Statehouse

Election 2014
7:30 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

How Politics Steered The Uber Bill

Credit Taxi by Ben Fredericson Ipad wallpaper

Gone are the days of standing outside, in the rain, hoping a taxi will pass by. Ridesharing services allow anyone with a smart-phone to download an app and get setup with a ride ... at least in the Chicago where it's available. It hasn't taken off yet elsewhere in Illinois. Even so, the General Assembly this spring passed a controversial measure that would regulate ridesharing statewide. Monday morning, Governor Pat Quinn vetoed it.  Amanda Vinicky has more on why.

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Election 2014
1:07 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

The Real Driver Behind Quinn's Rideshare Regulation Veto

Credit Mike/anotherpintplease via Flickr Creative Commons

Rideshare services have scored a win against Chicago's taxi industry in a battle that began in the legislature and moved on to the race for Illinois governor. Gov. Pat Quinn this morning vetoed a plan that would have established statewide regulations for the on-demand driving service, that let passengers call for rides via smart phone apps.

The minimum wage and what to do about Illinois' income tax are big campaign issues in the race between Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican rival Bruce Rauner.

No surprise: these sorts of policy issues will have a big impact statewide.

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Rutan Flouted
8:21 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Inspector's Report Reveals Clout Hiring At IDOT

The Office of Executive Inspector General released a lengthy report detailing hiring practices at the Illinois Department of Transportation that defy the spirit of rules set up to separate political allegiances from employment decisions.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' Executive Inspector General says he has not spoken with federal prosecutors about a 245 page report released Friday. It details a swath of hiring mismanagement at the state's transportation department.

Inspector General Ricardo Meza took the unusual step of holding a press conference to explain the report, which focuses on a practice for which Illinois government has become infamous: patronage.

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Election 2014
1:28 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Libertarians Survive Illinois GOP's Ballot Challenge

Credit Courtesy of lpillinois.org

  On Nov. 4, Illinois voters will choose from the Republican and Democratic statewide candidates they've been hearing about for months. But there will also be a third choice in those races: candidates representing the Libertarian party. But getting on the ballot wasn't easy for the Libertarians.

To get their candidates on the November ballot, third parties in Illinois have to turn in the signatures of at least 25,000 registered voters — five times more than the 'established' parties: Democrats and Republicans.

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Statehouse
6:17 pm
Sun August 24, 2014

Rep. Poe To Undergo Stem Cell Transplant

Rep. Raymond Poe (R-Sherman)
Credit ilga.gov

An area lawmaker says his prognosis is good as he battles a blood disease.

Republican House member Raymond Poe of Sherman will go to Texas for a three week treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS.   He'll have a stem cell transplant to replace bone marrow. That's the same procedure Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts underwent.

"They said there's an 80 percent chance.  They're very successful," he said. "They do more than 200 a year.  And so that's what we're gonna go do.  And the nice thing is it's a cure, it's not just a treatment."  

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Statehouse
3:02 pm
Sun August 24, 2014

Term Limits: The Walking, Talking Dead Constitutional Amendment

Bruce Rauner, the Republican nominee for governor, tried to put public pressure on the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the term limits case; it didn't work. The Court issued a brief memo on Friday saying simply that it would not hear Rauner's appeal of a lower court ruling that found the question unconstitutional.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

You may know by now that a question regarding term limits has been knocked off the ballot by the courts, but do you know why? Regardless of the court rulings, don't expect the issue to go away.

Republican nominee for governor Bruce Rauner and his attorneys say they tried to write a proposal that could pass constitutional muster.

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Election 2014
4:06 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

IL Supreme Court Won't Hear Term Limit Question Before Ballot Deadline

Workers load thousands of pages, containing more than 600,000 signatures, of Bruce Rauner's term limit initiative petition onto a truck, for delivery to the State Board of Elections.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Voters will not have a chance to weigh in on legislative term limits in November.

The Illinois Supreme Court this Friday afternoon issued a brief order saying it will not hear the case.

That leaves in place the decision of two lower courts that ruled the question unconstitutional.

In a statement, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner said that "Springfield career politicians" — like his Democratic opponent, Governor Pat Quinn — won.

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State Week
2:16 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Listen to State Week - August 22, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, political hiring at IDOT and attempts to get a term limits initiative on the November ballot.

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Statehouse
12:55 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Unions Ask For Quick Ruling On Pensions

Credit sangamon.co.il.us

A coalition of labor unions and state retirees is asking a judge for an expedited ruling in a case challenging the constitutionality of Illinois' pension law.  

Attorneys filed the motion in Sangamon Circuit Court Thursday. They want Judge John Belz to factor in a Supreme Court decision that found health insurance premiums were a protected retirement benefit for state workers.  

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Statehouse
12:51 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Report Says IDOT Broke Hiring Rules For Years

Credit flickr/denniscarr

The state's top ethics investigator says the Illinois Department of Transportation improperly hired more than 250 employees in the past decade.  

Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza's  report says the practice began in 2003 but continued under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. 

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Law enforcement militarization
6:53 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Congress Reevaluating Militarization Of Local Police

Local police in Ferguson use military style vehicles during protests on Aug. 12.
Credit Courtesy of Danny Wicentowski for the Riverfront Times, @D_Towski on Twitter.

  Since law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri, began using its federally supplied military-style equipment, the spotlight has been on police departments everywhere. Members of Congress have begun to question the program that distributes extra supplies to local law enforcement. 

The Pentagon has been supplying local law enforcement agencies with its surplus equipment for years, but most of the time, that equipment is out of sight.

Once police in Ferguson pulled out their armored vehicles and military-grade weapons, public debate was sparked.

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Intervention in the Middle East
6:21 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Local Members Of Congress Condemn ISIS' Actions

Flag of the Islamic State of Iraq
Credit Wikimedia Commons

  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is condemning the murder of American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by terrorist organization the Islamic State.

Durbin, a Democrat, says the group also known as ISIS must be stopped from advancing on more territory in Iraq and Syria. And he says the American military can help Iraqi forces do that.

"Ironically, many times ISIS is using American equipment we left behind," he said. "We know the capacity of that equipment, we know its limitations and we can help the Iraqi Army stop this advance."

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Statehouse
4:56 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

IDOT Cuts Positions Following Hiring Questions

Credit IDOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation is eliminating 58
positions that are at the center of a lawsuit alleging questionable hiring
practices.
 
 Acting Secretary Erica Borggren said Thursday the move is designed to boost
``accountability and restore public trust.''
 
In addition to eliminating ``staff assistant'' positions, IDOT is creating a
board to evaluate hiring, and is continuing a freeze on hiring for positions
that can be filled based on political connections.
 

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Election 2014
2:41 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Green Party Candidates Won't Appear On Ballot

Credit wikimedia

  Candidates from the Illinois Green Party will not appear on the November ballot.

A federal judge Thursday denied the party reprieve from the state's election requirements for third parties.

The Green Party had sued, claiming the barriers for third parties are too onerous ... threatening the right to free speech and equal protection.

Scott Summers, the party's candidate for governor, says he's disappointed with the judge's ruling.

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Statehouse
6:39 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Watchdog Applauds Investigation of Electric Supplier

Credit majorenergy.com

 An Illinois watchdog group is celebrating a decision by regulators to launch an investigation of an Orangeburg, New York-based alternative electric supplier.  

The Citizens Utility Board said Wednesday it's pleased the Illinois Commerce Commission adopted a recommendation to investigate Major Energy.  

Consumers have complained about misleading marketing by Major Energy. CUB says the company's rates are the worst it's seen in the Illinois competitive power market.  

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Statehouse
6:35 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Green, Libertarian Parties Await Approval For Nov. Ballot

Credit wikimedia

  For third parties in Illinois, it's down to the wire to get on the November ballot. Decisions Thursday and Friday will determine how many choices voters will have.

To get their candidates on the ballot in Illinois, the two established parties — Democrats and Republicans — have to collect the signatures of 5,000 registered voters. But to get its nominees on the ballot, a third party must collect five times as many.

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Term limits
3:45 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Appellate Court Confirms: Term Limits Not Eligible For Ballot

Credit Amanda Vinicky

  For the second time, a court has deemed unconstitutional a citizen's initiative to would limit how long Illinois lawmakers can serve.

First, it was a Cook County Circuit Court judge.

Now, the decision is from a state appellate court.

Both say the question of term limits for state legislators should not go before voters on the November ballot.

The state Constitution says citizen's initiatives, like this one, must be limited to "structural and procedural" changes to the legislature.

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Statehouse
12:29 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Lt. Gov. Simon Vies For Comptroller

Lt. Gov. Shiela Simon

Instead of hitting the campaign trail alongside Governor Pat Quinn, Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon is running for state comptroller. The comptroller is the chief fiscal officer of Illinois. The office pays the state's bills and manages the hundreds of funds that make up the budget. Simon is challenging Republican incumbent Judy Baar Topinka. Simon recently sat down with us for this interview about the race:

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Election 2014
7:36 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Rauner Pressures Illinois Supreme Court To Rule On Term Limits

Bruce Rauner is putting political pressure on the Illinois Supreme Court to deal with questions over the legality of his term limits citizen's initiative; over a half million voter signatures were submitted so it could get on the November ballot, but a lower court has ruled the wording unconstitutional.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Backers of a plan to institute legislative term limits in Illinois are putting public pressure on the state Supreme Court to get involved, and soon.

Republican candidate for Governor Bruce Rauner calls it "tragic" that the Illinois Supreme Court, as he put it, "went into delaying mode" instead of immediately taking up a case over the term limits initiative.

But Rauner, who has spearheaded the effort, stopped short of calling the court's choice political.

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Education funding
4:54 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Push Continues For School Funding Overhaul

Credit Wikimedia Commons

  As students across Illinois begin the new school year their schools are using funds that rely heavily on property tax wealth. But supporters of a new plan say now is the time to change that.

