News Around Illinois - January 17, 2020

 
Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

Today's headlines come from NPR Illinois, Illinois Newsroom, WCBU Radio and the Associated Press. Get news updates from across the state 24/7 at illinoisnewsroom.org.

Durbin And Duckworth Help Pass USMCA Trade Deal

SPRINGFIELD - Both U.S. Senators from Illinois voted Thursday in favor of a new United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. Lawmakers negotiated bipartisan support for the measure. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) says the plan is good for farmers, manufacturers, and working people. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) says Illinois is the sixth-ranked state for exports, supporting more than 325,000 jobs. The agreement, known as USMCA, allows for free trade among the U-S, Mexico and Canada — which are Illinois’ largest export partners. - Olivia Mitchell, NPR Illinois

University of Illinois Administrators Hike Tuition

CHICAGO – University of Illinois trustees voted in Chicago Thursday to raise tuition for the first time in six years, and extend the contract of their president, Tim Killeen. The university had kept its tuition rates steady for incoming, in-state freshmen for the past five years. For those students who are still attending classes, tuition levels will remain the same. But in the fall of 2020, tuition will rise by 1.8% for incoming in-state freshmen at the Urbana and Chicago campuses, and by 1% at the Springfield campus. The trustees also approved increases in student fees and housing rates for the coming academic year. The U of I administration says the increases are needed to pay for a faculty hiring initiative, meant to ensure that university academics keep up with rising enrollment. - Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Top Senate Republican Disappointed In Property Tax Relief Proposals

BLOOMINGTON -- The Illinois Senate’s top Republican said he’s disappointed so far in what he’s seen emerge out of the state’s property tax relief task force. The task force was created after lawmakers agreed to ask voters in November whether they want to ditch Illinois’ flat income tax and move to a graduated or progressive rate structure. Some see that as an opportunity to reduce the property tax burden on home and business owners. The task force failed to meet its Dec. 31 deadline to deliver a final report, although a draft summary has been circulated. It includes ideas such as school district consolidation, merging units of local government, and broadening the sales tax base to fund schools. Brady said the best way to deliver property tax relief is to grow Illinois’ economy and commit any extra revenue created to education, while also asking schools to lower property taxes. - Ryan Denham, WGLT

More College Campuses Promoting Their Cannabis Classes

URBANA - Now that recreational cannabis is legal in Illinois, college campuses around the state are promoting their programs that prepare students to work in the industry. There’s growing interest from cannabis industry officials in standardizing a workforce and creating a more qualified applicant pool. Steve Fix is a faculty member at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines and spoke on WILL's  "The 21st Show."  Fix says that since launching the program in the fall, other campuses have expressed interest in developing their own programs. Campus officials say there’s been a lot of interest from students. - Dana Cronin, Illinois Newsroom

Weather Service: Tornado Hit Southern Illinois On Saturday

WARE — The National Weather Service says a tornado packing winds of up to 100 mph struck far southern Illinois during last weekend's severe weather outbreak. The weather service says in a summary of the severe storms and flooding that an EF-1 tornado left a nearly 1-mile-long path of damage Saturday morning in Ware, an unincorporated Union County community that's near the Mississippi River. That storm caused no injuries but a weather service survey crew found that roofs were blown off several structures and numerous trees were snapped and uprooted in Ware, which is located about 70 miles southeast of St. Louis. - Associated Press

Police Commander Charged With Battery

DIXMOOR — Prosecutors have charged a suburban Chicago police commander with aggravated battery for allegedly dragging a 66-year-old grandmother into a police station and slamming her face into a wall. Cook County prosecutors also charged Dixmoor Commander Ronald Burge Jr. with official misconduct Wednesday in connection with the October altercation with Carla Bourgouis. The 31-year-old commander surrendered after investigators obtained a warrant for his arrest. He was ordered held on $20,000 bond. Bourgouis says the altercation escalated after she refused to give Burge a cellphone she was using to record him. Dixmoor Police Chief Ronald Burge Sr., the commander's father, released video showing Bourgouis breaching a secure area and ignoring arrest orders. - Associated Press

Story source: Illinois Newsroom