Amanda Vinicky

Statehouse Bureau Chief/ Leadership Blog

217-206-6019

Read Amanda's "Leadership" blog.

Amanda Vinicky has covered Illinois politics and government for WUIS and the Illinois Public Radio network since 2006.  Highlights include reporting on the historic impeachment and removal from office of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, winning a national award for her coverage of Illinois' electric rate fight as a result of deregulation, and following Illinois' delegations to the Democratic and Republican national political conventions in '08 and '12.  

Though she's full-time with WUIS now, she previously interned with the station in graduate school; she graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program in '05.  She also holds degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. 

Amanda is insatiably curious, so please reach out to her and get in touch if you notice something interesting going on at the Capitol! She can be reached at (217) 206-6019 or (773) 217-0316. If she's not in the statehouse bureau, you can usually find Amanda tweeting, dining at a local restaurant, taking a jog around Springfield or Chicago or practicing yoga. 

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Lincoln
9:10 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Tweeting Lincoln's Death

The nation went into mourning when, just after the Civil War had finally ended, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. No one alive today can remember, but a class project may make you get a sense of what it was like, or at least what went on. Students at the University of Illinois Springfield began "live-tweeting" on April 14 - the date that that Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater back in 1865. They've continued, tweeting in real time -- 150 years after the fact -- about the pursuit of John Wilkes Booth, and the funeral cortege from Washington, D.C. to Springfield.

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House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana
7:52 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Fine, But No Jail Time For Low-Level Pot Smokers

Credit BrettLevinPhotography / Flickr

Low level marijuana users may soon catch a break in Illinois. Rather than going to jail, it'd be more like getting a speeding ticket.

The repercussions for having pot vary; Rep. Kelly Cassidy says there's a patchwork of more than 100 different local ordinances all over the state.

"And the outcome from this patchwork system puts in place an unjust and confusing system wherein where you live and what you look like dictates whether or not you'll be arrested for extremely low-level marijuana possession," she says.

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Leadership Blog
3:24 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Legislative Force With Lucas, Obama Museums

An architectural rendering of the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which may be built on Chicago's lakefront.
Credit LMNA Architecture Renderings / Lucas Museum of Narrative Art press kit

The force of the Illinois legislature is behind bringing George Lucas's museum and Barack Obama's presidential library to Chicago.

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Budget FY15
8:25 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Coins Under The Couch Cushions And False Hope

Daniel Gorog (right), a 23-year-old man with autism stands new to his father, Dan Gorog, who on Tuesday thanked a Senate committee for voting to restore money to autism programs that he credits with helping his son. But it may be false hope.

There's a hold-up over efforts to programs dealing with autism, drug prevention, and more from ending. It seems like advocates should be celebrating.

After Gov. Bruce Rauner says he was forced to earlier this month suddenly pull $26 million worth of state grants, the Illinois Senate used the legislative version of searching under the couch cushions for change.

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Fair Share Dues
3:43 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Rauner Wants Teachers Exempt From Fair Share

Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses the Citizens Club of Springfield.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Public school teachers and their unions may be next, as Gov. Bruce Rauner seeks to loosen requirements on collective bargaining dues.

The vast majority of state employees are unionized. But even those who choose not to join still have to pay what are known as "fair share" dues. That's basically a fee to cover the work unions do to benefit all workers, members and non-members alike. Things like wage hikes, and health care coverage that unions secure in negotiations. But Gov. Rauner alleges the money's also used for political advocacy.

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Plan Restores Grant Cuts
8:59 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Will Lawmakers Disappoint This Father?

Credit flickr/borman18

The Illinois Senate could begin voting Wednesday on a plan to reverse a smattering of state grants recently eliminated by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Democratic legislators say they were caught off guard earlier this month when Rauner suddenly took $26 million in funding away from programs, including ones that support autistic children and people with epilepsy.

