Statehouse

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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Statehouse
3:39 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Gov. Quinn Hints At August Special Session

Gov. Pat Quinn is hinting at the possibility of a special session on pensions when lawmakers are in Springfield next month for the Illinois State Fair.
A bipartisan panel is attempting to come up with a solution to the nearly $100 billion crisis after the House and Senate remained deadlocked. However the panel blew past Quinn's deadline on pensions and he halted their pay as a consequence.
Quinn told reporters Tuesday that legislators will be in Springfield for the annual days devoted to state political leaders. But he wouldn't specifically sayif that's his plan.

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Concealed Carry Legislation
9:30 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Some Municipalities Race To Pass Gun Bans As Deadline Looms

Credit www.sxc.hu

It could be months before law-abiding gun owners can get a permit to carry a handgun in public.  But a separate provision of Illinois’ new concealed carry law has already taken effect. 

Beginning July 19, communities lose the ability to enact local restrictions on firearms.  Those ordinances that are already in place will remain valid, while any future controls would have to be approved by the legislature.

WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky gives the local gun control issue some historical context in this report:

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Caterpillar: Policy's Anticompetitive
5:21 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Illinois Business Coalition Calls For Immigration Overhaul

A somewhat unlikely coalition is calling on Illinois' Congressional delegation to support an overhaul of the nation's immigration policy.       

                                                                           

At a Springfield roundtable discussing immigration, Mark Peters, an attorney with Peoria-based Caterpillar, started off his remarks by saying: "This would be a ... a really bad preface to a poor joke about a sheriff, a lawyer and a priest going into a bar..."

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Same-Sex Marriage Legislation
7:17 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Gay Rights Advocacy Coalition Picks New Campaign Director

John Kohlhepp
Credit Crain's Chicago Business

WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky speaks with John Kohlhepp, the newly selected Campaign Director for Illinois Unites for Marriage.  The coalition is pouring about $2M into a new push to get same-sex marriage legislation approved in the Illinois House. 

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Election 2014
6:15 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Quinn Suddenly Ready To Talk Politics, Disses Daley

Bill Daley, on the left, is a likely primary challenger for Gov. Pat Quinn, on the right in this stitch of separate photos.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  With Attorney General Lisa Madigan out of the race for Governor,  incumbent Pat Quinn turned his focus to another potential opponent,  Bill Daley.  It's an early indication of the campaign to come.

                                           

Republicans have a somewhat crowded field of four candidates hoping to be Illinois' next Governor.

For now, though, Democrats have only two: former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and Governor Pat Quinn.

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Corruption
7:47 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Blagojevich's Appeal Not Likely To Succeed, Given Ryan's Failed Attempts

US Marshals photo of Fmr. Gov. Blagojevich on the day of his arrest
Credit wikipedia.org

Rod Blagojevich faces long odds with the appeal of his federal corruption conviction, just as did his predecessor as Illinois governor, George Ryan.
 
Blagojevich's attorney filed an appeal late Monday with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the higher court toss to Blagojevich's convictions or,
at least, to reduce his 14-year prison sentence.
 
Prosecutors have 30 days to file a response to the appeal. Oral arguments before a three-judge panel could be scheduled soon thereafter.
 
Blagojevich is now 56 and in a prison outside Denver.

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Election 2014
8:15 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Lisa Madigan Not Running For Governor

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan testified before a Congressional committee in this 2011 file photo.
Credit flickr.com/jrockefelleriv

After months of speculation that Gov. Pat Quinn would face a primary challenge from Lisa Madigan, the Attorney General announced Monday she would not run for governor.

Madigan says she will seek a fourth term instead of challenging Quinn for the Democratic nomination.

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2014 Election
6:52 am
Mon July 15, 2013

State Sen. Dillard Enters 2014 Race For Governor

State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westont)
Credit dillard.senategop.org

State Sen. Kirk Dillard is officially announcing his gubernatorial bid for the 2014 election Monday, joining an already crowded field but contending he is the one Republican who can win the general election.

Dillard is the fourth GOP member to announce a challenge to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn since June, joining state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, state Sen. Bill Brady and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner.

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Political Patronage Allegations
5:57 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Metra CEO Memo Reveals More Madigan Involvement

House Speaker Mike Madigan

A memo by the former CEO of the Metra commuter rail service contends that Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan lobbied not only for a pay raise for an associate at the agency, but also sought employment for another person.

The memo by Alex Clifford was cited Thursday at a contentious legislative committee hearing on Clifford's resignation and a $718,000 separation agreement.

Clifford says in the memo that he was told before his ouster that he had damaged Metra and its future funding "by my refusal to accede to Speaker Madigan's requests."

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Guns
8:28 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Ill. AG Objects To Call For Immediate Concealed Carry

The state of Illinois is asking a federal court to reject a push by gun-rights advocates to let the residents start publicly carrying handguns as soon as next week, rather than waiting months for implementation of a new concealed carry law.
 
Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office asked a judge Thursday to throw out the request filed in East St. Louis by Mary Shepard. Shepard filed the injunction a day after lawmakers lifted the last-in-the-nation ban.  The state argues Shepard needs to file a new complaint instead of a motion seeking an emergency hearing from a judge.

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Illinois Supreme Court
10:46 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Abortion Notice Law Finally Going Into Effect

The bench of the Illinois Supreme Court in Springfield.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a law that requires young women to notify their parents before getting an abortion. The decision ends a legal fight that goes all the way back to the 1990s.

For the first time since the law passed nearly two decades ago, women 17 and younger who want to have an abortion will have to get their parents' permission.

Illinois' parental-notification law was passed in 1995, during a brief period when Republicans won control of the Illinois House.

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Back In Court
2:25 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Gun Group Demands Concealed Carry By Next Week

Credit ammoland.com

Illinois lawmakers thought they were in the clear after meeting a federal court's deadline to pass a concealed carry law by Tuesday.  But the Illinois State Rifle Association says that's not good enough.

The Rifle Association believes lawmakers did not meet their deadline because the state's ban on carrying guns outside the home remains in effect.

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Illinois
1:38 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Same Sex Couples Ask Judge To Lift Marriage Ban

Attorneys representing 25 same-sex couples suing over the Illinois' gay marriage ban are asking a judge to rule quickly in their favor.
Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed a motion for summary judgment Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court.
 
They say the judge could rule as soon as Aug. 6, when oral arguments are scheduled on a defense motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The suit was filed last
year by couples denied marriage licenses in Cook County.
 

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Pension Conference Committee
7:37 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Pension Deadline Missed, Quinn Warns Consequences

The Illinois House debates a gun control measure Tuesday, adjourning without a vote on a pension plan as the Governor had demanded.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Governor Pat Quinn had harsh criticism for a bipartisan panel of legislators assigned to draft a new plan to reduce the state's pension costs.  He wanted legislation passed Tuesday.  Lawmakers say they're close, but Quinn is not helping.  

Quinn was quick to criticize lawmakers' failure to pass pension legislation in time to meet his July 9 due date.

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Playing Hardball
6:47 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Governor Halts Lawmakers' Pay

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks to reporters after his concealed carry veto was overridden by the legislature.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Pat Quinn used his veto power Wednesday to eliminate salaries for Illinois legislators. Quinn says until lawmakers fix the state's pension problem, they shouldn't get paid.

On Illinois' $100-billion unfunded pension liability, Quinn has been setting deadlines for more than a year. Until now, there haven't been any direct consequences for lawmakers when they've blown each of those deadlines.

Quinn changed that in a big way.

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Pensions
6:24 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Governor Says Lawmakers Let Down Taxpayers

Gov. Pat Quinn says lawmakers who didn't send him a pension overhaul bill have let down Illinois taxpayers.  
The Chicago Democrat set Tuesday as a deadline for a bipartisan pension panel to report back with a plan. That was even as members of the so-called conference committee formed last month called his deadline arbitrary and irresponsible.  
Quinn says there'll be consequences for lawmakers. He's declined to say exactly what he'd do.  

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New Gun Law On The Books
3:10 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Ill. Passes Concealed Carry: Final State To Do So

Credit http://www.adamsguns.com

Illinois has become the final state in the nation to allow the public possession of concealed guns, just ahead of a federal appeals court's deadline. 

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Developing
11:52 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Ill. House Votes To Override Gov's Concealed Carry Changes

The Illinois House has rejected Gov. Pat Quinn's changes to legislation allowing the carrying of concealed guns on the deadline for action set by a federal court.

