Statehouse

Budget Fight
4:14 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Lincoln Home Would Be Closed By Federal Shutdown

The Lincoln Home in Springfield would be closed if the federal government shuts down Monday night. The majority of National Park Service employees have been deemed non-essential, meaning they’d be sent home without pay.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The historic home of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield would be among the victims of a federal shutdown Monday night.

During a shutdown, the federal government makes all kinds of decisions about what's considered an essential government function.

Air traffic control and National Weather Service forecasts are essential. National parks are not. Which is why the Lincoln Home National Historic Site is on the block.

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Concealed Carry Law
7:19 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Gun Permit Numbers Update

Credit Source: http://www.adamsguns.com

The Illinois State Police continues to struggle with a backlog of applications for gun ownership. So it remains to be seen how they can handle an influx of requests for permits to carry concealed weapons.

The department has 49,000 applications for Firearm Owners Identification cards awaiting approval.

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Statehouse
3:36 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Reaction To Illinois Same Sex Marriage Ruling

Attorneys for both sides are reacting to an Illinois judge's decision that a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage can continue.  

Camilla Taylor is an attorney with Lambda Legal, representing 25 couples who filed for marriage licenses in Cook County and were denied. Taylor said after Friday's ruling in Chicago that it will be ``a very bad day for the defendants'' when the case is decided.  

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Salary Veto
3:32 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Court Rejects Latest Quinn Effort To Withhold Lawmakers' Pay

Gov. Pat Quinn

A state appellate court has denied Gov. Pat Quinn's request to withhold lawmakers' pay while he appeals a ruling that his veto of legislative salaries was unconstitutional.
 
Quinn vetoed $13.1 million for lawmaker pay in July as a consequence of the Legislature not addressing Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension shortfall.
 
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, saying the veto was unconstitutional.
 

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State Week
1:25 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Listen To State Week - September 27, 2013

This week's topics include a court decision preventing Governor Quinn from blocking Illinois lawmakers' pay, the Illinois Democratic Party's official endorsement of Pat Quinn in the next gubernatorial race, and new reports indicating that conditions in the state's juvenile detention facilities are not improving.

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Statehouse
6:18 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Judge To Rule On Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit

Circuit Judge Sophia Hall
Credit Powell Photography, Inc.

An Illinois judge promises to rule on the future of a lawsuit seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

The lawsuit was filed last year by 25 gay and lesbian couples who want the right to marry.

Cook County Judge Sophia Hall is expected to rule Friday on a motion to dismiss the case.

Lawyers for five downstate county clerks who are defending the ban want the case tossed.  Plaintiffs' attorneys want the judge to let the lawsuit stand - then rule immediately that they won the lawsuit and that the ban is illegal.

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Salary Veto
1:34 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Quinn Continues Fight To Block Pay

Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A judge says Governor Pat Quinn went too far this summer when he blocked paychecks for Illinois lawmakers.

Members of the General Assembly have missed two paydays so far, and it's not clear when they'll get their money. The governor stands by his actions, saying it's his best option for cajoling the General Assembly into overhauling the state's pension systems. Quinn says he plans to appeal.

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Breaking
3:02 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Judge: Gov. Quinn Must Pay Lawmakers

Gov. Pat Quinn's veto of lawmakers salaries has been ruled unconstitutional.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A Cook County judge has ruled that Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to halt lawmaker pay over the pension crisis is unconstitutional and has ordered Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to pay them immediately.

Judge Neil Cohen made the ruling Thursday.

He says the state Constitution makes it clear that lawmakers' pay can't be changed while serving they're serving their terms.

Quinn used his line-item veto to cut money for legislators' salaries from the state budget because they hadn't fixed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

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Pension Overhaul
6:46 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Pension Conference Committee Progress Report

Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville (left) and Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, discuss estimated savings of a previous plan designed to cut the state's pension costs.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

It is approaching four months since the Illinois General Assembly adjourned its spring session. Lawmakers have missed two paychecks since the governor decided to punish them for not passing a pension overhaul. And a special committee has been negotiating over how to solve the pension problem for more than 12 weeks. Amanda Vinicky checks in with members of that committee for a progress report.
 

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Statehouse
7:30 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Same Sex Marriage Activists Target House Republicans

Greg Harris, IL State Rep. sponsoring same-sex marriage legislation
Credit AP

 A bill to legalize gay marriage in Illinois will be waiting for lawmakers when they head back to Springfield next month. The bill already passed the State Senate - but is stuck in the House. Now, proponents are in the midst of a lobbying campaign targeted at an unlikely group of lawmakers: House Republicans. But as WBEZ’s Alex Keefe reports, there are big hurdles to getting GOP representatives to vote yes:  

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Statehouse
6:33 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Metra Panel To Meet In Chicago

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

A state panel charged with coming up with reforms for Metra and other Illinois public transit agencies is set to have a second public hearing.
 
The Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force meets Wednesday in downtown Chicago.
 
