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. 

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.

Jeff Bossert

Unions landed a victory Tuesday: A tie at the U-S Supreme Court on a case perceived as do-or-die for public employee unions means current rules will remain in place. But Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he'll continue to try to ban so-called "fair share" fees.

Wednesday night a legislative commission will hear from supporters and critics of shutting down the Illinois Youth Center in Kewanee. The Department of Juvenile Justice announced in February it planned to close the prison.

The Illinois Youth Center in Kewanee is about 150 miles southwest of Chicago. For a juvenile prison, it's big: 11 buildings on 100 acres of land, with room for 350 kids.

Dept. of Juvenile Justice Director Candice Jones says the closure helps the agency move toward national best practices, which favor smaller, regional facilities.

WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court will be asked to re-visit an opinion it just issued March 24. State employees' salaries are at stake. 

Amanda Vinicky

 Gov. Bruce Rauner says he supports one of Illinois' top industries: Agriculture. But critics say a recent plan goes against his own assertion that he's a “strong advocate” for it.

Illinois Supreme Court
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court Thursday said the state does not have to pay unionized employees what it says in their contracts, unless legislators specifically appropriate the money.

Rich Berning

Long before President Barack Obama's trip this week, the U-S has had a physical foothold in Cuba, via its naval base and prison at Guantanamo Bay. Obama's seeking to close down the detention center there. Illinois' U.S. Senators are split on its future.


The State Legislative Leaders Foundation

By the end of next week, Illinois will have gone a full nine months without a budget. And yet, the state's top politicians still aren't talking. The governor and the four legislative leaders went all of June through November without meeting, before finally getting together a couple of times just before the end of 2015. They didn't continue into the new year.


Illinois State Labor Relations Board logo
Illinois State Labor Relations Board

Illinois’ Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing to decide if Governor Bruce Rauner and the state’s largest public employees union have reached an impasse.


Amanda Vinicky

Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin -- each collects private donations to help run their state fairs. But despite faulty infrastructure that will cost an estimated 180 million dollars to repair, Illinois does not.

It’s a windy day on the state fairgrounds in Springfield. Illinois' Director of Agriculture, Raymond Poe, laments a nearby building's crumbling roof.

"Agriculture represents about 25 percent of the economic value of the state of Illinois, all the way from farmers to exports. We need a place - and a high class place - to showcase our agriculture," he said.

Trump and Rauner
Trump by Michael Vadon/Flickr / Rauner by Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Republican nominee for president will have Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's support, no matter who he is.

Back when Rauner was running for governor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was often in Illinois, helping him campaign.

Rauner didn't return the favor when Christie tried to win the White House.

Despite having millions of dollars in his campaign fund, he has stayed out of the presidential primary. Rauner made no endorsements, and has generally skirted questions the race.

Bee and aster, Isle Royale National Park
Robert Pahre / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gardeners would lose a weapon against insects under a measure recently introduced in the Illinois legislature.

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' primary may be over, but the friction between Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan is not. Nor is their divide over the path forward.

Madigan's viewing the primary results as a sort of vindication, as though the contests were a referendum on Rauner's pro-business, anti-union agenda, and voters rejected it.

The Speaker points to two races as proof: his own, in which he fended off a candidate whom Madigan says was supported by "those aligned with the governor’s belief in how government should be run."

Hillary Clinton eked out a win in the state where she was born and raised, Donald Trump prevailed despite lackluster support from most of the state's GOP leaders, voters finalized who'll compete to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate, and a couple dozen state legislative contests were decided Tuesday night in Illinois' primary election.

wikimedia

The stakes are high for candidates Tuesday in Illinois. Races are expected to be tight from the presidential nominations right down to state legislative contests. Even if you've moved or haven't yet registered to vote, there's still time.

Illinois politicians have themselves voted in recent years, to make it easier for Illinois residents to vote them in (or out) of office.

This is the first time voters statewide can take advantage of being able to register on election day.

Macon County

Illinois' primary contest is rapidly approaching, which is why NPR Illinois is bringing you this Illinois Edition pre-primary special (which aired Wed., March 9). 

This election cycle is wild, and not just at the top of the ticket --- though Illinois has already seen presidential candidates including Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and Republicans Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Donald Trump stop by.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has already, presumably, cast his vote for one of the remaining Republicans --- he early voted in Arlington Heights a weekend in early March.

Amanda Vinicky

Kate Dunn, a mother of three whose oldest son does to a Springfield public school, gun violence is "a primary concern for everybody in the United States." "I feel like it's preventable. It's not necessary," she said. "It's crazy. I mean just .. every day. I hate to even look -- listen, look, watch -- every day it's something worse."Credit Adam RifeEdit | Remove

Hillary Clinton was born and raised in Illinois, and she has the confidence of the state's primary Democratic leaders, but polls show she's at risk of losing the state to Bernie Sanders. She made a final pitch to Illinois voters on the eve of Tuesday's primary, including at a town hall in Springfield.

wikimedia

With the primary Tuesday, by now you've likely been inundated with campaign brochures and television commercials, at least for the big races. As much as we at public radio do our best to keep you informed, you may still feel like you don't have enough information on some of the races further down ballot.

That's where University of Chicago graduate student Aviva Rosman's company, BallotReady, comes in. It does research, to help make it easier when you get to the ballot box.

Amanda Vinicky

Presidential candidates are making final swings through Illinois ahead of Tuesday's primary. Amanda Vinicky has a roundup of the weekend campaigning, and a preview of what's still to come.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner spent his Sunday trying to give a boost to a central Illinois Republican candidate for state senate. The race is seen as a key test of Rauner's own agenda, and power within his party.

Gov. Rauner stopped by a table of folks waiting for pancakes at Charlie Parker's diner in Springfield.

He gestured to the man by his side -- Bryce Benton. He's a state trooper, and homeland security officer, Rauner told them. Vote for him on Tuesday.

"I need him in the legislature to help me battle Madigan. So. Bryce Benton for State Senate," Rauner said.

A Republican state legislative race in west-central Illinois has become a test of Governor Bruce Rauner's reach.

Back in August, the Illinois Senate took a vote on legislation Gov. Rauner called the worst he'd ever seen. The union-backed bill would allow state labor contract disputes to go to arbitration. Sen. Sam McCann was the only Republican to vote in favor of it.

He says that's the reason he's facing a primary. And not just any primary -- political action committees with ties to Rauner have spent some $2.5 million dollars against McCann.

With the election arriving next Tuesday, a handful of candidates and their "dark money" supporters were spending millions of dollars on just a handful of campaigns. Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner once again went on the attack against Democrats, and university presidents began making a more forceful case for state funding.

Jason Gonzales campaign website

House Speaker Michael Madigan has won the Democratic primary, and subsequent general election, nearly two dozen times -- usually sailing to victory without serious opposition. But this year there are powerful forces trying to topple him. He's facing a well-funded challenge in the March 15 primary.

Amanda Vinicky

Nine months into a stalemate that's left Illinois without a budget, Gov. Bruce Rauner Tuesday let loose on House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Amanda Vinicky

If you vote in Illinois March 15, most of the names you'll see at the top of the ticket are well-known. Others, less so.

Hillary Clinton is not the only candidate with Illinois ties running for President; Illinois Democrats next week can also cast a vote for Willie Wilson.

In Chicago, the name "Willie Wilson" may ring a bell; he finished a distant third in the city's race for mayor last year.

Now, he's aiming for the White House.

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