Statehouse

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford spent nearly $27,000 in taxpayer money on an investigation into allegations of political coercion and
sexual harassment against him.
 
 The Republican candidate for governor revealed the cost of the report under the
Freedom of Information Act. But his lawyers have refused to disclose results of the investigation into the former employee's charges.
 
 Edmund Michalowski claimed in a federal lawsuit Feb. 10 that Rutherford

One Illinois same-sex couple has gotten married after a judge ruled ruled gay couples in the Chicago area don't have to wait until June to marry.
 
Mercedes Santos and Theresa Volpe were married Friday afternoon in downtown Chicago. They have been together 22 years and have three children. Clerk David Orr said he would start offering the licenses Friday after the federal judge's ruling. It applies only to Cook County.
 
A judge waived the 24-hour waiting period for Santos and Volpe because they were plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
 

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, the latest news from the candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the next Governor's race.

Illinois Supreme Court
Brian Mackey / WUIS

A court case decided in Arizona Thursday could have implications for Illinois' ongoing legal battle over pensions. The decision (pdf), by the Arizona Supreme Court, struck down an attempt to reduce Arizona officials' retirement benefits.

  The president of Southern Illinois University came out against raising the state's minimum wage on Thursday. President Glenn Poshard says it'd be too big a hit on the school's bottom line.

While the battle for a higher minimum wage brews in Springfield, Poshard warns of casualties in Carbondale and Edwardsville. Programs at those two campuses, he says, would be hurt in the long run.

"Maintaining the current level of student employment would likely require spending decreases in other areas," he said.

Courtesy of ILGA.gov

  Illinois already has so-called 'sin taxes' on alcohol, tobacco and gambling. Now lawmakers are trying to add sugary drinks to that list. The proposal faces an uphill battle in Springfield.

Sin taxes have a dual purpose: deterring people from what's regarded as undesirable behavior, and generating extra tax money.

In this case, lawmakers want to charge a penny per ounce of sugar-sweetened drinks like soda.

They say it would generate 600 million dollars in revenue. Half the money would go to the state's healthcare program for the poor.

capitol
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  State lawmakers are considering legislation to prevent smoking in cars with children. Though the measure is aimed at protecting passengers' health, the proposal is raising questions about personal privacy.

The measure would make it illegal to smoke in a car with a minor, but a police officer couldn't pull over drivers just for lighting up.

Even so, Kathy Drea, of the American Lung Association, says putting a law on the books sends a message to smokers.

Drea compares the proposal to other laws pertaining to vehicles.

Courtesy of ILGA.gov

  Efforts to raise the minimum wage have been getting a lot of attention, but it's not the only proposal intended to improve the lives of the working poor. Following the call of Gov. Pat Quinn, some lawmakers want to double Illinois' tax credit for low income workers.

The earned income tax credit began as a federal program, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

Illinois added its own state tax credit later. It's aimed at helping people work their way out of poverty by increasing their spending power.

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Advocates for people with disabilities say they're worried Governor Pat Quinn's newest healthcare initiative would crowd out certain groups.

The governor's proposal would consolidate nine separate programs that serve people with disabilities. Michael Gelder, the governor's senior advisor on healthcare, says centralizing these programs would be more efficient.

Internet Archive Wayback Machine

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to increase the penalties for a type of Internet shaming known as "revenge porn." It involves posting naked photos of someone on the Web without their consent.

Diana Pisone is an interior designer from Oak Park. A few years ago, she was in what she describes as an emotionally abusive relationship. Sometimes, when her husband said "do this or else," she'd let him tape her in compromising situations.

flickr/LizMarie_AK

Illinois lawmakers are considering what steps police should have to take before questioning kids at school.

The legislation would basically make police read kids their Miranda rights — that they can remain silent, and anything they say can be used against them in court.

It would also make police notify parents they have the opportunity to be present during questioning.

Sen. Kim Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, calls it a "student bill of rights."

NBC

It is an example of a measure that might not affect many people.

An Illinois lawmaker says Olympic athletes who win medals shouldn't have to pay state tax on their awards.

State Sen. Julie Morrison is sponsor of legislation approved by a Senate committee Wednesday that would waive the tax.

Morrison is a Democrat from the Chicago suburb of Deerfield who says she represents many of Illinois' Olympic athletes. She says Olympic athletes proudly represent Illinois and the U.S. and ``we should honor them for their commitment.''

What Lawmakers Know And Don't Know About Illinois Prisons

Feb 20, 2014
flickr/dnak

75 % of Illinois lawmakers surveyed by Chicago Public Radio say they have never stepped foot in a maximum security prison cell block. And 40 percent of those legislators have never toured or visited a prison even once.

Yet they’re the ones signing the checks for the $1.3  billion dollar per year agency.

Ninety-five of the 118 House members responded to the survey.

Amanda Vinicky

The four men seeking the Republican nomination for governor met in a debate Tuesday (2/18) night in Springfield, the last time they're scheduled to appear together downstate before next month's primary election.

With political newcomer Bruce Rauner leading in the polls and in fundraising, debates are a chance for the three other candidates to talk directly to voters, free of charge.

ilga.gov

State Sen. Andy Manar is setting up temporary office space after fire damaged his district office in the city of Staunton in southern Illinois.  
Manar is a Democrat from Bunker Hill. He says the fire started about noon on Monday in a business next door to his office in a historic building on Main Street.

