Statehouse

WUIS

Gov. Pat Quinn used the issue of abortion to win votes from suburban women in his election four years ago. This time, his Republican opponent says he's pro-choice. But it's not that cut-and-dry.

Republican nominee Bruce Rauner, like Quinn, classifies himself as pro-choice. He's also said he doesn't have a “social agenda."

That hasn't satisfied Terry Cosgrove, of Personal PAC, which has endorsed Quinn.

"While Bruce Rauner may say he doesn't have a social agenda, that is not true when you look at his actions," Cosgrove said.

Governing magazine looks at advocacy and journalism with a focus on Illinois (includes a picture of Amanda Vinicky at work in the WUIS/Illinois Issues statehouse bureau).

Matthew Penning

Amazon has announced it will open facilities in Illinois, saying it will bring 1,000 jobs to the state. That announcement was made Tuesday. But what does it really mean for the state when it comes to jobs, as well as taxes for consumers? Illinois Issues' Jamey Dunn has been following the online retailer and its relationship with the state for years now (read a past report here). She joins us for this interview:

Oberweis for US Senate

The Illinois candidates for U.S. Senate are set for their final televised debate ahead of next week's election. 

Chicago's WTTW-TV will host the Wednesday forum for Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican challenger state Sen. Jim Oberweis. WTTW officials say they'll also take questions from Twitter users during the 60-minute event.

Durbin is the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate and is seeking a fourth term. Oberweis is a dairy magnate from Sugar Grove who was elected to the state Senate in 2012. 

Illinois Supreme Court

There's a last-minute push to unseat one of Illinois' Supreme Court justices. That's difficult to do -- a sitting judge doesn't have to win a race. He just has to get 60-percent of voters' to agree to his retention.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

This story first ran in the October 2014 edition of Illinois Issues magazine.

Amanda Vinicky

Lisa Madigan was the first woman elected to be Illinois' Attorney General, in 2003. After flirting with a run for governor, Madigan, the daughter of House Speaker Michael Madigan -- is instead seeking a fourth term as the state's top lawyer. Amanda Vinicky starts off this extended interview asking Madigan what she has accomplished that makes her deserving of another four years.

Brett Levin / Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/scubabrett22/6044203012/in/photolist-nRM8aA-nRM9cA-6W3y3x-iSCMSX-ad77YL-ombQ4H-3cF2NM-8hAiN6-6W7Bsm-csFVES-grKEtn-9ZSWDs-fArP8e-niwAQi-89m25F-9ZT3kf-9ZQc52-n8xZJj-9ZT3Q3-9ZSikY-9ZPp8z-9ZSj83-csFRxN-ff

Illinois'  O'Hare Airport is one of five in the nation where travelers from West Africa must undergo extra screening for Ebola. But now the state has additional guidelines to prevent the virus' potential spread. What to do is the latest disagreement in an already adversarial race for governor.

Even as New Jersey releases a nurse forced into quarantine upon her return from Sierra Leone, Gov. Pat Quinn is standing by a similar policy for Illinois.

flickr/locosteve

The future of Illinois’ business climate is one of the hottest topics in the governor’s race.

Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner toss it around like a hot potato - claiming credit for themselves while lobbing blame at the other guy.

But that hot potato represents real people - and real businesses. Plenty of examples can be found in what once was the fastest-growing county in the whole country.

You don’t have to spend much time in Kendall County before you find places still haunted by the economic downturn.

Secretary of State's Office

Immigrant rights groups say Illinois needs to improve its program for issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. The program started last December.

When Illinois created a special drivers license for people without permission to be in the country, supporters said it would make the roads safer. In order to get one, an applicant has to have auto insurance and pass a driving test.

As of the end of September, more than 64,600 people had succeeded. But activists like Martin Torres, with the Latino Policy Forum, say others are being held up.

Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner met for their third and final debate this week. As in previous debates, both candidates spent much of their time attacking each other and dodging questions they didn't want to answer.

Oberweis for US Senate

The Republican nominee for U.S. Senate has switched his stance on same-sex marriage.

Only a few Republican members of the General Assembly voted for Illinois' law that has, since June, allowed two men or two women to marry one another.

State Sen. Jim Oberweis wasn't one of them. He voted no.

But the Sugar Grove Republican, now a candidate for the U.S. Senate, says he would go along with a federal law permitting same sex marriage.

Here's how he answered a question about it Wednesday's debate.

IDOT

A federal judge has ordered a court-appointed monitor to investigate hiring at Gov. Pat Quinn's Department of Transportation.  

Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier told attorneys Wednesday that the monitor would help compliance of a decades-old political hiring ban.  

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by an anti-patronage attorney in April alleging improper hiring practices.  

Attorneys for Quinn's administration had said a separate monitor wasn't necessary and a state inspector general had completed a detailed probe and changes were made.  

IDOT

Attorneys are returning to court in a federal lawsuit over hiring in Gov. Pat Quinn's Department of Transportation.
 
 Anti-patronage attorney Michael Shakman has asked for a court-appointed monitor
of hiring as part of a lawsuit filed in April. He's said it would ensure the
administration complies with bans on political hiring for nonpolitical jobs.
 
 Quinn's attorneys have argued a monitor isn't necessary. They've said Quinn's
response to allegations of political hiring in the Department of Transportation

flickr/borman18

  The race for Illinois governor is one of the most expensive match-ups in the nation. A new report shows that most of that comes from relatively few donors.

wnij

Illinois is about a quarter of the way into its fiscal year and building up debt along the way. A new report from the Civic Federation says it's a return to detrimental policies that landed Illinois in an unstable financial position in the first place.

