Statehouse

Pensions
11:56 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Madigan Pension Overhaul Headed to House Floor

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago)

The Illinois House is poised to vote Thursday on an overhaul of the state's pension systems. It would reduce state workers', teachers', and university employees' future retirement benefits. The plan easily advanced out of a House committee Wednesday morning. 

There's a feeling in the capitol that after countless attempts to reduce the state's pension debt, this may be it. Insiders say it's significant that the plan's sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan — who rarely takes action without having support locked up. 

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Statehouse Bureau
6:23 am
Wed May 1, 2013

AFSCME Taking Second Vote On State Contract

Credit afscme31.org

Illinois’ new deal with the state’s largest public employees union could be null and void.   The union is going to take a second vote on its contract agreement with Governor Pat Quinn’s administration.  Amanda Vinicky reports from the WUIS Statehouse Bureau.

It took 15 months for AFSCME to reach an agreement.   They finally got a deal in late February.

But AFSCME says because a key condition of the settlement has not been met,  it will ask members if they still want to proceed with the new contract.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Old, but Still Grand? At the Moment, Things Can Only Look Up for Illinois Republicans

Abraham Lincoln is surely the most famous Republican from Illinois.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

There’s a sure-fire way to bug Republicans in Illinois: Call them up every two years and ask them why they can’t win elections. You almost can hear them wince as they explain what’s gone wrong and what they need to do to win over voters in the future. 

Add to their anxiety the ticking clock that is the 2014 Illinois gubernatorial race.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Juvenile Justice: IL Program Leaves Some Wondering Whether the Concept of Fairness is Being Served

If a 17-year-old were caught stealing an iPod in Illinois, he or she would likely end up in the juvenile justice system. However, if the same teenager were caught stealing the newest iPhone, he or she would land in adult court, be held with adult inmates and end up with a record that would follow him or her into adult life. Advocates argue that it is time to change that disparity in the system.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed May 1, 2013

Editor's Note: Former U.S. Rep Writes About 'Playing with the Big Boys'

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

“Moderates are on their way to becoming extinct on both sides of the aisle, and if you happen to be one, you better not tell anyone because you will be gone in your next primary.”

So writes former Illinois Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson in her recent book titled Playing Ball with the Big Boys: And Why the Big Girls Better Get in the Game.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed May 1, 2013

State of the State: Illinois Has Too Many Inmates Who Get Health Care Too Late

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

Illinois should provide mental health care and addiction treatment to those who truly need it instead of incarcerating thousands of the addicted and the mentally ill, making taxpayers shell out for care in the much costlier settings of prison and jails. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed May 1, 2013

End and Means: Same-Sex Parents Should be the Least of Concerns over Kids

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

During this spring’s debate over same-sex marriage, a recurring theme among opponents has been the dire societal consequences they said would result from its legalization.

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2:20 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

SJ-R: Gun Bill To Get Overhaul

A plan to have a form of concealed carry in Illinois is in for changes in the state Senate
Illinois Senate legislation allowing the carrying of concealed weapons appears less permissive than touted but it's scheduled for a rewrite before it's even filed. The Associated Press on Monday obtained a copy of Chicago Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul's bill. He called it a compromise between Chicago lawmakers fighting street violence and downstate moderates who want easier access to guns.
Statehouse Bureau
6:04 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Former Justice Harrison Dead At 81

Moses Harrison
Credit Deathpenaltyinfo.org

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced the death at age 81 of former Chief Justice Moses Harrison.  
Harrison died Thursday at a St. Louis hospital. The cause of death wasn't immediately revealed.  
Harrison began his career on the bench in 1973 as a circuit court judge. He was serving on the 5th District Appellate Court when he was elected to the Supreme Court in 1992. He served as chief justice from 2000 to 2002.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Jr.'s Fall: Much Was Expected From Him. In the End, He Was the One Who Expected Too Much

Jesse Jackson Jr.’s star was still rising when he spoke at the 2008 Democratic Convention.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

When Jesse Jackson Jr. walked into a Washington, D.C., federal courthouse in February to plead guilty to federal charges of looting his campaign fund of $750,000, Capitol Hill insiders held a similar reaction.

What could have been?

From the time the Chicago ex-congressman took office, bets were wagered on how high his star would rise: Mayor of Chicago? U.S. Senate?

