Amanda Vinicky

Statehouse Bureau Chief/ The Players Blog

Read Amanda's "The Players" 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. 

The State Legislative Leaders Foundation

A deadline is approaching for the legislature to act on proposed amendments to the Illinois constitution. They only have until the end of this week. Here's a rundown of where various proposals stand. 

csu.edu

Thanks to a law signed last week, Illinois' public universities and community colleges are finally getting state money for the first time since last summer. Now, more could be on the way.

The bipartisan deal is sending $600 million to higher education.

But it wasn't spread out evenly.

Most schools got 30-percent of last year's funding.

Chicago State University got 60-percent.

Senator Donne Trotter, a Chicago Democrat, says that's because CSU was on the precipice of a shutdown.

Amanda Vinicky

As the state budget impasse has entered an eleventh month, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he's hopeful a "grand bargain" can be worked out by the end of May; but he's leaving the bargaining to others.

After a dearth of redistricting opportunities, there's a chance Illinois voters could be faced with several options in the November election.

flickr/emilydickinsonridesabmx

The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is already a National Historic Landmark and a World Heritage Site. Now, there's an effort to elevate the status of an area running through Collinsville Illinois to a National Monument.

For a couple of years, the National Park Service has surveyed the St. Louis area Cahokia Mounds.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's mission of modernizing Illinois government continues. At issue this time is a hearings process he says is outdated and overburdened.

The state gets roughly 100, 000 requests for administrative hearings each year.

"Administrative law is the body of law that regulates the operation and procedure of government agencies," says Sadzi Olivia, the chief administrative law judge for the Dept. of Children and Family Services.

If it sounds bureaucratic, that's because it is.

LinkedIn

  The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is set to get a new leader in July.

When it opened in 2004, the presidential museum was touted as a world-class complex, and a tourist-luring gem for Springfield.

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert was sentenced in a hush-money scandal and admitted to molesting children; Governor Bruce Rauner said he hopes for a 2-year budget deal with legislative leaders by the end of May; and the governor insists contact negotiations with AFSCME are at an impass.  Kerry Lester of the Daily Herald joins the panel.

Illinois Department of Revenue

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he isn't a billionaire, but he's not far off. Me? I'm Amanda Vinicky, statehouse bureau chief for Illinois Public Radio, and let's just say I've got a better chance of walking on the moon than ever making a billion bucks.

But both Rauner and I -- as does everyone else who lives in Illinois, no matter how rich or poor -- pay the same state income tax rate. The constitution requires a flat tax.

Some Illinois Democrats are moving to change that. 

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois legislators should expect a delay in their paychecks.

Comptroller Leslie Munger announced Sunday that elected officials' pay will wait in line, just like other bills.

Vendors and agencies that perform work for the state are waiting months to be paid. Until now, officials' paychecks were essentially given preferential treatment.

With a handful of Constitutional officers and 177 state legislators, the paychecks collectively total $1.3 million a month, or $15.6 for the year.

Illinois legislators should expect a delay in their paychecks.

Comptroller Leslie Munger announced yesterday  that elected officials' pay will wait in line, just like other bills. Vendors and agencies that perform work for the state are waiting months to be paid.

With a handful of Constitutional officers and 177 state legislators ... the paychecks total one point three million dollars a month.

flickr/jmorgan

All Illinois residents -- no matter how rich, no matter how poor -- pay the same income tax rate. Now a plan is afoot to change that, with a constitutional amendment, and to have the wealthy pay more.

After months without meeting, the governor and legislative leaders gathered behind closed doors this week, with apparently no progress toward a budget agreement. Speculation continues the Attorney General might go to court to stop state workers from being paid without an appropriation. Some believe such a move could force the governor and leaders to reach a deal. Others aren't so sure.  The State Journal-Register's Doug Finke joins the panel.

Evalyn Sanguinetti at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers have taken the first step toward eliminating the office of Lieutenant Governor. Estimates show the proposed constitutional amendment could save $1.6 million dollars a year.

The lieutenant governor doesn't actually have to do much: The Constitution vaguely says whoever holds the office "shall perform the duties ... delegated to him by the Governor."

This year, the Lt. Gov is actually a “her," Evelyn Sanguinetti. She led a local government consolidation task force.

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' top legislators and the governor met yesterday for the first time this year. There's no indication it led to any resolution of the state's prolonged budget stalemate.

The private meeting lasted roughly an hour.

