Hannah Meisel

2014 Public Affairs Reporting Program Intern - Statehouse

Hannah covers state government and politics for WUIS and Illinois Public Radio while working toward a master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was managing editor for online at The Daily Illini. Hannah has also worked for NPR in Washington, D.C. 

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Election 2014
3:37 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Rauner Denies Intimidation Of Chicago Sun-Times

Credit Rauner campaign

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is distancing himself from the resignation of longtime Chicago Sun-Times Springfield reporter Dave McKinney. McKinney quit Wednesday, blaming the Rauner campaign for "intimidation and interference" in his reporting.

Earlier this month, the Sun-Times published a story detailing allegations of Rauner's former associate, who said Rauner threatened her and her family after a soured business deal.

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Higher Ed
4:47 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Support Of Salaita Continues At U Of I

Credit WILL

Supporters of a would-be University of Illinois professor say they're not going to stop protesting a week and a half after the Board of Trustees voted to not hire Steven Salaita. A few dozen of the professor's allies on campus showed up to rally and speak at an Academic Senate meeting Monday.

Fourteen academic departments – all within the humanities – at the U of I's Urbana campus have reaffirmed their votes of no confidence in the campus' chancellor, Phyllis Wise, after she took back Salaita's faculty appointment in August.

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Higher Ed
6:29 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Legal Expert Says Salaita Could Win Suit Against U Of I

Steven Salaita spoke in Urbana earlier this month.
Credit Jim Meadows

Clarification: Katherine Franke also serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Constitutional Rights, one of the organizations representing Steven Salaita.

A prominent law professor who's boycotting the University of Illinois after Steven Salaita’s job offer was withdrawn says Salaita would easily win a legal case against the University.  Columbia professor Katherine Franke says Salaita's first amendment rights were violated by the U of I's Board of Trustees.

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Election 2014
2:55 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Libertarian Party Files Criminal Complaints Against GOP, Rauner Campaign

Credit wikimedia

  The Illinois Libertarian Party is settling into campaign mode after winning its battle to get on the November ballot. But the Libertarians have filed criminal complaints against the Republican Party for the trouble it took to get them there.

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Immigration
4:44 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Undocumented Immigrants Call For Presidential Orders

Ralliers gather around a 10-foot-high puppet of President Barack Obama in Springfield Thursday. Immigrants say he has two choices, represented by his two signs: "continue separating families" or "take bold executive action." Activists rallied outside the Sangamon County Courthouse and Jail, where they say undocumented immigrants are tried and held.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Undocumented immigrants in Central Illinois rallied in the capital city Thursday, asking President Obama to use his power of executive order to stop deportations. The Springfield gathering was part of a nationwide day of action by immigrants and allies.

Ralliers propped up at 10-foot-high puppet of President Obama. In his cardboard hands, two signs read "continue separating families" and "take bold executive action," representing the two choices the group said Obama has.

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Election 2014
7:49 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Vallas: Rauner's Budget Plan "Insulting To Voters"

Lt. Gov. candidate Paul Vallas at the Illinois Education Association on Wednesday. Vallas says Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's budget plan is "insulting to voters."
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor Pat Quinn's candidate for lieutenant governor says Republican Bruce Rauner's budget plan would mean bad news for schools in Illinois. Democrat Paul Vallas says Rauner's promises to both put more money into schools while also cutting property taxes is unfeasible.

Vallas says Rauner's plan to roll back the state's income tax to three percent would create a $4 billion hole in Illinois' education budget. Vallas says that translates to nearly 28,000 in teacher layoffs.

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Illinois Supreme Court
5:45 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Illinois Supreme Court Building Reveals $16 Million Improvement Project

The doorway that separates the courtroom from the Justices' meeting room.
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court will start conducting its business in Springfield once again next month. The justices had been displaced for the past year while their building was renovated, restoring the building to many of its original design features.

For most of the last year, the court building, across from the State Capitol in Springfield, was separated from the public by orange plastic fencing and lots of construction dust.

