats have brought Republicans to the table to talk about spending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Democratic state Rep. Mike Zalewski said if the bipartisan talks are productive, lawmakers could have budget details out with time for the public to review.

There’s a May 31 deadline to pass the budget with simple majorities.

Cannabis sales top $1 billion in Illinois

Licensed legal cannabis stores have sold more than $1 billion of cannabis since the drug was legalized in January 2020.

April sales jumped nearly $6 million from March to nearly $115 million dollars sold. But, that’s not as large of a monthly increase as was experienced with March’s $109 million in sales.

That was nearly $30 million more than February.

Taxes collected by the state on total sales from January 2020 to March this year is $261.6 million.

New vaccine site offers free targets for those who get vaccine

Those getting a COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile clinic at the World Shooting and Recreation Complex in Sparta will get 100 free targets of traps, skeet, or sporting clays.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker made the announcement Tuesday.

He also announced the Grand American World Trapshooting Championships, the largest event of its kind in the world, will return this August to the complex.

Republicans seek more hearings on LaSalle COVID-19 outbreak

Illinois statehouse Republicans are demanding an immediate oversight hearing into the LaSalle Veterans’ Home COVID-19 outbreak that killed 36 veterans and sickened hundreds of others last fall.

They say an inspector general report released Friday requires further review.

Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit said she hopes to have a subject matter hearing on the issue next week.

ICC to investigate extreme weather preparedness 

The Illinois Commerce Commission is investigating preparations statewide to make sure utilities are prepared for future cold snaps like the one in February that led to a spike in natural gas prices.

The winter storms and the effect they had prompted the ICC to open a notice of inquiry into the state's Extreme Weather Preparedness Plan.

Public comments are being accepted through June 14, 2021.

More convention centers prepare to resume operations

It’s not just Chicago where conventions are gearing up to return after a year of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Donald E. Stephens Convention and Conference Center in Rosemont announced Tuesday it will resume hosting trade shows and public events in July.

The mayor of Rosemont said the facility is responsible for $800 million in annual economic impact for the region.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.

Staff Reporter

Andrew Hensel has years of experience as a reporter and pre-game host for the Joliet Slammers, and as a producer for the Windy City Bulls. A graduate of Iowa Wesleyan University and Illinois Media School, Andrew lives in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Regional Editor

Brett Rowland has worked as a reporter in newsrooms in Illinois and Wisconsin. He most recently served as news editor of the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He previously held the same position at the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb.