Statehouse

State Week in Review
3:14 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Listen To State Week - September 20, 2013

This week's topics include Bill Daley's decision to drop out of the Democratic Primary for Illinois Governor, legal arguments over Governor Quinn's suspension of lawmakers' pay, and debate before the Illinois Supreme Court on the legality of changing retirees' health care.

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Election 2014
4:28 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Democrats To Slate ... Even Though There's No Competition

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin speaks at a previous meeting of leading Democrats - the party's county chairmen - in Springfield this summer. Durbin, who's running for re-election, is expected to attend Sunday's meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee in Springfield. He faces no primary challenge.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Illinois' leading Democrats will meet in Springfield on Sunday. They're supposed to decide endorse candidates for next year's primary election ... even though there are no longer any competitive races.

Democrats have rarely slated candidates in recent years.

But this time - with incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn facing a primary challenge from former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley - the state party was going to consider picking a favorite.

Not anymore. Daley's no longer in the running. He dropped out. Leaving Quinn without a serious challenge.

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Election 2014
11:44 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Grogan Says He's Best Qualified To Be Treasurer

Bob Grogan
Credit Dupage County official website

A suburban Chicago Republican running for Illinois treasurer says he has the best qualifications for the job as an accountant and county auditor.  

Bob Grogan of Downers Grove is the only 2014 opponent so far to House Republican Leader Tom Cross.  
Grogan says he knows he doesn't have the name recognition that Cross does, but he's spent years straightening out public finances and wants to do the same for the state. Grogan is a certified public accountant who worked for a downtown Chicago firm. He's since been twice elected auditor of DuPage County.  

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The Underwear Test
7:35 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Resolution Calls on Governor To Live in Mansion On Session Days

In downtown Chicago, the city's flag and the state flag fly side-by-side. Gov. Quinn's office says he lives in both Chicago and in the capital city.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  You never know what'll come up during a candidates' debate. Back in 2010, it was Gov. Pat Quinn's underwear.

As proof that he lives in Springfield, Quinn offered that he keeps his underwear at the governor's mansion.

It's become clear he also keeps pairs in Chicago.

Like his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, Quinn has repeatedly come under fire for not spending enough time in the capital.

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Illinois Supreme Court
6:30 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Should State Retirees Pay For Health Insurance?

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Retired state workers who collect pensions in Illinois started paying health insurance premiums this summer. That's because of a change in the law last year — previously health insurance was free for anyone who retired with at least 20 years of service.

A number of retirees sued over the change. The case was argued Wednesday before the Illinois Supreme Court.

A few months ago, Illinois began collecting one percent of pension income from retirees who are eligible for Medicare, two percent from those who aren't.

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Statehouse
5:43 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Ruling On Lawmaker's Paychecks Expected Next Week

Credit flickr/longitudelatitude

A Cook County Circuit Court judge says he will rule next week on a lawsuit over Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to halt lawmakers' pay. Judge Neil Cohen held oral arguments Wednesday. He said he'll issue his
decision by Sept. 26.
 
Quinn used his line-item veto to cut money for legislators' salaries from the
state budget because they hadn't fixed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension
crisis.
 
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, saying
Quinn's actions were unconstitutional. They asked Cohen to order Comptroller

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Statehouse
5:33 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Rep. Cross Officially Launches Bid For Treasurer

Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, is stepping down as House Minority Leader to run for state treasurer.
Credit www.tomcross.com

House Republican Leader Tom Cross says he's running for Illinois treasurer because the office has more opportunity than ever before in helping turn around Illinois' financial woes.

The Oswego lawmaker is leaving his leadership post to campaign. He launched a two-day tour Wednesday with stops planned in Chicago, Rockford and Moline.

Cross tells The Associated Press he knows the budget as well as any person and wants the treasurer's office to play a bigger role in making sure it's balanced. 

Treasurer Dan Rutherford is seeking the GOP nomination for governor.