Gov. Pat Quinn formed the group in August after allegations about political hiring at Metra. He's called for an overhaul of the commuter rail agency, PACE and other transit agencies.
 

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Statehouse
2:49 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Durkin Begins Work As Illinois House GOP Leader

Rep. Jim Durkin
Credit ilga.gov

State Rep. Jim Durkin is officially beginning his tenure as Republican leader in the Illinois House.  
The Western Springs lawmaker was elected to the post last month but officially takes the reins Monday.  
His predecessor, state Rep. Tom Cross of Oswego, stepped down to run for state treasurer. Cross held the position for a decade.  

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Election 2014
9:31 pm
Sun September 22, 2013

With No Competition, Dems Endorse Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn addresses Democratic Party leaders Sunday in Springfield. Although he’s running unopposed in next year’s primary, he sought and won the official Democratic endorsement for re-election.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Many of Illinois' top Democrats met in Springfield Sunday to pick a slate of statewide candidates. Although several politicians had considered challenging Gov. Pat Quinn in next year's primary, they all backed off by the time of Sunday's meeting.

From the tone at Sunday's meeting, you'd never know a week before, Quinn was facing a tough primary fight. But then Bill Daley dropped out.

You'd also never know Quinn has spent months berating state lawmakers over guns and pensions.

You'd never know it because Quinn was unanimously endorsed for re-election.

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Statehouse
5:34 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Judge Delays Decision On Lawmaker Paycheck Dispute

A Cook County Circuit Court judge says he will rule next month on a lawsuit challenging Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to halt lawmaker pay until they address Illinois' pension crisis.  
Judge Neil Cohen said Wednesday he would issue his decision by Sept. 26. But on Friday, Cohen said he'll rule no later than Oct. 3.  
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued Quinn after the governor used his line-item veto to cut money for legislator salaries from the state budget. The legislative leaders say Quinn's action is unconstitutional.  

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Congressman Convicted
3:34 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Jackson Jr. Auction On Hold Over Authenticity Issues

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
Credit Congressional website

The U.S. Marshals service is suspending a high-profile auction of clothing and memorabilia belonging to convicted former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. because of questions about the authenticity of some items.  
The agency said Friday that it was scrapping the online auction because of questions about a guitar purportedly signed by Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen.  
The service says it will ``conduct a secondary review'' of the items out of ``an abundance of caution.''  

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State Week in Review
3:14 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Listen To State Week - September 20, 2013

This week's topics include Bill Daley's decision to drop out of the Democratic Primary for Illinois Governor, legal arguments over Governor Quinn's suspension of lawmakers' pay, and debate before the Illinois Supreme Court on the legality of changing retirees' health care.

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Election 2014
4:28 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Democrats To Slate ... Even Though There's No Competition

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin speaks at a previous meeting of leading Democrats - the party's county chairmen - in Springfield this summer. Durbin, who's running for re-election, is expected to attend Sunday's meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee in Springfield. He faces no primary challenge.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Illinois' leading Democrats will meet in Springfield on Sunday. They're supposed to decide endorse candidates for next year's primary election ... even though there are no longer any competitive races.

Democrats have rarely slated candidates in recent years.

But this time - with incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn facing a primary challenge from former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley - the state party was going to consider picking a favorite.

Not anymore. Daley's no longer in the running. He dropped out. Leaving Quinn without a serious challenge.

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Election 2014
11:44 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Grogan Says He's Best Qualified To Be Treasurer

Bob Grogan
Credit Dupage County official website

A suburban Chicago Republican running for Illinois treasurer says he has the best qualifications for the job as an accountant and county auditor.  

Bob Grogan of Downers Grove is the only 2014 opponent so far to House Republican Leader Tom Cross.  
Grogan says he knows he doesn't have the name recognition that Cross does, but he's spent years straightening out public finances and wants to do the same for the state. Grogan is a certified public accountant who worked for a downtown Chicago firm. He's since been twice elected auditor of DuPage County.  

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The Underwear Test
7:35 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Resolution Calls on Governor To Live in Mansion On Session Days

In downtown Chicago, the city's flag and the state flag fly side-by-side. Gov. Quinn's office says he lives in both Chicago and in the capital city.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  You never know what'll come up during a candidates' debate. Back in 2010, it was Gov. Pat Quinn's underwear.

As proof that he lives in Springfield, Quinn offered that he keeps his underwear at the governor's mansion.

It's become clear he also keeps pairs in Chicago.

Like his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, Quinn has repeatedly come under fire for not spending enough time in the capital.

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Illinois Supreme Court
6:30 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Should State Retirees Pay For Health Insurance?

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Retired state workers who collect pensions in Illinois started paying health insurance premiums this summer. That's because of a change in the law last year — previously health insurance was free for anyone who retired with at least 20 years of service.

A number of retirees sued over the change. The case was argued Wednesday before the Illinois Supreme Court.

A few months ago, Illinois began collecting one percent of pension income from retirees who are eligible for Medicare, two percent from those who aren't.

