Hannah Meisel http://wuis.org en Durbin Files Legislation Reacting To Hobby Lobby Decision http://wuis.org/post/durbin-files-legislation-reacting-hobby-lobby-decision <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>U.S. Senator Dick Durbin wants companies exempt from offering birth control in their healthcare plans to make that known to potential employees.</p><p></p><p>It's a response to the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, which determined certain business owners don't have to pay for contraceptives that violate their religious beliefs. These so-called "closely held" companies — typically small, family owned businesses — are exempt from the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.</p> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:09:59 +0000 Hannah Meisel 29888 at http://wuis.org Durbin Files Legislation Reacting To Hobby Lobby Decision Republican Attorney General Candidate: Pension Changes Unconstitutional http://wuis.org/post/republican-attorney-general-candidate-pension-changes-unconstitutional <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>The Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General is criticizing incumbent Lisa Madigan for defending the state's pension overhaul law, which he thinks is unconstitutional.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A clause in the state's constitution says that once earned, pension benefits shall not be diminished.</span></p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:29:36 +0000 Hannah Meisel 29817 at http://wuis.org Republican Attorney General Candidate: Pension Changes Unconstitutional Tourism In Illinois Sets New Record http://wuis.org/post/tourism-illinois-sets-new-record <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Illinois' tourism numbers set another record in 2013, bringing in over 100 million visitors to the state. State agencies say they aim to grow those numbers more in the face of budget cuts.</p><p></p><p>For the third year in a row, Illinois broke its own record for visitors to the state. In 2013, travelers spent $34.5 billion dollars in Illinois, according to the state's office of tourism.</p> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:57:33 +0000 Hannah Meisel 29697 at http://wuis.org Tourism In Illinois Sets New Record Seven Months And Two Storms Later, Executive Mansion Gets Mini-Fix http://wuis.org/post/seven-months-and-two-storms-later-executive-mansion-gets-mini-fix <p>The governor's executive mansion in Springfield is receiving much-needed repair after rainwater caused damage twice in the last two months. But the repairs are only a stopgap measure; it's all the state can afford right now.</p><p></p><p>Walk into the executive mansion in Springfield, and nothing looks awry. But climb the stairs to the third floor, where the governor's apartment lies, off-limits to tours and most events, and the damage is apparent in two historical bedrooms.</p> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 17:58:09 +0000 Hannah Meisel 29701 at http://wuis.org Seven Months And Two Storms Later, Executive Mansion Gets Mini-Fix Illinois Sees Growth In Tax Revenue, But It Won't Last Long http://wuis.org/post/illinois-sees-growth-tax-revenue-it-wont-last-long <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>2014 is only halfway over, but Illinois' new fiscal year just began last week. The state closed out its year with a billion-dollar growth in tax revenue.</p><p></p><p>The state took in $32 billion in revenue this past fiscal year, more than $7.6 billion of that in sales tax. That's up almost 4.5 percent from last year.</p><p>Jim Muschinske, who analyzes revenues for the state's forecasting commission, says that's not amazing, but it's a healthy increase.</p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 15:27:07 +0000 Hannah Meisel 29696 at http://wuis.org Illinois Sees Growth In Tax Revenue, But It Won't Last Long State Fire Marshal: No Illegal Fireworks This Fourth http://wuis.org/post/state-fire-marshal-no-illegal-fireworks-fourth <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Illinois' state fire marshal is warning people to steer clear of personally handling fireworks this Independence Day. He says setting off fireworks without a permit could be grounds for arrest.</p><p></p><p>While buying fireworks is illegal in Illinois, many residents cross state lines to obtain them from Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri. Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis says that causes major problems, especially around the Fourth of July.</p> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 15:08:36 +0000 Hannah Meisel 29694 at http://wuis.org State Fire Marshal: No Illegal Fireworks This Fourth DCEO Suggests Better Marketing, Tax Credit Reform To Grow Illinois' Economy http://wuis.org/post/dceo-suggests-better-marketing-tax-credit-reform-grow-illinois-economy <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Illinois' economy was slow to feel the effects of the Great Recession, and has been slow to recover from it. The state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is submitting a five-year plan to the General Assembly, with suggestions for business growth ... and more state spending.</p><p></p> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 20:21:38 +0000 Hannah Meisel 28460 at http://wuis.org DCEO Suggests Better Marketing, Tax Credit Reform To Grow Illinois' Economy State Fair Officials: Can't Follow State Law Due To Budget Cuts http://wuis.org/post/state-fair-officials-cant-follow-state-law-due-budget-cuts <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Illinois' two state fairs did not comply with the law last year, according to a recent state audit -- and budget realities mean that'll happen again this summer.