Statehouse

Statehouse
5:12 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Father-In-Law Reflects On Blagojevich

Credit WBEZ

Retiring Chicago Alderman Dick Mell says his falling out with son-in-law Rod Blagojevich and the former Illinois governor's imprisonment for corruption continue to weigh heavily on him.  
Mell spoke with reporters Friday about his nearly 40 years as a City Council member.  
The 75-year-old says the events surrounding his son-in-law and his wife's death were two painful episodes in his life. He says they ``put a damper'' on what he otherwise regards as a lucky and fulfilling life.  
Mell says it was difficult to say what he really feels about Blagojevich, but he hopes Blagojevich gets an appeal and that his 14-year sentence could be reduced.  
Mell aided Blagojevich's rise to governor, but says he now wished he had ``done things differently.''

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Concealed Carry
4:17 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Quinn Goes To Wrigley Field To Sell Concealed Carry Stance

Governor Pat Quinn took his anti-gun message to the streets Friday. He spoke with reporters outside Wrigley Field in Chicago.
People come to Wrigleyville to watch the Chicago Cubs. Many of them also come to drink.
The neighborhood is home to many bars, and Quinn used that to highlight a change he's demanding in concealed-carry legislation.
As originally passed by the House and Senate, guns would only be banned at businesses that get more than half their revenue from selling alcohol -- basically, that means bars.

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Home Front Law
7:00 am
Fri July 5, 2013

New Rule To Help Lawyers In Military Families

This week, a new Illinois Supreme Court rule took effect that's intended to make it easier for spouses of military personnel to get a law license.

Angela Allen practices law in Chicago and, with a husband in the Illinois National Guard, she's one of about 800 members of the Military Spouse J.D. Network.

Allen says the job market for lawyers is tough enough as it is, but with the frequent transfers that are a part of military life, she says the time and expense of getting a new state law license made it even harder on the lawyer-spouses.

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Conference Committee
5:33 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Stalemate On When Pension Stalemate Must End

Democratic legislators Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) and Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) prepare to begin the General Assembly's conference committee hearing on pensions.
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Gov. Pat Quinn's office says his July 9 deadline for a pension overhaul stands, even though the leader of a special legislative panel formed to come up with a solution says there's no way to meet it.

It was a similar story about this time last year. 

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Montford Point Marines
7:00 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Springfield Vet Honored for World War 2 Service In Segregated Unit

DeLoyce McMurray served in the Marine Corps during World War II. He and more than 19,000 other African Americans became known as "Montford Point Marines" — named for the location of their segregated boot camp.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin was in Springfield Tuesday, presiding over a ceremony to honor a World War II veteran.

Four days after DeLoyce McMurray graduated from high school, he joined the Marines. But instead of training at Parris Island, McMurray was sent to Montford Point. That's where the segregated Marine Corps trained its African-American recruits.

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Concealed carry
6:45 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Quinn Rewrites Gun Bill; Critics Question Motive

Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) shepherds his concealed carry legislation, HB183, through the Illinois House on the final days of session in May.
Credit Chris Slaby/WUIS

With a week to go before a deadline requiring Illinois allow people to carry guns in public, Gov. Pat Quinn today vetoed the legislation that would have authorized concealed carry.  The Democrat claims he's concerned about public safety, but he's already under fire by critics who say it's a political stunt. The measure's sponsor has already filed paperwork to override Quinn's changes.

Illinois is the only state in the nation without some form of concealed carry.

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Statehouse
3:38 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Lawmakers Will Address Concealed Carry Next Week

Lawmakers are being called back to Springfield to consider Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed changes on a concealed carry bill.
House Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman Steve Brown said Tuesday the House
will convene in regular session July 9. Senate President John Cullerton's spokeswoman says senators will join them. 
That's the day Illinois must meet a court-mandated deadline to legalize concealed carry.
Quinn used his amendatory veto power Tuesday to make significant changes. But the bill's sponsor intends to call for an override.
 

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Statehouse
11:30 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Governor Changes Concealed Carry Measure

Gov. Pat Quinn says he wants to change concealed carry legislation because it has ``serious flaws'' and was inspired by the National Rifle Association.  
The Chicago Democrat held a news conference in downtown Chicago on Tuesday to announce that he's using his amendatory veto power to add ammunition limits, bar guns in establishments serving alcohol and says local governments should be able to enact their own local laws in some cases.  

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Concealed Carry
7:25 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Rep. Phelps: Quinn To Rewrite Concealed Carry Bill

Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg)
Credit ilga.gov

The sponsor of Illinois' concealed carry bill says Gov. Pat Quinn will use his amendatory veto powers to rewrite the measure.
 
Democratic State Rep. Brandon Phelps says the governor's office told him Quinn would issue the amendatory veto on Tuesday.
 
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson declined to give details about Quinn's decision, saying only that "the governor will act in the interest of public safety.''
 

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Gun Countdown
7:02 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Quinn Says Conceal Carry Action "Imminent"

Credit Mark Holloway via Flickr

  Illinois is quickly approaching a federal court's deadline of July 9 for the state to have a concealed carry law.

Every other state has some type of law that lets an average person carry a gun in public. But not Illinois where only those in certain professions can - namely police, retired law enforcement and security guards on the job.

Illinois is under a court order to lift that ban.

Legislators crafted a plan for how they want it done.   Now everyone's waiting for Gov. Pat Quinn to take action.

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Higher Education
3:12 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Raises For Most University Of Illinois Employees

University of Illinois President Robert Easter
Credit photo courtesy of University of Illinois Board of Trustees / University of Illinois

  University of Illinois employees are set to receive pay hikes this year, and just how much will depend on their performance.  The school's leader says he's trying to provide a more stable financial environment for staff, even in the face of the state's unstable finances.  

In a letter to employees*, University of Illinois President Robert Easter says competitive compensation is essential to recruit and retain top faculty and staff.  And yet, he writes, "we must recognize the many uncertainties and challenges before us."

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Statehouse
3:12 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Quinn To Act "Very Shortly" On Concealed Carry

Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll make a decision on whether to sign a concealed carry bill ``very shortly.''  
Illinois faces a July 9 deadline to legalize carry of weapons after a federal appeals court found Illinois' ban unconstitutional. But Quinn has given few hints about what he'll do, even after lawmakers asked him to make a decision quickly to they can plan next steps.  
Quinn could veto the measure which outlines who can carry. Quinn declined to give details Monday after signing a school safety bill. He says a decision is ``imminent.''  

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon July 1, 2013

State of the State: New Law Should Ease Landowner Worries About Liability Issues

Jamey Dunn
Credit mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

While most of the focus on environmental issues this legislative session was on fracking, conservationist groups quietly celebrated the passage of a bill that would potentially open up more land in the state for recreation.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon July 1, 2013

End and Means: Legislators Didn't Fix Pensions but Made Other Historic Moves

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Everyone knows Illinois has the largest pension debt and worst credit rating in the nation, right? So obviously its elected officials, especially Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly, have to be absolute bozos, folks who should be sent packing at the earliest opportunity.

That’s been the clamor since lawmakers adjourned the spring session on May 31 without cutting pension benefits for public employees, a din raised particularly loudly by editorial boards, online commentators, and folks firing off angry (and often ill-informed) letters to the editor.

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Education Budget
4:28 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Despite Level Funding, Quinn Says Pensions Still Squeezing Schools

Gov. Pat Quinn

After years of state budget cuts, Illinois schools will get roughly level funding under legislation signed into law Thursday. But Governor Pat Quinn says it's still not enough.

Earlier this year, Quinn said Illinois' budget problems meant the state had to reduce school spending. But lawmakers decided not to cut the education budget, in part because Illinois collected more taxes in April than it anticipated.

The extra money will go to elementary and high schools, community colleges, and public universities. It also funds MAP grants for needy college students.

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Same sex marriage
2:04 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

What The DOMA Rulings Mean For Illinois

Gay rights activists hold a press conference before the end of the legislature's spring session, demanding the same sex marriage bill get a vote in the Illinois House.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Expect a raucous time at this weekend's annual Pride Parade in Chicago.  Gay right activists will celebrate the death of "DOMA," or the Defense of Marriage Act.  Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling declaring the Act unconstitutional is a major victory for advocates, who had a disappointing spring in Illinois.  The House of Representatives adjourned in late May without taking a vote on a measure to legalize gay marriage in the state.   Activists say they're hopeful the federal ruling will put additional pressure on state legislators to pass a law.  For the meantime, figuring out just what the r

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Risk Analysis
7:00 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Report Questions Illinois' Low Credit Rating

  Governor Pat Quinn says Illinois' failure to solve its pension problem means the state will have to pay $130 million more in interest on bonds it sold Wednesday. But a new study is questioning Illinois' low debt rating.

Illinois got an average interest rate of five percent on the $1.3 billion bond sale — and had to turn away many potential buyers.

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Election 2014
6:30 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Brady Announces Third Bid For Governor

State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, takes questions from reporters June 26, 2013, at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

State Sen. Bill Brady on Wednesday formally announced a third bid to be the governor of Illinois.

The Bloomington Republican says he isn't giving up on Illinois despite the state's serious fiscal challenges. He also says he'll veto any attempt the extend the 2011 tax increase, which is scheduled to begin rolling back in 2015.

Brady says he learned a lot about appealing statewide since 2010, when he narrowly emerged as the Republican primary victor. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn defeated him by less than one percent of 3.6 million votes.

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Pensions
3:56 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Quinn Says Lower Credit Rating Costly

Governor Pat Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn says Illinois will pay an extra $130 million in interest on a bond issue this week due to lowered credit ratings because the state has not been able to solve its pension crisis.  
The state sold $1.3 billion in bonds to pay for transportation projects around the state, including redevelopment of a Chicago mass transit line, road repairs and new buildings at university campuses.  

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Statehouse
4:20 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Representative Says Pension Deal Could Happen Soon

Rep. Jil Tracy (R-Mt. Sterling)

An Illinois House and Senate conference committee will meet tomorrow in Chicago as members try to work out a compromise on the state's pension problem.
Ten lawmakers, six of them Democrats, make up the panel.  It was formed after a pension deal eluded the General Assembly in the spring.  Republican Jil Tracy of Mount Sterling is among those given the task of coming up with a solution.

