February 10

Illinois voters are now eligible to apply for absentee ballots for the March 20th primary. Any voter who will not be able to vote in person on the day of the election should consider this option. Absentee voting can be done in person or by mail. Voters who haven't registered to vote have until February 21st to be eligible to vote in the primary.

Human trafficking is not believed to be rampant in this part of the country but law enforcement officials in Madison County are being trained to spot it. Many attended an Edwardsville training session this week.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources' 2012 Earth Day slogan and video contest is now under way. DNR officials are looking for submissions from fifth grade students across the state. The theme of this year's contest is "Get Out and Play in Your Missouri State Parks." The deadline to submit entries is February 29th.

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards will air live from Los Angeles Sunday night on CBS. There are 3 Christian Music categories that include the nominations of Brandon Heath, Chris Tomlin, Laura Story, Jamie Grace, and Matthew West.

February 9

Same-sex couples in Illinois could be allowed to get married. A new bill legalizing gay marriage was introduced in the state House yesterday. The law would amend the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act passed last year to authorize the voluntary conversion of a civil union into a marriage.

Concerns are up over human trafficking. U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton told a training session of police officers and prosecutors he wants to raise awareness even though no cases are pending in the Southern District. The FBI in Springfield says the crime is under-reported. Wigginton says some human traffickers bring illegal immigrants to the area for the sex trade.

A plan to ban teens from using tanning beds is causing controversy in Illinois. The proposal would allow teenagers to get spray-on tans but would bar them from using tanning beds, even with parental consent. Some parents, though, say their kids should be allowed to tan if they give the okay. Lawmakers will vote on the proposal in committee in the next few weeks.

Texting and biking could soon land you a minor traffic ticket. Representative Kelly Cassidy wants to make it illegal to text while riding a bike, even if you're pulled over to the side of the road. The law would mirror provisions that ban texting while driving and would carry similar penalties. That means bikers could still use Bluetooth and hands-free devices to talk on their phones. The proposal has passed in committee and is headed to the House for a full vote.

The Princeton Review has released its annual list of "Best Value Colleges" and a local school has made the grade. Washington University came in at number-seven when it comes to the best deal at private colleges. Williams College in Massachusets was number-one in that category. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranked first in value at public institutions.

February 8

Rick Santorum has a reason to celebrate this morning. Last night the GOP presidential contender held a party in St. Charles, planned before it was announced he'd won Missouri's primary with 55-percent of the vote. Last night's results, however, are non-binding. A caucus to be held in March will determine the delegates sent to the convention.

The warm winter is making record books in Illinois. In fact, it's the sixth warmest winter on record since 1895. Temperatures soared nearly seven degrees above average in January, at about 31 degrees. December temperatures came in even warmer at 33 degrees.

The legislative redistricting process isn't just affecting the state's House and Senate districts. It may have also shifted your congressional and legislative districts and changed the location of your polling place. New voter ID Cards should be arriving in the mail in the next few weeks.

Employers in Illinois could soon be outlawed from asking potential workers for their social media passwords. The proposal passed unanimously in a House committee yesterday and heads to the floor for a full vote. Bill sponsor Representative LaShawn Ford says it's a way of protecting workers from being hired or fired based on their social lives.

The St. Louis Fire Department's top Dalmatian is poised for stardom. Department mascot "Indy" has been chosen to appear next week in the Westminster Kennel Club's 136th Annual Dog Show. Indy is more formally known as Grand Champion Insignia IndyGeaux [[ Indy-GO ]] Dotts, and is one of only nine Dalmatians in the world chosen to be in the show. Indy works for several different fire stations in St. Louis and assists with public events. His owner, Kathryn Ryan-Hogan, will accompany the pooch to New York City.

February 7

Although Missouri's primary is today, state Republican leaders won't select a candidate until the March caucuses. With Newt Gingrich off the ballot, challenger Rick Santorum sees an opening to challenge front-runner Mitt Romney. A clerical error kept Gingrich's name from the ballot. Polls remain open until 7 tonight.

More than a million people in nine states are expected to take part in a coordinated earthquake drill this morning. It's called the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut and it gets underway at 10:15 a.m. Central time. The drill focuses on the three key steps to riding out an earthquake: Drop, cover and hold on.

Students and school officials are calling the Springfield School District's gender-specific classrooms a success. School leaders say they've seen fewer disciplinary problems and improved test scores among students enrolled in the program. At this time the school district doesn't have any plans to offer single-gender classes at schools other than The Capital College Prep Academy and Jefferson Middle School.

The city of Springfield wants President Obama to fork up the money it cost them to secure the city when he held a downtown rally. Obama whisked through town three years ago to announce Joe Biden as his Vice Presidential running mate and left the city to foot the 55-thousand dollar tab. The cost includes overtime pay for the extra police who helped secure the event. There's a bit of confusion as to whether the DNC or the Obama campaign is responsible for the bill. Campaign officials claim they are not responsible for security costs.

The third annual National Marriage Week USA begins today. Thousands of marriage classes across the nation are a part of the initiative. This year's newest effort is a two-hour webcast called "Date Night Challenge," with Dr. Greg Smalley and comedian Jeff Allan, for home or church gatherings and over 500 churches registered to participate. National Marriage Week ends on Valentines Day.

February 6

A reminder to register to vote. February 21st is the last day to register to vote in Illinois' primary election on March 20th. Election hours are from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Find more information at

Illinois officials are calling all veterans to stand up and be counted. The state has launched an online registry designed to educate veterans on the benefits available to them. The veterans are encouraged to register at They'll be contacted within 48 hours with information on how to fill out the paperwork, apply for compensation benefits, take advantage of their educational benefits, and much more.

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson is lashing out against the new Affordable Care Act. In a letter sent to all Catholic churches in the Archdiocese, Carlson denounced a provision of the act that requires health insurance plans to cover contraception. Carlson says the rule would require Catholics to, quote, "violate our consciences or to drop health coverage for our employees."

As the New York Giants won the Superbowl, part of an Illinois company was on the field with the team. The players were wearing helmets made by Schutt Sports in Litchfield. The company calls itself the leading manufacturer of football helmets.

People in Carbondale may be allowed to keep chickens soon. The city council will discuss a possible ordinance at its meeting tomorrow. Residents say they want to have homegrown eggs. The ordinance would allow people to apply for a chicken coop license.