There was one, glaring question for lawmakers last spring: what were they going to do about the temporary income tax?

Notes On The Final Governor Debate

Oct 21, 2014
wttw Chicago Tonight

The debate portion of the Illinois governor’s race is over. Monday night's debate may have given voters a little clarity.

Now - that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any mud-slinging or repetitive campaign refrains. There was a lot of that. But we did get some answers on issues that have popped up in all three debates. Like what Governor Pat Quinn would do when the 5 percent income tax rate ends in 2015.

QUINN: We need to maintain the income tax, at the same time give annual, direct, property tax relief - a 500 dollar refund - to every single homeowner in this state.

Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn headshots
brucerauner.com, quinnforillinois.com

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner are getting ready for their third and likely final televised debate.  

Monday night's debate comes as the two candidates are locked in a neck-and-neck contest for governor.  
 It's being hosted by the League of Women Voters of Illinois and broadcast by WLS-TV in Chicago.  

Quinn and Rauner have gotten personal and at times nasty in other candidate forums as they duel over economic plans and dispute school funding plans.  

Earlier Than Ever

Oct 20, 2014

Pres. Barack Obama visited Chicago Sunday, to encourage Illinois residents to vote, and to do it early. Early voting begins today, and runs until just before election day. That could change campaigns' strategies, or expand the electorate.

It used to be that campaigns geared up for one day: Election Day. Starting in 2006, Illinois residents were given the option of casting an early, in-person ballot. That used to last for a two-week span. Not this election. Voters have from today until Nov. 2 to vote early.

Look for people to take advantage of it.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Education funding was among the disagreements between gubernatorial candidates Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner in a debate this week in Chicago.  Meanwhile, spending on political ads continues to increase.

WSIU

Landowners in southern Illinois' Wayne County are suing the state, saying its lengthy process before issuing permits for high-volume oil and gas extraction is costing them money.  

The lawsuit filed Wednesday on behalf of seven households names Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller.  

A state legislative panel is trying to sort out rules for how developers would deploy hydraulic fracturing, or ``fracking,'' under an Illinois law approved last year.  

Ferguson demonstrators
Chris McDaniel/St. Louis Public Radio

The idea of requiring police to wear body cameras has been a hot topic after the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. On Friday, a group of Illinois lawmakers will take up the issue.

Advocates of body cameras say they can clear up the muddle of facts that often accompany police shootings, like the one in Ferguson. They also say police will be on better behavior if they know they're being watched.

More than 570,000 Illinois residents have registered to participate in an international earthquake drill on what Gov. Pat Quinn has proclaimed Great Shakeout Day.
 
 The Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill will take place around the world on
Thursday morning.
 
 The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is asking residents in homes, schools
and other places to take a minute to drop, cover and hold on. It is an action
they are advised to take during an actual earthquake.
 

Lisa Madigan
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

This story first appeared as Illinois Issues' State of the State column in the October 2014 edition of the magazine.

Jacksonville Feels The Cut From State Government

Oct 14, 2014
http://jacksonvilleinstitutions.wordpress.com/

No surprise: Illinois’ finances are in trouble.  And the fix will likely involve some painful cuts.

While we told you about the fight to save one southern Illinois institution, in this segment we look at what happened when the knife came down on another Illinois town, Jacksonville. 

For almost 50 years Jacksonville, Illinois was home to a Capitol Records plant. It was built in 1965 - at the height of Beatlemania.  At its peak Capitol employed more than 1 thousand people.

WSIU

There’s a tug-o-war going on in Southern Illinois over how the state cares for its neediest citizens.  It’s playing out along a ribbon of small towns. But the outcome will determine  the future for many Illinois citizens with disabilities.

State Representative Charlie Meier is a farmer by birth - he tends 14 hundred acres with just one hired hand.

MEIER: We’re in Okawville, Illinois in my family kitchen.

MEIER: Built in 1907. My grandma drug all the logs home with a pack of mules for the house and the barn and then they were cut up here.

Amanda Vinicky

As Illinois begins to allow people with certain diseases to use cannabis as medicine, the state will be running afoul of federal law.

It may be spring before patients will be able to buy medical marijuana (the application process is going on now). Whenever it happens, the state will be in tricky territory: the federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal drug.

That raises challenges, like: can an business in the cannabis industry deposit money in federally-regulated banks?

Amanda Vinicky

Children across Illinois had the day off from school Monday in honor of Columbus Day. Despite soggy weather, both Governor Pat Quinn and his Republican rival Bruce Rauner celebrated by walking down State St., for Chicago's Columbus Day parade. In an age when campaigns are increasingly high-tech, Amanda Vinicky took to the streets to find out why so many politicians spend so much time pounding the pavement.

Candidates have less than a month left to complete their missions. Grasping for your attention, and convincing you to vote for them on election day.

Both of the major party candidates for governor say Illinois should put more money into education. But neither are ready to embrace a controversial plan that would change how state money is distributed to schools.

There's been an uproar in some Chicago suburbs lately, over a proposal that's already passed the Illinois Senate. Under it, many districts there would see cuts in state funding, because they're in wealthier areas.

Hannah Meisel

Illinois' ability to change retirement benefits of government workers is limited because of a provision in the state Constitution. But what about trying to make that a non-issue, by doing away with that clause?

Article XIII, Sect. 5 of the Illinois Constitution is direct: pension benefits, it says, "shall not be diminished or impaired."

Nevertheless, a law passed last year cuts benefits for current workers and retirees. Whether that squares with the Constitution is currently the subject of a lawsuit.

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