Statehouse

Statehouse
6:30 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Black Legislators Say Cuts Hit Minority Communities Hardest

African American legislators say the impoverished parts of the state will be most affected by budget cuts.

Dangerous and Draconian. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus uses those words to explain $26 million Governor Bruce Rauner recently suspended in state grants.  He's proposed more cuts for next year.
 

Senator Kim Lightford says Rauner's cuts will be devastating in four main areas public safety, education, health and the economy. 

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Statehouse
2:27 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Democrats Press Governor On Pensions

Sen. Daniel Biss, right, and Rep. Elaine Nekritz are calling for an actuarial analysis of the governor's pension proposals.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s ideas about how to change government-employee pensions are getting extra scrutiny in Springfield.

Rauner wants employees to be moved into less generous plans for future pension benefits.

So far, it’s just something he’s just talked about. Democrats who’ve long focused on pension issues say that needs to change.

Sen. Daniel Biss, of Evanston, is calling for an actuarial analysis. He also says the idea that legislation would be passed and make it through the inevitable court challenge anytime soon is a “fantasy."

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Past Due
10:12 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Lawmakers Look For Answers On Human Services Cuts

 Some Lawmakers say that they believed certain programs had been protected under a budget deal recently struck with the governor to fund state services through the rest of the fiscal year. But Gov. Bruce Rauner froze several human services grants earlier this month — including support for people with autism.

Now a Senate budget committee is calling on members of the administration to explain the cuts. Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski, who chairs the committee, says the money should be restored.

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Statehouse
2:15 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Funding Cut Leaves Indigent Dead In Limbo

Remains in this potter's field are identified only by a number on the markers.
Credit Jaegar Moore / flickr.com/97408355@N06

Illinois has until recently paid for the cost of burial of its indigent dead. That changed on Good Friday, when the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner terminated funding for the program.

The $9 million loss could push the cost of impoverished decedents’ final arrangements onto their families, funeral homes or even counties. Funeral directors say the cut could “cause many problems” for the state, which is struggling to fund operations through the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

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Statehouse
3:57 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

ISBE Hopes To Expand Early Childhood Education

Illinois receives money through a federal-state partnership called Preschool for All, designed to promote access to early childhood education.
Credit U.S. Department of Education

Illinois received $20 million from the federal government for expanding access to early childhood education.

Illinois currently enrolls 27 percent of its 4-year-olds in state-funded preschool for low-income families. Reyna Hernandez of the Illinois State Board of Education says it's hoping to expand that number with Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed increase of 25 million dollars to early childhood education.

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Statehouse
4:25 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

Made In America: Helping Or Hurting Illinois Businesses?

Police cars would have to be assembled in the U.S. and Canada if House Bill 3438 passes.
Credit wikimedia commons

A proposal in the Illinois House that would require all state vehicles to be manufactured in North America sounds patriotic, but some groups say it would hurt Illinois businesses.

The Department of Transportation and the Illinois' Manufacturers Association are among those who oppose House Bill 3438. Randy Nehrt of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce says this could actually hurt Illinois businesses, especially those that supply parts to car manufacturers in Mexico.

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State Week
1:52 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

Listen to State Week - April 10, 2015

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

This week Rahm Emanuel was re-elected Mayor of Chicago, which (like the state itself) is facing a huge budget deficit.   Also, Governor Rauner declared the Illinois Supreme Court part of a "corrupt" political system.   WBEZ's Lauren Chooljian joins the panel for discussion of these and other topics on this edition of the program.

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Critics: Gov's Picks Corporations Over Vulnerable
11:46 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Rauner Defends Business Tax Breaks While Slashing Social Services

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he choose to award business tax credits to uphold Illinois' trustworthiness with companies, but the Republican's critics are calling it "beyond the pale."

Social service organizations are still reeling from the unexpected news they received a week ago that Gov. Rauner was immediately cutting off their state grants. No longer would there be money to bury the indigent. Funding for The Autism Program, eliminated. Funding stripped from addiction prevention. Cuts totaling $200 million.

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Statehouse
4:04 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Gas Station Owners Say Gas Tax Increase Would Have Negative Effects

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Gas station owners are worried that lawmakers will pass an increase to the motor fuel tax to bring in more revenue.

David Smith owns gas stations along the Illinois border. He says Illinois' higher taxes cause most drivers to fill up outside of the state.

"At one of our Missouri stations near the border of Missouri and Illinois, we sell for example 170,000 gallons of gas per month," Smith said. "However at our Illinois-based border station just a few miles away on the Illinois side, we only sell about 70,000 gallons per month."

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Statehouse
4:05 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Measure Would Ban Smoking In Cars With Children

Credit Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Illinois has been "smoke free" since 2008, when a state law banned anyone from lighting up within 15 feet of public places and businesses. Now legislators are considering broadening where smoking is prohibited.