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Pensions
1:58 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Legislature Forms Group Tasked With Finding Pension Fix

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Pat Quinn is giving legislators less than three weeks to come together on a pension overhaul. So far the formation of a rare “conference committee” is the only result of the special legislative session Quinn called to deal with the state’s pension problem.

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Pensions
8:33 am
Wed June 19, 2013

University Presidents Rally Behind Exclusive Pension Plan

U. of I. President Robert Easter, second from left, testifies at the Statehouse in May.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

The presidents of Illinois' public universities are rallying behind a plan intended to bolster the pension system for their employees. The proposal was the subject of a state Senate hearing Tuesday in Springfield. But its future is far from certain.

One by one, university presidents told senators why they believe something must be done about pensions. University of Illinois president Robert Easter says his schools are at a competitive disadvantage for recruiting top faculty.

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Pensions
7:32 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Special Session's Special Move: Creating a Conference Committee

House Speaker Mike Madigan has a front row seat Tuesday during a House committee on pensions, as the General Assembly's poised to form the first conference committee in years.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Members of Illinois' General Assembly return to the capitol Wednesday for a special session on pensions, where they're expected to pass off the problem to a yet another legislative committee. 

                      

    

What to do about Illinois' $100 billion pension debt has confounded legislators for years.

The most recent barrier: the House and Senate -- as well as the chambers' respective leaders -- are fixated on different plans.  So they've agreed to a new approach they're putting in motion Wednesday.

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Quinn: Will Create Jobs
3:07 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Fracking Regulations Become Law

Illinois' fracking regulations divided the environmental community; while those like the Illinois Environmental Council signed on as proponents of the new law, others - like these activists - remain opposed.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Governor Pat Quinn has signed into law what's touted as the nation's toughest regulations on "fracking."  

 

High-volume hydraulic fracturing is a controversial process used to reach oil and natural gas deep underground.

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Guns and transparancy
7:41 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Concealed Carry Permit Board Not Subject To FOIA, Open Meetings

Josh Sharp, Government Relations Director for the Illinois Press Association
Credit courtesy of the Illinois Press Association

Governor Pat Quinn says he's reviewing a measure that would lift Illinois' long-standing concealed carry ban. It took legislators months to reach a compromise, and still gun control and gun rights activists both say they're not happy.   Other critics say they're upset about a lack of government transparency.

The concealed carry legislation approved late last month creates a seven-member board to review applications from people who want to be able to carry a gun in public.

Under the measure, that board would be exempt from the state's Freedom of Information Act.

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Higher Education
5:30 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Republicans Propose Tuition Tax Breaks

Rep. Adam Brown (R-Champaign)
Credit Amanda Vinicky

With college tuition on the rise, Illinois House Republicans say they want to give working class families a break, and an incentive to go to a school in state.

 

Rep. Adam Brown graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in 2007, but in that short time, tuition's steadily gone up.

BROWN: "The average cost for tuition, fees and books right now -- $26,000 and ten years ago that was $19,000.”

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Statehouse
11:18 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Brauer Predicts Nothing Special In Special Session

State Rep. Rich Brauer
Credit ilga.gov

What will the special legislative session next week accomplish?

"Nothing," says Rep. Rich Brauer (R-Petersburg).  Brauer was a guest on WUIS' Illinois Edition Thursday.  He talks pensions, concealed carry, same sex marriage and the state budget:

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Guns
10:55 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Concealed Carry Permits And Gun Training

Frank Whitmore takes aim during a live fire exercise
Credit Peter Gray, WUIS

Illinois lawmakers have approved a measure to legalize and regulate the carrying of concealed handguns.

Governor Pat Quinn’s office says he’s now “carefully reviewing” the legislation.

Advocates on both sides of the gun debate say a provision requiring hands-on training is an important part of the bill now awaiting the Governor’s action.    

Peter Gray visited a central Illinois gun range to learn more about what will be required of people who want to carry a loaded weapon in public.

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Credit Downgrade
5:32 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

After No Pension Deal, Fitch Lowers Illinois' Credit Rating

Illinois' credit rating has suffered another downgrade.

It follows the General Assembly's adjournment Friday without any agreement on what to do about the state's pension systems.

 

A string of previous downgrades already left Illinois with the lowest bond rating in the nation.

None of those spurred legislators to reach a compromise - and there's no telling if this latest one will be any different.

Fitch lowered Illinois from an A to an A- rating, a status that means it may cost more when the state borrows money.

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Statehouse
12:00 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Rutherford Vows He'd Live In Governor's Mansion

A campaign sign outside Springfield's American Legion Post 32. Inside, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford was speaking to supporters, formally launching his campaign for governor.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The first candidate to formally announce he’s running for governor of Illinois has vowed to live in the Executive Mansion in Springfield. The refusal of recent governors to move to Springfield has become a sore spot with permanent residents of Illinois’ capital city.

Republican state Treasurer Dan Rutherford is making his long-anticipated campaign for governor official on a three-day tour of Illinois that began Sunday in — wait for it — Chicago.

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