Statehouse

Statehouse
2:44 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Lawmaker Says Son Would Be Proud Of Same Sex Marriage Vote

Rep. Naomi Jakobsson
Credit housedem.state.il.us

An Urbana lawmaker says her late son would be proud that she returned to the Capitol to vote for same-sex marriage in his last hours.   Garret Jakobsson, the 46-year-old son of Democratic state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, died Tuesday evening after suffering from Pick's Disease. He had been in hospice care.  
 

Jakobsson rushed back to Springfield Tuesday afternoon to vote for the same-sex marriage bill, which she had co-sponsored. It ultimately passed the House with one vote to spare.  
 

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Statehouse
8:52 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Tax Breaks For ADM, Office Depot Advancing in Senate

A Senate panel has approved legislation that would give tax incentives to two of Illinois biggest corporations — Office Depot and Archer Daniels Midland.

ADM says it's moving its head office from Decatur to a larger city.

Chicago is thought to top the list of alternatives, but the company has also checked out Minneapolis and Atlanta. That said, ADM executive Gregory Webb told senators the company would prefer to stay in Illinois.

"We have 17,000 North American employees, and 4,500 of them are in Decatur. So Illinois is a preference," Webb said.

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Veto Session
4:52 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Plan To Hasten Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

Sponsors of the same-sex marriage bill - Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake), Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Rep. Kelly Cassidy ( (D-Chicago) - approved by the General Assembly on Tuesday hand-deliver it to Gov. Pat Quinn (far left) in his ceremonial office at the Capitol Wednesday afternoon.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Gay and lesbian couples may not have to wait until June to marry in Illinois. A lawmaker is moving to accelerate when same-sex marriage becomes legal.

Already, same-sex couples are hurrying to take advantage of the marriage legislation approved on Tuesday. That very night, Rep. Sam Yingling, a Lake County Democrat who's openly gay, got engaged. "Well, we don't have a date yet, but I will certainly let you know when we do," he said.

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Statehouse
2:14 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Madigan: Pensions Could Bring Lawmakers Back To Town

Michael Madigan

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he's prepared to pass a ``meaningful'' pension reform bill, and he hopes it will happen before the end of the year.  

The Chicago Democrat says legislative leaders are waiting for actuaries to crunch numbers on some proposals they're considering. Once they have the information he hopes lawmakers can return to Springfield and approve a bill.  

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Statehouse
1:32 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Springfield's William Cellini Out of Prison

William Cellini
Credit WBEZ

Politically connected Illinois businessman William Cellini  has been released from federal prison.  
A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons says the Republican insider snagged in the corruption scandal involving former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was released from the federal lockup in Terre Haute, Ind., on Oct. 31. 

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Gay Legislator Proposes
12:06 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Governor: Will Sign Same-Sex Marriage "Pretty Soon"

The same-sex marriage legislation approved yesterday, Nov. 5, by the Illinois General Assembly will become law by the end of the month.

Gov. Pat Quinn hosted a party last night at the executive mansion in Springfield to celebrate. The festivities morphed into an engagement party when one of a handful of openly gay legislators, Rep. Sam Yingling, D - Grayslake, proposed to his partner.

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Tax Credits
6:46 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Legislators Set To Give Tax Breaks ... But Not Yet, ADM

Director of Illinois' Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity testifies at the House revenue committee about tax incentive options offered to companies looking to locate to Illinois, or threatening to leave the state.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  State legislators are advancing a measure that attempts to lure chemical plant jobs to Illinois, but broader plans to offer companies like ADM incentives are not ready just yet. 

Archer Daniels Midland is the highest-profile case of a company looking for a tax break from the state, in exchange for creating jobs. In ADM's case, the company is looking to move its global headquarters from Decatur to ... maybe Chicago, maybe a city in another state.

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Statehouse
1:38 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Marriage Debate Hinges On 'Freedom'

Gov. Pat Quinn was on the floor of the Illinois House for the debate on same-sex marriage. The Chicago Democrat says he'll sign the marriage legislation.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Same-sex marriage will soon be legal in Illinois. The House narrowly approved legislation Tuesday, and Governor Pat Quinn says he'll sign it into law.

The vote came after months of intense lobbying, in which both sides claimed they were fighting for individual freedom.

It's been a busy year for people who care about same-sex marriage in Illinois. Supporters had an early victory on Valentine's Day, when the state Senate approved what backers call "marriage equality" legislation.

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Statehouse
6:59 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Obama Applauds Illinois Legislature

Credit BarackObama.com

President Barack Obama is praising the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in his home state of Illinois.   Obama, who served in the Illinois state Senate, released a statement saying he
was ``overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois.''
 
The president is commending members of the Legislature for approaching the
issue in an ``open and fair way.'' He says the nation's journey is not complete
until gay men and women are treated equally under the law.
 