“I have no other office in mind besides where I’m at now,” Jackson insisted in 1996. “This is my magnificent obsession.”

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Trouble on the Horizon: Tax Increases Set to Expire in 2015 Raise the Sepctre of Even Greater Cuts

 

“We have an impossible situation. If we solved pensions, then we would be looking at only $6 billion worth of debt with a dramatic drop of revenue taking place in 2015. That’s the best-case scenario.”

Kent Redfield,
emeritus political science professor 
at UIS

As lawmakers spend countless hours debating gun control measures and changes to the public employee pension systems, the next potential budget disaster in the state is on its way. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Editor's Note: The Economic Future is Bleaker for Post-Boom Generations

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

As I grow older, I reflect more on the past and worry more about the future, not just for myself but for my grandchildren, whose ages range from 2 months to 10 years. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon April 1, 2013

State of the State: Report Gives Insight Into Role of Remap in Election Results

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

Illinois Democrats controlled both chambers of the General Assembly and the governor’s office when it came time to redraw the state’s congressional districts in 2011. The resulting map painted the state’s congressional delegation in blue. However, in most other states where lawmakers played a role in redistricting, the results were decidedly redder. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon April 1, 2013

End and Means: Legislature Should Work Smart, Not Just Hard, on the Pension Fix

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

For someone with a penchant for stream-of-consciousness speechmaking, Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget address last month was notable for its laser-like focus on the need to address the state’s mounting pension debt, now approaching $100 billion.

The oft-repeated theme: Ever-mounting pension obligations are crowding out funding for education and other core services.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Charging Ahead: Illinois is the Launch Pad for the Nation's 'Battery Moonshot'

Venkat Srinivasan is a researcher for the U.S. Battery and Energy Storage Hub based at Argonne National Lab.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Venkat Srinivasan has a relatively short list of requirements when shopping for a car. With a young baby at home, safety is important. “My wife is very clear,” he says. “We want to have a car where I can put my baby in the center seat in the back.” He also needs a fair amount of trunk space for all the baby gear. But what Srinivasan really wants is an environmentally friendly, plug-in hybrid. And that has been a problem.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Editor's Note: Oral History Project Saves Key Illinoisans' Memories

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

“People assume, because I was so sort of early in all this, that I was heavily discriminated against — and I probably was — but I’d always claim I was too dumb to realize that I was being discriminated against.”

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri March 1, 2013

State of the State: Rating Agency That Downgraded Illinois Whacked with Lawsuit

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

McGraw-Hill, the parent company of the world’s largest credit rating agency, Standard and Poor’s, was slapped with lower bond ratings than the state of Illinois in February. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri March 1, 2013

End and Means: Gov. Quinn's Speech Didn't Avoid Pension Subject

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Listening to lawmakers’ reaction and reading the pundits’ commentary after Gov. Pat Quinn delivered his State of the State speech a few weeks ago was even more entertaining than the governor’s 38-minute performance.

A random sampling, with sources not identified to spare any potential embarrassment:

Quinn “made a campaign speech,” complained various lawmakers, most but not all of them Republicans.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention: Verbatim Transcript of July 21, 1970

PRESIDENT WITWER: Thank you. Did you have a question, Mr. Green? Mr. Green?

MR. GREEN: Well, you previously wanted to do that section 16 before. 

PRESIDENT WITWER: I beg your pardon?

MR. GREEN: Do you want to do it, or we can wait until then. 

PRESIDENT WITWER: Mr. Lewis, section 16 is a new section? What is the wish of the committee?

MR. GREEN: It’s up to the Chair. We don’t care, Mr. President. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Tracking Sex Offenders: IL Doesn't Fully Comply with Federal Rules on Registering Sex Offenders

Adam Walsh
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

In 2005, Joseph Duncan tied up Brenda Groene, her 13-year-old son, Slade Groene, and her husband, Mark McKenzie, and beat them to death with a hammer in the family’s home in Idaho. Duncan kidnapped Brenda’s 8-year-old daughter, Shasta Groene, and 9-year-old son, Dylan Groene. He took them to remote campgrounds in Montana and over several weeks, he sexually assaulted both children and eventually murdered Dylan. Shasta survived the ordeal after a waitress at an Idaho Denny’s restaurant recognized her and called the police. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Lessons from the Cave: Future Campaigns at All Levels are Sure to Tap Into Obama-Style Analytics

While he waited for the concession call from Mitt Romney, the president worked on his acceptance speech with Jon Favreau, director of speechwriting, and campaign adviser David Axelrod at a Chicago hotel.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Collin Corbett is a Republican whose job it is to elect Republicans. His company in Chicago’s northern suburbs, Cor Strategies, has worked with presidential contender Mitt Romney, gubernatorial hopeful Sen. Bill Brady and dozens of lesser-known politicians vying for offices such as city council or circuit clerk. 

