Statehouse

Statehouse
7:02 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Audit Finds State Computers Missing

Illinois' prison systems have misplaced $200,000 of computer equipment.  As Amanda Vinicky reports, the state's auditor general says that poses security risks. 

105 laptops are missing from the Illinois Department of Corrections - plus an additional 51 desktops.

According to a new audit,there's a risk confidential information stored on the computers could be exposed.

But D.O.C. spokesman Tom Shaer says that's not likely.

"We don't believe that these computers are laying around somewhere compromising security."

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Statehouse
1:21 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Same Sex Marriage Ruling Set For September

Credit WBEZ

A Cook County judge won't decide until late September on whether to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state's same sex marriage ban.
 
Circuit Judge Sophia Hall listened to nearly two hours of arguments on Tuesday. She then said she'll rule on Sept. 27. The lawsuit involves 25 couples who filed for marriage licenses in Cook County and were denied.
 
However, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has refused to defend the state's ban, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. She says it violates the state constitution.
 

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Statehouse
10:31 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Oral Arguments Over Lawmaker Pay Set For Next Month

Gov. Pat Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn predicts that a lawsuit over his decision to suspend lawmaker pay for failing to act on the state pension crisis will be a ``landmark'' case.  
Quinn attended a court hearing Tuesday involving a lawsuit filed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton force Quinn and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to issue paychecks.  
A Cook County Circuit Court judge set oral arguments for Sept. 18.  

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Statehouse
7:16 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Madigan And Cullerton Want Court Action On Lawmaker Pay

Cook County Circuit Court Buiding
Credit Wikimedia Commons/user: kmaschke

Attorneys for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton will be in Cook County Circuit Court Tuesday to try and force Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to issue legislators' paychecks.

Last month, Quinn cut $13.8 million for legislators' paychecks in the state budget. He'd threatened consequences if lawmakers failed to act on addressing the pension problem. When a bipartisan pension failed to meet a deadline, Quinn cut their salaries.

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Statehouse
5:51 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Interview: Secretary of State Jesse White

Jesse White
Credit Secretary of State's Office

Jesse White was first elected Secretary of State in 1998 - a position he's running for again in 2014. 

The Chicago Democrat told Amanda Vinicky that's what's determining his stance on the race at the top of the ballot, as Governor Pat Quinn faces primary opposition from Bill Daley.  

But before they talked politics, White told Vinicky about why he believes three new laws the governor signed Monday, August 5th will make the roads safer:

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Traffic Safety Laws
4:51 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

70 mph, Cell Phone Ban Bills Await Action

Secretary of State Jesse White
Credit Secretary of State's Office / Secretary of State

  Illinois has a trio of new laws that officials say will make the roads safer.  But the governor has yet to act on other measures that could have a significant impact on drivers.

Two of the new laws apply to people who've already had traffic troubles, like one named after 15-year-old Kelsey Little, who was seriously hurt in 2011 when she was hit by a teen just learning how to drive.

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Medical Marijuana
4:35 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Medical Marijuana In Ill. - Interview With Brian Mackey

Credit Wikimedia Commons/user: Bogdan

Governor Pat Quinn recently signed a measure that makes Illinois the 20th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. But how long until it actually goes into effect? And what sort of restrictions will there be for patients hopeful to gain a prescription to the drug? WUIS's  statehouse reporter Brian Mackey recently discussed the news with us:  

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Medical Marijuana
1:06 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Governor Quinn Signs Medical Marijuana Legalization For Ill.

Credit Wikimedia Commons/user: Bogdan

CHICAGO (AP)- Illinois has become the 20th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill into law today at a new University of Chicago medical facility.

Illinois' law takes effect Jan. 1, but it'll take several months before medical marijuana will be available for purchase. The measure outlines a four-year pilot program for patients suffering from more than 30 serious illnesses or diseases.

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Statehouse
10:12 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Governor To Sign Medical Marijuana Bill

Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will sign legislation making the state the 20th in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana.

His remarks Thursday will focus on providing relief to the seriously ill, including veterans.

The Chicago Democrat will also tout the legislation's strict standards, which experts say are among the nation's toughest. That's according to a copy of details obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

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Pensions
10:02 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

After Long Silence, Quinn Aide Meets With Key Pension Lawmaker

Sen. Kwame Raoul, standing at right, presided over a hearing on pension legislation in this July 3, 2013 file photo.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

A day after Illinois legislative leaders sued Governor Pat Quinn for vetoing lawmakers' salaries, the governor continued lashing out at the General Assembly for not passing a pension overhaul.

Quinn has consistently tried to portray himself as being engaged in the negotiations over pensions. But members of the legislative committee trying to come up with a compromise say that's not true.

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To Boldly Go
2:07 am
Wed July 31, 2013

What's The Deal With 'Exploring' Candidates?

