AMBER Alert strengthened with new law

SPRINGFIELD – A new state law signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich is designed to strengthen the AMBER Alert system that was used to find a missing 14-year-old Urbana girl this May.

Tyeeste Jones, who disappeared while taking out the trash, was safely located in Chicago just few days after the Urbana Police Department issued a statewide AMBER Alert for her.

Link in tragedies sought

   DANVILLE ? Authorities are still seeking clues in two tragic incidents ? one in Champaign County and one 30 miles away in Vermilion County ? and trying to determine whether they are linked.

   "Naturally we're taking a look at that because of the fact there's family members involved," Danville police Lt. Doug Miller said of a possible connection between the suicide along Interstate 74 of 43-year-old Gary Myers of Danville on Monday and the deaths in Danville of his parents in an apparent double homicide that may have occurred on Saturday.

Governor cancels study on state water supplies

SPRINGFIELD – Plans for state scientists to study underground water supplies in the Champaign area and around the state went down the drain Tuesday, when Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoed a bill calling for the survey.

"While I support the study of the state's groundwater supply as a comprehensive and long-term approach to water supply management in Illinois, due to the state's diminishing revenues, we do not have the money available to fund the study at this time," the governor said.

Suit against UI seeks more than $3 million

SPRINGFIELD – The state and federal governments are suing the University of Illinois for more than $3 million, alleging fraud in the liver transplant program at the university's hospital in Chicago.

Two similar suits against Northwestern University and the University of Chicago were settled Monday. Neither admitted any wrongdoing or liability, but Northwestern agreed to pay almost $23,600, and the University of Chicago will pay $115,000.

Blagojevich signs consent bill into law

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich recently signed a new law to ensure that when someone says no to sexual activity, it means no, even if he or she said yes earlier.

State Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, who sponsored the legislation, said the new law is needed because a statute similar to Illinois' current law has been the subject of debate in California courts.

Law changes guidelines for scholarships

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill into law Thursday lifting the requirement that half of the tuition waivers state lawmakers can distribute each year be for the University of Illinois.

Currently, the other half of the eight one-year tuition waivers may be spread between any of the state's other public universities.

Cumulative voting bill signed by Blagojevich

SPRINGFIELD – Multimember district county boards, such as those in Champaign and Vermilion counties, could opt to elect members through cumulative voting, under a bill Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed into law late Wednesday.

Cumulative voting would allow county residents to cast all three of their votes for a single county board candidate, or spread their votes among two or three candidates.

Grant coming for King School

SPRINGFIELD – The check has not actually been written, but Gov. Rod Blagojevich has committed to releasing the funds to expand King School in Urbana, a spokesman for the governor confirmed Thursday.

"He did commit to that particular project," said Blagojevich spokesman Tom Schafer. "It did meet the criteria he set up."

Blagojevich creates farm advisory council

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich is assembling a team to advise him on farms and farm families and to help the state's agriculture industry remain competitive.

"The well-being of our farmers and rural communities is vitally important to Illinois' economy," Blagojevich said. "Despite urban development, about 80 percent of Illinois' land – or 28 million acres – still is devoted to production agriculture. And our 78,000 farms provide the foundation for a multibillion-dollar industry that employs nearly one of every four Illinois workers."

Meth law to protect children

SPRINGFIELD – Methamphetamine production is a mushrooming problem in rural Illinois, and some children are dangerously caught in the middle.

A parent who manufactures methamphetamine in the home deals with dangerous caustic chemicals, and the process is volatile, often leading to explosions. Fumes from the cooking process can be inhaled by children, exposing them to the drug – a powerful stimulant.