Statehouse

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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Veto Session Wrap-Up
3:26 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Legislators Leave Capital, But They May Be Back

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois legislators wrapped up their two-week veto session this afternoon (Nov. 7), though they may be back in Springfield before the year's end.

The General Assembly knocked one, big item off its to-do list: same-sex marriage. After intense lobbying on both sides, lawmakers on Tuesday sent the governor a measure that will allow gays and lesbians to marry.

The rest of the major issues on the General Assembly's agenda remain:

-a tax package crafted to ensure Archer Daniels Midland keeps its headquarters in Illinois is on hold

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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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