Statehouse

General Assembly Calendar
7:28 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Lawmakers' Light Spring Calendar Allows For Campaigning

  Legislators will descend on the capital city Wednesday, to hear the governor's annual state-of-the-state address. It's the first day they'll be in Springfield this year.

The General Assembly had a jam-packed 2013. It started with new members being sworn into office, and ended with new laws legalizing same-sex marriage and overhauling state pensions.

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Another pension lawsuit
7:15 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Union Conglomerate Files Pension Lawsuit

Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  A coalition of labor unions has called Illinois' new pension law "theft." Now they've filed a lawsuit. It comes a day before Governor Pat Quinn is expected to herald the law in his State of the State address.

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State of the State
7:00 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

State Of The State: Many Promises, No Funding Plan

Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  A hike in the minimum wage, sending more children to preschool and more grants for low-income college students are all part of the agenda Governor Pat Quinn laid out Wednesday in his State of the State address. But critics are already calling it fantasy.

Five years to the day after he first became governor, Pat Quinn tried to make the case that Illinois is "making a comeback."

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Propane Availability Shortage Drives Up Cost
6:49 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Lawmakers Aim To Ease Propane Cost In Cold Winter

Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon)
Credit ilga.gov

  The polar vortex returned to the Midwest this week, with frigid temperatures making it difficult for Illinoisans to keep their houses warm. Winter has been especially harsh for people who heat with propane, which has seen a near four-fold price increase in the wake of a regional shortage.

State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) says the cost of propane is forcing families to make difficult decisions.

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Election 2014
3:36 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Quinn Challenger Says No "Comeback" For Illinois

Credit uis.edu

Gov. Pat Quinn's challenger in the March primary says the Chicago Democrat's claims that ``Illinois is making a comeback'' don't add up.

Tio Hardiman is a Hillside Democrat and the former director of a Chicago anti-violence program.  
He spoke following Quinn's State of the State address Wednesday in Springfield. Quinn said during the speech that Illinois has improved since he took office.  

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Statehouse
2:57 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Republican Candidates Are Critical Of Governor's Speech

Republican candidates for Governor during a recent debate. (L-R) Bill Brady, Dan Rutherford, Bruce Rauner and Kirk Dillard.
Credit WUIS

State Sen. Kirk Dillard says Gov. Pat Quinn missed the biggest issues facing Illinois during his State of the State speech.
 
The GOP gubernatorial candidate says Quinn used ``perfume'' to cover up Illinois' economic outlook. Dillard says Quinn's speech was a populist, re-election speech.
 
Dillard also criticized the governor for not addressing plans for the income
tax increase set to expire in 2015. He says the budget is a ``foot on the throat
to economic development.''
 

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Statehouse
1:51 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Gov. Quinn Calls For Minimum Wage Increase

Gov. Pat Quinn says raising Illinois' minimum wage is about dignity and decency. 

Quinn reiterated his push Wednesday during his State of the State address. He says he wants to raise the state's $8.25 rate to at least $10 an hour. 

"Our minimum wage workers are doing hard work.  They are putting in long hours.  Yet in too many instances, they are living in poverty.  That's not right.  That's not an Illinois value.  that's not a fair shake."

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Illinois 'State Of The State' Address At Noon Today

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Pat Quinn gives his sixth State of the State address at noon today in Springfield. It comes in an election year that has Quinn seeking a second full term as governor.

Quinn has spent a lot of time talking about the state's pension problems in recent years. Now, with a bid for re-election on the line, he's turning to more populist issues, like an increase in the minimum wage.

Here's Quinn last month: "When we put more purchasing power in the hands of hard-working people, they're not going to admire the money in the bank vault."

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Statehouse
4:55 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Durkin Says Job Creation Should Be Legislature's Focus

Rep. Jim Durkin
Credit ilga.gov

The Illinois House Republican leader says his top priority is legislation meant to reduce unemployment. Jim Durkin’s comments come ahead of Governor Pat Quinn’s State of the State Address Wednesday.

Illinois’ unemployment rate last month was 8.6 %. That’s down almost a full point from a year ago.  But House minority leader Jim Durkin - from Chicago’s southwest suburbs - says it’s still too high.

"It’s clearly understandable why we have governors from our surrounding states coming into Illinois seeking to poach our good employers, our good job creators," Durkin said.

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Pensions
11:48 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Unions Sue Over Pension Law

Credit wuis

Illinois labor unions have filed a lawsuit seeking a new plan to reduce the state's $100 billion pension shortfall declared unconstitutional.  