Sen. Dan Kotowksi, a Park Ridge Democrat, says Illinois should restore at least a portion of the money. He proposes getting it by sweeping special state funds that have reserves.

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Statehouse
8:11 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Time Running Out For Medical Marijuana

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Patients with certain illnesses are on their way to being able to use medical marijuana in Illinois, but time is running out.

As it stands now, Illinois' medical marijuana program is only set to continue for another two and a half years, and sick people haven't even been able to legally buy cannabis yet.

Democratic Rep. Lou Lang says that wasn't his intent; he'd wanted the program to last twice that long. Lang blames a delay in Illinois awarding licenses to firms to grow and sell cannabis.

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Statehouse
2:59 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Public Radio Interview: Rauner At 100 Days

Amanda Vinicky interviews Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday in his Capitol office.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

Today marks Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's 100th day in office. He sat down in the Capitol for a one-on-one interview with WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky.

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Leadership
8:08 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Analysis: One Hundred Days Of Rauner

Credit The State Legislative Leaders Foundation

Tuesday marks a milestone for Gov. Bruce Rauner: his first 100 days as Illinois' governor. It's the first time the private equity investor has held elected office. He came in with big ideas, and big challenges.

There's no official significance behind a governor's first 100 days, but it's often used as the yard stick to gauge how well a new politician is doing.

Historians seem to trace it back to Franklin Roosevelt craftily using his first 100 days as president to usher in his New Deal. FDR was trying to bring the United States out of the Great Depression.

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Leadership Blog
5:45 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Madigan Creates Special Budget Panel To Oversee Gov. Rauner

Democratic legislators in the spring approved a budget they recognized then as "incomplete," leaving new Gov. Bruce Rauner and this year's new incarnation of the General Assembly to deal with it.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' budget, and Gov. Bruce Rauner's influence on it, will be examined by a special legislative committee. The powerful House Speaker announced its creation today.

It's either a sign of a contentious budget battle, or an early attempt at reaching a compromise.

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State Week
2:21 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Listen to State Week - April 17, 2015

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

This week's discussion includes the fallout over Governor Bruce Rauner's cuts to social services and House Speaker Michael Madigan's new budget oversight panel.  Paris Schutz, political reporter for WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" joins us for the program.

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(For Three Months Anyway)
2:36 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Tobacco Quitline Calls It Quits

Twenty-seven people are out of a job at Illinois' Tobacco Quitline, which means there's no one left to answer the phone.

For the past 15 years, Illinois smokers could dial 1-866-QUIT-YES, and a tobacco treatment counselor or nurse would answer. Try calling now, and there's a message saying: "Your call is important to us. Unfortunately, Quitline funding has been suspended due to budget cuts and we will be closed until further notice."

It was an abrupt end. Supporters say they had little financial wiggle room.

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Statehouse
7:28 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Right To Try Act Would Allow Access To Investigational Drugs

Rep. Greg Harris is the sponsor of House Bill 1335, or the Right to Try Act.
Credit ILGA.gov

It can take a decade or more for the FDA to approve a new medicine, but a measure in the Illinois House is meant to help people who can't wait that long.

Rep. Greg Harris, a Democrat from Chicago, says for people who have been told they have just a short time to live, it could be a ray of hope. "It's the last, best hope for some of our constituents," he said. "I'm very proud to carry it. I'm proud to give this hope to people who have no place else to turn."

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Budget FY16
4:02 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

State's Paying Interest On 2011 Past Due Wages; May Finally Pay Up

Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, is sponsor of legislation that would have Illinois pay past-due wage increases to state workers.

Thousands of state employees are a step closer to receiving money they've been waiting on since 2011.

The Illinois House approved spending the approximately $63 million it'll take to pay workers raises they were guaranteed in their contracts, but which the state refused to hand over.

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Budget FY16
11:34 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Show Me The Bills! Legislators Wait For Turnaround Agenda

Gov. Bruce Rauner has binders, with bullet points, letters and briefs explaining his Turnaround Agenda, but it's not in bill form.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been traveling the state to promote his so-called "Turnaround Agenda." But don't expect the General Assembly to act on it right away.

