Statehouse

Election 2014
8:43 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Pension Chairman Raoul Possible Democratic Challenger

Chair of the pension conference committee Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) talks with Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) at a July meeting in Chicago.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  Governor Pat Quinn already has one primary challenger, but there's talk he may get more. 

A lot of politicians are heading to the capital city this week; it's the State Fair, and a time for annual political meetings and rallies.

Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul was driving down from Chicago Tuesday afternoon, in time for his fundraiser last night at a Springfield bar.

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Higher Education
11:41 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Debate Over University Research Open Access

Illinois' public universities could have to share more of their research, under a new state law. 

Pick a subject. Any subject.  And two things are likely true:

-someone at a university is researching it, and

-the results of that research are getting published, probably in a scholarly journal.

There's the journal of Sewage and Industrial Wastes. Contemporary European History. The African Music Society Newsletter ...  all of which gets the information out to experts in the given field.

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Statehouse
8:48 am
Tue August 13, 2013

New Law Recruits Casinos To Assist With Child Support Collection

Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation that lets casinos and race tracks garnish gambling winnings from parents who owe back child support.
 
The new law that was signed Monday takes effect immediately. It's aimed at chipping away at the state's nearly $3 billion backlog in unpaid child support.
 
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports the money would be turned over to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. From there, it'd be distributed to parents.
 

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Concealed Carry Law
5:33 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Police Trainers Prepare For Concealed Carry

Credit www.ptb-edi.state.il.us

The arrival of concealed carry in Illinois will mean a big change not only for gun-owning citizens, but police officers as well.

As Brian Mackey reports, the state board that oversees police training is already preparing for the change.

Police in Illinois are already trained on how to approach someone with a gun. Since that person was likely breaking the law, safety and caution were the watchwords. But how does that calculus change when citizens are able to carry legally?

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Statehouse
4:58 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Whitaker Denies Involvement In Kickback Scheme

Dr. Eric Whitaker
Credit WBEZ

The former head of Illinois' Department of Public Health says he ``was not involved in any way'' with alleged illegal activities of his longtime chief of staff.  
In an indictment released this week, authorities accuse Quinshaunta Golden. They say she accepted $433,000 in kickbacks for steering grant and contract money to various groups around the time she worked for Eric E. Whitaker at the agency.  
Prosecutors have never accused Whitaker of wrongdoing.  

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On A Stick
4:53 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Gov 'Eating My Way Across The State Fair'

A pair of Lincolns look on as Gov. Pat Quinn opens the 2013 Illinois State Fair.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois State Fair officially got underway Friday morning.

Based on the evidence Friday morning on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, it's never too early for fried mini-doughnuts.

Vendors were selling all manner of-deep fried delights, patrons were crowding parking lots, and dignitaries were cutting a red, white, and blue ribbon to mark the official opening of the 2013 fair.

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Statehouse
1:01 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

State Parks Seeing License Plate Money

Illinois state parks are starting to see money from a $2 surcharge on Illinois license plate renewals.  
The State Journal-Register in Springfield reports (http://bit.ly/1czFIoL) that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is using the money to reduce a $750 million maintenance backlog. Motorists had to start paying the surcharge this year after last year's DNR Sustainability Bill was approved.  

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State Fair
7:29 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Governor's Day To Break Tradition

Gov. Pat Quinn leads his supporters at the 2013 Twilight Parade on Springfield's North side, kicking off the state fair.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  The state fair got its start Thursday night with the Twilight parade through the north end of the capital city.  It's an annual tradition.  But indications are that another tradition -- a Democratic party rally  -- will not continue this year.  

There were cheerleaders, bands, children scrambling for candy, and of course, a parade of politicians.

The Attorney General, Treasurer, Comptroller, Lieutenant Governor were all there.

First in that line: Governor Pat Quinn and an army of supporters and staffers, wearing his trademark kelly green campaign t-shirts.

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Medical Marijuana
5:52 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Durbin: Wait, Watch Before National Medical Marijuana Policy

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Medical marijuana may be legal in his home state, but the number two Democrat in the U.S. Senate says that shouldn't be a national policy.  

It'll be awhile before patients with certain diseases will actually be able to use pot to ease their symptoms - the Illinois law doesn't take effect until January, and state regulators have to put rules in place.

Even so, clinics  - including one in Chicago  - are already beginning to open.

Of course, it defies federal law.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says he's not ready for the feds to change course.

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Statehouse
5:42 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Madigan Talks On Lawmaker Pay Dispute

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he's disappointed a judge has delayed ruling on the legislator salary lawsuit.  
Gov. Pat Quinn used veto powers last month to suspend pay because of inaction on pensions. Then Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, claiming a misuse of power.  
A Cook County judge will hear arguments Sept. 18, meaning lawmakers could miss another paycheck.  
Madigan told reporters Wednesday before a closed-door speech that voting to override Quinn is still a possibility. That's according to Chicago's WLS-TV.  