The We Are One Illinois Coalition of public employee unions filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Sangamon County Circuit court.  
The long-anticipated legal challenge comes weeks after Gov. Pat Quinn signed the measure into law and ahead of his annual State of the State address.  

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Gambling Push Resumes in East St. Louis

Rep. Bob Rita is to convene a hearing on gambling expansion at the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.
Credit Paul Sableman (pasa47) via Flickr

An Illinois lawmaker is attempting to revive talks over a massive expansion of gambling in the state. The effort begins Tuesday evening at a casino in East St. Louis.

After years of effort, talks to expand gambling broke down last spring. The issue receded amid high-profile legislation dealing with pensions, concealed carry, and same-sex marriage.

Now Rep. Bob Rita, a Democrat from Blue Island, is trying to get gambling back on the front burner.

He's planning several public hearings across the state, beginning at the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.

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Statehouse
5:55 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Lawmaker Calls For Drug Test As Welfare Prerequisite

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Nearly three million Illinoisans receive benefits in the form of food stamps, welfare or medical help. But one lawmaker says too much of this assistance is being "drained" by drug users.

Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) is proposing changes to the way beneficiaries qualify for assistance. He wants to require drug testing when people sign up for welfare. The representative says the state pays money to people without assessing their ability to be productive.

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Election 2014
3:07 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

RAW TAPE: Republican Candidates' Post-Debate Press Conferences

State Sen. Kirk Dillard holds up published reports critical of his opponent Bruce Rauner.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

All four candidates spoke with reporters after Thursday's Republican gubernatorial debate in Peoria. Here's what they had to say:

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State Week
1:51 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Listen To State Week - January 24, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, a discussion of Thursday's debate in Peoria among the hopefuls to be the Republican candidate in the upcoming governor's race.

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Election 2014
4:04 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Candidates Pitch 'Electability' At GOP Debate

The 2014 Republican candidates for governor are, from left: state Sen. Bill Brady, Treasurer Dan Rutherford, Bruce Rauner, and state Sen. Kirk Dillard.
Credit Illinois Public Broadcasters

The four men competing for the Republican nomination for governor met in Peoria last night. They were participating in a live debate broadcast on public radio and television stations across Illinois. There were no big blow-ups or arguments. In fact, the candidates seem to agree on a lot of policy issues.

That left each man making the case for why he thinks he's in the best position to be the first Republican elected governor since 1998.

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Election 2014
6:26 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Hear Republican Candidates For Governor Debate

Hear the broadcast from January 24, 2014 involving the four candidates:  Bill Brady, Dan Rutherford, Bruce Rauner and Kirk Dillard.

Also, listen to analysis from political observers, including Institute for Government and Public Affairs Director Chris Mooney, WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky, WILL host Jim Meadows and Public TV's Jak Tichenor and H. Wayne Wilson.

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Statehouse
5:57 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Democrat Cullerton Wants To Meet With GOP Nominee For Governor

Sen. John Cullerton
Credit ilga.gov

The President of the Illinois State Senate - John Cullerton - says he wants to meet with the eventual Republican nominee for governor about the state’s finances.  It comes as the state’s income and corporate tax rates are scheduled to go down in a year.

The governor’s office predicts the tax decrease will create a nearly $2 billion hole in the next budget. Cullerton - a Chicago Democrat - says he’d like to hear from the Republican nominee about the state’s budget.

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Election 2014
6:00 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Campaigns Must Disclose Payroll Numbers

Bruce Rauner speaks with reporters in this August 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois State Board of Elections is putting a stop to a practice that's allowed political campaigns to hide some of their spending.

This is a story of new technology coming under the purview of older campaign finance laws.

At least two major candidates this year have been paying staff through outside payroll companies: Democrat Mike Frerichs, who's running for treasurer, uses ADP; and Republican Bruce Rauner, running for governor, uses Paylocity.*

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Statehouse
7:15 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Lawmaker Wants Registry For Animal Abusers

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Illinois has registries for sex offenders and for those who've harmed children. Now a lawmaker wants to create a registry for people who've hurt animals.

Representative Toni Berrios' proposal would create a registry for animal abusers, to be maintained by the state’s Department of Agriculture. Once on the registry, a person couldn’t buy a companion animal, or be employed in a job involving animals.

Berrios, a Democrat from Chicago, says the current penalty for a first-time offender is too light.