Same-sex marriage legislation passed the state House on Tuesday, nearly nine

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Statehouse
5:17 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Cross, 2 Other Republicans Help Pass Same Sex Marriage In House

Rep. Tom Cross
Credit ilga.gov

Former House minority leader Tom Cross is among three House Republicans who voted in favor of legislation allowing same-sex marriage in Illinois.  

The Oswego Republican hadn't indicated how he'd vote prior to Tuesday when the House approved the bill 61-54. He currently is seeking higher office with a run for Illinois treasurer.  

He says in a statement he consulted several people before his decision, including his retired minister father. He says supporting same-sex marriage is consistent with his belief in individual freedom, equality and limited government.  

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Statehouse
3:35 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Lawmakers Send Same Sex Marriage Measure To Governor

Illinois is set to become the 15th state and largest in the heartland to allow same-sex couples to marry.  
State senators approved technical changes Tuesday to a measure legalizing gay weddings, shortly after a historic favorable vote in the state House. The bill now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he'll sign it into law.  
Illinois will start allowing same-sex marriages next summer.  
Fourteen states plus Washington D.C., currently allow same-sex marriage.  

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Statehouse
9:32 am
Tue November 5, 2013

State's Mayors Want Pension Overhaul

Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg
Credit Loves Park City Website

The new head of the Illinois Municipal League wants lawmakers to remain committed to a pension overhaul. Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg was recently named president of the organization. Lindberg says the group has not put its support behind any one plan, but is paying attention to work being done by the bipartisan pension panel.

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Activists Pushing For Graduated Income Tax

A group of activists are working to end Illinois' flat income tax. They say they've gathered more than 150-thousand signatures so far, and are making their case to Illinois lawmakers.

Income in Illinois is taxed at a uniform five percent, whether you're working at a drive-thru window or you're the CEO of a multi-national corporation.

The people pushing what they call a "fair tax" would have wealthy people pay more, while middle- and lower-income people would pay less. That's already how federal income taxes work.

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Statehouse
4:56 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Opposing Views Of Same Sex Marriage

Some of the volunteers making calls during the Macomb phone bank in support of same-sex marriage.
Credit Rich Egger

Whether or not House lawmakers in Illinois vote on same sex marriage this week, those on differing sides of the issue have been working to make their case.

Supporters

The group Illinois Unites for Marriage has organized phone banks to target state representatives who’ve not made up their mind or who have not announced how they will vote.

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Statehouse
12:56 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Car Dealers Push To Change Leasing Tax

Credit Flickr user oldbrochures

The price of leasing a car in Illinois could be lowered under a proposal before the Illinois General Assembly. Automobile dealers say leasing in Illinois has lagged behind other states.

If you were to lease a car today, chances are you'd be charged for tax on the full value of the vehicle, just like if you were buying it.

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Same-Sex Marriage Vote Possible
6:22 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Heavy Veto Session Agenda

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat from Northbrook, is a member of the conference committee tasked with negotiating a pension deal.
Credit ILGA.gov

  Illinois legislators are scheduled to finish out their veto session this week. Their back-loaded agenda ranges from dealing with budget matters to social issues.

The first week of the veto session late last month went by with little of substance accomplished.

But what the General Assembly didn't touch then is back now.

Like tax packages designed to keep companies, like Archer Daniels Midland, headquartered in Illinois.

It also appears the sponsor of stalled same-sex marriage legislation is leaning toward calling it for a vote in the House.

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State Week
1:34 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Listen To State Week - November 1, 2013

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, an overview of the Fall Veto Session so far, the possibility of tax breaks for Archer Daniels Midland, and the dustup between House Speaker Madigan and the Better Government Association.

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Statehouse
3:41 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Audit Slams CMS Property Control

Credit flickr/danxoneil

An audit finds the agency that keeps track of all of Illinois state property does a poor job.  
Auditor General William Holland's review Thursday shows the Department of Central Management Services' inventory includes only a fraction of what the state controls. The review says the department has made little progress in developing a computerized list.

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Statehouse
3:32 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Senator Wants Job Commitment From ADM

Sen. Andy Manar
Credit ilga.gov

New legislation would bring jobs to Decatur as a condition for Archer Daniels Midland Company to receive state incentives it wants to keep its headquarters in Illinois.
 
State Sen. Andy Manar introduced an amendment Thursday to require the company
to relocate at least 100 jobs from out of state to Decatur and hire at least 100
new full-time employees a year in the city for five years.
 
ADM announced earlier this year it will move its 100-employee global
headquarters out of Decatur. ADM is reportedly considering Chicago and other
cities.
 

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Statehouse
6:36 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Bipartisan Call To Work Together On Budget

Credit wnij

Two state senators say partisan bickering over the state's budget should be set aside for the sake of Illinois residents.  

Park Ridge Democrat Dan Kotowski and McHenry Republican Pam Althoff touted the results of a survey of Illinois residents at a Tuesday news conference in Chicago.  