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Statehouse
7:02 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Audit Finds State Computers Missing

Illinois' prison systems have misplaced $200,000 of computer equipment.  As Amanda Vinicky reports, the state's auditor general says that poses security risks. 

105 laptops are missing from the Illinois Department of Corrections - plus an additional 51 desktops.

According to a new audit,there's a risk confidential information stored on the computers could be exposed.

But D.O.C. spokesman Tom Shaer says that's not likely.

"We don't believe that these computers are laying around somewhere compromising security."

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Statehouse
1:21 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Same Sex Marriage Ruling Set For September

Credit WBEZ

A Cook County judge won't decide until late September on whether to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state's same sex marriage ban.
 
Circuit Judge Sophia Hall listened to nearly two hours of arguments on Tuesday. She then said she'll rule on Sept. 27. The lawsuit involves 25 couples who filed for marriage licenses in Cook County and were denied.
 
However, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has refused to defend the state's ban, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. She says it violates the state constitution.
 

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Statehouse
10:31 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Oral Arguments Over Lawmaker Pay Set For Next Month

Gov. Pat Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn predicts that a lawsuit over his decision to suspend lawmaker pay for failing to act on the state pension crisis will be a ``landmark'' case.  
Quinn attended a court hearing Tuesday involving a lawsuit filed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton force Quinn and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to issue paychecks.  
A Cook County Circuit Court judge set oral arguments for Sept. 18.  

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Statehouse
7:16 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Madigan And Cullerton Want Court Action On Lawmaker Pay

Cook County Circuit Court Buiding
Credit Wikimedia Commons/user: kmaschke

Attorneys for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton will be in Cook County Circuit Court Tuesday to try and force Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to issue legislators' paychecks.

Last month, Quinn cut $13.8 million for legislators' paychecks in the state budget. He'd threatened consequences if lawmakers failed to act on addressing the pension problem. When a bipartisan pension failed to meet a deadline, Quinn cut their salaries.

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Statehouse
5:51 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Interview: Secretary of State Jesse White

Jesse White
Credit Secretary of State's Office

Jesse White was first elected Secretary of State in 1998 - a position he's running for again in 2014. 

The Chicago Democrat told Amanda Vinicky that's what's determining his stance on the race at the top of the ballot, as Governor Pat Quinn faces primary opposition from Bill Daley.  

But before they talked politics, White told Vinicky about why he believes three new laws the governor signed Monday, August 5th will make the roads safer:

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Traffic Safety Laws
4:51 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

70 mph, Cell Phone Ban Bills Await Action

Secretary of State Jesse White
Credit Secretary of State's Office / Secretary of State

  Illinois has a trio of new laws that officials say will make the roads safer.  But the governor has yet to act on other measures that could have a significant impact on drivers.

Two of the new laws apply to people who've already had traffic troubles, like one named after 15-year-old Kelsey Little, who was seriously hurt in 2011 when she was hit by a teen just learning how to drive.

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Medical Marijuana
4:35 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Medical Marijuana In Ill. - Interview With Brian Mackey

Credit Wikimedia Commons/user: Bogdan

Governor Pat Quinn recently signed a measure that makes Illinois the 20th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. But how long until it actually goes into effect? And what sort of restrictions will there be for patients hopeful to gain a prescription to the drug? WUIS's  statehouse reporter Brian Mackey recently discussed the news with us:  

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Medical Marijuana
1:06 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Governor Quinn Signs Medical Marijuana Legalization For Ill.

Credit Wikimedia Commons/user: Bogdan

CHICAGO (AP)- Illinois has become the 20th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill into law today at a new University of Chicago medical facility.

Illinois' law takes effect Jan. 1, but it'll take several months before medical marijuana will be available for purchase. The measure outlines a four-year pilot program for patients suffering from more than 30 serious illnesses or diseases.

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Statehouse
10:12 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Governor To Sign Medical Marijuana Bill

Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will sign legislation making the state the 20th in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana.

His remarks Thursday will focus on providing relief to the seriously ill, including veterans.

The Chicago Democrat will also tout the legislation's strict standards, which experts say are among the nation's toughest. That's according to a copy of details obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

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Pensions
10:02 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

After Long Silence, Quinn Aide Meets With Key Pension Lawmaker

Sen. Kwame Raoul, standing at right, presided over a hearing on pension legislation in this July 3, 2013 file photo.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

A day after Illinois legislative leaders sued Governor Pat Quinn for vetoing lawmakers' salaries, the governor continued lashing out at the General Assembly for not passing a pension overhaul.

Quinn has consistently tried to portray himself as being engaged in the negotiations over pensions. But members of the legislative committee trying to come up with a compromise say that's not true.

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To Boldly Go
2:07 am
Wed July 31, 2013

What's The Deal With 'Exploring' Candidates?