Illinois' school funding formula works like this: school districts collect property taxes from their residents, then depending on how property-wealthy or property-poor an area is, the state pitches in its share. That frequently means poorer districts stay poor because the state can't give enough, and wealthier districts remain wealthy.

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Statehouse
12:52 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Why State Sen. Frerichs Wants To Be Treasurer

State Sen. Michael Frerichs

While Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner battle over the the job of governor, the races for some of the state's constitutional offices are heating up, too. The treasurer's office oversees Illinois' investments and provides several services, including college savings plans for residents and a loan program for farmers. State Sen. Michael Frerichs, the Democratic candidate for state treasurer, joined us to talk about the campaign. Frerichs is running against former House minority leader Tom Cross. 

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Statehouse
6:34 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Illinois Takes First Step Toward Drafting Greenhouse Gas Plan

Credit http://franky242.net/shop/image/pile-of-black-coal/

State regulators are beginning to discuss how Illinois will meet new federal requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

When energy experts say things are going to get complicated: well, that's saying something. That's pretty much how Jim Ross, an air pollution control manager with Illinois' Environmental Protection Agency, summed up his briefing on the new standards.

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Statehouse
6:21 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Could Illinois Guard Be Called In To Ferguson?

Missouri's governor has brought in the National Guard to help to help deal with rioting in Ferguson, outside of St. Louis. Protests that erupted there over the Aug. 9 police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed, African American teenager, have frequently turned violent.

When there's an extreme emergency, Illinois National Guard units have gone to other states to help. Thousands of troops were sent to New Orleans, following Hurricane Katrina, for example.

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Statehouse
3:43 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Audit: Illinois Overdrew Federal Medicaid Dollars

Federal auditors have found that Illinois used faulty methods
for withdrawing federal Medicaid money, resulting in overdraws the state later
had trouble repaying.
 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General
released the report Monday.
 
The report says Illinois created ``a perpetual `treadmill effect''' as it
continued to overdraw and repay later.
 
The state's withdrawals exceeded its spending by an average of $60 million per

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Statehouse
7:44 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Illinois Increases Penalties For Drug Crimes

Credit methproject.org

Illinois has increased the penalties for some drug offenses.  

Gov. Pat Quinn signed three drug-related pieces of legislation Saturday. They take effect Jan. 1.  

Manufacturing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of any school property will now be a Class X felony, punishable by a minimum of six years in prison. It was previously considered a Class 1 felony.  

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Statehouse
11:38 pm
Sun August 17, 2014

Why The Rush? Term Limits Decision Time Deadline, Explained

Credit brucerauner.com

Even though Illinois' general election is months away, a controversial ballot question could be answered by the end of this week. Friday is the deadline for a term limits initiative to make it on the ballot.

Republican's nominee for governor, Bruce Rauner, has made instituting term limits for legislators a central plank of his campaign.

That would require a constitutional amendment. Rauner funded an effort to collected a half million signatures, so that the question could go before voters this fall.

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State Week
2:02 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Listen to State Week - August 15, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, taffy and politics at the Illinois State Fair.

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Statehouse
12:25 am
Fri August 15, 2014

(Cow) Tipping The Governor's Race

The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti, gives a rousing speech at the Illinois State Fair GOP Day. For the first time, gubernatorial candidates chose their running mates.
Credit Hannah Meisel

Politicians are supposed to apologize when they mess up, but typically that doesn't involve saying "I'm sorry" to cows. That's what Governor Pat Quinn says his opponent's running mate needs to do.

Before Republican Bruce Rauner asked her to be his running mate, attorney Evelyn Sanguinetti had made inquiries about getting a job with the state.

Lee Enterprises newspaper reporter Kurt Erickson uncovered that inquiry; which was made via email, to state employee whom Sanguinetti supposedly went to law school with.

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Statehouse
12:03 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Riding A Harley ... To A Republican Victory?

Bruce Rauner rallies Republicans at the Illinois State Fair.
Credit Hannah Meisel

  With summer coming to an end, and the November election getting ever closer, Gov. Pat Quinn and other Illinois Democrats gathered Wednesday in Springfield, for an annual party meeting and rally. But Thursday, Republicans had their day. The GOP hopes it'll be their year.

There's no "normal" way to get to the area on the Illinois State Fairgrounds where Republicans had their gathering.

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Election 2014
6:07 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Rauner Blasts Quinn On "Failed" Policies, Governor's Mansion

GOP candidate for governor Bruce Rauner rides into the Republican Day party at the Illinois State Fair on Thursday. Rauner's warm reception included cheers of "We want Bruce!"
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner hammered on Democrats at the Illinois State Fair Thursday. The Democrat facing the most criticism is Governor Pat Quinn.

Rauner was greeted almost like a rock star as he rolled into the Republican Day party on his Harley. Every time he mentioned voting Quinn out of office, the crowd erupted in cheers.

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