News

John Cullerton, Bruce Rauner and Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / WUIS

As we get ready to welcome 2016, we thought we’d take a few minutes to listen back to what’s been a difficult year in Illinois government and politics. There was an epic fight between Democrats and Republicans in Springfield, disgrace for two Illinois Congressmen, and a reckoning over violence in Chicago. Here now are some of the voices that made news in 2015.

Netflix

Happy (almost) new year! Scott and Rachel are here to tell you about a few things coming up this weekend, as well as tell you about some new developments in the scene.

Come Friday,  when the New Year begins, 237 new laws will be in effect in Illinois – about half of those that passed during Gov. Bruce Rauner’s first term. But the state is still without a budget as Rauner and lawmakers fight over a handful more.

Major rivers in flood-prone areas of Missouri and Illinois are creeping toward milestone or near-record crests.

Chamber
Flickr user: Matt Turner

More than 200 new laws will go into effect in Illinois on January 1.

PBS Great Lakes
US CPSC

When students return to class in January, their school buildings will be required to have carbon monoxide alarms.  A new law goes into effect Jan. 1.

This week, the panel reflects back on some memorable people and events in Illinois state politics and government over the past few decades, how things have changed, and how things have stayed the same.

flickr/michael chen

More people died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2014 than during any previous year on record. The numbers have doubled in just the past 15 years.   

flickr/meeshpants

Lawyers representing 11,000 mentally ill Illinois prisoners have reached a settlement with the state in a 2007 class-action lawsuit alleging that substandard treatment constituted ``cruel and unusual punishment.'' 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan says that daily fantasy sports betting is illegal gambling under Illinois law.

Hannah Meisel

Amanda Vinicky hosts The Players, your look into who's who in Illinois politics and what they are up to. This week, she talks with a candidate for the U.S. Senate. 

Democrats looking to pick up seats in the U.S. Senate have their hopes pinned on Illinois.

Illinois' junior Senator, Republican Mark Kirk, is seen a vulnerable; he's got a primary challenge of his own, but he's way out in front on the cash race, and has the party's backing.

Democrats? They're more split.

Illinois could finally reckon with its dramatically overcrowded prisons in 2016.

The entire system is at 146 percent of the capacity it was designed to hold, but that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Some individual prisons — such as East Moline, Illinois River and Lincoln — are above 200 percent of the rated capacity.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Springfield Art Association and Prairie Art Alliance are becoming one, and will focus on rebranding and integrating in the coming year. If you've been part of the art scene in Springfield, there's a good chance you've heard this question: "Why don't local arts groups work more cohesively ?" 

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois got a new governor in 2015 but not a budget. In terms of state government, a lot has—and hasn’t — happened in the past year.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Money is still being raised to help run the Illinois State Museum in Springfield - even though its doors have been closed to the public for three months. A not-for-profit that deals with grants and private donations continues to solicit, sending out pleas for donations in the mail.

Photo by Patrick Yeagle

Kaiden Gullidge only lived to be eleven months old. The baby died while with a daycare provider who had been watching him for a couple days. She claimed he became unresponsive while sitting on his own — but the child's family and prosecutors contend he was shaken and abused by the woman who had been trusted to protect him.

Tim Landis talks about the re-location plans for Barney's Furniture and the possibility of free wi-fi in downtown Springfield.

State leaders aren't discussing how Illinois can bring in more tax money; not yet anyway. Given the state's growing deficit they'll get there one day. The state's leading group for retirees is on the offensive over one particular tax break.

Herwig Kavallar, Creative Commons

It can be scary for a victim of sexual abuse to have to testify about it in court; a state law taking effect in the New Year is meant to give them comfort. With it, children will be able to bring canine companions with them to court.

Chicago Art Museums Add Joy To The Holidays

Dec 21, 2015
Museum of Contemporary Art

On a shopping trip or visit in the new year to Chicago, discover art treasures that will add joy and memories to your holidays. You’ll find wonderful art galore at the Art Institute, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Driehaus Museum, all located conveniently on or near Michigan Avenue.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

In 2009 a movement was created by Blythe Hill, who had a unique idea to take on human trafficking. Human trafficking is the practice of using people, mostly women and children, against their will for work that includes everything from sweat-shop factory work to sex-slavery. You can see a TED talk Hill gave about her project earlier this year, below. She calls it, Dressember.

Jason Parrott

The Illinois Veterans Home where a summer Legionnaire's disease outbreak led to 12 deaths and sickened more than 40 others is replacing its water systems and making other emergency repairs. 

It's the time of the year when Katie Abrams sees her Fort Collins, Colo., neighbors pulling up with real trees tied to car roofs. She feels small pangs of jealousy when friends post woodsy pictures in flannel shirts, cutting down the perfect spruce.

Illinois' budget crisis won't be resolved this year.  Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders are sticking to their respective positions, and this week House Speaker Michael Madigan didn't attend a meeting that focused on discussion of term limits and other aspects of Rauner's demands.  WBEZ Public Radio's Tony Arnold joins the panel.

Amanda Vinicky

It'll be 2016 before Illinois' top political leaders meet again, as a historic stalemate grinds on. 

The Scene Talks About The Scene

Dec 18, 2015
FX

This week Scott mentions his cover story for the Illinois Times this week in which he hosted a round-table discussion about what local venues are doing to attract talent and get people out to see shows. Check it out here.  

Meanwhile, if you have an idea as to who would be good to add to our guest host roster for next year when it comes to gabbin' about the scene, email Rachel.

We take a look at what this weekend will bring, take a listen:

Events discussed this week include:

  There was something about the handwriting spelling out her address that caused Letitia Dewith-Anderson to lay the envelope aside when it arrived on Tuesday. When she finally opened it Wednesday night, and found a flyer featuring a swastika, “white power” slogans and an application to join the American Nazi Party. 

City of Wheaton website

Illinois has more individual units of government than any other state. A report approved Thursday by a gubernatorial task force says that ought to change.

Eliminating the requirement that governments print public notices in newspapers, allowing citizens to use referendum to dissolve units of local government, and repealing the prevailing wage (which stipulates what construction workers get paid for government projects): These are the recommendations that'll be included in the report.

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislative leaders went half a year without all getting together, but Thursday they met for the third time in as many weeks ... most of them anyway.  A major player was missing.

The private meeting in the governor's office lasted an hour and 40 minutes.

Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno described it as a "good" meeting.

"We are still talking about the same issues we've been talking about," she said. "We'll be digging in a little deeper on pensions and workers' comp. We also talked about redistricting reform, term limits."

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