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Historic Preservation
8:02 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Octagonal Barn Near Carrollton To Be Moved

Credit Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

On Thursday morning, a unique barn near Carrollton will begin a trip to a new location where it will be preserved for decades to come. The plan to move the Fry Octagonal Barn, rather than see it torn down, is the result of cooperation between the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

Workers will start moving the barn, located on North Park Road in Carrollton, (http://www.mapquest.com/?q=39.3064,-90.4013) at 9 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 19. The move should take about two days.

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Health Desk
6:49 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Public vs. Private Job To Scrub State Medicaid Rolls

Director of Illinois' Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Julie Hamos
Credit Illinois.gov

  Illinois' attempts to remove ineligible people from the state's Medicaid rolls are on hold, as Illinois and its largest public employees' union fight over who should actually do the scrubbing. The state says it will appeal a ruling that says it has to cancel its $77 million dollar contract with an outside firm.

Big changes are ahead for Medicaid, the state's health insurance program for the poor. Hundreds of thousands of residents are expected to be added to the rolls under the federal health care law.

But first, Illinois wants to remove people who are ineligible.

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Statehouse
5:15 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Battle Over Pollution Controls At Coal Fired Power Plants

Credit Veronique LaCapra/Stlpublicradio

A labor coalition wants Illinois' pollution control board to waive pollution controls at coal-fired plants being sold by Ameren Corp.  
The AFL-CIO made its position known at the Illinois Pollution Control Board meeting in Springfield on Tuesday.  
The AFL-CIO says that move by the board would provide certainty to employers and communities in central and southern Illinois. But environmental groups say pollution upgrades are needed.  

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Election 2014
4:40 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Daley: Didn't Realize 'Enormity' Of Being A Candidate

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley says his decision to drop out of the 2014 gubernatorial race doesn't mean he couldn't beat Gov. Pat Quinn.

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Election 2014
3:07 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Brady Selects Running Mate

Sen. Bill Brady introduces Maria Rodriguez Tuesday.
Credit BradyforGovernor

Republican state Sen. Bill Brady is naming former Long Grove Mayor Maria Rodriguez as his gubernatorial running mate.  
The Bloomington businessman and 2010 GOP nominee for governor made the formal announcement Tuesday at an event at the Union League Club in Chicago.  

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Election 2014
12:01 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Daley Drops Out Of Governor's Race

Bill Daley attended a Democratic County Chairmen Association breakfast this summer during his brief campaign for governor. Following his speech, Daley said that if Democrats again nominate Gov. Pat Quinn, Republicans will win in the general election.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley will not run for Illinois governor after all. His campaign spokesman says Daley will explain more at a press conference in Chicago Tuesday morning.

Daley has flirted with running for office before, only to back out.

This time, he insisted he was in it for keeps. In a campaign video about two months ago, Daley said "I'm committed to running for governor. There is no exploratory piece in this anymore."

But Daley's campaign confirmed Monday night that he's dropping out of the race.

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Election 2014
5:00 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Marine To Challenge Lisa Madigan

Attorney Paul Schimpf retired from the Marine Corps this year.
Credit Schimpf campaign photo

Attorney General Lisa Madigan beat her last opponent by more than a million votes. Her decision to run for re-election next year scared away most of the people who'd been eyeing her job. But at least one Republican is throwing his hat in the ring.

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Brunch
6:35 am
Mon September 16, 2013

In Some Illinois Prisons, Two Meals A Day

Credit flickr/meeshpants

More and more prisoners in Illinois are being served brunch, eating two meals a day instead of three. Prison officials say it's actually better for many inmates.

Feeding prisoners is a lot of work — not only cooking and cleaning up, but moving inmates from cells or dorms over to the mess hall.

Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer says at some prisons, breakfast is served at 4 a.m., which means moving inmates in the dark.