Neither Gov. Bruce Rauner nor any of the four legislative leaders had any direct comment on how it went (they slipped of the governor's capitol office through back doors that enabled them to avoid media waiting outside) but Speaker Michael Madigan made clear where he stands shortly after in a rare, ten minute speech on the House floor.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' information technology is getting an update --- one the State's CIO has said is necessary. He's said it's like state government's stuck in 1986 rather than 2016.

One IT overhaul took effect in late February. The state shifted from an old-school system of renewing professional licenses --- be it for roof contractors, nail technicians, or dentists -- to an online renewal system.

Amanda Vinicky / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

Republicans are making an offer to get money to social services agencies that have gone three-quarters of the year without any state funding.

Illinois' political stalemate has caused crises all over the state, says Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

The Illinois legislature is regional mélange, comprised of legislators from the nation's third largest city, as well as lawmakers who represent rural areas that are geographically closer to Mississippi than they are to Chicago. That diversity was on display Thursday when the House took up legislation to regulate fishing.

A section of Illinois Route 8 in East Peoria may be dedicated to a fallen Illinois soldier. State representatives Thursday moved to designate a roadway as the "Staff Sergeant Paul Smith Memorial Highway."

A House committee Wednesday gave the nod to a measure that could lighten the sentence of a mentally ill criminal.

A judge can take a lot 16 different factors into consideration when meting out a sentence.

The legislation proposed by Chicago Democratic Rep. Pamela Reeves-Harris adds another one.

"The court may consider, in mitigation, information that at the time of the offense the defendant was suffering from a serious mental illness," she said.

http://www.adamsguns.com

 Access to guns could be restricted from someone going through a personal crisis. It comes after a series of mass shootings where advocates say warning signs were missed. State representatives advanced the legislation Wednesday.

It's not a lifetime ban. Rather, Rep. Kathleen Willis, a Democrat from Addison, stresses she wants to temporarily keep guns away from someone suffering a mental breakdown, contemplating suicide, or otherwise going through a rough patch.

A concerned close friend or relative could ask a circuit court to prevent them from buying, or possessing a gun.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner has created a task force charged with finding fraud in taxpayer-funded health care programs.

The Republican Tuesday used his executive authority to form the group. It'll seek ways to prevent waste in state- and federally funded Medicaid , the state employee's health insurance and even costs of caring for inmates in Illinois prisons. Rauner says the cost of state-run health care programs increases when no one watches to stop abuse and fraud.

Illinois lawmakers are moving to make it easier for transgender individuals to change the gender marker on a fundamental document: their birth certificates. Democrats on a House committee approved the legislation Tuesday on a partisan vote of 8 to 6.

Alexandria Dinardo, who was born and raised in Springfield, was born male; that's what Dinardo's birth certificate still says.

Amanda Vinicky

A stalemate persists, as Illinois begins a tenth month without a budget. Legislators are back in Springfield after a spring break. They now have a few months to also find an agreement on a new budget, to cover next year.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says the urgency to pass a budget has heightened.

"It has been urgent all along, but I think in large part people have been shielded from that urgency, because they don't all use all the services of the state of Illinois," Radogno said.

Food-a-rama at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Most of the grandstand acts for this summer's Illinois State Fair have been announced.

Illinois was without a budget for last year's state fair, which means some vendors have been waiting since August to get paid.

Illinois still has no budget. But the show (and the fair) must, evidently, go on.

Officials announced a series of country acts including Dierks Bently, Little Big Town, Cole Swindell, and Jake Owen. 

Amanda Vinicky

Mothers and their midwives are behind an effort to bring one of Illinois' black-markets above ground.

Trish Sherman Pfeiffer of Carbondale gave birth to her oldest son in the hospital, where he ended up with an infection.

"So he actually became sick because of the hospital care," she said.

She decided to have her next child at home, with the assistance of a Certified Professional Midwife -- someone with training, but who isn't a nurse.

A mix of tourists and lobbyists milled about the rotunda of the Illinois Statehouse on Tuesday.
Brian Mackey / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

Spring break is over for Illinois legislators, who return to the Capitol this week.

Illinois Lottery

The Illinois Lottery is backtracking on a warning that it would have to stop selling tickets over the Internet.

ICPR website

The state of Illinois may be running a deficit, but many of its leaders' campaign accounts are flush.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform tracks their spending, and has ideas on how to improve the system.

For this episode of The Players, your look into who's who in Illinois government and politics and waht they're up to, Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky talked about campaign finance and spending on the 2016 primary with ICPR's Director, Sarah Brune.

Amanda Vinicky

Some of the primary races in early March were the most expensive in state history, but it will remain a mystery where all of the money to fund them came from. That does not appear to concern Gov.Bruce Rauner.

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