After President Barack Obama won re-election in November, Corbett says his Republican clients immediately wanted to copy the Democrat’s campaign tactics, especially when it came to technology. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

A Dilution of Power? Advocates Say Revision of District Map Failed to Represent Latino Population

Before 2010, Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood was split into five state House districts and three Senate districts.
Credit Ashlee Rezin / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Latinos added more than a half-million people to the state of Illinois in the last decade, becoming the state’s second-largest ethnic/racial group.

But the increase from 12 percent of Illinois’ population in 2000 to 16 percent in 2010 was not adequately reflected in the state’s most recent drawing of its legislative map, some Latino advocates say.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Editor's Note: Con-Con Members Argued Over Pension Protection

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly continue to search for a way to reduce the state’s nearly $97 billion public pension liability by changing the benefits of current state employees, teachers, university workers, legislators and, perhaps, judges.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

State of the State: Same-Sex Marriage Cases Are Moving Through the Courts

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

During the legislature’s lame-duck session in January, an Illinois Senate committee approved a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage, but it lacked the support to pass in the full Senate. Similar legislation was not called for a vote in the House. Just days later, at the beginning of the new legislative session, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Greg Harris introduced new bills in their respective chambers to end the ban on same-sex marriage. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

End and Means: General Assembly Ends its Term Quietly

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

This is the way the 97th General Assembly ended — not with a bang but a whimper. (With apologies to T.S. Eliot.)

When the outgoing legislature quit for good on January 8, its list of unfinished business was considerable, topped by its inability to agree on anything to help restore fiscal stability to the state’s retirement systems.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2013

What Do Women, Sportsmen, & Downstaters Have in Common?

Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang, a Democrat from Skokie, chairs the Asian-American caucus.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Democrats' new super-majorities promise to enhance the power of individual caucuses.

In the frenzied final hours of the 2005 spring session of the Illinois General Assembly, the push to finalize a new state budget suddenly ground to a halt when a bloc of Democratic lawmakers announced they couldn't support the spending plan.

Without their votes, there was no way the Democratic majority could adopt a budget without Republican input, raising speculation that the session could go into overtime.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Tammy Duckworth: The First Asian-American Woman to Serve Illinois in Congress

Tammy Duckworth
Credit defense.gov

The election in Illinois’ 8th Congressional District was defined by personalities, by national ideological and demographic trends and by political realities specific to Illinois. In one corner, Hoffman Estates Democrat Tammy Duckworth, born in Thailand, became another data point in a sweeping national victory for Democrats and the progressive left. In the other, Republican Joe Walsh, the incumbent and an outspoken member of the Tea Party wave that took the House in 2010, became another casualty in a Congress that will be less male and Caucasian than any before.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Rural 911: EMS May be a Necessary Service in Illinois, but That Does Not Guarantee Such Services

Dr. John Warner Hospital in Clinton stopped dispatching ambulances at the end of 2012.

“The hospital decided to get out of the ambulance business because we were losing just under $600,000 a year on the operation,” says Earl Sheehy, chief executive officer of the city-owned medical facility. “It was difficult. There were a lot of emotions involved and all that.” But he says the hospital could no longer bear the financial drain. “The community can have a better ambulance service, and the hospital can be stronger without having to sustain the ambulance service.”

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Editor's Note: Lame-Duck Legislators Are No Longer Accountable to Voters

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gay marriage. Gambling expansion. State employee pension reform. Medical marijuana. Forcing some businesses to disclose tax breaks. Driving privileges for undocumented immigrants. Keeping open prisons and mental health and developmental centers. Implementing federal health care expansion.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2013

State of the State: 'Least Popular' Governor Tag Doesn't Tell Whole Quinn Story

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

In late November, Gov. Pat Quinn was dubbed with the infamous title of the least popular governor in America.

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