Statehouse

Evalyn Sanguinetti at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers have taken the first step toward eliminating the office of Lieutenant Governor. Estimates show the proposed constitutional amendment could save $1.6 million dollars a year.

The lieutenant governor doesn't actually have to do much: The Constitution vaguely says whoever holds the office "shall perform the duties ... delegated to him by the Governor."

This year, the Lt. Gov is actually a “her," Evelyn Sanguinetti. She led a local government consolidation task force.

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' top legislators and the governor met yesterday for the first time this year. There's no indication it led to any resolution of the state's prolonged budget stalemate.

The private meeting lasted roughly an hour.

Neither Gov. Bruce Rauner nor any of the four legislative leaders had any direct comment on how it went (they slipped of the governor's capitol office through back doors that enabled them to avoid media waiting outside) but Speaker Michael Madigan made clear where he stands shortly after in a rare, ten minute speech on the House floor.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' information technology is getting an update --- one the State's CIO has said is necessary. He's said it's like state government's stuck in 1986 rather than 2016.

One IT overhaul took effect in late February. The state shifted from an old-school system of renewing professional licenses --- be it for roof contractors, nail technicians, or dentists -- to an online renewal system.

Rank-and-file Illinois lawmakers frustrated by the 10-month state budget impasse are meeting on their own in bipartisan groups to discuss potential solutions. 

flickr/Roger Goun

Illinois representatives are debating how much freedom high school journalists should have to criticize their school district's administration.  But state educators and local school districts say they worry about being held responsible for what their schools publish.

This week, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno declared, "We need change!"  However, there is still no agreement among state lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner on what form that change should take as Illinois continues to go without a spending plan.  Illinois Issues' Jamey Dunn and The State Journal-Register's Bernie Schoenburg join the panel.

Amanda Vinicky / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

Republicans are making an offer to get money to social services agencies that have gone three-quarters of the year without any state funding.

Illinois' political stalemate has caused crises all over the state, says Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

The Illinois legislature is regional mélange, comprised of legislators from the nation's third largest city, as well as lawmakers who represent rural areas that are geographically closer to Mississippi than they are to Chicago. That diversity was on display Thursday when the House took up legislation to regulate fishing.

Illinois senators Thursday passed legislation out of committee to ban trapping bobcats and selling their pelts. The state recently allowed for the hunting of bobcats.

The Illinois House passed a measure Thursday that decriminalizes selling loose cigarettes to adults aged 18 and older. The legislation's sponsor said the change was inspired by the arrest and subsequent death of Eric Garner in New York.

A section of Illinois Route 8 in East Peoria may be dedicated to a fallen Illinois soldier. State representatives Thursday moved to designate a roadway as the "Staff Sergeant Paul Smith Memorial Highway."

A House committee Wednesday gave the nod to a measure that could lighten the sentence of a mentally ill criminal.

A judge can take a lot 16 different factors into consideration when meting out a sentence.

The legislation proposed by Chicago Democratic Rep. Pamela Reeves-Harris adds another one.

"The court may consider, in mitigation, information that at the time of the offense the defendant was suffering from a serious mental illness," she said.

http://www.adamsguns.com

 Access to guns could be restricted from someone going through a personal crisis. It comes after a series of mass shootings where advocates say warning signs were missed. State representatives advanced the legislation Wednesday.

It's not a lifetime ban. Rather, Rep. Kathleen Willis, a Democrat from Addison, stresses she wants to temporarily keep guns away from someone suffering a mental breakdown, contemplating suicide, or otherwise going through a rough patch.

A concerned close friend or relative could ask a circuit court to prevent them from buying, or possessing a gun.

Stateville Correctional Center
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Last December, the state of Illinois tentatively agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over the treatment of prisoners with mental illness. But changes to mental health at the Department of Corrections have been slow in coming, in part because Illinois has gone more than 9 months without a budget.

Homeless Youth Protest Lack Of State Funds

Apr 5, 2016
Sarah Mueller / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

About 50 Illinois homeless youth and service providers essentially ambushed Gov. Bruce Rauner Tuesday. Their goal was to bring attention to a lack of state funding for job training, counseling and affordable housing.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner has created a task force charged with finding fraud in taxpayer-funded health care programs.