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The audit found that both the fairs in Springfield and DuQuoin overcharged entrance fees for horses.</span></p><p>But the Department of Agriculture says it's a consequence of the state contributing 200-thousand dollars $200,000 less toward the purse.</p> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:52:49 +0000 Hannah Meisel 28323 at http://wuis.org State Fair Officials: Can't Follow State Law Due To Budget Cuts Laws For Military Children Strengthened http://wuis.org/post/laws-military-children-strengthened <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Children in military families should have an easier time changing schools when their parents transfer in and of out of Illinois, according to a law Governor Pat Quinn signed over the weekend.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Last summer, Tom White retired from the U.S. Army and accepted a post teaching military law at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. But instead of moving his family near his work in Illinois, White opted to live in Valparaiso, Indiana, and commute at least an hour each day.</span></p> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:48:16 +0000 Hannah Meisel 28459 at http://wuis.org Laws For Military Children Strengthened Pension Decision Will Wait Until At Least December http://wuis.org/post/pension-decision-will-wait-until-least-december <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>It could be December before a judge decides on the legality of Illinois' pension overhaul law for at least another five months. Attorneys met Thursday in Sangamon County Court and agreed on a timeline for the case.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Current and retired state employees, teachers and university workers are suing </span>Gov<span style="line-height: 1.5;">. Pat Quinn over the pension overhaul passed by the General Assembly late last year.</span></p> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 23:48:34 +0000 Hannah Meisel 28130 at http://wuis.org Pension Decision Will Wait Until At Least December Teacher Pension Fund Lowers Expected Investment Return; State's Obligation To Grow http://wuis.org/post/teacher-pension-fund-lowers-expected-investment-return-states-obligation-grow <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>The Illinois Teachers' Retirement System says it expects a lower return on its pension investments in the next year. That means the state will have to cover more of the cost of teacher pensions.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">TRS says it's still a good assumed rate of investment return at 7.5 percent. That falls in line with similar pension systems nationwide. But it's not as profitable as 8-percent, which TRS had been using for the previous few years.</span></p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 16:03:23 +0000 Hannah Meisel 27990 at http://wuis.org Teacher Pension Fund Lowers Expected Investment Return; State's Obligation To Grow Ombudsman To Act As Go-Between For 10th Street Rail Corridor http://wuis.org/post/ombudsman-act-go-between-10th-street-rail-corridor <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Negotiations between residents of the 10th Street Corridor and the Illinois Department of Transportation , now that there is a go-between for the high speed rail project. A new ombudsman says he will be independent of either side.</p><p></p> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 22:06:02 +0000 Hannah Meisel 27872 at http://wuis.org Ombudsman To Act As Go-Between For 10th Street Rail Corridor Sixteen Officers Receive Medal Of Honor http://wuis.org/post/sixteen-officers-receive-medal-honor <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Sixteen police officers from across Illinois were awarded the state's Medal of Honor Friday in Springfield. One officer had previously been honored as state trooper of the year.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">In April 2013, State Trooper Brad Williams responded to a five-victim homicide in the tiny village of Manchester, in Western Illinois. Traveling by motorcycle, he chased the suspect for miles, joined by dozens of other officers along the way.</span></p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 21:51:48 +0000 Hannah Meisel 27871 at http://wuis.org Sixteen Officers Receive Medal Of Honor Lawmakers Work To Replace Illinois' Eavesdropping Law http://wuis.org/post/lawmakers-work-replace-illinois-eavesdropping-law <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Since the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state's eavesdropping law in March, it's been legal to record audio of someone without asking permission. But legislators are working on a replacement.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The Supreme Court found the old law overly broad. It was a crime even to record in public, where people shouldn't really have an expectation of privacy. Because of that, Illinois' law was considered one of the strictest in the nation.</span></p> Wed, 18 Jun 2014 22:10:19 +0000 Hannah Meisel 27540 at http://wuis.org Lawmakers Work To Replace Illinois' Eavesdropping Law Department Of Public Health To Test For New Genetic Disorder In Newborns http://wuis.org/post/department-public-health-test-new-genetic-disorder-newborns <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Babies born in Illinois are already tested for dozens of disorders. Now the state public health department is adding more to that list.