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BC-IL--Illinois News Digest 6pm, IL

March 26, 2019

Here’s a look at how AP’s general news coverage is shaping up today in Illinois. Questions about coverage plans are welcome and should be directed to the AP-Chicago bureau at 312-781-0500 or chifax@ap.org. Herbert McCann is on the desk.

A reminder this information is not for publication or broadcast, and these coverage plans are subject to change. Expected stories may not develop, or late-breaking and more newsworthy events may take precedence. Advisories and digests will keep you up to date. All times are Central.

TOP STORIES:

EMPIRE-CAST MEMBER ATTACK

CHICAGO _ Infuriating Chicago’s mayor and police chief, prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett on Tuesday after the “Empire” actor accused of faking a racist, anti-gay attack on himself agreed to do volunteer service and to let the city keep his $10,000 in bail. Authorities gave no detailed explanation for why they abandoned the case only five weeks after filing the charges and threatening to pursue Smollett for the cost of a monthlong investigation. Prosecutors said they still believe Smollett concocted the assault. Smollett insisted he told the truth all along. By Amanda Seitz and Michael Tarm. SENT: 960 words, photos.

With:

—EMPIRE-CAST MEMBER ATTACK-THE LATEST: The Latest on the case against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. Will be updated as developments occur.

—EMPIRE-CAST MEMBER ATTACK-TIMELINE: Key moments since Jussie Smollett reported Chicago attack. SENT: 1,130 words, photos.

—EMPIRE-CAST MEMBER ATTACK-LAWYER’S STATEMENT: Transcript of attorney’s statement saying Chicago charges against ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett have been dropped. SENT: 210 words.

AROUND THE STATE:

XGR--GAS TAX

CHICAGO _ Illinois lawmakers are considering raising the state’s gas tax by 19 cents a gallon and hiking vehicle fees to pay for transportation infrastructure repairs. Legislation introduced last week proposes the state’s first gas tax increase since 1990 and could raise an additional $2 billion in revenue each year, the Chicago Tribune reported. But it also would hike the electric-vehicle fee from $17.50 to $148, and increase truck registration fees by $100. The fees for driver’s licenses would double under the proposal, from $30 to $60, while passenger vehicle registration would increase from $98 to $148. SENT: 350 words.

SPRING FLOODING-DRINKING WATER

ST LOUIS _ More than 1 million private wells that supply drinking water in mostly rural parts of the Midwest could face the risk of contamination from floodwater, posing a health concern that could linger long after the flooding subsides. Major flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and several smaller waterways has inundated states in the middle of America, from the Canadian border south to Kentucky. The National Weather Service has warned that with snowmelt in northern states only beginning, the threat of additional flooding persists well into spring. The high water and swift current carries raw sewage from overburdened treatment plants, animal waste and pesticides from farm fields, and spilled fuel. By Jim Salter. SENT: 640 words, photos.

IN BRIEF:

__IMMIGRATION-LIBERIA: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is helping lead a coalition of attorneys general, including Illinois’, in supporting Liberians fighting to stay in the U.S.

—TERRORIST SUPPORT-PLEA: An Illinois woman has pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists by helping to fund a St. Louis County man who fought and died in Syria.

—MADIGAN-2016 ELECTION: A judge has ordered the arrest of two allies of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan for failing to appear for depositions in a lawsuit filed by Madigan’s opponent in the 2016 election.

—CHICAGO VIOLENCE: A Chicago man found dead over the weekend inside a vehicle was involved in an early test of Illinois’ concealed carry law.

—DAWSON COUNTY FATALITIES: A June 18 trial has been scheduled for a woman who survived a central Nebraska collision that killed three passengers, including an Illinoisan, in the car she was driving.

—IMMIGRATION-LIBERIA: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is helping lead a coalition of attorneys general, including from Illinois, in supporting Liberians fighting to stay in the U.S.

SPORTS:

BBN--CUBS-HAMELS

MESA, Ariz. _ Chicago Cubs pitcher Cole Hamels had had fun few days of firsts. Over the weekend, he recorded his first hole-in-one on a golf course, and on Monday night, he hit a home run in his final spring training tuneup. Hamels has another first coming up when he faces the Texas Rangers in his first start of the regular season. It’ll be the first time the left-hander has pitched against a former team. SENT: 600 words, photo.

BBN--CUBS-HENDRICKS

MESA, Ariz. _ Kyle Hendricks’ focus is on the season, among the reasons the Cubs didn’t hesitate to give the right-handed pitcher a new deal. Hendricks and the Cubs agreed Tuesday to a contract that adds $55.5 million from 2020 to 2023, guaranteeing he will receive $62,905,000 over the next five seasons. He had agreed in January to a one-year deal for $7,405,000 and would have been eligible for arbitration next winter. “I love everything about being a Chicago Cub,” Hendricks said. “I love everything about the city, about the fans and especially about my teammates in the clubhouse.’’ By Carrie Muskat. SENT: 640 words, photos.

BBO--WHITE SOX-DIAMONDBACKS

PHOENIX _ The Chicago White Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks play an exhibition game at Chase Field on Tuesday. UPCOMING: 600 words. Game starts at 2:40 p.m. CT.

HKN--BLACKHAWKS-COYOTES

GLENDALE, Ariz. _ The Chicago Blackhawks are in Arizona on Tuesday to take on the Coyotes. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts at 9 p.m. CT.

BKN--BULLS-RAPTORS

TORONTO _ The Chicago Bulls are in Toronto on Tuesday to play the Raptors. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts at 6:30 p.m. CT.

Also:

ATH--HAMMER-THROW-DEATH-LAWSUIT: The NCAA is being sued by the parents of a suburban Chicago Christian college freshman who was struck and killed in 2017 by an errant hammer throw at a track and field meet.

___

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