Statehouse

Illinois Issues - Leadership
7:14 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Political Football With Sports Facilities Agency

Gov. Bruce Rauner has picked a campaign supporter, attorney Sanchez, as chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.
Credit Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman LLP

An ally of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner will chair the state agency that owns the Chicago White Sox stadium and oversaw the renovations of Soldier Field, but one of former Governor Pat Quinn's closest confidants will still retain his high-paying post.

The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority has been home base for all sorts of political wins and losses over the years. And there's a whole roster of players.

Read more
Illinois Issues - Leadership
4:20 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Ousted State Public Health Director Off To Washington

Former Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health LaMar Hasbrouck has a new job, upon his being replaced by new Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Credit WUIS

Illinois' director of public health under former Governor Pat Quinn has found a new job.  

Read more
Illinois Issues - Leadership
4:14 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Could Rauner's Spending Hold Derail New Train Routes?

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Rail advocates are concerned Governor Bruce Rauner's executive order that puts a hold on non-essential state spending could be the end of the line for two projects that have been chugging along.

After long negotiations, Illinois has agreements to extend two passenger rail routes. One would to go Rockford, the other to the Quad Cities.

Little to no construction has been done on either so far, but head of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association Rick Harnish says 2015 was supposed to be the year.

Read more
Illinois Issues - Code Switch
9:36 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Proposal Would Ban Conversion Therapy For Minors

Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) wants to ban sexual orientation conversion therapy for minors.
Credit Illinois General Assembly

Counseling that tries to change a person's sexual orientation can cause depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, according to reports from psychologists.

A proposal to make the therapy off limits for minors failed last year in the Illinois House. The CEO of the gay rights group Equality Illinois, Bernard Cherkasov, is hopeful it will pass this time.

Read more
State Week
5:55 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Listen to State Week - January 23, 2015

This week, Governor Bruce Rauner gave a glimpse of what he may say during his State of the State Address.  Also, questions about Rauner's claims that he's putting his personal investments in a "blind Trust".

Read more
Illinois Issues - Leadership
4:11 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Speaker Madigan: How Can Illinois Prevent A Sandy Hook?

It has been two years or so since 26 people -- most of them young children -- died in a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The shooter was 20-year-old Adam Lanza.

A report studying him was released late last year by Connecticut's child advocate office; it shows problems identifying and treating his mental illness.

"There were several missed opportunities to help Lanza," said longtime Speaker of the Illinois House Michael Madigan on the opening day of the new General Assembly.

Read more
Illinois Issues - Leadership
2:57 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Court Rejects Request To Delay Pension Case

It took legislators - here, meeting in a conference committee - years to reach a compromise on a pension overhaul; the law they finally passed is facing a constitutional challenge.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

The fate of Illinois' pension law will stay on the fast track. Illinois' Supreme Court justices today rejected a request for a delay.

It can take a long time for a case to wend its way through the courts. But after a Sangamon County judge in November ruled Illinois' overhaul of public worker pensions unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court agreed to take up the case on an expedited basis.

On Tuesday, lawyers contesting the law tried to slow it down by a month.

Read more
Illinois Issues - Education Desk
6:08 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

State Board Of Education Asks For More Money

State Superintendent Christopher Koch
Credit isbe.state.il.us

  Even as Illinois runs ever shorter on cash, the board of education is asking for $730 million increase in state funding.

Illinois' superintendent of schools is well aware of the state's financial strain. Christopher Koch has been in charge as over the past several years, the state has failed to come through with all the money it's supposed to give to meet local district's basic needs.

But, Koch says, "education is the smartest investment we can make in the economic future of our state."

Read more
Fender Bender
4:31 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Governor Unhurt In Chicago Car Accident

Gov. Bruce Rauner, R-Winnetka, was not hurt in an accident on Wednesday.
Credit flickr.com/appleswitch (Creative Commons)

Gov. Bruce Rauner is okay after he was involved in a car accident today in Chicago.

Rauner's motorcade was stopped at a red light on E. Randolph Street in Chicago, when two cars got into accident in front of him in the intersection, at Michigan Avenue. One of those cars spun out, hitting the black 2012 Ford Expedition Rauner was in, at 8:13 Wednesday morning.

State police say Rauner's fine, and the officers that are on his security detail are too. Three people did go to Northwestern Medical Center to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Read more
Pensions
7:50 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Potential Pension Case Holdup

Credit Illinois Supreme Court

As they seek to permanently toss Illinois' pension overhaul, state employees and retirees are asking the state Supreme Court for more time to make their arguments. Lawyers filed the request Tuesday.

It's a case that's supposed to be on the fast track: After a Sangamon County judge in November found Illinois' pension law unconstitutional, the Attorney General appealed straight to the state supreme court -- which agreed to hear it on an expedited basis.

Read more
Statehouse
6:32 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Frerichs Keeping Rutherford Investigation Under Wraps

Days before his inauguration, pictured here, Treasurer Mike Frerichs said he wanted to release the results of an investigation into his predecessor.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs is keeping secret the results of an investigation into his predecessor.