It calls for sweeping changes to unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, limits on where lawsuits can be filed and the creation of right-to-work zones. Plus, a local freeze on property taxes, and a repeal of the state's Prevailing Wage Law.

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Budget FY15
6:56 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Brr! Rauner Budget Chief Says More Grant Freezes Could Be Ahead

In this photo from his LinkedIn profile, Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget chief Tim Nuding speaks with Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno.
Credit LinkedIn

Social service agencies are reeling from sudden budget cuts. More could be on the way.

Some Democrats say they were taken off guard when, two weeks after legislators and Gov. Bruce Rauner passed a law to handle the budget through June, Rauner's administration said certain programs would be cut-off: Grants for a quit-smoking hotline, support for autistic kids, and funding for a teen after-school program -- all eliminated. In cases, workers have been laid off, and services discontinued.

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2015 40th Anniversary Message
12:52 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

2015 40th Anniversary Message: Amanda Vinicky

Amanda Vinicky
Credit mattpenning.com 2010 / WUIS/Illinois Issues
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The Players
12:03 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

The Players: Inspector General's Push For Public Reports Stalls

Inspector General Ricardo Meza
Credit State of Illinois

This is The Players, your update on who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to.

This week you'll hear Amanda Vinicky's conversation with the man who has power - as in, subpoena power - to really discover what Illinois' political players are doing: Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza.

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Leadership Blog
4:53 am
Mon April 13, 2015

Spring Break's Over! With Summer Overtime Ahead?

Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

Illinois legislators will return to Springfield this week after a two-week break. There's some suggestion it will have been their last hiatus for a while.

Legislators are set to spend much of the next seven weeks in session.

There's a lot to do: Gov. Bruce Rauner is pushing a massive agenda. He wants to overhaul the workers' compensation system, and to give municipalities the ability to rein in labor unions. Plus, there's dealing with a $6 billion deficit.

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State Week
1:52 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

Listen to State Week - April 10, 2015

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

This week Rahm Emanuel was re-elected Mayor of Chicago, which (like the state itself) is facing a huge budget deficit.   Also, Governor Rauner declared the Illinois Supreme Court part of a "corrupt" political system.   WBEZ's Lauren Chooljian joins the panel for discussion of these and other topics on this edition of the program.

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Critics: Gov's Picks Corporations Over Vulnerable
11:46 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Rauner Defends Business Tax Breaks While Slashing Social Services

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he choose to award business tax credits to uphold Illinois' trustworthiness with companies, but the Republican's critics are calling it "beyond the pale."

Social service organizations are still reeling from the unexpected news they received a week ago that Gov. Rauner was immediately cutting off their state grants. No longer would there be money to bury the indigent. Funding for The Autism Program, eliminated. Funding stripped from addiction prevention. Cuts totaling $200 million.

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Leadership
3:51 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Executive Inspector General Steps Down

Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza is stepping down this month.
Credit State of Illinois

The state official who led an investigation into political hiring under former Governor Pat Quinn's administration is resigning.

Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza is stepping down this month, after more than four-and-a-half years investigating allegations of misconduct in the governor's office, 40 state agencies and public universities.

Much of what Meza's office does is kept secret, like investigations that don't produce findings of wrongdoing. Even some of those that do can be kept confidential.

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Statehouse
4:05 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Measure Would Ban Smoking In Cars With Children

Credit Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Illinois has been "smoke free" since 2008, when a state law banned anyone from lighting up within 15 feet of public places and businesses. Now legislators are considering broadening where smoking is prohibited.

I recently saw a bumper sticker that read "At Least I Can Still Smoke In My Car." Not for long, if a measure that recently got the approval of a Senate committee continues to advance.

The proposal would forbid adults from smoking if anyone under the age of 18 is in the car; doing so would trigger a $100 fine.

