Chad Hays and the Boat Drink Caucus

Rep. Chad Hays and his band The Boat Drink Caucus rehearse at Palmer Arena in Danville Saturday Jan. 10, 2015 preparing for their performance at Gov. Elect Bruce Rauner's Inaugural Ball in Springfield on Monday night.

Bears can be fixed — with smart decisions

Mama Bear brought the hammer down during last week’s Black Monday. Virginia McCaskey was “fed up with mediocrity” and called for her son and Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey to fire general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman, to the relief of Bears fans.

Tom Kacich: Search for Frerichs' replacement to play out at public meetings

Question for Tom? Ask it here

Early next week, according to Champaign County Democratic Party Chairman Al Klein, the nine or so candidates to replace Champaign Democrat Mike Frerichs in the Illinois Senate will get a chance to show their mettle.

UI pressing UIC's presidential library bid

CHICAGO — Top University of Illinois officials have reiterated their support for a bid to host the Barack Obama Presidential Library at the UI Chicago campus, amid concerns from Washington about leadership transitions at the school.

State retirees who paid insurance premiums can expect refunds

SPRINGFIELD — Refunds will be coming early this summer to state retirees who paid health care premiums over a 14-month period before a court decision halted the deductions.

Checks are expected to be in the mail in June 2015, said Springfield lawyer Don Craven, one of the attorneys in the Kanerva lawsuit filed against the state.

New Laws '15: How does an extra $930 sound?

Questions for Tom? Ask 'em here

SPRINGFIELD — The new law that will create the biggest change for most Illinoisans on Thursday isn't exactly new.

Decatur attorney appointed as newest associate judge

SULLIVAN — An attorney from a Decatur law firm has been named as a new associate judge for the 6th Judicial Circuit, which includes Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt counties.

Tom Kacich: Hays' band to open Rauner's inauguration

Isn't it enough for state Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, to be one of just 118 members of the Illinois House of Representatives?

Now, the sometimes rock 'n' roll star is going to play at next month's inaugural concert with his band, the Boat Drink Caucus, which will open for headliners Toby Keith and Buddy Guy.

Jim Dey: Appellate court lets reporter keep his shield

Trial judges are kings of their courtrooms who don't like to be told what they can and cannot do.

But there are limits on their authority, as demonstrated last week by a unanimous appellate court that ruled a Will County judge intent on identifying the source of a news story had stepped beyond legal bounds.

Lawyer: American arrested in Israel denies charges

TIA GOLDENBERG, Associated Press