Kotowski says both Democrats and Republicans want many of the same things out of the state's budget. That includes more of the state's budget being put toward growing businesses, ensuring public safety and improving infrastructure.  

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Fiscal Focus
4:30 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Report: Deficit Expected Even If Tax Hike Stays

Credit flickr/borman18

  Even if Illinois keeps its higher income tax rate, a new report projects the state is headed toward deficit spending. 

Illinois residents are paying a 5-percent tax on their income. It's been that way since 2011.

According to a new report from the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, that tax money helped balance Illinois' budget this year.

But economist David Merriman, who directed the project, says that won't last.

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Farm Bill And SNAP
5:19 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Food Stamp Cut "Will Affect Our Population Big Time"

The future of SNAP, the program which funds what are commonly referred to as food stamps, is up for debate as Congress attempts to authorize a new Farm Bill. An increase passed by Congress in 2009 to food stamps expires at the end of the month.
Credit Darrell Hoemann/ Midwest Center For Investigative Reporting

  Food pantries and homeless shelters say they're beginning to notice repercussions of a reduction in food stamps that will take effect Fri., Nov. 1. A temporary hike in benefits that kicked as a result of the recession expires this week.

Individuals enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, could see their benefits cut by $11 a month. A family of four could see a decrease of $36.

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Statehouse
11:35 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Old Union Pay Raises Still In Limbo

Rep. Lou Lang speaks with reporters in this April 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Union workers are still fighting for raises they were owed starting in 2011, but have never been paid. A court has ruled in their favor, but the Illinois legislature is still debating whether to make good.

To finally settle the pay raise issue, lawmakers would have to come up with about $100 million.

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State Week
1:53 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Listen To State Week - October 25, 2013

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, a discussion of the first half of the Fall Veto Session.

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Pensions
6:15 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Quinn Not Ready To Talk Taxes

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Though he supported Illinois' income tax hike in the past, Governor Pat Quinn is so far unwilling to take a stance on whether it should expire.

This fiscal year, Illinois is putting $6.8 billion toward pensions. An amount that's more than covered by how much money the state took in from a higher income tax rate -- the increase alone is projected to pull in almost $8 billion this year.

But that raises the question: how will Illinois function when the income tax revenues begin to decrease?

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Veto Session
10:12 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Museums Lose Bid To Cut Free Days

Field Museum visitors are greeted by Sue, said to be the world's most complete skeleton of a T. rex.
Credit Paul Hudson via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Many Illinois museums will continue to have to offer 52 free days a year. That's after the Illinois House failed to override a veto of legislation that would have cut that number in half.

The museum proposal is one of the few actual vetoes lawmakers had to deal with during their veto session.

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Gambling
9:53 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Renewed Push For Casinos, But Regulators Still Worry About Chicago

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday heard from supporters and opponents of allowing more casinos in Illinois. But they're no closer to making a deal.

Gambling was a big issue earlier this year, but negotiations fell apart in May, at the end of the spring legislative session. Since then, attention has moved to other issues, like the state's underfunded pension systems.

On the table are five new casinos — in Chicago and its north and south suburbs, in Rockford, and in Danville. The plan would also allow slot machines at horse racetracks.

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Veto Session
7:08 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Legislators Skip Town Early

  Illinois legislators were supposed to meet this week for three days as part of the fall veto session; instead they left Springfield after only two.

Little was accomplished during that time. Despite competing rallies, the Illinois House did not vote on legalizing same-sex marriage, whether state agencies, including the state police, will receive additional money remains unsettled, and there was no action on Illinois' pensions, which are the worst-funded in the nation.

It can give the impression that legislators are not doing their jobs.

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Same-Sex Marriage
6:27 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Rallying Cry For Marriage: One Man, One Woman

LInda Jernigan of Richton Park (a suburb of Chicago) says she used to be a lesbian, but God saved her; she says marriage for same-sex couples is not a civil right.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

A day after supporters of same-sex marriage rallied at the Illinois Capitol, opponents had their turn. Thousands gathered at the statehouse Wednesday, Oct. 23, urging the Illinois House to uphold traditional marriage.

The event started with a prayer led by Monsignor Carl Kemme, of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

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Pensions And Pay
6:13 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Turning The Tables: Legislator Files To Cut Quinn's Budget

Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, says "the chief executive has attacked the legislature, which shows how dysfunctional we are. If they haven't done their job, then they shouldn't get the full appropriation that we did, and I suggest that that appropriation be cut."
Credit ILGA.gov

  Several months after Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed legislators' salaries from the state budget -- one lawmaker wants to turn the tables on him.

Gov. Quinn says lawmakers shouldn't be paid until they overhaul the state's pensions. A judge rejected that move and the governor's appeal is still pending before the state Supreme Court, so lawmakers are getting their paychecks.

Nevertheless, legislators are still offended by Quinn's "attack," as Rep. David Harris, R - Arlington Heights, describes it.

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