I recently saw a bumper sticker that read "At Least I Can Still Smoke In My Car." Not for long, if a measure that recently got the approval of a Senate committee continues to advance.

The proposal would forbid adults from smoking if anyone under the age of 18 is in the car; doing so would trigger a $100 fine.

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Statehouse
6:47 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Rauner Grants Two Pardons

Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

 Gov. Bruce Rauner has issued his first two pardons since becoming governor nearly three months ago.
 
 The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports over the weekend
that the pardons by the Republican went to Neil Hebert and Michael Sullivan.
Rauner rejected 57 other clemency petitions.
 
 The 43-year-old Hebert was convicted of theft in Champaign County when he was
20. He served two years of probation. The News-Gazette says Sullivan was
convicted of burglary in Cook County in 1979.
 

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Statehouse
5:24 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Lawmaker Wants Prisons To Sell Condoms To Inmates

Credit flickr/dnak

State Rep. Monique Davis wants to give prisoners access to condoms.

Incarceration leads to a greater risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV, so she proposed selling condoms for prisoners to buy with their own money.

"If we can decide we're going to cut the spread of AIDS in Illinois, and we're going to have all different kinds of programs to do this, then that reduces the health care costs that Illinois has to spend," Davis said.

Her proposal failed in committee.

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State Week
3:26 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

Listen to State Week - April 3, 2015

Credit Tammy Duckworth

Much of the focus of this week's political news centered on Washington D.C.  U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth announced that she would seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Mark Kirk.   And with the upcoming retirement of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, there are questions whether Senator Dick Durbin will continue as Minority Whip after 2016.  Also, the latest on beleaguered former Congressman Aaron Schock.  John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel to discuss those and other topics on this week's edition of State Week.

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Statehouse
12:58 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

Some Adoptees Oppose Proposed Changes To Safe Haven Law

This image or similar signs are posted at places like fire and police stations, which operate as places to drop off newborn babies anonymously.
Credit Save Abandoned Babies Foundation

Some adoption rights advocates have a problem with a proposal in the Illinois legislature. It would change the Safe Haven law, which allows parents to drop off newborns at certain locations anonymously.

A new plan by Sen. Heather Steans would help protect the parents' identity even more by creating a foundling birth certificate, which would leave off information about the parents.

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Statehouse
9:31 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

Falling Union Membership? The Governor Has A Theory About That ...

Gov. Bruce Rauner shares his theory of union membership decline with members of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce in March.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has spent much of his first few months in office talking about labor unions. He’s shared not only policy proposals, but also his ideas about the history of the union movement. I wrote about the state of labor in the April edition of Illinois Issues magazine and decided to take a closer look at one the governor’s theories.

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Springfield
4:09 pm
Thu April 2, 2015

New Exhibit Features Artifacts From Lincoln Assassination

A mourning ribbon is attached to a National Union Club ribbon. James Cornelius says the Republicans ran as the Union Party in 1864. In some states, that was expanded into the National Union Party.

A new exhibit in Springfield brings together items related to the killing of President Lincoln, which happened 150 years ago this month.

The exhibit is called "A Fiendish Assassination." It includes artifacts from President Lincoln's assassination, which took place on April 14, 1865.

James Cornelius is the curator for the exhibit.

"The goal is to make people realize that it was a public event that was horrifying and yet magnetic in its power," he said.

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Budget FY16
6:42 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

In A Sea Of Looming Cuts, Speaker Madigan Proposes More Spending

House Speaker Michael Madigan says law enforcement organizations and victims' rights advocates support his proposal to give crime labs additional resources.

Illinois' powerful House speaker is staking an early claim in what's sure to be a contentious budget battle.

Billions of dollars in cuts proposed by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner already have spurred rallies at the capitol, and groups foretell of grave consequences.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he acknowledges Illinois is in a difficult budget situation, but there's one area in particular he wants to spend more on: state crime labs.

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Illinois Issues - State of the State
12:00 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Should Illinois End Its Retirement Tax Break?

Brian Mackey writes the State of the State column for Illinois Issues magazine.
Credit mattpenning.com / WUIS/Illinois Issues

News Analysis — Illinois continues to be pummeled with bad budget news. The General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget analysts at the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability say income tax receipts will be down $1.9 billion in the next fiscal year. That’s thanks to the tax cut that took effect January 1, lowering the individual income tax rate from 5 percent to 3.75 percent.

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Legisaltive Checklist
12:00 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Legislative Checklist April 2015

As the spring legislative session got into swing, lawmakers proposed several bills, including limits on need-based grants for college students and a plan to create digital driver’s licenses.