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Capitol Renovations
3:26 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Architect: Quinn's Comments Are "Out Of Line"

Capitol architect Richard Alsop leads a meeting Friday of the board that oversees him; the governor's criticisms were not discussed reporters asked Alsop about it after the meeting adjourned.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  The architect of the Illinois Capitol is swinging back at Governor Pat Quinn's accusations that he's responsible for controversial purchases, like $670-thousand dollar copper doors for the Statehouse.

Construction crews spent years renovating the state Capitol's west wing, but its unveiling has been tarnished by reports of what the rehab included, like doors that are as expensive as a large home and chandeliers that rang up to $320,000.

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Statehouse
1:37 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Listen To State Week - September 13, 2013

This week's topics include Democratic Party choices for endorsement of a Governor candidate, Secretary of State Jesse White announces he'll seek re-election, and the controversy over Capitol Building renovations continues.

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Election 2014
10:40 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Topinka To Run Again For Comptroller

Judy Baar Topinka

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says she's hitting the road to announce her candidacy for re-election.  Topinka put out a schedule Thursday detailing stops across Illinois. Her trip starts Sunday in Chicago and ends Tuesday in Marion in southern Illinois. In between she'll make stops in Rockford, Moline, Peoria, Quincy, Springfield, Edwardsville and Mount Vernon.  
Topinka says in the announcement that she's running for re-election ``to fight against the ill-advised spending and reckless borrowing that has decimated state finances.'' 

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Statehouse
10:26 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Oversight Board Members Defend State Capitol Renovation Expenses

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Members of a board overseeing renovations to the state Capitol are defending decisions to include ornate features that have raised eyebrows.

The four-person board says the inclusion of copper-plated doors and chandeliers was "a mere fraction of the work being done.'' They say the $50 million renovation was mostly about safety and followed all budget and procedural requirements. 

Three sets of copper doors each cost $223,000 and the chandeliers cost $80,000.  Gov. Pat Quinn has halted funding for future renovations until a review of the expenditures. 

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Election 2014
12:47 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Quinn Seeks Party Endorsement; Daley Says It's Too Early

Gov. Pat Quinn says the state Democratic Party ought to support its incumbent governor.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Democratic Party of Illinois says it'll meet later this month to consider slating statewide candidates in next year's election. But at least one of those candidates thinks its a bad idea.

It's been rare for the state Democratic Party to get involved in recent primary elections. That makes the announcement of the meeting something of a surprise.

Democratic Party chairman Mike Madigan — you may also know him as speaker of the Illinois House — says the meeting will give the candidates an opportunity to "convey the strengths they bring to the ticket."

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Concealed Carry
11:03 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Overturns Gun Conviction, Keeps Ban For Minors

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

Illinois' old law banning the concealed carry of firearms took another hit Thursday. A federal court already found it unconstitutional last year. Now the Illinois Supreme Court has taken the same position.

Alberto Aguilar was 17 when Chicago police arrested him for having a loaded handgun with the serial number scratched off.

He was convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm and sentenced to 24 months probation.

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Illinois Supreme Court
7:00 am
Thu September 12, 2013

In Quest For Lower Taxes, How Far Is Too Far?

The Illinois Supreme Court bench is seen in this file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in case that asks whether the Hartney Fuel Oil Company went too far in trying to secure a lower tax rate for its product.

Harney sells gas to big transportation companies — railroads, trucking firms, that sort of thing.

Until 2008, you could have been forgiven for thinking Hartney was based in Forest View, in Cook County. After all, the company had a building there where all of its employees worked.

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Statehouse
9:22 am
Wed September 11, 2013

Urbana State Rep Not Seeking Another Term

Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana)
Credit www.ilga.gov

A long-time state representative from Urbana says she won't run for a 7th term in office.

The Champaign News-Gazette reports Rep. Naomi Jakobsson made her announcement Tuesday evening in an email to supporters.

The Democrat says the decision to not seek re-election wasn't easy, but says it's been an "honor'' to serve the community.

The 71-year-old was first elected in 2002.

