Statehouse

Illinois Issues - Past Due
1:26 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Rauner transition team avoids budget specifics

Credit brucerauner.com

Gov. -elect Bruce Rauner’s transition team took a pass on making any budget recommendations in a report the group issued today.

The bipartisan group’s report emphasized that the state’s dire fiscal situation is the most pressing challenge the soon-to-be governor will face. The document goes so far as to say that if the new administration cannot stabilize the state’s budget, it will not succeed with other items on its agenda, be they modest or ambitious.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
9:27 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

What Rauner's Been Telling Rank And File Legislators

During his first capitol press conference, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner vowed to get to know every legislator; he's making progress.

If you listened to Bruce Rauner on the campaign trail, you'd think that he would want to steer clear of Illinois' lawmakers. He reviled them. Especially those who had long careers in Springfield. Rauner, remember, ran on a platform advocating for term limits. But that was before he won election. Now, as he prepares to be Illinois' next governor, Rauner has spent a time reaching out to the politicians he'd once vilified. Amanda Vinicky checked in with some of them about how it went.

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Statehouse
6:40 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Rauner Calls Special Election Bill "Constitutionally Dubious"

A vacancy was created in the comptroller's office following the death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, 70, from complications of a stroke.
Credit Comptroller website

A special election next year for the office of Illinois comptroller is almost surely on the horizon. Democratic members of the Illinois General Assembly hurried Thurs., Jan 8 to pass a measure setting it up.

It goes back to last month, when Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka suddenly died. She was about to begin a new, four-year term.

Topinka, it's worth noting, was a Republican. As is Illinois' next governor, Bruce Rauner, who is to be sworn in Monday.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
1:59 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Special Elections Bill Passes Senate, On To House

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat, argues that it's constitutional, and within the General Assembly's rules, to pass a law creating a special election for comptroller in 2016.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Legislators are back at the capitol, where they have begun debating the prospect of a special election for comptroller in 2016. The Illinois Senate passed the measure this afternoon, Thurs. Jan 8, on a partisan vote, and now it's on to the House.

It became an issue after Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka suddenly died, ahead of beginning a new four-year term.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie say voters should have the opportunity to choose someone, rather than letting an appointee hold the post for such a long time.

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Statehouse
7:34 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Reports: Illinois Could Help Boost Struggling Nuke Plants.

Clinton Nuclear Plant

New reports from several Illinois agencies propose ways lawmakers could help keep the state's nuclear plants open.  

The reports issued Wednesday suggest the state could favor Chicago-based Exelon Corp. because its six nuclear plants generate electricity without emitting greenhouse gases.  

The Chicago Tribune reports) such a policy would punish providers, such as coal-burning power plants, that emit carbon dioxide.  

Exelon has been lobbying for such policies, saying it otherwise might have to close at least three of its financially struggling Illinois plants.  

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Statehouse
3:53 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

2016 Special Election Chances Rise With Speaker's Support

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner's choice for comptroller, Leslie Munger, would have a two-year appointment, should legislation pass to set a special election in 2016.
Credit Munger '14 Campaign Website http://votemunger.com/about-leslie/

Chances the state will hold a special election for comptroller in 20-16 have improved, now that the Illinois House Speaker has signaled his support. Lawmakers will be back in Springfield for special session Thurs., Jan 8 to vote on it.

Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown, says Madigan will support giving voters a say, instead of allowing an appointee to take over long-term. Brown had previously only said that Madigan believed the future of the comptroller's office was a matter to be settled by the executive branch.

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Illinois Issues - The Scene
3:39 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Lincoln Museum & IHPA Should Stick Together Study Says

Inside the ALPLM
Credit Rachel Otwell/WUIS

A panel that considered whether to separate Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum from the state's historic preservation agency released its findings on Wednesday. Convened at the request of both entities, the study recommends keeping the same oversight. Legislation has been proposed to split them apart. The report also suggests a reorganization of the state agency to improve what it calls the cultures of "politics" and "research."

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
6:33 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Vacancy Election Plan Goes Beyond Comptroller Post

State Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka's sudden passing has set in motion possible changes for filling vacancies in statewide office.
Credit Comptroller website

 A measure has been filed that would prompt a special election in 2016 for Illinois Comptroller. The vacancy created in the office following the death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka in December exposed what some say is a weak spot in Illinois Constitution, as Topinka was set to begin a new, four-year term. The legislation would put in place a new method that would limit the length of gubernatorial appointments to fill such openings.

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Frerichs: Eliminate Comptroller
3:52 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Options Beyond A 2016 Special Election

Rather than combine the comptroller and treasurer's offices, Tres.-elect Mike Frerichs, a Democrat, proposes eliminating the comptroller's position; that would allow him to stay on as Illinois' sole fiscal officer for the next two years.
Credit ilga.gov

Legislators will be back in Springfield Thursday for a special session. They're set to debate holding a special election for the office of Comptroller. But other ideas are on the table too.

The stir over what to do about the Comptroller's office began when, just before she was to be sworn in for a second term, Judy Baar Topinka suddenly passed away.

