Midwest Correspondent
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Jun 30, 2015

Illinois Legislature to take up temporary budget

By Fiona Ortiz

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Reuters) – The Illinois Legislature will take up a one-month budget on Wednesday to keep delivering “essential services” to residents while an impasse continues over a full-year spending plan for the fiscal year that begins at midnight, House Speaker Michael Madigan said on Tuesday.

“This is another opportunity to not shut down the government,” Madigan told reporters.

Jun 25, 2015

Judge blocks Kansas ban on second trimester abortion procedure

By Fiona Ortiz

(Reuters) – A Kansas judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a
law that would ban a common second trimester abortion procedure
from taking effect next week, according to an attorney for an
abortion rights group that challenged the law.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Larry Hendricks granted
an injunction that will allow dilation and extraction abortion
procedures to continue in Kansas for now, said Center for
Reproductive Rights lawyer Genevieve Scott, who attended the
hearing. The law was scheduled to take effect on July 1.

Jun 24, 2015

A big, dark Chicago room will get a view when it goes on the market

CHICAGO, June 24 (Reuters) – FOR LET: 36,000 square-foot
(3,345 square-meter) cave in central Chicago. Three-story
ceilings, cutting-edge fiber optic feeds, historic art deco
setting. Ten pits available, perfect for lounging. Jackets not

When CME Group Inc’s futures pits in the cavernous
trading floor at the Chicago Board of Trade building fall quiet
next month, real estate broker Holly Duran will be working
overtime to find a tenant to occupy a storied piece of America’s
financial history.

Jun 10, 2015

Michigan legislation allows adoption agencies to reject LGBT parents

By Fiona Ortiz

(Reuters) – Adoption agencies in Michigan would be able to
refuse service on religious grounds to homosexual couples who
want to adopt children under three bills that the state’s
Republican-controlled Senate passed on Wednesday.

The bills, which must be signed by the governor to become
law, say child-placing agencies shall not be required to provide
adoption services under circumstances that conflict with their
sincerely held religious beliefs contained in a written policy
or other document. The agencies are private, but receive state

Jun 10, 2015

Former U.S. House Speaker Hastert pleads not guilty to federal charges

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded not guilty in a packed Chicago courtroom on Tuesday to federal charges of trying to hide large cash transactions and lying to the FBI about it.

Law enforcement officials have said Hastert was using the money to try to cover up sexual abuse of a male decades ago when the former Republican congressman worked as a high school wrestling coach and teacher, according to media reports.

Jun 9, 2015

Former U.S. House Speaker Hastert to appear on federal charges

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Dennis Hastert, a former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is due to be arraigned in federal court in Chicago on Tuesday on charges of trying to hide large cash transactions and lying to the FBI about it.

According to an indictment, Hastert, 73, was trying to evade detection of $3.5 million in payments he had promised to make to someone from his hometown of Yorkville, Illinois, to conceal past misconduct against the person.

Jun 2, 2015

Ex-House speaker Hastert to appear in court June 9

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A federal arraignment was moved to June 9 on Tuesday for former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert, who has been charged with trying to hide $3.5 million in payments he was making to conceal past misconduct.

Hastert had been scheduled for arraignment on Thursday in United States District Court in Chicago. The court did not give a reason for the change in date.

May 31, 2015

A $100,000 check awaits mystery recycler of rare Apple 1 computer

By Fiona Ortiz

(Reuters) – A $100,000 check is waiting for a mystery woman who donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon Valley recycling firm.

CleanBayArea in Milpitas, California, is trying to track down a woman in her 60s who dropped off some electronic goods in April, when she was cleaning out the garage after her husband died.

May 27, 2015

Nebraska legislature repeals death penalty, overriding governor’s veto

By David Bailey and Fiona Ortiz

(Reuters) – Nebraska on Wednesday became the 19th U.S. state to abolish capital punishment as legislators narrowly voted to override the Republican governor’s veto of a bill repealing the death penalty.

The state’s unicameral legislature voted 30-19, the exact number of votes needed to override Governor Pete Ricketts’ veto, to replace capital punishment with a term of life without parole.

May 24, 2015

Quirky Chicago judge helps put accused felons back on track

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The judge is singing again. Now she’s growling. Now she’s shaking her black hair and laughing a sinister laugh. Now she encourages the public in the courtroom to chant with her: “I’m gonna lock you up, I’m gonna lock you up.”

The prosecutor and the bailiff look at the floor and try not to smirk. They are used to theatrics from Judge Jackie Portman.

    • About Fiona

      "Fiona Ortiz is a general news correspondent for Reuters Americas based in Chicago and covering the Midwest. Previously, she was Reuters' chief correspondent in Madrid, where she covered political and economic news and ran a bureau of some 25 correspondents who wrote about everything from the debt crisis to sports. Fiona has been with Reuters since 1996 and has had assignments in Guatemala, Mexico, Chile and Argentina."
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