Statehouse

Vade, Satana
2:17 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Bishop Holds 'Minor Exorcism' Over Same-Sex Marriage

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield speaks with reporters after his prayers of "exorcism" over same-sex marriage.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Minutes after Gov. Pat Quinn made gay marriage legal in Illinois, the Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield began a prayer service in response. Tuesday's service was formally called a prayer of “exorcism.” But the ceremony was more subdued than that dramatic word might suggest.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki was methodical, even dispassionate, as he led at least 200 of the faithful in prayer.

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Statehouse
5:15 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Reaction To Same Sex Marriage Bill Signing

Sponsor Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago)
Credit wuis

Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday signed same sex marriage into law in Illinois. Here are quotes and reaction to the bill signing.  
     ___  
 ``It means we are able to say that we're a family and be recognized because we are like everyone else.'' _ Jen Dickie Rothke of Chicago, who has been with her partner for 13 years. They have a son together.  
     ___  
 ``We are witnessing one of the most significant demonstrations of justice in Illinois history.'' _ Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.  
     ___  

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Statehouse
2:42 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Illinois Is 16th State To Allow Same-Sex Marriage

     

Illinois is now the 16th state to allow same-sex marriage. Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law Wednesday in Chicago that makes the state the largest in the Midwest to legalize gay weddings. The law takes effect in June when county clerks can begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Illinois allowed civil unions in 2011, but it was a bumpy road to same-sex marriage in President Barack Obama's home state.

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Big Bank Settlement
8:25 am
Wed November 20, 2013

JPMorgan Chase To Pay Illinois Pension Funds $100 Million

Chase Tower in Chicago.
Credit John Picken (flickr.com/picken)

The bank JPMorgan Chase will pay Illinois' pension funds $100 million under a national settlement announced Tuesday. The payment is a result of the bank's misconduct leading up to the Great Recession.

Like a lot of investors in the last decade, Illinois' pension funds had a good chunk of change in mortgage-backed securities. Once the housing market collapsed and homeowners began defaulting, the value of those securities collapsed, too.

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Statehouse
8:22 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Suspicious Fire Burns Illinois Lawmaker's Office

Rep. Dwight Kay

(AP) A fire chief says a blaze in a building that houses an Illinois state lawmaker's southwestern Illinois office is considered suspicious.  

Edwardsville Fire Chief Rick Welle says no injuries resulted from Monday night's fire that damaged Rep. Dwight Kay's office.

The building also included an insurance site, consulting agencies and counseling services.  Welle said it's unclear if any of the offices was specifically targeted, but that investigators haven't ruled out arson.  

Illinois State Police and the state fire marshal's office are investigating.  

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State Week
3:39 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Listen To State Week - November 15, 2013

More on Paul Vallas, the other gubernatorial candidates, a possible legislative session in December, and same sex marriages

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Statehouse
3:31 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Lincoln Predicted The World Would Not Remember His Gettysburg Address; 150 Years Later It Does

Lincoln impersonator Fritz KIein reenacts the Gettysburg Address; he started giving the 272-word speech promptly at midnight at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, an occasion observed at the start of the day at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.

There's a line in the Gettysburg Address, where Lincoln wrote "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here."

And yet, 150 years later, a Lincoln impersonator was repeating the 16th President, reenacting the brief, yet poignant, speech, at the stroke of midnight.

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Election 2014
6:19 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Can This Man Beat Illinois' Most Popular Politician?

Republican Mike Webster will challenge incumbent Democrat Jesse White for Illinois secretary of state. White is seeking a fifth term.
Credit www.facebook.com/MikeWebsterIL

Illinois' longtime secretary of state finally has at least one challenger in next year's election. Republican Mike Webster says he'll take on Democrat Jesse White.

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Tornado Relief
4:50 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Want FEMA Aid? Even If "Home Is Totally Destroyed" Governor Tells Victims To Document

An estimated 200 homes were destroyed in the village of Gifford, in Champaign County.
Credit Sean Powers/WILL

  State officials say victims of yesterday's (Nov. 17) storms should take extra care in documenting their material losses. Illinois learned the hard way why that can be important.

About two years ago, seven people died in the tornadoes that rocked Harrisburg, in deep southern Illinois. And yet the state was denied a request for federal assistance. That meant home and business owners could not get federal loans, grants and other aide.

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Statehouse
5:07 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Thoughts On Fracking? Illinois Wants To Hear From You

Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves pumping massive amounts of water and chemicals underground, shattering rock, in order to release oil and natural gas.
Credit WSIU

Illinois took another step Friday toward allowing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The state has published draft rules on the controversial oil and gas extraction process, and it's looking for comments from the public.

Back in the spring, lawmakers touted Illinois' fracking law as the toughest in the country. It was the product of long negotiations between environmentalists and business groups.

But a big part of any law is what's left to regulation. Enter the Department of Natural Resources, which has published 150 pages of proposed rules on fracking.