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Women in the workplace
5:30 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Pregnant Workers To Be Protected Under New Law

  Despite current employment protections, pregnant women in the workplace are still sometimes forced out of jobs in Illinois. The governor Tuesday signed legislation aimed at ending that practice.

The law is meant to protect women from losing a job just because they become pregnant.

It also requires employers to provide "reasonable accommodations" to pregnant women, such as giving more leeway when it comes to taking bathroom breaks or sitting down at work.

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Election 2014
1:28 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Libertarians Survive Illinois GOP's Ballot Challenge

Credit Courtesy of lpillinois.org

  On Nov. 4, Illinois voters will choose from the Republican and Democratic statewide candidates they've been hearing about for months. But there will also be a third choice in those races: candidates representing the Libertarian party. But getting on the ballot wasn't easy for the Libertarians.

To get their candidates on the November ballot, third parties in Illinois have to turn in the signatures of at least 25,000 registered voters — five times more than the 'established' parties: Democrats and Republicans.

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Law enforcement militarization
6:53 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Congress Reevaluating Militarization Of Local Police

Local police in Ferguson use military style vehicles during protests on Aug. 12.
Credit Courtesy of Danny Wicentowski for the Riverfront Times, @D_Towski on Twitter.

  Since law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri, began using its federally supplied military-style equipment, the spotlight has been on police departments everywhere. Members of Congress have begun to question the program that distributes extra supplies to local law enforcement. 

The Pentagon has been supplying local law enforcement agencies with its surplus equipment for years, but most of the time, that equipment is out of sight.

Once police in Ferguson pulled out their armored vehicles and military-grade weapons, public debate was sparked.

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Intervention in the Middle East
6:21 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Local Members Of Congress Condemn ISIS' Actions

Flag of the Islamic State of Iraq
Credit Wikimedia Commons

  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is condemning the murder of American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by terrorist organization the Islamic State.

Durbin, a Democrat, says the group also known as ISIS must be stopped from advancing on more territory in Iraq and Syria. And he says the American military can help Iraqi forces do that.

"Ironically, many times ISIS is using American equipment we left behind," he said. "We know the capacity of that equipment, we know its limitations and we can help the Iraqi Army stop this advance."

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Tenth Street Rail Corridor
6:12 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Ground Broken On Tenth Street Rail Corridor

Officials break ground on the new Tenth Street Rail Corridor project, including Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL), Springfield Mayor Mike Houston, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL). The project will take two years to complete.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Construction of the Tenth Street Rail Corridor in Springfield has officially begun after a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday. Over the projected two years of construction, an underpass will be built at Tenth and Carpenter for vehicles and pedestrians, allowing trains to pass above.

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says diverting rail traffic from street level will provide better access to hospitals, which is vital especially in a life-or-death situation.

"When somebody has a medical emergency, time is of the essence," he said.

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Election 2014
2:41 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Green Party Candidates Won't Appear On Ballot

Credit wikimedia

  Candidates from the Illinois Green Party will not appear on the November ballot.

A federal judge Thursday denied the party reprieve from the state's election requirements for third parties.

The Green Party had sued, claiming the barriers for third parties are too onerous ... threatening the right to free speech and equal protection.

Scott Summers, the party's candidate for governor, says he's disappointed with the judge's ruling.

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Statehouse
6:35 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Green, Libertarian Parties Await Approval For Nov. Ballot

Credit wikimedia

  For third parties in Illinois, it's down to the wire to get on the November ballot. Decisions Thursday and Friday will determine how many choices voters will have.

To get their candidates on the ballot in Illinois, the two established parties — Democrats and Republicans — have to collect the signatures of 5,000 registered voters. But to get its nominees on the ballot, a third party must collect five times as many.

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Education funding
4:54 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Push Continues For School Funding Overhaul

Credit Wikimedia Commons

  As students across Illinois begin the new school year their schools are using funds that rely heavily on property tax wealth. But supporters of a new plan say now is the time to change that.