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Budget FY16
6:42 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

In A Sea Of Looming Cuts, Speaker Madigan Proposes More Spending

House Speaker Michael Madigan says law enforcement organizations and victims' rights advocates support his proposal to give crime labs additional resources.

Illinois' powerful House speaker is staking an early claim in what's sure to be a contentious budget battle.

Billions of dollars in cuts proposed by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner already have spurred rallies at the capitol, and groups foretell of grave consequences.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he acknowledges Illinois is in a difficult budget situation, but there's one area in particular he wants to spend more on: state crime labs.

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U.S. Senate
2:27 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Duckworth Announces A Run For U.S. Senate

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth used a YouTube video to announce her candidacy.
Credit Tammy Duckworth

U.S Sen. Mark Kirk will face a challenge from Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who announced Monday she'll run for the seat. It's unknown who else will vie for the spot, but it's already expected to be a tight race.

Duckworth, who was elected to the U.S. House in 2012, took to YouTube to declare her candidacy.

"I'm running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 because it's time for Washington to be held accountable, and to put Illinois' families and communities first," she said in the video.

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Leadership Blog
5:37 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Aaron Schock: In The Early Days

Though Congressman Aaron Schock and Gov. Bruce Rauner had a seemingly terse relationship early on, Schock ended up campaigning for Rauner -- and stopped by the first gubernatorial debate between Rauner and then Gov. Pat Quinn in October in Peoria to cheer on his party's nominee. Here, he takes a selfie with students in the audience. The story that's the subject of this blog post is from 2005 - before selfies were a thing.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

He was 23. 

I was 23. 

He was in the early stages of a quick run up the political ladder, and after a hard-fought election becoming a full-fledged member of the Illinois House.

I was an intern for WUIS and Illinois Public Radio, days (literally) into my first attempt at covering state government and politics. 

Doing a profile of the youngest-ever legislator elected to the General Assembly on his inauguration day, on Jan. 12, 2005 seemed a fitting assignment.  

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Legislation
4:54 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Measles Vaccine Legislation Seeks Delicate Balance

Credit The Blen / Creative Commons, flickr

 Legislators are trying to protect kids from measles, without offending anti-vaccine parents.

The outbreak of measles at a Palatine learning center in February has lawmakers wanting to protect children, but it's a politically sensitive topic.

When Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno presented her proposal to a legislative committee, she was upfront about her desire to not step on the toes of with parents who choose to not vaccinate their kids, while at the same time wanting to protect children.

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Band-Aid Budget
5:26 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Listen to State Week - March 27, 2015

Gov. Bruce Rauner, standing at right, address members of his Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, which met for the first time this week.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois General Assembly this week approved a fix for Illinois short-term budget problems, but deeper issues remain. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock took his final vote in Congress and gave a farewell address. Daily Herald Political Editor Mike Riopell joins the panel to discuss that and other topics on this week's edition of State Week.

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Rauner Signs First Bills
8:19 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Budget Fix Signed Into Law; Daycare Program Saved

For weeks, advocates like these childcare providers have called on legislators to remedy a budget shortfall.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Republican Bruce Rauner has signed a temporary budget fix -- his first law since becoming governor earlier this year. 

Illinois' budget has a $1.6 billion dollar gap --- the result of a spending plan Democrats passed in the spring; some had hoped then for a post-election tax increase that never came to fruition.

Democratic Senator Heather Steans of Chicago says this will fill that gap.

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FEMA Formula Update Request
8:10 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Another Chance For Tornado-Ravaged Towns

A subdivision of Washington, Illinois after it was hit by a tornado; despite the extent of the damage, FEMA denied a public assistance grant.
Credit Lee Strubinger/WUIS

Illinois' Congressional delegation is trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to revise how it distributes aid after natural disasters. As WUIS has previously reported, the lawmakers tried before to no avail.

When a tornado touched down in southern Illinois several years ago, devastating the small town of Harrisburg, FEMA turned down Illinois' request for disaster assistance.

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