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Statehouse
3:04 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

DCFS Director Resigns Due To Illness

Richard Calica
Credit DCFS

The director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is to resign after a cancer diagnosis.  
Gov. Pat Quinn announced Friday afternoon that Richard Calica would leave the post. Calica's chief of staff

Denise Gonzales is to serve as the agency's acting director. 

Calica has held the post since December 2011. He said in a statement that working for the agency has been ``the most exciting and rewarding time of my career in child welfare.''

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Church and State
10:32 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Bishop To Hold 'Prayers of Exorcism' On Same-Sex Marriage

Bishop Thomas Paprocki
Credit Springfield Diocese

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield plans a special prayer service the day same-sex marriage is to be signed into law. He says it's "scandalous" that so many Catholic politicians supported the legislation.

Gov. Pat Quinn is planning a big public ceremony to sign the same-sex marriage bill next Wednesday (Nov. 20) in Chicago.

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Election 2014
9:48 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Candidates Still Staking Out Positions On Same-Sex Marriage

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford spoke with reporters Nov. 13, 2013, in the Press Room of the Illinois Capitol.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Although same-sex marriage will soon be law in Illinois, the issue could remain a factor in the 2014 elections.

For most Democrats — especially those in and around Chicago — same-sex marriage is a winning political issue with core voters.

It's a lot tricker for Republicans. A majority of conservatives are opposed to legal same-sex marriage, but in a Democratic-leaning state like Illinois, Republicans need to win votes from independents, too.

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Juvenile Justice
9:18 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Illinois Considering Independent Monitor For Youth Prisons

The Illinois General Assembly is weighing the creation of a "juvenile ombudsman," an independent official who can keep an eye on the state's juvenile prisons.

The push for an ombudsman comes in the wake of a report that ranks Illinois' juvenile prisons among the worst in the country for sexual abuse.

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Prison Closures
9:10 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Illinois Needs Comprehensive Plan For Facilities: Rutherford

Credit flickr/katerha

A Republican candidate for governor is once again calling for Illinois to change the way it manages major facilities, like prisons and developmental centers. That includes how the state closes such facilities.

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford says past attempts to close prisons and other big state institutions have been haphazard. He says this has been going on for years, back at least to the administrations of former governors Ryan and Blagojevich. But it's still happening, as with this year's closure of the women's prison in Dwight.

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Statehouse
4:45 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Lawmakers Told To Save The Date For Return To Capitol

A top aide to House Speaker Michael Madigan is telling Illinois lawmakers to be ready for a special session in Springfield in December.
 
Madigan chief of staff Tim Mapes told Democrats in an email Wednesday that a ``possible'' session could begin Dec. 3. He told lawmakers to ``keep other days that week available.''  

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Statehouse
10:00 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Hawaii Jumps Ahead Of Illinois On Same Sex Marriage

Credit flickr/merfam

When lawmakers voted this month to approve gay marriage in Illinois, the state was set to become the 15th in the nation to legalize same-sex weddings.
 
Now Illinois may become the 16th state.
 
That's because Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expected to sign legislation
Wednesday legalizing gay marriage in that state. Same-sex marriages are set to
begin in the island state on Dec. 2.
 
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has said he'll sign his state's measure during a
special ceremony in Chicago on Nov. 20.  Gay marriages will begin in Illinois in

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Election 2014
7:10 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Interview: Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon

Credit illinois.gov

Sheila Simon will wrap up her term as Lieutenant Governor in just over a year.   The Democrat and daughter of late U.S. Senator Paul Simon is taking on another challenge.  She's running for Illinois Comptroller. That means Simon faces incumbent Republican Judy Baar Topinka.  The attacks are already underway. 

Topinka questions Simon's interest in the job, saying she only chose to run for this office after earlier plans to try for Attorney General were scuttled when Lisa Madigan chose to stay put.

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Statehouse
6:37 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Prosecutors respond to Blagojevich Appeal

Former Governor Rod Blagojevich mug shot.
Credit wikipedia.org

Prosecutors have filed a response to Rod Blagojevich's corruption conviction appeal.  

The 169-page government filing submitted late Tuesday urges the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reject the imprisoned former governor's request for a new trial.  

Defense lawyers filed the appeal on the Illinois Democrat's behalf in July. It asks the Chicago-based appellate court to toss his convictions or at least reduce his 14-year prison sentence.  

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Election 2014
5:45 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Paul Vallas Says He's Fine With Lt. Gov. Role

Credit pbs

Former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas says he'll have no trouble playing ``second fiddle'' to Gov. Pat Quinn as his 2014 running mate.  

Vallas and Quinn appeared together Tuesday for the first time since the governor announced last week that Vallas was his pick for lieutenant governor.  
Vallas sought the 2002 Democratic nomination for Illinois governor but lost to now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  

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Statehouse
7:54 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Kirk Won't Endorse In GOP Governor Primary

Mark Kirk at Ill. State Fair
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

(AP)-Republican Sen. Mark Kirk says he won't endorse any candidate in Illinois' GOP gubernatorial primary.  
However, Kirk gave some advice. He contends the only way Republicans will take control of the governor's mansion is to be moderate on social issues.  