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Statehouse
6:56 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Legislators Seek To Adjust Funding Formula; Others Say It's Not Enough

School funding in Illinois is prorated at 89 percent this year, and might sink even lower next year.

  Illinois ranks last in the nation when it comes to how much money the state kicks in for public education. This has to do with the complicated formula that determines school funding. But it also has to do with the amount districts are being prorated.

This year, Illinois is only paying 89 percent of the money it's supposed to send to schools. Currently those cuts are applied across the board, hitting wealthy and poor districts alike.

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon says she wants to make sure schools districts with more impoverished students aren't left behind.

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Rep. Elaine Nekritz propses path to permit
4:55 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Illinois Drivers Could Get Additional Chance To Drive After Convictions

Under Rep. Elaine Nekritz's proposal, Illinois drivers with four or more DUIs on their records could be let back on the road after a full rehabilitation.
Credit flickr/theeggplant

  Illinois law says after four DUI convictions, that person can never drive again, not even if his or her offenses are long in the past. But one lawmaker wants to give people who've gotten their lives together another chance drive.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) says her bill was inspired by a constituent who had several DUIs in the past, but has been sober for years.

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Bruce Rauner, however, was a no-show
11:46 am
Wed January 22, 2014

GOP Candidates For Governor To Support Eventual Nominee

  The four Republicans running for governor are battling one another now ... but most say they'll put that aside after the primary.

At a debate at Chicago's Union League Club the GOP candidates for governor tried to set themselves apart on questions about transportation funding, Medicaid, and government consolidation.

But they all had the same response to the question, "Do you all individually agree to support the Republican nominee, whoever he is?"

Senator Bill Brady, Senator Kirk Dillard and Treasurer Dan Rutherford each raised their hands.

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New IGPA Report
7:15 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Budget Gap To Increase Despite Pension Overhaul

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' pension overhaul is tied up in a court challenge.  But even if it remains law, cuts to state employees' and public school teachers' retirement benefits will not solve the state's budget problem.  That's the forecast from a report issued today by the University of Illinois' Institute for Government and Public Affairs. Amanda Vinicky spoke with the report's principle author, economist Richard Dye.

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Congress
6:00 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Durbin Pushing To Extend Unemployment Benefits

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin speaks with reporters Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, outside his home in Springfield.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin continues to push for an extension of unemployment benefits. He says it’ll be the first priority when the U.S. Senate reconvenes next week.

Durbin says 83,000 Illinoisans lost unemployment benefits on January first.

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State Week
3:16 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Listen To State Week - January 17, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Among this week's topics: Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's statements on whether or not he used his clout to get his daughter into an elite school, Tio Hardiman's challenge to Governor Pat Quinn as the possible Democratic candidate for governor, and also new political endorsements from Illinois unions.

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Election 2014
6:17 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Primary Challenge To Gov. Quinn Can Continue

Tio Hardiman
Credit uic.edu

A Democratic challenger to incumbent Governor Pat Quinn says he received the "best news in the world" Thursday morning, he gets to remain on the ballot. 
Not anyone can run for office in Illinois.  Getting on the ballot requires turning in paperwork, including signatures of registered voters.
Tio Hardiman, the former director of the anti-violence group Ceasefire, says he did that.

"We put a lot of work into this campaign. We've traveled the entire state, it's not like we just jumped up overnight and said let's run for governor," Hardiman said.

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Election 2014
5:58 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Unions Take Aim At Rauner In GOP Primary

Bruce Rauner
Credit wuis

A major organized labor coalition says it plans to ``do everything possible'' to oppose Republican Bruce Rauner's bid for Illinois governor.  
The Illinois AFL-CIO announced Thursday that its board approved a resolution to engage union members to defeat the Winnetka businessman.

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Statehouse
8:23 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Illinois Delays Start Of Tax Filing

Credit flickr/jmorgan

Illinois revenue officials say residents won't be able to file their 2013 income taxes until the end of January _ a two-week delay.  

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Statehouse
4:52 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Lawmakers Say "No" To Further Video Gaming Restrictions

Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

A state legislative committee has rejected rules aimed at tightening who sells contracts for video gambling terminals and who can do business with Illinois.

But Illinois Gaming Board chairman Aaron Jaffe  says he'll try again. He said Wednesday that he'll bring the issue back to the panel or to the General Assembly this year.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted unanimously Tuesday to deny rules that would also create a list of businesses and individuals Illinois won't work with. It's similar to what the state does with casinos.

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