Illinois lawmakers returned to Springfield Tuesday for their fall veto session. Guns, gay marriage and corporate tax breaks are on the agenda. But nothing is moving yet.
Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage are rallying in the Capitol this week, but the sponsor of marriage legislation won't say when or if he'll call it for a vote.
Meanwhile, OfficeMax and Archer Daniels Midland are among the companies seeking millions of dollars in tax breaks to keep their corporate headquarters in Illinois, but those proposals are still being negotiated.
Back on Valentine's Day, the state Senate approved legislation that would allow gays and lesbians to get married in Illinois. The hope then was that Illinois would become the tenth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Eight months later, it still hasn't happened.
Springfield Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki sent this memo out earlier in the day Tuesday, prior to the march and rally in support of same sex marriage at the statehouse:
The Rainbow Sash Movement has encouraged Roman Catholics to come to Springfield to “have a loud Catholic presence for marriage equality.” They have announced plans to gather at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 4:30 p.m. just before the 5:15 p.m. Mass to stand in the Cathedral and indicate that they are there to pray the rosary for “marriage equality.”
Rain didn't stop advocates for same-sex marriage, who rallied under umbrellas by the hundreds in front of the Illinois Capitol Tuesday, Oct. 22. A measure to legalize same-sex marriage passed the state Senate earlier this year, but has stalled in the Illinois House.
There were two types of headliners:
-musicians, like Marcus Terrell, of "America's Got Talent" fame, who sang a "song about true love" ("and as we all know here today true love in any form is just natural," he said).
Illinois is continuing to deal with the effects of the federal government shutdown. The state agency that handles unemployment says hundreds of laid-off federal workers have to pay back their benefits.
During the shutdown, the Illinois Department of Employment Security had a significant spike in calls from laid off federal workers. A few thousand applied for benefits, and 577 ultimately collected money.
Opponents and supporters of same-sex marriage are gearing up for another push in the Illinois Legislature.
Supporters are planning a march and rally in Springfield on Tuesday, the first day of the Legislature's fall session. Gov. Pat Quinn and other lawmakers who support legislation legalizing same-sex marriage are expected to participate.
Opponents have scheduled a prayer rally at the Capitol on Wednesday. A group of African American clergy who oppose the measure also recorded radio ads in which they urge listeners to call lawmakers and tell them to vote no.
Advocates pass out fliers promoting it during the Pride Parade in Chicago over the summer; despite an intense campaign to legalize same sex marriage in Illinois, the legislation's sponsor remains tight-lipped about whether he has the 60 votes needed for it to pass in the House.
For the first time since a brief special session in July,legislators will begin making their way en masse to Springfield this week, for the fall veto session. The agenda before them is relatively light. The General Assembly will likely debate some budget matters. And there's a hearing on a new type of health care coverage for retired state employees. Amanda Vinicky previews what else is ahead.
Mike Lawrence spent years as a journalist covering state government and politics before eventually working as the Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. In between, he served as press secretary and senior policy advisor to former Governor Jim Edgar.
The Illinois Supreme Court on Friday struck down the so-called "Amazon tax." The decision could pave the way for businesses to make more money online.
The law was intended to force Internet retailers to collect Illinois sales tax.
Even if such companies didn't have an office or physical store here, they might have had Illinois "affiliates." That would be a website that linked to a product on, say, Amazon.com, and got a small kickback for every sale.
On this edition of State Week in Review, our panel previews the upcoming fall session of the Illinois General Assembly. From pensions to same sex marriage to gun crime sentencing, we discuss what may or may not occur.
Also, the impact of the federal shutdown on state government. Our guest this week is Gatehouse Media's Doug Finke.
With the federal shutdown over and a government default averted, investors are breathing a sigh of relief Thursday. That includes the people responsible for investing billions of dollars on behalf of Illinois state government.
The state of Illinois has about $10 billion in investments. That money is the responsibility of Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who says about $1.2 billion of Illinois' portfolio is in the form of U.S. Treasury Bills.
Attorneys for the Center for Wrongful Convictions have sent an open letter to Gov. Pat Quinn in an attempt to push the Democrat into acting on a pardon for Gordon ``Randy'' Steidl. The letter dated Wednesday seeks action on an 11-year-old petition. The letters says, ``This matter has lingered for far too long. Please do the right thing.'' It says at the least, Quinn should meet with Steidl in person to explain why he has not acted on Steidl's request while deciding thousands of other clemency petitions since taking office in 2009.
Henry Bayer is the Executive Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31. The role puts the union leader in the middle of several battles over benefits and working conditions. That includes the current dispute involving public pensions.
The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to hear Gov. Pat Quinn's appeal of a ruling that his veto of money for lawmaker pay was unconstitutional. The court issued its one-page order Wednesday without additional comment. A hearing date has not been set. Quinn vetoed money for lawmakers' salaries in July because he said they didn't deserve to get paid until they address Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.
