(Springfield-jm) -- Criminal justice and police reform were the big topic of the day in the Illinois Legislature Saturday. A Senate committee heard testimony on a 611 page bill that makes changes to use of force policies, ends cash bail and eliminates liability protections for officers. Law enforcement is pushing back on several aspects of the bill but Senator Kimberly Lightford of Maywood says something needs to change…


State Senator Kimberly Lightford of Maywood. Additionally, Attorney General Kwame Raoul is rolling out legislation to improve the police certification process and address officer misconduct.



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is freezing the implementation of a new set of state business tax credits. The Governor's Office said this is due to the budget crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The expanded state tax credits were set to take effect on January 1st of this year. The Pritzker administration said the new, expanded credits are estimated to cost the state an addition $20 million each year. In addition, Pritzker is calling for a decoupling of Illinois tax law from recently enacted federal business tax changes that he says would cost the state over $500 million.



(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker announced on Friday more than $275 million in funding has been doled out to hard hit businesses across Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, 9,000 emergency assistance grants have been made to small businesses in more than 600 cities and towns statewide through the Business Interruption Grants program. The funds allowed businesses to make payroll, buy PPE, and cover operational costs.



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Police is adopting the N-Double-A-C-P’s 10 shared principals of police reform. The principals recognize the need to treat everyone with dignity and respect and to build trust between police and communities. Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly says they have already put the principals into action…



Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. 



(Roberts-jm) -- The trial date for the former Roberts and Elliott water superintendent has been set for April. A probable cause hearing was held Friday for Paul Theesfield. He is charged with attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault and attempted aggravated kidnapping. Theesfield has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled to begin April 19th.



(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is providing an update on the COVID vaccination progress. Ford County Public Health Community Educator Megan Reutter provides the update…



Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter.



(Undated-jm) -- A county board and a local city council meet tonight. Gibson City leaders will consider replacing a faulty pump at well number 5 at tonights meeting at 7. Also at 7 tonight the Ford County Board will consider setting the per diem rate for mileage as well as considering law enforcement agreements with Roberts, Melvin, Elliott and Kempton. The Ford County Board and Gibson City city council both meet tonight at 7.



(Washington-jm) -- If you think USDA's upcoming winter round of forecasts will be a real snoozer. you may end up being awakened and surprised. Gary Crawford reports…



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus says now is the time for police and criminal justice reforms. It’s more clear than ever that change is needed says State Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago…



State Senator Elgie Sims of Chicago.  Law enforcement says the reforms are being rushed but Sims says nine public hearings have been held discussing these proposals. He adds that discussions are ongoing and changes may be made to the current bills but that he still plans to get this passed before the new general assembly is sworn in on Wednesday.



(Springfield-jm) -- Inmates across Illinois are part of the next group to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Correctional staffers and inmates will be part of the 3.2 million people that get vaccinated in phase 1B. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, there have been over 9,000 cases of COVID-19 among the Illinois prison population and more than 3,600 among staff members. According to the latest numbers from the Marshall Project, the spread amongst inmates in Illinois prisons is 205% higher than the normal population.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois finished 43rd in a new study by the Tax Foundation that ranked which of the 50 states have the most business-friendly unemployment insurance tax structures. The state’s ranking reflected a drop of three positions from its 2020 ranking, according to the foundation’s analysis, which is part of a wider study titled “2021 State Business Tax Climate Index.” All states and the District of Columbia have unemployment insurance tax systems, which are federal-state programs that fund benefits to newly unemployed workers. Levies on employers fund the systems.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office is partnering with the FBI to combat unemployment benefits fraud. The two have formed a task force made up of law enforcement, federal tax officials and more to address the over 350 thousand fraudulent claims filed in Illinois so far. Attorney General Raoul says it’s important they all work together on this…



Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Thieves have been stealing people’s identities across the country to apply for unemployment benefits. If you get a notice that a claim has been filed in your name, Raoul says you should report it immediately to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.



(Rossville-jm) -- A Rossville World War Two veteran turned 100 over the weekend. Frank Morse celebrated his big day with a drive by parade. Morse served in World War Two and later became principal at Rossville Alvin High School.



(Springfield-jm) -- The spring legislative session begins this week in Springfield. New members of the General Assembly are expected to be sworn in Wednesday. One of the biggest issues facing members of the General Assembly is the budget says 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington…



53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.



(Undated-jm) -- Two area school boards meet tonight. The Rantoul Township High School school board will meet at 6 where they will consider creating a bass fishing team. At 630 the St. Joseph Community School District will meet where they will hear updates on the solar project, the search for a new middle school principal and property tax projections. The Rantoul Township High School school board meeting gets underway at 6 with the St. Joseph School District meeting at 6:30.



(Washington-jm) -- What were the actual acreages, yields and production of this past season's crops? We'll soon have the answer to that question. Gary Crawford has the details…



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