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Newborns will be tested for SCID, a rare genetic disorder that makes babies especially susceptible to bacterial and viral infections.</span></p> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 21:50:52 +0000 Hannah Meisel 27536 at http://wuis.org Department Of Public Health To Test For New Genetic Disorder In Newborns Illinois Could Prohibit Smoking On College Campuses http://wuis.org/post/illinois-could-prohibit-smoking-college-campuses <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Smoking could be banned at all of Illinois' public colleges under legislation passed by the General Assembly. Though several campuses have already gone smoke-free, this measure would make it illegal to smoke anywhere at the state's 12 public universities, plus its community colleges.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Though the final vote mostly fell upon party lines — Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed — some lawmakers crossed ideological boundaries.</span></p> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 21:27:40 +0000 Hannah Meisel 27535 at http://wuis.org Illinois Could Prohibit Smoking On College Campuses Ex-Offenders Get Job-Ready At DOC Opportunity Expo http://wuis.org/post/ex-offenders-get-job-ready-doc-opportunity-expo <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>In Illinois, 25,000 men and women are released from state prisons each year. Ideally, that means 25,000 people entering the job market. But Illinois already has higher-than-average unemployment, and a criminal record can make it even harder to find work. That's why the Illinois Department of Corrections is trying to lend a hand to ex-offenders through a series of specialized events.</p><p></p> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 17:06:20 +0000 Hannah Meisel 27014 at http://wuis.org Ex-Offenders Get Job-Ready At DOC Opportunity Expo Local WWII Vets Honored At D-Day Memorial http://wuis.org/post/local-wwii-vets-honored-d-day-memorial <p>It's been 70 years since allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in one of the turning points of World War Two. A memorial service in Springfield Friday told stories of the young men on the front lines.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The young men of 1944 are old men now. But they still remember.</span></p><p>Springfield resident Jim Hofstetter was 18 on D-Day, the day he enlisted. He knew it was the height of the war, but he also knew he had a job to do for his country.</p> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 19:24:40 +0000 Hannah Meisel 27024 at http://wuis.org Local WWII Vets Honored At D-Day Memorial Legislation Aims To Preserve Schools As Polling Places http://wuis.org/post/legislation-aims-preserve-schools-polling-places <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Illinois lawmakers are looking to keep schools available as polling places on election day. It comes as some election authorities move to what critics say are less accessible locations.</p><p></p> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 16:04:18 +0000 Hannah Meisel 26643 at http://wuis.org Legislation Aims To Preserve Schools As Polling Places Interfund Borrowing No One's First Choice For Budgeting http://wuis.org/post/interfund-borrowing-no-ones-first-choice-budgeting <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>The budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly does not rely on extending the 2011 income tax hike, as originally planned by Democratic leadership. Instead, it's based on state government borrowing from itself.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Instead of making the five percent income tax rate permanent or chopping away at government programs, lawmakers opted to fill a massive hole in state revenues by doing something called "</span>interfund<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> borrowing."</span></p> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 03:10:53 +0000 Hannah Meisel 26392 at http://wuis.org Interfund Borrowing No One's First Choice For Budgeting Republicans Decry Democratic "Playbook," Call For End Of Lame Duck Tax Decisions http://wuis.org/post/republicans-decry-democratic-playbook-call-end-lame-duck-tax-decisions <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>The budget being expected to be pushed through the General Assembly Friday does not count on extending the 2011 income tax hike. But Republicans say they can "see through" the Democrats' plan to revisit the income tax after the November election.</p><p></p> Fri, 30 May 2014 17:01:20 +0000 Hannah Meisel 26260 at http://wuis.org Republicans Decry Democratic "Playbook," Call For End Of Lame Duck Tax Decisions Lawmakers Push To Fight Patent, Copyright Trolls http://wuis.org/post/lawmakers-push-fight-patent-copyright-trolls <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Lawmakers are considering proposals to stop so-called "patent trolls." They say people who fraudulently collect fines under the guise of protecting intellectual property are hurting small businesses.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">"Patent trolls" and their lesser-known cousins, "copyright trolls," basically search for opportunities to make money by claiming someone has used a protected idea without permission.