Bill Daley spent more than a month "exploring" a run for governor of Illinois, though he also said he was "totally committed, 100 percent in" to the race.
Credit The White House

Tuesday's declaration by Bill Daley that he was "officially" running for governor was one of the least surprising announcements of this political season. You could be forgiven for thinking he was already running in the Democratic primary. But Daley insists that until this week, he was just "exploring" a bid for governor.

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Salary Veto
6:30 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Legislative Leaders Sue Governor Over Pay

Gov. Pat Quinn is seen at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in this July 29, 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The leaders of the Illinois General Assembly have sued Governor Pat Quinn over his veto of lawmakers' salaries. They say they're trying to protect the independence of the legislature.

Quinn vetoed lawmakers salaries out of the budget as a sort-of punishment for not passing legislation to overhaul Illinois' government-employee pension systems.

In a joint lawsuit filed in Cook County, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton say the governor overstepped his bounds.

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Conference Committee
6:00 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Lawmakers Said To Be Compromising On Pensions

State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, announces his candidacy for governor in this June 26, 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A member of the Illinois legislature's special committee on pensions says the group is closing in on a compromise. But it remains to be seen whether the measure will have enough support in the full General Assembly.

The 10-members of the bipartisan conference committee have been meeting for more than a month. A good chunk of that time has been waiting for actuaries to analyze the various proposals — seeing how much of Illinois' nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities might be eliminated.

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2014 Election
5:55 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Daley Campaign To File With Illinois Board Of Elections

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley is making his Illinois gubernatorial bid official.

He's set to remove his "exploratory committee'' label Tuesday by filing paperwork with the Illinois Board of Elections. So far, he's Gov. Pat Quinn's only 2014 Democratic primary challenger.

In a video on his campaign website, Daley says the fact that the state Legislature adjourned in May without finding a solution to the pension crisis or voting on same-sex marriage represents a "dysfunction.''

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Concealed Carry Law
1:15 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Judge Tosses Bid For Immediate Concealed Carry

U.S. District Court in East St. Louis
Credit www.ilsd.uscourts.gov

A federal judge is rejecting a legal bid by gun-rights advocates who wanted people to be able to immediately carry firearms in Illinois under the state's new concealed carry law.

East St. Louis U.S. District Judge William Stiehl threw out the lawsuit filed by Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association, siding with the state and saying the legal action is moot.

Shepard and the rifle group had argued it was unconstitutional to make people wait for the permit process to be outlined under the new concealed carry law that lawmakers passed July 9.

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Legislative Salaries Frozen
5:54 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Credit Union Offers Lawmakers Zero Interest Loans

Illinois legislators were supposed to get their next monthly paycheck on Thursday, August 1st.  But Governor Pat Quinn vetoed their salaries out of the budget.  Amanda Vinicky reports on how lawmakers may be able to get by.

Many legislators won't feel the pinch too deeply.

Serving in the General Assembly is technically a part-time occupation ... and many own businesses, are partners at law firms, or have other government jobs.  

But many don't, and are their family's sole breadwinner.

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University of Illinois
5:44 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Mooney Steps Into Leadership Role At IGPA

Chris Mooney
Credit igpa.uillinois.edu/person/christopher-z-mooney

University of Illinois Springfield political scientist Chris Mooney will take over next month as the head of U of I's Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

WUIS listeners know Mooney as a frequent panelist on State Week in Review.

Mooney says the Institute's researchers and professors can bring together the university's resources to help lawmakers deal with the state's problems.

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Pensions
6:11 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Business Group Refuses Comment on Bond Accusation

An influential group of business executives is declining to comment on the possibility it helped to lower Illinois' credit rating. But public employees’ unions are calling for an investigation.

The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago — and one of its leaders, former Illinois Attorney General Ty Fahner — were early leaders of the charge to do something about the state's underfunded pensions.

Fahner's been one of the most vocal advocates of doing not just something, but something major, to bring down the state's pension costs.

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Agrees To Serve Six Months In Prison
5:17 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Former IL Lawmaker Pleads Guilty To Federal Charge

Former Rep. Connie Howard (D-Chicago) leaves the federal courthouse in Springfield after pleading guilty to a single count of mail fraud.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  A former state legislator is the latest in a string of Illinois politicians to come under federal scrutiny for misconduct.  Wednesday,  longtime Rep. Connie Howard pleaded guilty to mail fraud.  

Though she'd served since 1995, Connie Howard is no longer a member of the House. 

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Concealed Carry Law
4:55 am
Wed July 24, 2013

LRS Awarded Background Check System Contracts

Credit www.fbi.gov

  Illinois has awarded contracts for computer upgrades intended to screen out people prohibited from carrying concealed weapons under the state's new gun legislation. The State Journal-Register reports on two contracts totaling more than $350,000.

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