Statehouse

Shutdown Fallout
5:46 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Furloughed Workers Must Repay Unemployment

Credit WBEZ

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.

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Statehouse
5:29 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Both Sides In Same Sex Marriage Debate Gathering In Springfield

Credit flickr/geodesic

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.  

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Veto Session 2013
7:50 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Preview: Fall Veto Session

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.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

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.

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Statehouse
4:51 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Mike Lawrence Says '95 Pension Law Could Have Worked

Mike Lawrence
Credit news.siu.edu

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.

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Statehouse
3:27 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down 'Amazon Tax'

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

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.

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Statehouse
1:50 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

State Week In Review: October 18, 2013

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.

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Federal Budget
6:30 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Illinois Did Not Lose Money Under Default Threat: Rutherford

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford is seen in this August 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

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.

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Statehouse
5:16 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Governor Urged To Act On Steidl Pardon

Randy Steidl
Credit uis

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.  

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Pensions
6:04 am
Thu October 17, 2013

AFSCME's Henry Bayer Talks Pensions

Henry Bayer
Credit Afscme31.org

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.

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Statehouse
5:41 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Ill. Supreme Court Will Hear Lawmaker Pay Dispute

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.  

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Statehouse
3:48 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

State Defends Hiring After Madigan Referral

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

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.  

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Statehouse
7:58 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Quinn Outpacing GOP Counterparts In Fundraising

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.

Four Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination.

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Statehouse
7:17 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Treasurer's Office Monitoring Risk Of U.S. Debt Default

Dan Rutherford
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

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.

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Pension Overhaul
5:07 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Quinn Responds To Pension Absence, Begins Reach Out

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.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

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.

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Statehouse
1:30 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Cullerton Says Pension Issue Could Bypass Committee

Sen. John Cullerton
Credit Illinois Senate

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.  

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Pension Overhaul - Updated
7:23 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Gov. Quinn "AWOL" From Pension Committee's Talks

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.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

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 ...

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Pensions
3:33 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Pension Committee Divided On A Fix

Credit wuis

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.  

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Statehouse
11:50 am
Mon October 14, 2013

LINK Card Outage Resolved

Credit dhs

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.  

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Statehouse
11:44 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Member Of State Panel Resigns After Hosting Political Fundraiser

Sen. Martin Sandoval

A member of a board that helps choose engineers to
design Illinois roads has resigned after he co-hosted a political fundraiser for the chairman of the state Senate's Transportation Committee. 

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Statehouse
5:55 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Mandatory Prison For Gun Crimes? NRA Says No

Credit Steve Lipofsky/Basketballphoto.com via Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Pension Overhaul
5:24 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Pension Committee Considering Adding 401(k) Option

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.
Credit MikeZalewski.com

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.

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Statehouse
2:35 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Quinn Acts On Clemency Requests

Gov. Pat Quinn

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

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Statehouse
1:47 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Listen To State Week - October 11, 2013

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.

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Statehouse
11:12 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Durkin Picks Members of House GOP Leadership Team

Credit ilga.gov

The new Republican leader in the Illinois House of Representatives has named his leadership team.

Western Springs Rep. Jim Durkin is keeping most of the assistants who reported to Oswego Rep. Tom Cross, who left the top position in the chamber to run for Illinois treasurer.

Peoria Rep. David Leitch and Westmont Rep. Patti Bellock will be the chamber's deputy GOP leaders.

Leitch, who is the longest-serving Republican in the chamber, held the same position under Cross.

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Statehouse
8:51 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Interview: State Senator Andy Manar

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)

State Senator Andy Manar (D - Bunker Hill) is in his first term serving the 48th District.  It stretches from Springfield and Decatur south into Madison County.

Before he was elected, Manar spent time as Chief of Staff to Senate President John Cullerton and served as Chairman of the Macoupin County Board.

Manar sat down with WUIS' Sean Crawford to talk about some of the issues facing state government, including public pensions, tax incentives for ADM, education funding and how he was considered as a possible running mate to former gubernatorial candidate Bill Daley:

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Federal Shutdown
1:17 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Most Laid Off State Workers Back Despite Shutdown

Credit Wikimedia commons

Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office says most state workers whose salaries are paid by federal money are back on the job, but more layoffs could come if the federal shutdown continues.
 
Roughly 100 workers were issued temporary layoffs last week, including employees with the Department of Military Affairs, the Illinois Department of
Employment Security and Labor Department.
 
Quinn's budget office says temporary layoffs for more than 70 employees expired Wednesday. The U.S. House has approved back pay for some workers.
 

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Election 2014
8:48 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Rauner Picks Running Mate

Evelyn Sanguinetti
Credit City of Wheaton website

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has selected Wheaton City Council member Evelyn Sanguinetti as his running mate.  
The businessman announced his choice Tuesday morning in a statement.  
Sanguinetti is a lawyer who was once an assistant attorney general in Illinois. She's the daughter of immigrants and was born in Florida.  
Rauner is the last 2014 Republican candidate in the race to name a lieutenant governor pick.  

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Statehouse
5:48 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Shutdown Could Impact More State Workers

Gov. Pat Quinn says if the federal government shutdown continues the state will have to lay off more workers whose paychecks come from federal funding. 

Illinois has already issued nearly 100 such temporary layoffs. They include employees with the state Department of Military Affairs, economic analysts at the Illinois Department of Employment Security and employees with the Labor Department who handle workplace safety inspections. 

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Election 2014
2:16 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Court Case Could Upend Illinois Campaign Caps

Credit flickr/borman18

The scandal that brought down former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich led to campaign-contribution caps in Illinois. Advocates of the limits are fearful a case set to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday could upend their efforts.

 The campaign finance law Illinois politicians passed in 2009 restricts how much cash companies, unions and people can give to individual candidates. Theoretically, you can give that maximum contribution to every state candidate in Illinois.

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State Week
2:50 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Listen To State Week - October 4, 2013

This week's topics include the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in Illinois, how the Federal Shutdown is affecting the state, and the debate over tax breaks for Archer Daniels Midland and other companies.

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