Statehouse

Courtesy of ILGA.gov

Even though lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said they're going to work together this year, a simple vote on the rules the House has to follow when it conducts business was divided along party lines.

Republicans objected to the rules, saying they lack transparency and give too much power to lame-duck legislators. Representative Ed Sullivan, a Republican from Mundelein, wants to extend the time period that information is posted online before legislators can debate a bill. The rules require only a one-hour notice before a hearing.

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner amped up his anti-union rhetoric Tuesday at a speech in Decatur, a city with deep labor roots.  The Republican bemoaned prevailing wage  requirements on public projects for costing the state extra, said Project Labor Agreements are synonymous with "uncompetitive bidding" and introduced a plan to create local right-to-work zones.  

Unions are on edge about what Rauner has in store for them. He has railed against “government union bosses,” and names Indiana's former Gov. Mitch Daniels as a political role model. It's Daniels who made Indiana a right-to-work state.

United States Department of Agriculture

There are many ways to add pumpkin to recipes, but one lawmaker wants to make it a permanent ingredient on the list of state symbols.

You can find pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin ice cream, and even pumpkin chili at the pumpkin festival in Morton. Representative Keith Sommer, a Republican who's from Morton, wants to bring even more attention to the state's star squash.

Sommer is a sponsor of legislation to make pumpkin pie the official state pie of Illinois. He says it is a way to recognize something good from Illinois.

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.

WUIS

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

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.

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.

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".

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.

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.

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."

police cars
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.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
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.

Mike Frerichs at Inauguration 2015
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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

Back On The Bobcat Hunt

Jan 16, 2015
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.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

A discussion of the first days of the Rauner Administration.

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. 

Logan Correctional Center
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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.  

Lisa Madigan at Inauguration 2015
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.

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.
 

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.

Bruce Rauner at Inauguration 2015
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.

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