</span></p> Thu, 29 May 2014 22:19:48 +0000 Hannah Meisel 26220 at http://wuis.org Lawmakers Push To Fight Patent, Copyright Trolls Cullerton, Madigan Come To Budget Agreement, Will Revisit Revenue After Election http://wuis.org/post/cullerton-madigan-come-budget-agreement-will-revisit-revenue-after-election <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says he's come to an agreement on state spending with the speaker of the Illinois House. But Cullerton is leaving the door open for an income tax hike after the November election.</p><p></p> Thu, 29 May 2014 00:37:47 +0000 Hannah Meisel 26135 at http://wuis.org Cullerton, Madigan Come To Budget Agreement, Will Revisit Revenue After Election Lawmakers Push To Speed Up Fracking Even After Proposal Dies http://wuis.org/post/lawmakers-push-speed-fracking-even-after-proposal-dies <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Lawmakers are giving up on an attempt to override state regulators in order to jumpstart </span>fracking<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> in Illinois. But they still say </span>Gov<span style="line-height: 1.5;">. Pat Quinn's administration is dragging its feet on a potential economic boom.</span></p><p></p> Wed, 28 May 2014 18:56:19 +0000 Hannah Meisel 26091 at http://wuis.org Lawmakers Push To Speed Up Fracking Even After Proposal Dies Senate Approves School Funding Overhaul http://wuis.org/post/senate-approves-school-funding-overhaul <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>The Illinois Senate has passed a plan to overhaul the way schools are funded. But the proposal has a long way to go before becoming law.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">After months of negotiations and with just four days left on the General Assembly's spring calendar, the measure was deemed "ready for primetime." The plan would direct state funding to more impoverished schools and divert funding from schools in wealthier areas.</span></p> Wed, 28 May 2014 05:33:02 +0000 Hannah Meisel 26052 at http://wuis.org Senate Approves School Funding Overhaul Arrested Advocates: In-Home Health Services Essential For Independence http://wuis.org/post/arrested-advocates-home-health-services-essential-independence <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>As the Illinois General Assembly considers a so-called "middle of the road" budget for next year, some programs could be cut or reduced to make up for the expiration of the 20-11 income-tax hike. Advocates for people with disabilities say a reduction could be catastrophic for that population.</p><p></p> Tue, 27 May 2014 18:21:41 +0000 Hannah Meisel 26000 at http://wuis.org Arrested Advocates: In-Home Health Services Essential For Independence Bipartisan Support For Earned Income Tax Credit, But Budget Stands In Way http://wuis.org/post/bipartisan-support-earned-income-tax-credit-budget-stands-way <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>With less than a week remaining in the Illinois General Assembly's spring session, advocates are still working to double the state's tax credit for the working poor.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Advocates say the Earned Income Tax Credit is more effective at lifting people out of poverty than welfare or raising the minimum wage.</span></p><p>More than 900,000 Illinois workers receive the state's version of the EITC, which is currently worth 10 percent of the federal version of the credit.</p> Mon, 26 May 2014 21:54:05 +0000 Hannah Meisel 25951 at http://wuis.org Bipartisan Support For Earned Income Tax Credit, But Budget Stands In Way "Doomsday" Budget Fails In House http://wuis.org/post/doomsday-budget-fails-house <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>The Illinois House overwhelmingly rejected a so-called "doomsday budget" Friday — one that does not rely on extending 2011's income tax hike. It would have imposed deep cuts across Illinois government.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">It was the budget that few legislators — Democrat or Republican — actually wanted to pass. It would have slashed education and other government services.</span></p> Fri, 23 May 2014 19:39:12 +0000 Hannah Meisel 25938 at http://wuis.org "Doomsday" Budget Fails In House Republicans Push School Funding Legislation To Prevent Underfunding http://wuis.org/post/republicans-push-school-funding-legislation-prevent-underfunding <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>While the state's budget for next year is still in flux, Republicans in the Illinois Senate say they have a new plan that would fully fund public schools. They say it's something that would help schools now, unlike a competing Democratic proposal that's still building support.</p><p></p> Fri, 23 May 2014 01:43:38 +0000 Hannah Meisel 25730 at http://wuis.org Republicans Push School Funding Legislation To Prevent Underfunding House Advances Retirement Savings Legislation http://wuis.org/post/house-advances-retirement-savings-legislation <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>The Illinois House is advancing legislation intended to get more people saving for retirement. Advocates say "nudging" workers into a savings program could help keep them out of poverty in retirement.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The so-called Secure Choice retirement savings program is an idea of the conservative Heritage Foundation. The plan would require all companies with more than 25 employees to automatically enroll workers in a state-supervised retirement program.</span></p> Thu, 22 May 2014 20:18:13 +0000 Hannah Meisel 25705 at http://wuis.org House Advances Retirement Savings Legislation