Illinois' school funding formula works like this: school districts collect property taxes from their residents, then depending on how property-wealthy or property-poor an area is, the state pitches in its share. That frequently means poorer districts stay poor because the state can't give enough, and wealthier districts remain wealthy.

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Election 2014
6:07 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Rauner Blasts Quinn On "Failed" Policies, Governor's Mansion

GOP candidate for governor Bruce Rauner rides into the Republican Day party at the Illinois State Fair on Thursday. Rauner's warm reception included cheers of "We want Bruce!"
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner hammered on Democrats at the Illinois State Fair Thursday. The Democrat facing the most criticism is Governor Pat Quinn.

Rauner was greeted almost like a rock star as he rolled into the Republican Day party on his Harley. Every time he mentioned voting Quinn out of office, the crowd erupted in cheers.

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Election 2014
4:31 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Former Gov. Jim Edgar: Republicans Must Be United

Former Gov. Jim Edgar speaks at Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair on Thursday. Though he supported his former chief of staff Kirk Dillard in the primary, he now says the party must be united to elect Bruce Rauner.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar says he's all in for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner.

Edgar says the Democratic agenda offers more of the same policies voters have seen for the past decade. He even equated Gov. Pat Quinn's tenure to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is now serving a 14-year term in federal prison.

"The Blagojevich-Quinn governorship has been a disaster for Illinois," he said. "We have an opportunity this November to end one-party rule by electing Bruce Rauner the governor of Illinois."

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Fracking
8:53 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Anti-Fracking Activists Crash Democrat Breakfast

100 or so environmental activists rallied outside a Democratic party breakfast, calling for the end of fracking in Illinois, even before it begins.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Environmental activists hoping to curb hydraulic fracturing in Illinois crashed a breakfast held for Democratic party organizers in Springfield Wednesday. They want to stop natural gas extraction in the state before it starts.

"Drought! Pollution! Earthquake! Fracking is a big mistake!"

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Election 2014
4:31 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Downstate Democrats In GOP Districts: Re-electing Quinn Uphill Battle

Gov. Pat Quinn leads a chant of "raise that wage!" at his reception at the Illinois State Fair on Wednesday.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair brought out Democratic leaders from across the state — including those counties where Democrats seem few and far between.

In these heavily Republican counties, momentum for Democratic candidates can be hard to come by. Compound that with lower Democratic voter turnout in non-presidential election years, and the fight to "keep Illinois blue" gets even more difficult.

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Election 2014
5:35 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Republicans Blast Treasurer Candidate Frerichs On Champaign County Record

Credit ilga.gov

  The Democratic candidate for state treasurer is catching flak from Republicans, who are critical of his time as a local official. But Mike Frerichs' (D-Champaign) campaign says Republican opponent Tom Cross (R-Oswego) is playing "revisionist history."

Frerichs, currently a state senator, was elected to the Champaign County board in 2000, then became the county's auditor in 2002. Republicans point out that during Frerichs' time as auditor, the County Board implemented an early retirement program to save money.

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Election 2014
3:14 am
Tue August 12, 2014

AARP Poll: Rauner Has Edge Over Quinn Among Senior Voters

Statistics from AARP Illinois' survey.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  The debate over state retiree pensions has been a consistent backdrop for the Illinois gubernatorial election, bringing older voters to the forefront of many debates. It's this senior voting bloc that could make all the difference this election.

The Illinois Building on the State Fairgrounds in Springfield is buzzing with activity. But it's not prized cattle or blue-ribbon pies fair attendees are taking in. Along one wall, it's an array of motor scooters. Along another, it's rows of booths offering different kinds of home care.

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Infrastructure
9:37 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

Civil Engineers Advise Infrastructure Investment In Illinois

Credit Wikimedia Commons

  Infrastructure in Illinois is getting dangerously close to disrepair, according to a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The state received a "C-" for its maintenance of roads, bridges and waterways.

The group says Illinois' grade is cause for concern, especially given recent infrastructure failures. Those headlines include last weekend's water crisis in Toledo, Ohio and chemical pollutants in West Virginia water earlier this year.