Manar says no one was injured. He did not know the cause or a damage estimate.  
Volunteer firefighters from Staunton, Gillespie, Mount Olive, Litchfield and Olive responded. Manar says they acted quickly to keep the fire from spreading.  

Illinois Lottery

  Winning big in the Lottery is also a ticket to a lot of media attention. Amanda Vinicky reports on an effort to keep winners' identities secret.

Every now and then, Rep. Will Davis plays the Lottery.

"And I was just thinking if I was fortunate enough to win, I don't know if I would want my name or be required to publicize if I was a winner. And just for the record I'm not, so," says Davis, laughing.

John Cullerton
Illinois Senate

The top Democrat in the Illinois Senate on Monday went on the offensive over state spending. Senate President John Cullerton is calling out the Republicans running for governor.

Cullerton laid out the hits expected in next year's budget, including the roll back of the income tax hike and mandatory spending increases on things like personnel and healthcare for the poor. Add it up, Cullerton says, and it's a nearly $3 billion hole.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

An influential teachers union has endorsed state Sen. Kirk Dillard in the Republican primary for Illinois governor.

The Illinois Education Association announced its endorsement Friday in Chicago.

Cinda Klickna is IEA's president. She says Dillard believes in public schools and says teachers and support staff “believe in Kirk Dillard.''

He faces state Sen. Bill Brady, businessman Bruce Rauner and Treasurer Dan Rutherford in the March primary.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, further discussion of the candidates vying for the Republican Gubernatorial nomination.

deer
Flickr user "jonnnnnn" (Creative Commons)

Efforts to reduce the number of deer in Illinois have been so successful that the state plans to reduce the number of hunting permits this year.

Illinois already met its goal of reducing the deer population statewide a few years ago. But some counties still had herds deemed problematic — causing car accidents and crop damage.

Now, in more than 40 counties, officials at the Department of Natural Resources want to see the number of deer go up by anywhere from one to 29 percent.

Courtesy of HardimanForIllinois.com

  Democratic candidate for governor Tio Hardiman is lashing out at incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn for refusing to debate in the run-up to the March primary. Quinn isn't saying much in response.

A spokeswoman for the Quinn campaign previously said there would be no debates between he and Hardiman.

On Wednesday, the governor was asked why voters shouldn't be able to hear from both men face to face.

"Well, they know where I stand," he said. "And I think he can make his campaign and I'll make mine, and voters will decide."

Hardiman, on the other hand, says:

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  As veterans return to civilian life in Illinois, the state provides loans to those having trouble affording a home. Officials were in Springfield Wednesday, touting that program.

Navy veteran Jonas Harger welcomed Governor Pat Quinn into his Springfield home Wednesday. He says he couldn't have bought it without the help of the state's "Welcome Home Heroes" program.

wikipedia

Illinois lawmakers are considering amending the state's new concealed carry legislation.
 
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports (http://bit.ly/1eqxFX7 ) a series of changes are already being introduced in Springfield, even though the first concealed carry permits haven't been issued.
 
Some of the proposals would make it easier to get a permit, while others would
expand the list of locations where people would be allowed to carry weapons.
Others would tighten restrictions.
 

danrutherford.org

Treasurer Dan Rutherford appears willing to support his party no matter what, even as he maintains that another candidate for governor is trying to take him down.

During a debate in Chicago last month, Rutherford, along with the other Republican candidates for governor in attendance, made a pledge to support whomever ends up being the nominee.

Though venture capitalist Bruce Rauner wasn't there, his spokesman says he'll do the same.

Get Covered Illinois

A new banner of ads will top The Onion website. This is the state's latest effort to get young people to sign up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

The Onion is known for its satire, but this is no joke.

As the Affordable Care Act's March 31 deadline approaches, Illinois officials are trying to get a demographic they call the "Young Invincibles" to sign up. 

danrutherford.org

A former employee in Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford's office has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and that the Republican gubernatorial candidate made him do political work on state time.  
The lawsuit was filed Monday in Chicago's federal court on behalf of Ed Michalowski. He was a lawyer and director in Rutherford's office.  

The complaint alleges Rutherford made inappropriate sexual advances toward Michalowski, among other things.  
Rutherford has said there's ``absolutely no truth'' to the former employee's claims.  

Sen. Dick Durbin
Hannah Meisel / WUIS

  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is criticizing the Republican field of candidates governor for their stances on low-income workers and the unemployed.

It's an ongoing battle the Democratic senator is fighting in Congress, mirrored in the race for the governor's mansion: raising the minimum wage.

The four Republican candidates for governor oppose raising the minimum wage in Illinois, which is currently $8.25 an hour.

One reason they've given is that mostly high school and college students work minimum wage jobs. Senator Durbin says that isn't so.

Host Amanda Vinicky and guests Charlie Wheeler (UIS), Bob Gough (Quincy Journal), and Andy Maloney (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin) discuss accusation being addressed quietly by treasurer Dan Rutherford.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Among the topics this week: State Treasurer Dan Rutherford denies allegations of sexual harassment and Governor Pat Quinn moves the annual Budget Address to late March.

MT_Image/Flickr

The controversial new law that overhauls pensions for Illinois public workers is now facing legal challenges.

But even before it was passed, experts had been fighting over exactly how big the state’s pension crisis really is. The answer to that math problem could have a big impact on your wallet.

When pundits and politicians and reporters talk about Illinois’ monster pension problem...there’s this number that keeps coming up.

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