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Statehouse
5:43 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Ruling On Lawmaker's Paychecks Expected Next Week

Credit flickr/longitudelatitude

A Cook County Circuit Court judge says he will rule next week on a lawsuit over Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to halt lawmakers' pay. Judge Neil Cohen held oral arguments Wednesday. He said he'll issue his
decision by Sept. 26.
 
Quinn used his line-item veto to cut money for legislators' salaries from the
state budget because they hadn't fixed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension
crisis.
 
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, saying
Quinn's actions were unconstitutional. They asked Cohen to order Comptroller

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Statehouse
5:33 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Rep. Cross Officially Launches Bid For Treasurer

Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, is stepping down as House Minority Leader to run for state treasurer.
Credit www.tomcross.com

House Republican Leader Tom Cross says he's running for Illinois treasurer because the office has more opportunity than ever before in helping turn around Illinois' financial woes.

The Oswego lawmaker is leaving his leadership post to campaign. He launched a two-day tour Wednesday with stops planned in Chicago, Rockford and Moline.

Cross tells The Associated Press he knows the budget as well as any person and wants the treasurer's office to play a bigger role in making sure it's balanced. 

Treasurer Dan Rutherford is seeking the GOP nomination for governor.

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Historic Preservation
8:02 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Octagonal Barn Near Carrollton To Be Moved

Credit Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

On Thursday morning, a unique barn near Carrollton will begin a trip to a new location where it will be preserved for decades to come. The plan to move the Fry Octagonal Barn, rather than see it torn down, is the result of cooperation between the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

Workers will start moving the barn, located on North Park Road in Carrollton, (http://www.mapquest.com/?q=39.3064,-90.4013) at 9 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 19. The move should take about two days.

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Health Desk
6:49 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Public vs. Private Job To Scrub State Medicaid Rolls

Director of Illinois' Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Julie Hamos
Credit Illinois.gov

  Illinois' attempts to remove ineligible people from the state's Medicaid rolls are on hold, as Illinois and its largest public employees' union fight over who should actually do the scrubbing. The state says it will appeal a ruling that says it has to cancel its $77 million dollar contract with an outside firm.

Big changes are ahead for Medicaid, the state's health insurance program for the poor. Hundreds of thousands of residents are expected to be added to the rolls under the federal health care law.

But first, Illinois wants to remove people who are ineligible.

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Statehouse
5:15 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Battle Over Pollution Controls At Coal Fired Power Plants

Credit Veronique LaCapra/Stlpublicradio

A labor coalition wants Illinois' pollution control board to waive pollution controls at coal-fired plants being sold by Ameren Corp.  
The AFL-CIO made its position known at the Illinois Pollution Control Board meeting in Springfield on Tuesday.  
The AFL-CIO says that move by the board would provide certainty to employers and communities in central and southern Illinois. But environmental groups say pollution upgrades are needed.  

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Election 2014
4:40 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Daley: Didn't Realize 'Enormity' Of Being A Candidate

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley says his decision to drop out of the 2014 gubernatorial race doesn't mean he couldn't beat Gov. Pat Quinn.

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Election 2014
3:07 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Brady Selects Running Mate

Sen. Bill Brady introduces Maria Rodriguez Tuesday.
Credit BradyforGovernor

Republican state Sen. Bill Brady is naming former Long Grove Mayor Maria Rodriguez as his gubernatorial running mate.  
The Bloomington businessman and 2010 GOP nominee for governor made the formal announcement Tuesday at an event at the Union League Club in Chicago.  

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Election 2014
12:01 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Daley Drops Out Of Governor's Race

Bill Daley attended a Democratic County Chairmen Association breakfast this summer during his brief campaign for governor. Following his speech, Daley said that if Democrats again nominate Gov. Pat Quinn, Republicans will win in the general election.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley will not run for Illinois governor after all. His campaign spokesman says Daley will explain more at a press conference in Chicago Tuesday morning.

Daley has flirted with running for office before, only to back out.

This time, he insisted he was in it for keeps. In a campaign video about two months ago, Daley said "I'm committed to running for governor. There is no exploratory piece in this anymore."

But Daley's campaign confirmed Monday night that he's dropping out of the race.

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Election 2014
5:00 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Marine To Challenge Lisa Madigan

Attorney Paul Schimpf retired from the Marine Corps this year.
Credit Schimpf campaign photo

Attorney General Lisa Madigan beat her last opponent by more than a million votes. Her decision to run for re-election next year scared away most of the people who'd been eyeing her job. But at least one Republican is throwing his hat in the ring.

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Brunch
6:35 am
Mon September 16, 2013

In Some Illinois Prisons, Two Meals A Day

Credit flickr/meeshpants

More and more prisoners in Illinois are being served brunch, eating two meals a day instead of three. Prison officials say it's actually better for many inmates.

Feeding prisoners is a lot of work — not only cooking and cleaning up, but moving inmates from cells or dorms over to the mess hall.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer says at some prisons, breakfast is served at 4 a.m., which means moving inmates in the dark.

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