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Involvement in Iraq
5:31 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Durbin, Kirk Weigh In On Air Strikes In Iraq

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL)

  U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk each say they support limited air strikes over Iraq to try to deter the Islamic State terrorist organization. But Durbin's expressing reservations.

President Barack Obama Thursday night authorized air strikes on the terrorist group which has been gaining territory in Iraq.

While Durbin (D-IL) says he is glad the action involves no boots on the ground, he's still cautious about getting involved in the conflict.

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Patronage at IDOT
12:52 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Quinn Won't Say Why Administration Contradicted Itself On Patronage

Gov. Pat Quinn takes questions from reporters Friday morning after cutting the ribbon at the 2014 Illinois State Fair.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Governor Pat Quinn won't say why his administration contradicted itself when it came to cleaning up hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation. The administration had previously said the fix was done, but now says it isn't complete.

In facing a lawsuit over political patronage hiring at IDOT, Gov. Quinn characterized it as a non-issue.

His administration said it had already taken care of the problem; that IDOT had reduced the number of jobs in which politics would be taken into consideration.

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Illinois State Fair
7:08 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Officials Urge Caution At State Fair

An inspector from the Illinois Department of Labor checks a carnival ride on the Illinois State Fairgrounds Wednesday.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  With the Illinois State Fair set to begin later this week, officials say they have safety in the forefront of their minds. The event, which attracts nearly 1 million visitors yearly, is set to open Friday morning ... though anyone can get an early preview Thursday evening after the annual opening parade.

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Legal
6:48 am
Mon August 4, 2014

Miranda Rights In Schools To Be Revamped

  Summer is a time lawmakers can work on legislation that didn't move anywhere during the General Assembly's spring session. One of those proposals would require schoolchildren be read their Miranda Rights.

It happens in schools across Illinois: one student pushes another in a hallway, or there's a full-fledged fight.

Often, police, based on- or off-campus will come break up the altercation. That means an official police report will be filed.

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Health
5:51 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

New Law Lets School Staff Administer EpiPen Dosage...Not Just Nurses

Credit flickr/LizMarie_AK

  About 1 in every 13 children has a food allergy, but many of them are unaware ... until they have a reaction. Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law Wednesday that makes it legal for a school official who isn't a nurse to administer drugs to quell an allergic episode.

Schools across Illinois increasingly don't have the funds to employ a full-time nurse. But under a 20-11 law that allowed the use of epinephrine in schools for kids with food allergies, the drug, frequently administered via EpiPen, could only be used by a nurse.

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Election 2014
5:31 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Two Teachers Unions Back Quinn Despite Pension Strife

  Governor Pat Quinn now has the support of the two statewide teachers unions. The Illinois Federation of Teachers endorsed Quinn Wednesday despite the union's opposition to Quinn's ideas for pension changes.

The IFT is one of the groups suing Quinn for the pension overhaul law passed late last year that would reduce public employee benefits, including those for teachers.

But the union's president, Dan Montgomery, says the election is bigger than the ongoing lawsuit.

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Bomb threat
6:28 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Authorities Investigating Downtown Bomb

The Illinois Secretary of State Police Bomb Squad water cannon neutralizes bombs.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Authorities say they're investigating a pipe bomb that was found and destroyed Monday night in downtown Springfield. The Illinois Secretary of State Bomb Squad neutralized the bomb after it was found on the sidewalk outside of Brewhaus pub, on Sixth and Washington Streets.

Once local police were on the scene, the bomb squad responded by identifying the object, then disabling it in a water cannon.

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Millionaire's tax
5:27 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Governor Approves 'Millionaire's Tax' As Advisory Referendum

Credit Wikimedia Commons

  This November, Illinois voters will be asked whether millionaires ought to pay more in taxes. The plan is being sold as a way to raise money for education. But opponents see more political motives.

Governor Pat Quinn signed the measure at a suburban elementary school on Tuesday.

The so-called "millionaire's tax" would rake an additional three percent off personal income greater than a million dollars ... with that money going exclusively to schools.

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