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. 

Barack Obama
Pool photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

On Feb. 12 -- Abraham Lincoln's birthday -- officials released plans to salute another President with state ties.

Just days ago, on Wed., Feb. 10, President Barack Obama gave a major speech in Springfield, at the capitol, where he'd once served in the state Senate.

"Thank you for such a warm welcome as I come back home," he said to legislators' applause and hoots.

Dick Durbin, Barack Obama, Bruce Rauner, Jim Langfelder
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

President Barack Obama returned to Springfield to address the Illinois General Assembly this week. He's renewing the central argument of his first campaign for president: that most Americans want a less bitter, less divisive form of politics. Did his message resonate with Illinois lawmakers?

Barack Obama outside the Old State Capitol
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

On a freezing February day in 2007, President Barack Obama announced his bid for the nation's highest office in front of the Old State Capitol in downtown Springfield -- the place where Abraham Lincoln gave his historic "House Divided" speech. At the time, Obama called for hope and change.

Nine years later -- to the very day -- Obama came back to Springfield. In his last year as president, he says he believes in the "politics of hope."

The themes of Obama's speech yesterday echoed what he'd said nine years ago, back when his hair hadn't yet gone gray.

npr.org

Nine years after he came to Springfield to announce he was running for President, Barack Obama will return to the state capitol Wednesday. He'll address Illinois representatives and senators at the statehouse.

Obama will be only the fourth sitting president to speak before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. President William Howard Taft did it in 1911, Herbert Hoover in 1933, then Jimmy Carter in 1978.

Amanda Vinicky

Eight years, tops, and he's out. That was a promise Bruce Rauner made on the campaign trail. The promise of term limits helped get him elected as Illinois' governor. But he hasn't been able to persuade lawmakers to get on board with putting a hard deadline on their own careers; same goes for redistricting.

In his latest attempt at persuasion, Rauner --- a Republican — cited Illinois' most powerful, well-known Democrat: None other than President Barack Obama, who of course will soon be returning to Springfield to address Illinois lawmakers.

What each man has said lately about term limits and redistricting is the subject of this latest edition of The Players, your guide to who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to.

Electronic cigarettes don't contain tobacco, but the vaporized solution users inhale does contain nicotine.

Sen. Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Deerfield, says she doesn't consider them safe.

Morrison says she'd kept stories about young people "openly and blatantly using these products publicly, because there was no reason they shouldn't. There was nothing in law that prevented them from doing that.”

Morrison is sponsor of a new law, signed Friday, that she says closes a loophole.

WIU students demonstrating.
Rich Egger / Tri States Public Radio

The Illinois Senate President is encouraging Governor Bruce Rauner to rethink his priorities on student aid legislation, but the governor was quick to repeat his promise of a veto.

Senate President John Cullerton says he'll hold onto legislation for a couple of weeks, to give the governor time to "cool off," then he'll send it to Rauner for action.

In a statement, Cullerton urges Rauner to "not act rashly, but in the best interest of students, their futures, and the future of Illinois."

Congressman Rodney Davis (Facebook page)

Military police from Illinois' National Guard will soon be in Afghanistan; they'll do security there for much of this year.

Per tradition, Lt. Col. Michael Hough reads the mobilization order: 233rd Military Police Company, ordered to Active Duty in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel, Afghanistan," sending some 30 soldiers on a mission, first to Texas for training, then to Afghanistan.

"We all enlisted at a time of war; this is what we enlisted to do," said one of them, Sgt. Michael Johnson, the team medic, is Sgt. Michael Johnson.

Illinois Issues/WUIS

Next month, President Barack Obama will return to the place where his political career began -- Springfield, Illinois -- to address state legislators.


Governor Bruce Rauner gave his second annual State of the State address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly this week.  Doug Finke of the State Journal-Register joins the panel.

College of DuPage

College campuses (and the politics behind them) are taking center stage in Springfield's festering stalemate.

Amanda Vinicky

Roughly one year ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner stood before lawmakers and unveiled his so-called "turnaround agenda." He didn't use that phrase this time around. But Wednesday, the governor used his state-of-the-state address to continue fighting for his stalled vision. Rauner has spent months berating Democrats for failing to get on board. Not this time. He gave a more conciliatory message, and talked about "mutual respect." That wasn't enough for some of his critics, who don't trust the governor, or his change in tone.


Brian Mackey/WUIS

 Gov. Bruce Rauner will give his second annual State of the State address at noon Wednesday. After a year of stalemate, he's expected to make some effort to bridge a bipartisan divide.

In the year since the governor first laid out his agenda for the state, none of it has passed. Rauner has been unequivocal. Despite Democrats' resistance, and pressure on groups demanding a budget, he's not dropping his controversial prescription for a so-called "turnaround."

"We're not going to back down on it, we're not going to give in on it," he said Monday.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois residents will hear from their Governor Wednesday when Bruce Rauner gives his annual state of the state address. It comes at a difficult time in Illinois government: For nearly eight months there has been no budget.