Former Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford saw his political career collapse last year when an employee accused him of harassment and requiring political work.

Rutherford commissioned an investigation and pledged to release the results, but then backtracked.

Read more
Satire
5:04 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

New Governor Means New Material For Political Cartoonists

Portrayal of Gov. Bruce Rauner (Scott Stantis)

This month's inauguration of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner marks a change in leadership for lawmakers and employees at state agencies. But it's also a big transition for people who will deal with the new governor in a very different capacity over the next four years: political cartoonists.

Scott Stantis draws political cartoons for the Chicago Tribune. He says Bruce Rauner has very identifiable features.

Read more
Illinois Issues - Economy
3:00 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

Business Group Loosening Stance on Service Tax

Todd Maisch
Credit Il Chamber

  A leading business group is hinting that it could loosen  its stance on opposition to a service tax.

During the campaign, Governor Bruce Rauner proposed a tax on certain services as a possible way to raise money.   The state Chamber of Commerce is gauging its members on what they could support when it comes to revenue for the state.

Read more
Illinois Issues - Leadership
5:37 am
Mon January 19, 2015

Bonuses On The Table, As New Governor Greets Employees Via Video

Unions in Illinois fought to keep Gov. Bruce Rauner from winning; more battles may be ahead.
Credit wuis

Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign rhetoric was a turnoff for Illinois' public employee unions; he continually blamed "union bosses" for contributing to the state's financial woes. Now Rauner's making direct appeals to workers.

It wasn't just the campaign; during his inaugural address, Rauner touched again on what labor leaders consider an anti-union theme. He said Illinois has an ethical crisis because taxpayers “see government union bosses negotiating sweetheart deals across the table from governors they've spent tens of millions of dollars to help elect."

Read more
Illinois Issues - Leadership
10:21 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Election's Over, But Rauner, Quinn Keep Hurling Insults

Bruce Rauner has signed several executive orders since becoming governor; here, he signs one aimed at ethics.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Much of what Pat Quinn did in his final hours as Illinois' governor has been undone. Governor Bruce Rauner immediately withdrew Quinn's 100 last-minute appointments to state boards and commissions. Now, he's rescinded Quinn's last executive orders.

It's been said that when Quinn issued his final set of executive orders, he was also laying a booby trap for the man taking his spot.

One order required the state pay contractors $10, the amount Quinn had tried to make Illinois' minimum wage -- a topic over which Rauner stumbled during the campaign.

Read more
Sen. McCann To Reintroduce Bill
3:53 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Back On The Bobcat Hunt

There are an estimated 2,220 bobcats in 13 of Illinois' southern counties.
Credit public domain

 A state senator is still smarting from former Governor Pat Quinn's last minute veto of a proposal to once again allow bobcat hunting in Illinois. The senator says he's going to try again now that Quinn's out of office.

In a press release issued on one of his final days as governor, Quinn's office said he vetoed the bobcat hunting measure because it violated the state's responsibility to protect wildlife.

Read more
State Week
1:28 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Listen to State Week - January 16, 2015

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

A discussion of the first days of the Rauner Administration.

Read more
Statehouse
11:32 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Concealed Carry Permits In Illinois Top 91,000

Credit Ratha Grimes from Sarasota, FL, United States - Flickr

More than 2,000 concealed carry permits have been issued in Sangamon County the past year.   Illinois allowed the carrying of concealed weapons a year ago.

The state was the last in the nation to adopt the change.  

Nearly 30 applications have been denied in Sangamon County and 8 permits revoked.  

Overall in Illinois, more than 91 thousand people have been given permits.

Elsewhere in the area, there are more than 13-hundred permits in Macon County and about 350 in Morgan County. 

Read more
Statehouse
6:53 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Union: Understaffing & Overcrowding At Logan Cause Problems

Credit Google Maps

The union that represents Illinois prison guards says inmates at the Logan Correctional Center committed about 400 assaults since the lockup was converted to an all-women facility in 2013.  

However, Corrections Department officials are disputing the numbers.  

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees released documents Thursday showing assaults ranging from spitting to fighting, kicking and punching.  

Read more
Local Governments Too
12:29 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Political Hires' Names To Be Made Public

Gov. Bruce Rauner signs Executive Order 15-10 at a press conference with Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Anyone will be able to look up the names of political appointees to state jobs under an executive order Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Thursday, Jan. 15.

  By law, the vast majority of state employees are to be hired based on merit, not their political affiliation. Higher-level jobs are the exception. A governor gets to choose whoever he wants to be in his inner circle, and in policy-driven jobs. Rauner's executive order requires the names of these political hires to be published on a state website.

Read more
99th General Assembly
7:48 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Bipartisan Beginnings; But Will The Champagne Bubbles Burst?