Her campaign manager, Michael Richards, sent an email to supporters after Jakobsson's announcement. He says he'll run for her seat. 

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Capitol Renovations
8:31 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Daley: Pulling Capitol Rehab Funding Too Little, Too Late

Illinois’ capitol was designed in the late 1800s. Critics are upset about the money spent restoring the statehouse to what architect J. Richard Alsop III calls its “period of historic significance,” with fixtures like this statue of a maiden – which cost approximately $40,000.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  The Governor says he's put a hold on future renovations of Illinois' Statehouse, a move his challenger calls too little, too late.

The fuss over how much money the state has spent redoing the west wing of the Illinois Capitol continues to brew. Some of the $50 million dollar project was done to fix ventilation issues and bring the building up to fire code, but $323,000 paid for gargantuan chandeliers created to look like antiques, and nearly $700,000 was spent on a set of copper doors.

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Statehouse
5:45 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Quinn Halts Funding For Statehouse Renovation

A new exit sign hangs in the west wing of the statehouse.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Pat Quinn has suspended funding for future renovations at the Capitol, a pricey project that's already caused embarrassment for financially-shaky Illinois and raised questions about how it was allowed.  
The Chicago Democrat told reporters Tuesday that he's instructed his budget director to hold up appropriations for renovations that are yet to be done.  

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Gasoline Taxes
9:53 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Spending, Savings Fuel Gas Tax Proposals

Credit Amanda Vinicky

As gas prices rise and fall, there's one constant: however much you pay to fill your gas tank, it's taxed. Several proposals would change how.

In Illinois, gasoline is taxed twice.

"What we have in Illinois is a tax on a tax," Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) says. "Which is just wrong. Because right now we get charged with the motor fuel tax. But then on top of that, they charge a sales tax."

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Statehouse
6:30 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Moody's: Illinois Economy Finally In 'Recovery'

Credit Flickr user spDuchamp (Creative Commons)

Illinois has been one of the slowest states to recover from the Great Recession. But at least one analyst says things are getting better.

Illinois is no longer at immediate risk of recession, and is in fact beginning to recover. That, at least, is the assessment of economist Steve Cochrane, with Moody's Analytics.

"The housing market is picking up in Chicago," Cochrane says. "The large service- and finance-based economy in Chicago also seems to be picking a little bit, and hiring is improving."

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Election 2014
4:29 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Two Former Governors Backing Dillard

Sen. Kirk Dillard
Credit DillardforGovernor

Two former GOP Illinois governors are asking party leaders to back state Sen. Kirk Dillard in the 2014 gubernatorial primary, saying he's the only Republican who can win the general election.
 
Former Govs. Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson have endorsed Dillard. They sent a letter earlier this week to all GOP county and township chairmen and ward
committeemen. They say the Hinsdale legislator is a seasoned campaigner and the only candidate who ``can take the fight to the entrenched Democrats that
dominate the state capitol.''
 

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Statehouse
2:48 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Listen to State Week - September 6, 2013

This week's topics include the next Governors race and some questions about the cost of renovating the State Capitol Building.

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Economy
5:52 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Departing Chamber President: Politicians Not Doing Enough To Create Jobs

Doug Whitley, 63, will retire next year after a dozen years as president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. He submitted his resignation Thursday at the chamber's board meeting. " “It will be good for the Illinois Chamber to have a new leader with a fresh perspective when the next gubernatorial administration starts, whether Gov. Pat Quinn is re-elected or we have a new governor,” Whitley said in a statement.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

After twelve years as President of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Doug Whitley's retiring next year.

Whitley says he's leaving disappointed, as the latest data showed Illinois with the second highest unemployment in the nation, behind Nevada.

And he says political leaders haven't done enough about it, except for one - Chicago's mayor: "With the exception of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, I don't hear any other political leaders in our state talking about jobs, trying to recruit jobs, trying to announce new jobs and showing a sincere concern with unemployment," Whitley says.

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