Illinois gov runs up travel tab

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's (D) commute from Chicago to Springfield for ongoing legislative budget talks is costing taxpayers $5,800 a day. Unlike past governors who either lived in the capital or stayed there during legislative sessions, Blagojevich insists on going home to Chicago every night. The bill so far for the governor's commute on state aircraft: $76,000 and climbing, according to an analysis by the Associated Press .

Taking a break from those budget talks, Illinois legislators June 19 lined up to get photographs with 60-year-old rocker Rick Nielsen, guitarist with Cheap Trick, a band best known for its pop tune "I Want You to Want Me." Nielsen, from Rockford, Ill., took a turn at the Senate president's podium on a visit to thank state Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) for his efforts to declare April 1, "Cheap Trick Day," The Chicago Tribune reports.

In South Dakota, Gov. Mike Rounds (R) complained to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently that an unpleasant game warden was spoiling the state's reputation as a hunters' paradise. The governor and the feds struck a deal. The warden in question will stop dealing with the public and do more supervisory work, according to the Capital Journal .

Prisoners flush toilets as much as 100 times a day to communicate with one another, relieve boredom, protest prison conditions and dispose of contraband, experts say. Now California - a leader in environmental policy - is spending millions on high-tech "flushometers" to limit a prisoner's daily flushes and the wastewater it generates, according to The Sacramento Bee .

In Indiana, the wrong Decatur got a check for nearly $178,000 from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the right Decatur had to wait three months for its money. The check with the final installment of the city of Decatur's flood recovery money went to Decatur County by mistake because the state's computer system listed Decatur County as Decatur Cty, according to the Journal Gazette .

Skunks and muskrats like it, but snakes, frogs and salamanders don't. New Hampshire spent $25,000 building its first tunnel under a highway to give reptiles a safe way to get to the other side without becoming road kill, but the reptiles it was designed for, don't seem to like traveling underground, The Associated Press reports.