Bill Daley spent more than a month "exploring" a run for governor of Illinois, though he also said he was "totally committed, 100 percent in" to the race.
Credit The White House

Tuesday's declaration by Bill Daley that he was "officially" running for governor was one of the least surprising announcements of this political season. You could be forgiven for thinking he was already running in the Democratic primary. But Daley insists that until this week, he was just "exploring" a bid for governor.

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Salary Veto
6:30 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Legislative Leaders Sue Governor Over Pay

Gov. Pat Quinn is seen at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in this July 29, 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The leaders of the Illinois General Assembly have sued Governor Pat Quinn over his veto of lawmakers' salaries. They say they're trying to protect the independence of the legislature.

Quinn vetoed lawmakers salaries out of the budget as a sort-of punishment for not passing legislation to overhaul Illinois' government-employee pension systems.

In a joint lawsuit filed in Cook County, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton say the governor overstepped his bounds.

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Conference Committee
6:00 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Lawmakers Said To Be Compromising On Pensions

State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, announces his candidacy for governor in this June 26, 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A member of the Illinois legislature's special committee on pensions says the group is closing in on a compromise. But it remains to be seen whether the measure will have enough support in the full General Assembly.

The 10-members of the bipartisan conference committee have been meeting for more than a month. A good chunk of that time has been waiting for actuaries to analyze the various proposals — seeing how much of Illinois' nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities might be eliminated.

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2014 Election
5:55 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Daley Campaign To File With Illinois Board Of Elections

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley is making his Illinois gubernatorial bid official.

He's set to remove his "exploratory committee'' label Tuesday by filing paperwork with the Illinois Board of Elections. So far, he's Gov. Pat Quinn's only 2014 Democratic primary challenger.

In a video on his campaign website, Daley says the fact that the state Legislature adjourned in May without finding a solution to the pension crisis or voting on same-sex marriage represents a "dysfunction.''

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Concealed Carry Law
1:15 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Judge Tosses Bid For Immediate Concealed Carry

U.S. District Court in East St. Louis
Credit www.ilsd.uscourts.gov

A federal judge is rejecting a legal bid by gun-rights advocates who wanted people to be able to immediately carry firearms in Illinois under the state's new concealed carry law.

East St. Louis U.S. District Judge William Stiehl threw out the lawsuit filed by Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association, siding with the state and saying the legal action is moot.

Shepard and the rifle group had argued it was unconstitutional to make people wait for the permit process to be outlined under the new concealed carry law that lawmakers passed July 9.

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Legislative Salaries Frozen
5:54 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Credit Union Offers Lawmakers Zero Interest Loans

Illinois legislators were supposed to get their next monthly paycheck on Thursday, August 1st.  But Governor Pat Quinn vetoed their salaries out of the budget.  Amanda Vinicky reports on how lawmakers may be able to get by.

Many legislators won't feel the pinch too deeply.

Serving in the General Assembly is technically a part-time occupation ... and many own businesses, are partners at law firms, or have other government jobs.  

But many don't, and are their family's sole breadwinner.

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University of Illinois
5:44 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Mooney Steps Into Leadership Role At IGPA

Chris Mooney
Credit igpa.uillinois.edu/person/christopher-z-mooney

University of Illinois Springfield political scientist Chris Mooney will take over next month as the head of U of I's Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

WUIS listeners know Mooney as a frequent panelist on State Week in Review.

Mooney says the Institute's researchers and professors can bring together the university's resources to help lawmakers deal with the state's problems.

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Pensions
6:11 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Business Group Refuses Comment on Bond Accusation

An influential group of business executives is declining to comment on the possibility it helped to lower Illinois' credit rating. But public employees’ unions are calling for an investigation.

The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago — and one of its leaders, former Illinois Attorney General Ty Fahner — were early leaders of the charge to do something about the state's underfunded pensions.

Fahner's been one of the most vocal advocates of doing not just something, but something major, to bring down the state's pension costs.

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Agrees To Serve Six Months In Prison
5:17 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Former IL Lawmaker Pleads Guilty To Federal Charge

Former Rep. Connie Howard (D-Chicago) leaves the federal courthouse in Springfield after pleading guilty to a single count of mail fraud.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  A former state legislator is the latest in a string of Illinois politicians to come under federal scrutiny for misconduct.  Wednesday,  longtime Rep. Connie Howard pleaded guilty to mail fraud.  

Though she'd served since 1995, Connie Howard is no longer a member of the House. 

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Concealed Carry Law
4:55 am
Wed July 24, 2013

LRS Awarded Background Check System Contracts

Credit www.fbi.gov

  Illinois has awarded contracts for computer upgrades intended to screen out people prohibited from carrying concealed weapons under the state's new gun legislation. The State Journal-Register reports on two contracts totaling more than $350,000.