Kirk said that includes accepting same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois. Kirk said he backs same-sex marriage and applauds the General Assembly for making it legal last week.  
Kirk made the assertion Monday, following a Veterans Day ceremony at Buffalo Grove High School outside Chicago.  

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Pension Plan Awaits Gov. Action
6:26 am
Tue November 12, 2013

A Possible Pension Legal Test

House Speaker Michael Madigan talks with reporters about pension prospects in May, at the end of the spring legislative session -- as the year nears an end, the General Assembly has yet to pass an overhaul of the state's retirement systems. A recent measure approved to cut a local pension system's costs could be a legal test case, though. It could also be a framework for Chicago's other underfunded retirement funds.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Another legislative session has gone by without a solution in place to bring down the amount Illinois owes the state's retirement systems. Given the clamoring from the governor, business leaders and credit rating agencies for lawmakers to do something about it, legislators mentioned relatively little about pensions before adjourning from their fall veto session last week ... which may well be a sign that something is afoot; there's talk of legislators returning before the year's end to deal with pensions.

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Local Government
5:54 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Sheriffs Win Round In Court Over Salaries

Credit wikimedia commons

An Illinois appellate court has ruled for county sheriffs who seek to restore salary cuts imposed by state lawmakers.  

The Quad City Times reports (http://bit.ly/1eFaJcq) the 5th District Appellate Court overturned a Franklin County judge's dismissal of a complaint that Gov. Pat Quinn and the General Assembly failed to budget the full amount of a state stipend.  

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Pensions
3:22 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Legislative Leaders Take The Reins On Pensions

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, of Lemont, says the General Assembly's two top Democrats and Republicans are meeting on pensions; she says it's easier to reach a consensus with fewer people at the table.
Credit ILGA.gov

 Overhauling Illinois' pension systems is no longer in the hands of the special committee of legislators that met all summer. How to reduce the state’s $100 billion of long-term pension debt is now in the hands of the General Assembly's four leaders.

All summer long, state employees and retirees concerned about their retirement benefits had their eyes on a bipartisan conference committee, but insiders say even the key panel members are no longer part of discussions.

The General Assembly's four leaders (who are really always in charge) are taking the reins.

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State Week
8:45 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Listen To State Week - November 8, 2013

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week’s House debate on same-sex marriage & Governor Quinn selects Paul Vallas as his running mate. 

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Election 2014
6:19 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Paul Vallas: A Democrat ... Who Was A Republican?

Paul Vallas
Credit Bridgeport Public Schools (bridgeportedu.com)

Governor Pat Quinn has finally named his running mate. It's a once-notable Illinois politician who's been out-of-state for the past decade.

It was widely assumed that Quinn, like his Republican opponents, would choose a woman, a minority, or someone from downstate - to be his candidate for lieutenant governor. Conventional, political wisdom says that would have been his ticket to winning over a new voting bloc.

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Election 2014
3:26 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Paul Vallas To Join Quinn On Dem Ticket

Paul Vallas
Credit Bridgeportedu.com

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has selected former head of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas as his running mate.

It was widely assumed that Quinn, like his Republican opponents, would choose a woman, a minority, or someone from downstate - to be his candidate for lieutenant governor.

Conventional political wisdom says that would have been his ticket to winning over a new voting bloc.

Instead, the governor surprised observers and picked Paul Vallas.  

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What's a 'Fiscal Note'?
6:00 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Black Lawmakers Block Chicago Gun Bill

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, seen in this file photo, had legislation blocked by members of the Black Caucus.
Credit cityofchicago.org

The city of Chicago had a setback in Springfield Thursday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been pushing to increase prison sentences for people convicted of gun crimes. But on the last day of the Illinois legislature's fall veto session, a group of African-American legislators used a parliamentary maneuver to block him.

Such tactics are not uncommon in politics — but this was a rare example of Illinois Democrats pulling a fast one on members of their own party.

The problem of violence that plagues parts of Chicago is national news.

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No Father/Son Prison Visit Yet
5:44 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Rev. Jesse Jackson On Junior

Though he was originally in Springfield to give the General Assembly's customary daily prayer, Rev. Jesse Jackson became part of an effort by African American legislators to denounce legislation that would require a mandatory minimum prison sentence for certain gun crimes.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

The Rev. Jesse Jackson says he has not visited since his son reported to federal prison late last month.

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is serving two-and-a-half years in a North Carolina penitentiary. He was convicted of corruption for spending $750,000 of his campaign fund on personal spoils.

"Well his health has been recovering and that has been, as father, the most important thing to me. He has been diligent in doing his work. And I have nothing further to say about that," Rev. Jackson said at the Capitol Thursday (11/7).

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Statehouse
5:43 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Governor To Sign Same Sex Marriage Measure Nov. 20

Credit flickr/fibonacci blue

Gov. Pat Quinn says he's planning to sign same-sex marriage legislation on Nov. 20 in Chicago.  
The governor announced Thursday that he will sign the bill at the University of Illinois at Chicago in a 3:30 p.m. ceremony. The Legislature passed the measure Tuesday.  

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