Next week, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner will appoint Leslie Munger, a businesswoman and failed candidate for state representative, to fill Topinka's spot for the next four years.

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Illinois Issues - Code Switch
8:00 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Interview: Prostitution & More At State-Run Teen Centers

Chicago Tribune investigative reporter, David Jackson
Credit courtesy of David Jackson

The Chicago Tribune has been taking a look at the rampant problems that appear to be taking place at residential treatment centers for teens run by the state. David Jackson has been one of the reporters who has been looking at the issue over a long period of time.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
11:51 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

State Police Forbidden From Making Arrests Based On Immigration Status

Lawrence Benito, the CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, says he didn't know in advance Gov. Pat Quinn was going to issue the executive orders, but he applauds the action.
Credit Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, http://icirr.org/content/lawrence-benito

Immigration status alone will no longer be a valid reason for the Illinois State Police to detain someone, under an order issued Mon., Jan. 5 by Gov. Pat Quinn.

In the executive order, Gov. Quinn says that "community policing efforts are hindered" when immigrants who are victims of, or witness to, crimes are wary of cooperating for fear they'll be deported.

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Comptroller Appointment
3:51 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Rauner Chooses Topinka Successor

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner's choice as successor to the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, Leslie Munger of Lincolnshire.
Credit Munger '14 Campaign Website http://votemunger.com/about-leslie/

  Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has announced his choice for Illinois' next comptroller -- someone who, like himself, is a relative newcomer to state politics.

Residents of Illinois' 59th House district are probably familiar with the name Leslie Munger: their mailboxes, no doubt, were flooded all fall with campaign brochures featuring her name.

Her failed, but tight, race against incumbent Democratic state Rep. Carol Sente of Carol Stream was chalked up to be one of the slimiest of the season.

Despite that loss, Munger will be coming to Springfield.

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Statehouse
6:14 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Quinn's Final Week. What Is Coming Up.

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Pat Quinn enters his final week in office with a speech and special session on the agenda, but it's unclear how hard lawmakers and leaders will work with the Democrat on a possible special election or other issues.  

Quinn has called legislators to Springfield Thursday. He wants legislation for a special election to replace late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. Senate President John Cullerton supports the idea, but House Speaker Michael Madigan says it's an executive branch issue.  

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State Week
5:02 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Listen to State Week - Jan. 2, 2015: The State Year In Review Edition

Clockwise from top left: the late Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, the Illinois Capitol, Gov. Pat Quinn, Treasurer Dan Rutherford, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner, and state Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady.
Credit WUIS

This week, Daily Herald political editor Mike Riopell joins the regular panel to look back at some of the top stories in state government and political for 2014, and what's ahead in the new year.

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Statehouse
4:30 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Hamos To Resign Next Week

Julie Hamos
Credit ilga.gov

The director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services says she'll resign Jan. 9 as Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner prepares to take office.  

Julie Hamos is a former Democratic state representative who oversees the state's $18 billion Medicaid program. She released a statement Friday about her resignation. She says leading the department has been ``one of the most fulfilling jobs'' she's ever had _ ``as well as the hardest.''  

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
12:00 am
Thu January 1, 2015

No. 42 - What Will Bruce Rauner Do?

Bruce Rauner
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

“I just wanna save our state,” Bruce Rauner says in a matter-of-face tone, his wife Diana’s hand resting on his khaki-clad knee. He shakes his head side-to-side, at once casual but firm: “I’m not runnin’ ’cause I want a political career.”

This is the Bruce Rauner you likely have “met” on your television screen. He’s friendly. Pragmatic. Warm. A family man.

Normal. Just like you. Except that this guy, uninterested in a political career, was in the midst of spending more than $27 million to launch one.

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Illinois Issues - Economy
12:00 am
Thu January 1, 2015

The Fifth Inning - Illinois' Economic Recovery Is Just Warming Up

Mark Selvaggio, President of Selvaggio Steel in Springfield says workers compensation cost and unpredictable tax environment are slowing manufacturing.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

For fans of baseball, the midwinter tradition is underway — counting down the days until the pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

When evaluating Illinois’ recovery from the recession, James Glassman uses a baseball analogy. The head economist for commercial banking with JP Morgan Chase says Illinois has only reached the fifth inning in the recovery.

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Illinois Issues - State Of The State
12:00 am
Thu January 1, 2015

Adult Redeploy: Paying To Keep People Out Of Prison

Credit flickr/dnak

Illinois has a clear ambition for what it would like to do with members of its criminal class, and it’s right there in the name of the state agency set up to deal with them: the Department of Corrections. But there is a wide gap between ambition and practice. This is not to blame the department: politicians enacted the policies that have swelled the prison population, and politicians are largely responsible for the dire financial condition of the state that has squeezed agencies like the DOC.

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Illinois Issues - Past Due
12:00 am
Thu January 1, 2015

Graying Illinois

Credit Illinois Issues

Listen to Jamey Dunn talk about her piece with Rachel Otwell:

Three years ago, the first members of the Baby Boom generation turned 65. This generation, born between the mid-1940s and mid- 1960s, has had a large influence on American politics and policy, in part by virtue of its sheer size. As the Boomers reach retirement age, they may once again drastically reshape the country.