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Statehouse
3:39 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Gov. Quinn Hints At August Special Session

Gov. Pat Quinn is hinting at the possibility of a special session on pensions when lawmakers are in Springfield next month for the Illinois State Fair.
A bipartisan panel is attempting to come up with a solution to the nearly $100 billion crisis after the House and Senate remained deadlocked. However the panel blew past Quinn's deadline on pensions and he halted their pay as a consequence.
Quinn told reporters Tuesday that legislators will be in Springfield for the annual days devoted to state political leaders. But he wouldn't specifically sayif that's his plan.

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Concealed Carry Legislation
9:30 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Some Municipalities Race To Pass Gun Bans As Deadline Looms

Credit www.sxc.hu

It could be months before law-abiding gun owners can get a permit to carry a handgun in public.  But a separate provision of Illinois’ new concealed carry law has already taken effect. 

Beginning July 19, communities lose the ability to enact local restrictions on firearms.  Those ordinances that are already in place will remain valid, while any future controls would have to be approved by the legislature.

WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky gives the local gun control issue some historical context in this report:

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Caterpillar: Policy's Anticompetitive
5:21 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Illinois Business Coalition Calls For Immigration Overhaul

A somewhat unlikely coalition is calling on Illinois' Congressional delegation to support an overhaul of the nation's immigration policy.       

                                                                           

At a Springfield roundtable discussing immigration, Mark Peters, an attorney with Peoria-based Caterpillar, started off his remarks by saying: "This would be a ... a really bad preface to a poor joke about a sheriff, a lawyer and a priest going into a bar..."

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Same-Sex Marriage Legislation
7:17 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Gay Rights Advocacy Coalition Picks New Campaign Director

John Kohlhepp
Credit Crain's Chicago Business

WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky speaks with John Kohlhepp, the newly selected Campaign Director for Illinois Unites for Marriage.  The coalition is pouring about $2M into a new push to get same-sex marriage legislation approved in the Illinois House. 

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Election 2014
6:15 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Quinn Suddenly Ready To Talk Politics, Disses Daley

Bill Daley, on the left, is a likely primary challenger for Gov. Pat Quinn, on the right in this stitch of separate photos.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  With Attorney General Lisa Madigan out of the race for Governor,  incumbent Pat Quinn turned his focus to another potential opponent,  Bill Daley.  It's an early indication of the campaign to come.

                                           

Republicans have a somewhat crowded field of four candidates hoping to be Illinois' next Governor.

For now, though, Democrats have only two: former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and Governor Pat Quinn.

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Corruption
7:47 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Blagojevich's Appeal Not Likely To Succeed, Given Ryan's Failed Attempts

US Marshals photo of Fmr. Gov. Blagojevich on the day of his arrest
Credit wikipedia.org

Rod Blagojevich faces long odds with the appeal of his federal corruption conviction, just as did his predecessor as Illinois governor, George Ryan.
 
Blagojevich's attorney filed an appeal late Monday with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the higher court toss to Blagojevich's convictions or,
at least, to reduce his 14-year prison sentence.
 
Prosecutors have 30 days to file a response to the appeal. Oral arguments before a three-judge panel could be scheduled soon thereafter.
 
Blagojevich is now 56 and in a prison outside Denver.

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Election 2014
8:15 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Lisa Madigan Not Running For Governor

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan testified before a Congressional committee in this 2011 file photo.
Credit flickr.com/jrockefelleriv

After months of speculation that Gov. Pat Quinn would face a primary challenge from Lisa Madigan, the Attorney General announced Monday she would not run for governor.

Madigan says she will seek a fourth term instead of challenging Quinn for the Democratic nomination.

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2014 Election
6:52 am
Mon July 15, 2013

State Sen. Dillard Enters 2014 Race For Governor

State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westont)
Credit dillard.senategop.org

State Sen. Kirk Dillard is officially announcing his gubernatorial bid for the 2014 election Monday, joining an already crowded field but contending he is the one Republican who can win the general election.

Dillard is the fourth GOP member to announce a challenge to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn since June, joining state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, state Sen. Bill Brady and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner.

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Political Patronage Allegations
5:57 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Metra CEO Memo Reveals More Madigan Involvement

House Speaker Mike Madigan

A memo by the former CEO of the Metra commuter rail service contends that Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan lobbied not only for a pay raise for an associate at the agency, but also sought employment for another person.

The memo by Alex Clifford was cited Thursday at a contentious legislative committee hearing on Clifford's resignation and a $718,000 separation agreement.

Clifford says in the memo that he was told before his ouster that he had damaged Metra and its future funding "by my refusal to accede to Speaker Madigan's requests."

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Guns
8:28 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Ill. AG Objects To Call For Immediate Concealed Carry

The state of Illinois is asking a federal court to reject a push by gun-rights advocates to let the residents start publicly carrying handguns as soon as next week, rather than waiting months for implementation of a new concealed carry law.
 
Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office asked a judge Thursday to throw out the request filed in East St. Louis by Mary Shepard. Shepard filed the injunction a day after lawmakers lifted the last-in-the-nation ban.  The state argues Shepard needs to file a new complaint instead of a motion seeking an emergency hearing from a judge.

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