PI Original Aricka Flowers Friday January 24th, 2014, 5:26pm

The PI Week In Review

The week that was in Illinois and national news and politics (January 20, 2014 - January 24, 2014).

Chicago and Cook County News:

Thousands gathered Sunday at St. Michael the Archangel church on the city's South Side to celebrate and pay tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and also make a call for economic and racial equality. The two-hour-long rally saw dozens of speeches from community organizers, local politicians and others who tied Dr. King's legacy to today's struggles for economic justice.

Fewer people in the Chicago "urbanized area" are driving, while more are biking and taking public transportation, a recent report from the Illinois PIRG Education Fund shows.

The supplier of Chicago’s Divvy bike sharing program, the Public Bike System Company, has filed for bankruptcy, which could throw a wrench in the city's plan for expansion.

Chicago officials said on Tuesday that the city has not paid the $2.1 million it owes to the company that supplies the Divvy bike sharing program.

Some $21.5 million in tax increment finance surplus funds will be put towards the Chicago Public Schools system.

Dozens of protesters braved single digit temperatures Tuesday night to hold an overnight vigil in opposition of charter school expansion in Chicago.

At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the Chicago Board of Education approved seven new charter schools scheduled to open over the next two years. Also on Wednesday, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale said they might "join hands" to push back against the Illinois State Charter School Commission.

Logan Square parents and community members are launching their final push against Ames Middle School being turned into a "Marine-affiliated" school. The Chicago Board of Education signed off on the conversion plan last month.

An anti-abortion organization that operates an ultrasound bus for pregnant women can continue providing services out of a mobile unit in Elgin now that it has reached a settlement with the north suburban city involving zoning regulations.

The city of Chicago and its educational institutions intend on submitting a single bid for President Barack Obama’s Presidential Library and Museum.

State News:

W. Robert Blair II, who served as Illinois' speaker of the House from 1971 to 1975, died Saturday at the age of 83 after a long illness.

Data released last week by the Illinois State Police show Sangamon and Winnebago counties had the largest total number of concealed carry applicants outside of the Chicago-area and Metro-East counties.

Richard Porter of Winnetka has been selected as the Republican National Committeeman for the state GOP.

At a Sunday press conference in Springfield, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) weighed in on the minimum wage debate that has seen major play in the race for Illinois governor.

Republican gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale says he wants to see Illinois' sales tax on gas scaled back from 5 percent to a little more than 2 percent.

State Sen. Kyle McCarter introduced legislation Tuesday that would repeal the marriage equality bill signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn in November. The bill does not go into effect until June 1.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has abandoned a proposed plan to get rid of class size requirements for special education students. The state board of ed was set to vote on the plan Wednesday.

A recent report from the University of Illinois shows that the state's budget gap will continue to get larger in the future despite the controversial statewide pension overhaul recently signed into law, a measure expected to save $160 billion over 30 years.

Several hearings to expand gambling in Illinois have been scheduled, according to State Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island), who is pushing for increased gaming posts in the state

A new report looking into the effectiveness of the Metra police force found the department's mission to be "antiquated and very unclear."

The Illinois Pollution Control Board has voted down Gov. Pat Quinn's emergency petcoke regulations, which the governor released earlier this month.

The University of Illinois is increasing tuition for incoming freshman in the upcoming school year.

As part of a budget request for 2015, the Illinois State Board of Education is asking legislators and the governor to sign off on an additional $1 billion for school funding. 

National News:

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on a case involving union dues and nonunion workers.

Although current opinions about the original War on Poverty's effectiveness are mixed, most Americans agree that the poverty rate today, at 15 percent, is largely due to a failed economy, according to a recent poll on U.S. poverty.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL,11) says immigrants who are detained in the United States should receive a basic overview of their legal rights when they arrive in custody.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration rolled out new school discipline guidelines that call on educators to abandon harsh policies, like suspensions and expulsions, for minor infractions that disproportionately impact minorities and those with disabilities. Progress Illinois takes a closer look at the non-binding recommendations.

The notion that unemployment benefits are a disincentive to look for work is both false and misguided, U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL,10) said at a discussion Friday in Lake County about the need to extend emergency unemployment insurance.

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