If the Senate approves it later today, Illinois would join the rest of the nation in allowing firearms to be carried in public.

The House voted 77-31 to override the Democratic governor's amendatory veto.  Quinn had used his veto authority to suggest changes such as prohibiting guns in restaurants that serve alcohol and limiting gun-toting citizens to one firearm at a time.

Statehouse
7:18 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Pension Committee Won't Hit Gov's Deadline

Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago)
Credit ilga.gov

A bipartisan panel finished a third meeting about the state's $97 billion pension crisis as another deadline set by Gov. Pat Quinn is set to lapse without a solution.  
The group has now asked for reports of the cost-savings of a university-backed retirement funding proposal after meeting Monday in Springfield. Quinn gave the committee a Tuesday deadline to achieve pension reform.  
Lawmakers moved to form the committee after a compromise couldn't be reached last month.  

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Statehouse
5:43 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Quinn Plans Concealed Carry "Showdown"

Credit ammoland.com

Gov. Pat Quinn says he's ready for a ``showdown'' in Springfield over concealed carry legislation.  
The Chicago Democrat has spent days making appearances talking up his sweeping changes to a bill that'd make Illinois the last state to allow concealed weapons.  
But lawmakers are expected to override Quinn's changes when they meet Tuesday in Springfield. The bill's sponsor, among others, says the original measure came out of months of negotiations.  
Quinn wouldn't say if he has the votes, but says he's working on it. He says the bill was influenced heavily by the National Rifle Association. 

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Pensions
6:57 am
Mon July 8, 2013

Quinn, Deadlines And Legislative Deadlock

Gov. Pat Quinn set his latest deadline for pension legislation — July 9 — in a Capitol news conference on June 19, 2013.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Tuesday is the latest deadline Governor Pat Quinn has set for overhauling Illinois' pension systems.

It's part of what's become an ongoing pattern: Quinn sets a deadline, the General Assembly fails to meet it, Quinn sets another deadline, et cetera. 

We asked Brian Mackey to take a look at the phenomenon, and try to figure out what — if anything — it says about the governor.

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Statehouse
5:12 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Father-In-Law Reflects On Blagojevich

Credit WBEZ

Retiring Chicago Alderman Dick Mell says his falling out with son-in-law Rod Blagojevich and the former Illinois governor's imprisonment for corruption continue to weigh heavily on him.  
Mell spoke with reporters Friday about his nearly 40 years as a City Council member.  
The 75-year-old says the events surrounding his son-in-law and his wife's death were two painful episodes in his life. He says they ``put a damper'' on what he otherwise regards as a lucky and fulfilling life.  
Mell says it was difficult to say what he really feels about Blagojevich, but he hopes Blagojevich gets an appeal and that his 14-year sentence could be reduced.  
Mell aided Blagojevich's rise to governor, but says he now wished he had ``done things differently.''

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Concealed Carry
4:17 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Quinn Goes To Wrigley Field To Sell Concealed Carry Stance

Governor Pat Quinn took his anti-gun message to the streets Friday. He spoke with reporters outside Wrigley Field in Chicago.
People come to Wrigleyville to watch the Chicago Cubs. Many of them also come to drink.
The neighborhood is home to many bars, and Quinn used that to highlight a change he's demanding in concealed-carry legislation.
As originally passed by the House and Senate, guns would only be banned at businesses that get more than half their revenue from selling alcohol -- basically, that means bars.

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Home Front Law
7:00 am
Fri July 5, 2013

New Rule To Help Lawyers In Military Families

This week, a new Illinois Supreme Court rule took effect that's intended to make it easier for spouses of military personnel to get a law license.

Angela Allen practices law in Chicago and, with a husband in the Illinois National Guard, she's one of about 800 members of the Military Spouse J.D. Network.

Allen says the job market for lawyers is tough enough as it is, but with the frequent transfers that are a part of military life, she says the time and expense of getting a new state law license made it even harder on the lawyer-spouses.

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Conference Committee
5:33 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Stalemate On When Pension Stalemate Must End

Democratic legislators Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) and Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) prepare to begin the General Assembly's conference committee hearing on pensions.
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Gov. Pat Quinn's office says his July 9 deadline for a pension overhaul stands, even though the leader of a special legislative panel formed to come up with a solution says there's no way to meet it.

It was a similar story about this time last year. 

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