 

+ Drilling Ban On Public Land

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Noteworthy
12:00 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Bill Aims For Illinois To Follow States With Right-to-try Experimental Drug Laws

Terminally ill patients would be allowed to try experimental treatments under legislation proposed in the General Assembly. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Illinois Labor – Its Historic Rise And Gradual Fall

A World War II poster urging cooperation between management and labor.
Credit The Federal Government Via Northwestern University

In retrospect it seems obvious. Of course the fight to topple organized labor would eventually have to come to Illinois. It was only a matter of time. Labor’s perpetual weakness in the deep-red South would never be enough. And once the vanishing industrial base sufficiently enfeebled labor in the red states of the rust belt, the dwindling number of fat targets made a blue-state offensive inevitable.

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Illinois Issues - Ends and Means
12:00 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Redistricting Reformers Spring Back Into Action

Charles N. Wheeler III

News Analysis - “In the Spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,” wrote Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1835.

Today, though, chances are a lot of young men and women and folks of all ages are caught up in more than romance, as April brings with it municipal elections across Illinois and a cornucopia of sports highlights, including NBA and NHL playoffs and the start of the 2015 baseball season.

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Election 2016
2:41 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Duckworth Distances Herself From Blagojevich

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth talks about her U.S. Senate campaign on Tuesday in Springfield.
Credit Lisa Ryan

Republicans are making an issue of Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth's ties to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, now that she's running for U.S. Senate.

In 2006, then-Gov. Blagojevich appointed Duckworth to head the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Duckworth says she is proud of her time at the VA and says she is separate from the currently imprisoned Blagojevich.

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Statehouse
7:41 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Despite Budget Deal, Black Caucus At Odds With Governor

Gov. Bruce Rauner is seen in this 2014 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Editor's note appended.

Last week’s short-term budget fix underscores tensions between some Democratic lawmakers and the new Republican governor. House and Senate Democratic leaders urged their members to support the appropriations, but many didn’t. Some Hispanic legislators and members of the Legislative Black Caucus voted against the budget legislation, which funded programs several of them said were important to their respective constituents.

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Statehouse
3:13 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Two Decades After Crash, Willis Family Gets TV Show

A promotional photo for Meet The Willis Family - Credit TLC

(Information in the following story is from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://chicago.suntimes.com/)  

A new TV show is set to focus on the grandchildren of a couple who lost six kids in a 1994 van crash linked to the investigation and conviction of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the show about the Tennessee-based Willis family will premiere May 5 on TLC.  

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U.S. Senate
2:27 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Duckworth Announces A Run For U.S. Senate

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth used a YouTube video to announce her candidacy.
Credit Tammy Duckworth

U.S Sen. Mark Kirk will face a challenge from Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who announced Monday she'll run for the seat. It's unknown who else will vie for the spot, but it's already expected to be a tight race.

Duckworth, who was elected to the U.S. House in 2012, took to YouTube to declare her candidacy.

"I'm running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 because it's time for Washington to be held accountable, and to put Illinois' families and communities first," she said in the video.

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Legislation
4:54 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Measles Vaccine Legislation Seeks Delicate Balance

Credit The Blen / Creative Commons, flickr

 Legislators are trying to protect kids from measles, without offending anti-vaccine parents.

The outbreak of measles at a Palatine learning center in February has lawmakers wanting to protect children, but it's a politically sensitive topic.

When Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno presented her proposal to a legislative committee, she was upfront about her desire to not step on the toes of with parents who choose to not vaccinate their kids, while at the same time wanting to protect children.

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Band-Aid Budget
5:26 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Listen to State Week - March 27, 2015

Gov. Bruce Rauner, standing at right, address members of his Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, which met for the first time this week.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois General Assembly this week approved a fix for Illinois short-term budget problems, but deeper issues remain. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock took his final vote in Congress and gave a farewell address. Daily Herald Political Editor Mike Riopell joins the panel to discuss that and other topics on this week's edition of State Week.

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Statehouse
8:26 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Sentencing Commission Sets Ambitious Goal

Gov. Bruce Rauner, standing at right, address members of his Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

A task force meant to overhaul Illinois’ criminal justice system is meeting for the first time Thursday in Springfield.

Gov. Bruce Rauner briefly addressed the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, which he created last month by executive order, setting out an ambitious goal for emptying Illinois prisons.

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Rauner Signs First Bills
8:19 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Budget Fix Signed Into Law; Daycare Program Saved

For weeks, advocates like these childcare providers have called on legislators to remedy a budget shortfall.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Republican Bruce Rauner has signed a temporary budget fix -- his first law since becoming governor earlier this year. 

Illinois' budget has a $1.6 billion dollar gap --- the result of a spending plan Democrats passed in the spring; some had hoped then for a post-election tax increase that never came to fruition.

Democratic Senator Heather Steans of Chicago says this will fill that gap.

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