The Republican Tuesday used his executive authority to form the group. It'll seek ways to prevent waste in state- and federally funded Medicaid , the state employee's health insurance and even costs of caring for inmates in Illinois prisons. Rauner says the cost of state-run health care programs increases when no one watches to stop abuse and fraud.

Illinois lawmakers are moving to make it easier for transgender individuals to change the gender marker on a fundamental document: their birth certificates. Democrats on a House committee approved the legislation Tuesday on a partisan vote of 8 to 6.

Alexandria Dinardo, who was born and raised in Springfield, was born male; that's what Dinardo's birth certificate still says.

flickr/ wonderferret

Two central Illinois dentist offices have recently closed, citing the lack of payments from the state for dental care given to public employees. 

Amanda Vinicky

A stalemate persists, as Illinois begins a tenth month without a budget. Legislators are back in Springfield after a spring break. They now have a few months to also find an agreement on a new budget, to cover next year.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says the urgency to pass a budget has heightened.

"It has been urgent all along, but I think in large part people have been shielded from that urgency, because they don't all use all the services of the state of Illinois," Radogno said.

Food-a-rama at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Most of the grandstand acts for this summer's Illinois State Fair have been announced.

Illinois was without a budget for last year's state fair, which means some vendors have been waiting since August to get paid.

Illinois still has no budget. But the show (and the fair) must, evidently, go on.

Officials announced a series of country acts including Dierks Bently, Little Big Town, Cole Swindell, and Jake Owen. 

Amanda Vinicky

Mothers and their midwives are behind an effort to bring one of Illinois' black-markets above ground.

Trish Sherman Pfeiffer of Carbondale gave birth to her oldest son in the hospital, where he ended up with an infection.

"So he actually became sick because of the hospital care," she said.

She decided to have her next child at home, with the assistance of a Certified Professional Midwife -- someone with training, but who isn't a nurse.

A mix of tourists and lobbyists milled about the rotunda of the Illinois Statehouse on Tuesday.
Brian Mackey / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

Spring break is over for Illinois legislators, who return to the Capitol this week.

As Chicago State University moves closer to closing, Gov. Bruce Rauner this week said he's “very upset" about Illinois not having a budget. But didn't he once outline just this sort of plan as a way to advance his agenda of hobbling public employee unions? Meanwhile, several things happening in and around the U.S. Supreme Court are reverberating in Illinois.

Illinois Lottery

The Illinois Lottery is backtracking on a warning that it would have to stop selling tickets over the Internet.

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This week, authorities in Illinois are finalizing the results of this month’s primary elections.

Turnout was record-setting, and that left an unknown number of voters disenfranchised by ballot shortages and long waits at the polls. But officials say they don't believe there was any nefarious intent.

Illinois Issues: The Next Pension Time Bomb

Mar 30, 2016

Illinois has more than $100 billion in pension debt. So far, attempts to fix it have been mostly illegal.

Amanda Vinicky

Some of the primary races in early March were the most expensive in state history, but it will remain a mystery where all of the money to fund them came from. That does not appear to concern Gov.Bruce Rauner.

Illinois Supreme Court
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Some see a recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling on public employee wages as a potential key to ending the state’s budget impasse.

Rachel Otwell sat down with Past Due host Jamey Dunn to talk about the case.

Jeff Bossert

Unions landed a victory Tuesday: A tie at the U-S Supreme Court on a case perceived as do-or-die for public employee unions means current rules will remain in place. But Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he'll continue to try to ban so-called "fair share" fees.

Wednesday night a legislative commission will hear from supporters and critics of shutting down the Illinois Youth Center in Kewanee. The Department of Juvenile Justice announced in February it planned to close the prison.

The Illinois Youth Center in Kewanee is about 150 miles southwest of Chicago. For a juvenile prison, it's big: 11 buildings on 100 acres of land, with room for 350 kids.

Dept. of Juvenile Justice Director Candice Jones says the closure helps the agency move toward national best practices, which favor smaller, regional facilities.

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