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Illinois Issues - State Of The State
12:00 am
Thu January 1, 2015

Direct Democracy Yields Minimum Results

News Analysis — We’ve all had this experience: you’re asked a question, give your opinion, then watch your interlocutor ignore the answer.

If you didn’t care what I thought, why’d you ask?

That would be a fair question among the 2,339,173 Illinois voters who cast a ballot in favor of a higher minimum wage in November.

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Statehouse
5:47 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Rauner Pitches In $10 Million To Push Agenda

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner funneled record-setting amounts of his own money to win November's election. Paperwork filed with the state late in the afternoon on Wed., Dec. 31 shows he isn't stopping there.

Rauner is capping off 2014 with a massive infusion of cash into his campaign fund. He reports about $20 million in the final days of December, from just five contributors.

As with his campaign for governor, Rauner's biggest contribution to himself, comes from himself. The private equity investor gave another $10 million to his "Citizens for Rauner" fund.

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Illinois Issues - State Of The State
5:16 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Voices In The News 2014

Credit WUIS

  As we get ready to welcome 2015, we thought we’d take a few minutes to reflect on the past year in Illinois state government and politics. Most of the action was in the campaign for governor, in which Bruce Rauner became the first Republican to win that office since the late 1990s. Here now are some of the voices that made news in 2014.

Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale: “If you’re a Democrat or an independent, there’s no action coming up on your side of the ballot on March 18. Come on over to ours and save your state.”

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Statehouse
5:15 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

State Pension Payment Set To Go Up In 2015

Credit WUIS/Brian Mackey

The new year will see an increase in the amount Illinois pays into the state's five publicly-funded pension systems.  

The State Journal-Register in Springfield reports (http://bit.ly/13TU5CI) Illinois' auditor general on Wednesday released a report by the state actuary showing a more than $680 million increase in pension payments in 2015 to $7.5 billion.  

The report doesn't explain the increase. However, it noted three of the five pension systems lowered the estimated rate of return they expect from investments.  

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Statehouse
4:27 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Fmr. Lawmaker Rosemary Mulligan Dies

Rosemary Mulligan
Credit ilga.gov

The brother of former state lawmaker Rosemary Mulligan says she has died after her health suffered in recent months.  

Stephen Granzyk says the 73-year-old Republican died Tuesday, months after moving into a retirement community in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines.  

Mulligan represented the Northwest suburbs in the Illinois House from 1993 to 2013. She was considered a social moderate with expertise in the state's human services budget and the disabled.  

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Statehouse
6:38 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Quinn Gives Disabled Vets More Tax Breaks

Credit flickr/jmorgan

Illinois veterans with disabilities will be eligible for more property tax exemptions under a law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn.  

Quinn signed the measure Tuesday. It takes effect immediately.  

The new law allows veterans with disabilities and their spouses expanded property tax exemptions. Disabled veterans will also see an increased homestead exemption to $100,000 from $70,000.  
 In a statement, Quinn says the law will help ensure that veterans aren't ``burdened by overwhelming property taxes.''  

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Statehouse
6:17 am
Tue December 30, 2014

New Law Allows Driving Without A Sticker

Credit Secretary of State's Office

Motorists may drive without an up-to-date vehicle registration sticker under a law that takes effect Thursday.

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New Law
5:31 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Revenge Porn Bill Signed Into Law

Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, is sponsor of Illinois' new revenge porn law.
Credit ilga.gov

Taking a bad breakup to the Internet could result in a felony conviction. Gov. Pat Quinn Mon., Dec. 29 signed a law intended to protect against so-called "revenge porn."

Illinois already makes it illegal to distribute explicit sexual images or videos taken without permission, but Sen. Michael Hastings, a Democrat from Tinley Park, says there was a loophole for photos or videos that were taken with consent -- say by romantic partner -- then later publicly distributed without permission.

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Statehouse
6:11 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Quinn Signs Traffic-Related Laws

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a plan that lets people charged with some minor traffic offenses pay penalties without a court appearance.  

In a Sunday statement, Quinn says the legislation helps reduce the burden on drivers and the court system by cutting the number of ``unnecessary minor cases.''  

Under the plan motorists cited with petty traffic violations can plead guilty and pay fines without showing up to court.  

Earlier this year, Quinn signed a law that ends the practice of posting a driver's license in Illinois as security after certain traffic citations.  

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State Week
1:34 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

Listen to State Week - December 26, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, we take a historical look back at the 1964 "Bedsheet Ballot".  That year, due to a disagreement over Illinois redistricting, every candidate ran state-wide on a ballot that was over three feet long.  The effects of that election and the way it was conducted strongly influenced the future course of state politics, the state constitution, and more.

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Statehouse
4:56 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Toby Keith, Buddy Guy To Play Governor's Inaugural Concert

Toby Keith
Credit TobyKeith.com

Country singer Toby Keith will headline a concert celebrating Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner's inauguration. 

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