Social service agencies that depend on state funding are closing programs, the backlog of unpaid bills is piling up, and some public universities are moving forward with layoffs.

But Rauner also says Illinois has had important achievements in the year since he took office. He says he'll talk about those during his speech.

John Cullerton
Illinois Senate

Changing how Illinois funds its schools is Senate President John Cullerton's top priority as a new legislative session gets underway. Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, says Illinois shouldn't fund schools at all next year until it comes with a more equitable way to do it. John Cullerton says the way Illinois funds schools "crushes dreams" and "stifles growth."

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

 

 Many Illinois residents likely are going about their days, without feeling any direct impact of the state's budget impasse. Some may not even realize there is no budget -- decisions by lawmakers and judges have kept money flowing to certain areas. But agencies left out of those deals are getting increasingly desperate.

Talks on fixing the state pension debt resumed, but Governor Bruce Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton can't seem to agree on what they agreed to and Rauner declared contract negotiations with AFSCME at an impasse.  Also this week, the governor announced his support for the state taking over the entire Chicago Public Schools system.  Meanwhile, Illinois higher education continues to go unfunded.  WBEZ's Tony Arnold joins the panel.

WUIS

A new pension plan introduced Thursday by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner as a bipartisan deal immediately crashed and burned. 

Illinois State Labor Relations Board logo
Illinois State Labor Relations Board

The future of some 36,000 state government employees lies -- in part, anyway -- with the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

The union that represents most state workers -- AFSCME -- and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration had been at the bargaining table for a about a year when, on Jan. 15, Rauner announced he'd had enough.

He says there's no point to further talks. They're at an impasse. But neither side can make that choice unilaterally. So Rauner's filed a charge with the labor board, asking it to decide.

afscme31.org

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union leaders say more confusion is on the way because of Gov. Bruce Rauner's recent announcement that he's stalling negotiations. The union's been bargaining on behalf of 36,000 workers.

voting booths
flickr/ Mortimer62

In a tight election, sometimes something as minor as where a name falls on the ballot can make a difference. The order for presidential candidates in Illinois has been determined as long as they all actually remain on the ballot.

  Governor Bruce Rauner has been in office one year this week and gave a series of short interviews in Springfield this week.  And with more than 100 people shot in Chicago in the just the first two weeks of 2016, the governor says the solution to the violence is passing his pro-business, anti-union agenda.
Gatehouse Media's Doug Finke joins the panel.

afscme31.org

The rift between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state's public employee union has escalated. Friday morning Rauner announced he's asking the state labor board to decide if negotiations with AFSCME have reached an impasse.

A few days ago in an interview with Illinois Public Radio, Rauner -- a Republican -- said his bargaining team is spinning its wheels.

After roughly one year, and after 67 sessions, he claimed "AFSCME has refused to compromise off of their starting position, which was status quo with major increases in compensation, and other issues."

Flickr user: Dean Hochman

Lawmakers return to Springfield with some new ideas, but the unfinished business of 2015 will likely overshadow other topics in the second year of the legislative session. 


A Chicago-area lawmaker has been pushing for a measure that would allow the city's mayor to be recalled. Now come efforts to take it a step further.

Illinois allows recall of elected officials -- or one of them anyway. It's a cumbersome process that only applies to the governor. Voters approved that in 2010 after the Rod Blagojevich scandal.

New proposals include one that would only apply to Chicago's mayor. A lawmaker introduced it following an uproar over Mayor Rahm Emanuel's handling of the delayed video release of a black teen repeatedly shot by a police officer.

wuis

 Gov. Bruce Rauner says his team is trying to assess its options after an apparent breakdown in talks with AFSCME last week. The union is bargaining on behalf of 36 thousand state workers for a new contract.

There's an impasse over whether there's an impasse. In this case, that's not just a synonym for "not going well." It's a high-stakes legal term, that basically signals the gulf that divides the two sides is so wide it can't be bridged, so there's no point to negotiating further.

Rauner says after a year and 67 bargaining sessions, he's seen no progress with AFSCME.

wikipedia

Gov. Bruce Rauner says passage of his pro-business Turnaround Agenda would help to curb violence in Chicago. Rauner recently said he's "disappointed" in how the Mayor Rahm Emanuel has handled the outcry over video of a police officer killing Laquan McDonald, a black teenager.

Your driver's license will suffice to get through airport security for another couple of years, even though Illinois doesn't meet federal guidelines under the REAL ID Act. Here's what Illinois needs to change if it's to comply.

Sarah Mueller

Tuesday, Jan. 12 marks Bruce Rauner's first anniversary holding the title "Illinois Governor."

afscme31.org

Some 36,000 state employees are members of AFSCME, Illinois' largest public employee union. Friday afternoon, the union announced that Gov. Bruce Rauner made a push to walk away from contract talks.


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