Gov. Bruce Rauner presided over the swearing in of Senators to the 99th General Assembly.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

A new class of legislators were sworn into office Wednesday, making the start of a new, two-year legislative session. It's also the official beginning of a new period in Illinois politics.

With Republican Bruce Rauner in the governor's mansion, Illinois will have a divided government for the first time in a dozen years.

Read more
Statehouse
6:46 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Rep. Poe Takes Oath In Texas

Rep. Raymond Poe
Credit ilga.gov

Rep. Raymond Poe is battling a blood disease and is undergoing a bone marrow treatment in Texas. 

That meant he was unable to attend the Springfield inauguration ceremonies Wednesday, when the 99th General Assembly was sworn in. 

Instead, he took his oath at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. A news release says the oath was administered by Judge Michael Landrum of Texas’ 113th District Court in Houston.

Read more
Inauguration
2:00 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Legislative Leaders Re-Elected; Hear Their Remarks

The Sangamon Auditorium prior to the Illinois House inauguration ceremony
Credit UIS.EDU

House Speaker Michael Madigan is stressing the importance of bipartisanship as Illinois enters its first divided government in more than a decade.  

Madigan was again selected House speaker by the 99th General Assembly in a vote along party lines Wednesday. The Chicago Democrat is the country's longest serving House speaker. He's served all but two years in the role since 1983.  

Read more
Statehouse
6:48 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Lisa Madigan: State Can Use Police Powers To Cut Pensions

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is arguing that a landmark Illinois pension overhaul should be upheld because the state has ``police powers'' that allow it to change a contract in extraordinary circumstances.

Madigan is appealing a lower court ruling that found the 2013 law unconstitutional. She filed an opening brief to the Illinois Supreme Court Monday.  

Several groups filed briefs supporting the state's arguments. They include the city of Chicago, the Illinois Municipal League and Chicago Public Schools.

Read more
Statehouse
5:23 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Gov. Rauner Meets With Legislative Leaders

Credit WUIS/Brian Mackey

Illinois' new Republican governor says he held a ``very productive'' Tuesday afternoon meeting with state legislative leaders.
 
Bruce Rauner met with Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate
President John Cullerton, and Republican House Leader Jim Durkin and Senate
Leader Christine Radogno in his office shortly before issuing an executive order
on ethical practices for state employees.
 
Rauner says the leaders discussed their various communication styles as
Illinois enters its first divided government in more than a decade.
 

Read more
Refuses Comment On Quinn Tax Return Bait
4:47 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Rauner Signs "Big Deal" Ethics Executive Order

On his first full day as governor, Bruce Rauner signed an executive order that puts in place new ethics requirements and restrictions; he's flanked by Republican Sen. Darrin LaHood of Peoria, and Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highland Park.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

State employees will have to be more forthcoming about their volunteer work, legal status and property holdings under an executive order Gov. Bruce Rauner signed this afternoon. At the same time, the new governor was unwilling to specify what more he'll disclose about his finances.

Read more
Illinois Issues - Leadership
12:43 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Advice For Gov. Bruce Rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign speech said he'll make Illinois a "national leader in job growth and education quality" -- there's plenty of divergent advice on what that means, and how to do it.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Yesterday, on Mon. Jan. 12, 2015,  Illinois got a new governor:  Bruce Rauner -- the first Republican to win the governor's mansion in more than a decade.. The former private equity investor spent a record $26 million to win his first ever bid for elected office. And he didn't stop there. At the end of the year, Rauner contributed another $10 million that his spokespeople say he'll use to advance his agenda. Questions abound over what exactly that agenda is. He made a lot of campaign promises, but so far has painted his mission for Illinois in broad strokes.

Read more
Illinois Issues - State Of The State
6:33 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Inauguration 2015 In Pictures

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner, his wife Diana and their children are introduced at the Illinois Inaugural Ceremony on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015 in Springfield.
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Click above to view a slideshow of images from the 2015 Illinois Inaugural Ceremony.

Illinois Issues - Leadership
6:02 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Cullerton: I Don't Know What "Non-Essential" Means, Bet Rauner Doesn't Either

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

In one of his first acts as Illinois' new governor, Republican Bruce Rauner Monday said he'll issue an executive order requiring all state agencies to stop spending money they don't have to.

The main theme of Rauner's campaign was that Illinois' finances are a mess, need fixing, and that he's the man to do it. He continued that message during his inaugural address, saying "we have an opportunity to accomplish something historic; to fix years of busted budgets and broken government."

Read more
Illinois Issues - Past Due
3:07 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Rauner: Stable Budget Will Require Sacrifice

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

 Gov. Bruce Rauner is saving the details for his budget address next month, but he did have a few things to say about the state’s fiscal situation after he was sworn in Monday.

“We must forget the days of feeling good about just making it through another year—by patching over major problems with stitches that are bound to break,” Rauner said during his inaugural speech. “Those stitches are now busting wide open and we must begin by taking immediate, decisive action.”

Read more

Pages