Gov. Pat Quinn's administration says there should be no doubt about the qualifications of a former Metra transit employee hired by the state after a referral by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Central Management Services spokesman Mike Claffey says Patrick Ward worked for 25 years in Chicago's personnel department and has a master's degree with an emphasis in labor relations.
Gov. Pat Quinn has $2.9 million in his 2014 campaign fund - more than all four of his Republican rivals combined.
Reports filed with the state late Tuesday show the Chicago Democrat raised about $813,000 during the three-month period ending Sept. 30. He has no major challenger in the March primary since Bill Daley abandoned his bid.
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford says he's monitoring the debt ceiling showdown in Washington and the impact that it could have on the state's finances.
Congress is still searching for deal that would raise the country's cap to borrow more money in order to pay its bills. The government has been partially shut down for weeks as Democrats and Republicans haggle over spending.
Gov. Pat Quinn speaks to leading Democrats in September as he seeks the state party's endorsement in his campaign for re-election; critics say the governor has been concerned about politics, rather than policy, when it comes to pensions -- for example by stripping legislators of their salaries as punishment for not passing a bill, even as he was absent from negotiations.
Governor Pat Quinn went months without meeting with members of the special legislative committee formed to draft a new pension plan, but this month he has begun to reach out.
It was Quinn's idea to form a conference committee, to bridge differences between the House and Senate over how to reduce Illinois' $100 billion pension debt.
But the ten members of that panel say other than phone calls welcoming them to the committee, he was absent from their talks from June on, leading to criticisms like this, from Rep. Jil Tracy, a Republican from Quincy.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says the state's pension problem could be addressed in the fall legislative session even if a committee working on it remains split. The Chicago Democrat tells The Associated Press in an interview that lawmakers could bypass the committee and call a vote through another legislative route. An AP survey found that five of the pension committee's 10 members still had concerns with a proposed $138 billion savings plan. The Legislature cannot consider a committee proposal unless it is signed by six members.
The ten members of the bipartisan, bicameral conference committee formed to come up with a pension package gather in Chicago in July, for one of the panel's few public meetings. Gov. Pat Quinn did not attend.
As he runs for re-election, Gov. Pat Quinn is staking a lot on getting something done with pensions. He making a show of asking the state Supreme Court let him cancel legislators' salaries until it's done, and he says he won't deal with other major issues before the General Assembly -- like using tax credits to keep ADM headquartered in Illinois -- until there's what he calls a "comprehensive pension solution." But it's hard to tell just what that means. Most of the ten legislators he tasked with crafting that solution don't even seem to know. They say he's been largely absent ...
The Illinois Legislature's fall veto session is just a week away, but a committee tasked with the solving the state's enormous pension problem is divided. An Associated Press survey of the 10-member committee found five Democrats support a plan that would save the state $138 billion over 30 years. The other half consists of four Republicans and one Democrat. They say they have major concerns about the proposal. The Legislature cannot consider the proposal unless it's signed by six committee members.
Shoppers in Illinois and 16 other states should be able to use their debit-style food stamp cards after vendor Xerox Corp. restored service following a system outage. Januari Smith is spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services. She says people in Illinois began reporting problems using their LINK cards Saturday morning.
Next week, Illinois lawmakers could consider mandatory prison sentences for people charged with illegal gun possession. Supporters say it would help reduce violent crime in places like Chicago and East St. Louis. But a prominent gun-rights group is opposed to the change.
In places where shootings are a big problem, some politicians and prosecutors want a three-year minimum sentence for gun crimes.
But the National Rifle Association worries lawful gun owners could be caught up under the proposal.
Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Democrat from Riverside, sits on the pension conference committee. "There's some concern over ... frankly whether pension systems should get in the business of the market... and philosophically do we really want to go down this road when there's members of these systems that believe all we need to do is make our payment, rightfully so," he says of defined contribution plans.
With an eye toward reaching an agreement in time for the upcoming veto session, legislators on a special pension committee met Friday in Chicago. The conversations focused on giving state employees and teachers a new style of retirement plan.
Gov. Pat Quinn is granting 65 clemency petitions and denying 124 while working through a backlog of pardon requests.
The Democrat announced Friday he had acted on 189 requests on dockets dating to 2004. His predecessor, the impeached and now-imprisoned Rod Blagojevich, notoriously let clemency petitions pile up.
Among those granted pardons Friday _ typically with a criminal record being wiped clean _ were an armed robber; several convicted of battery, including domestic battery; several convicted of unlawful use of weapon; illicit
This week's topics include gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner's choice for his Lt. Governor running mate, the state deal with Amtrak to keep shorter-run rail lines running, and new license requirements for all-terrain-vehicles.