Lisa Madigan

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' high court has been asked to decide once and for all whether Illinois can pay government workers when there's no state budget.

Illinois Comptroller website

Despite uncertainty bred from dueling court rulings ... Illinois' Comptroller is issuing paychecks to state employees.  It's a continued issue, as Illinois has been without a spending plan since the start of the month.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan heatshot
flickr.com/jrockefelleriv

A Cook County judge has ruled Illinois may not continue to pay
state workers in full during an ongoing budget impasse.
 
 Judge Diane Joan Larsen ruled Tuesday that Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger
may pay only some workers who are covered under a federal law. Those workers
would receive federal minimum wage plus overtime.
 
 But attorneys for Munger say it would take the state as long as a year to
determine which employees would be paid under federal law and how much.

Fiscal year 2016 is upon us and Illinois still doesn’t have a budget.  Will Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner ever reach an agreement with legislative Democrats?  How quickly will state government grind to a halt?  And who will take the blame?  

Lisa Madigan at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

 A stalemate that's left Illinois without a budget has taken a new political turn. It comes as the Attorney General is asking a court to determine what bills Illinois can pay when the state has no spending authority.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has been feuding with Democrats, especially Speaker of the Illinois House Michael Madigan. Now Rauner's taking aim at the Speaker's daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Even if Illinois lawmakers and the governor can't reach a budget deal by Wednesday, state employees have another two weeks before they really need to worry about being paid. That's when their first paychecks of the new fiscal year are set to be issued.  But there's confusion over whether they'll get money after that point, or not.

An email sent by Gov. Rauner takes a reassuring tone.

"State employees will be paid for their work --- and I will do everything within my power to ensure you don’t miss a single payroll," he writes.

But will the money come through?

flickr/Pictures By Ann

Illinois could join a handful of states that allow cameras to be installed in the rooms of nursing home residents. 

Supporters say it would give families peace of mind to have electronic monitoring of the care their loved ones receive.   But there are also concerns, especially when it comes to privacy:

"Nursing homes, a lot of people tend to forget... that is their home," Hinsdale Republican Representative Patti Bellock said.

Supporters say the cameras would only be installed when the resident or family agrees.  They would also have to cover the cost. 

WUIS/Brian Mackey

Illinois' Democratic attorney general has delivered a blow to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's efforts to weaken labor unions.
 
 Lisa Madigan on Friday issued formal opinions saying two of Rauner's proposals would be illegal.
 
 One would allow local governments to create so-called ``right to work zones''
where union membership would be voluntary. The other would let local governments opt out of prevailing wage agreements, which require workers on government
projects to receive wages that reflect local compensation for similar jobs.
 

Lisa Madigan at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

A legal battle over union fees is brewing, between Illinois Republican governor and Democratic Attorney General.

Illinois' Attorney General says Gov. Bruce Rauner had no authority to bring a fight over union dues to federal court. She's trying to dismiss the case.

Republican Gov. Rauner is trying to get rid of so-called "fair share" dues on two fronts: he's ordered state agencies to stop collecting them, and he's suing in federal court to toss out the underlying state law that requires them.

Amanda Vinicky

The fate of Illinois' pension law will stay on the fast track. Illinois' Supreme Court justices today rejected a request for a delay.

It can take a long time for a case to wend its way through the courts. But after a Sangamon County judge in November ruled Illinois' overhaul of public worker pensions unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court agreed to take up the case on an expedited basis.

On Tuesday, lawyers contesting the law tried to slow it down by a month.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

As they seek to permanently toss Illinois' pension overhaul, state employees and retirees are asking the state Supreme Court for more time to make their arguments. Lawyers filed the request Tuesday.

It's a case that's supposed to be on the fast track: After a Sangamon County judge in November found Illinois' pension law unconstitutional, the Attorney General appealed straight to the state supreme court -- which agreed to hear it on an expedited basis.

Bruce Rauner at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Click above to view a slideshow of images from the 2015 Illinois Inaugural Ceremony.

Amanda Vinicky

Many of Illinois' top politicians will pay their respects to the late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka at a memorial service today (Wed., Dec. 17). Topinka died last week at the age of 70, shortly after having a stroke. Even as she's being mourned, political jockeying is underway to determine who'll next take her job.

Topinka passed away a month before she was to be sworn into her next term as Comptroller -- the position in state government responsible for paying the bills.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka leaves essentially two vacancies that should first be filled by outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn and then Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner. But she says voters should also get a chance to cast ballots for the office in 2016.
 
 Topinka died last week. The Republican had won a second term, which starts next
month.  
 
 In a legal analysis released Monday, Madigan says Quinn should appoint someone
until Jan. 12, when the current term ends and new elected officials are sworn

Il. Supreme Court website - state.il.us/court

The Illinois Supreme Court is allowing a speedy review of a state pension overhaul that a lower court has declared unconstitutional.
 
The court issued an order Wednesday granting the government's request for an
expedited appeal.
 
The court says the government must file its initial argument by Jan. 12. The
other side _ a group of state employees, retired teachers and others _ must
respond by Feb. 27.
 
The case involves the pension fix lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn adopted last

state.il.us

State workers behind a challenge to an Illinois
pension law declared unconstitutional are opposing the government's attempt to
have it speedily heard by the Illinois Supreme Court.
 
 Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the court last week to hasten its schedule
for considering the case. She argues that the government needs a decision
quickly because if it can't implement the law, it would have to find a way to
make up about $1 billion in savings in the first year.
 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office has asked the Illinois
Supreme Court for an expedited hearing of her appeal of a lower court's
declaration the state's pension overhaul is unconstitutional.  
 
 Madigan announced the motion Thursday. It says issues raised are of
``widespread public importance'' to state government and seeks a ruling in
advance of lawmakers' May 31 budget approval deadline.
 
Madigan's office had already filed the appeal concerning the 2013 law designed
to reduce roughly $100 billion in unfunded liability.  
 

Lisa Madigan
Marsy's Law for Illinois

Attorney General Lisa  Madigan says if the state supreme court agrees to an expedited hearing...  a ruling on the state's pension law could come by January,.

Harvey Tillis / Illinois Information Service

Although one court has tossed out Illinois’ mega pension overhaul, state leaders are likely to wait on another legal opinion before deciding what to do next.

There’s no question -- the Sangamon County Circuit Court judge’s ruling is meaningful. But Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office is appealing to the state Supreme Court.

Madigan has said it makes sense for lawmakers to wait to hear from those justices.

Amanda Vinicky

Lisa Madigan was the first woman elected to be Illinois' Attorney General, in 2003. After flirting with a run for governor, Madigan, the daughter of House Speaker Michael Madigan -- is instead seeking a fourth term as the state's top lawyer. Amanda Vinicky starts off this extended interview asking Madigan what she has accomplished that makes her deserving of another four years.

police cars
flickr.com/appleswitch (Creative Commons)

The question of just what happened in Ferguson, Missouri before the shooting death of Michael Brown has renewed a push in Illinois to equip police with cameras.

Body and dashboard cameras for police isn't a new idea;  President of the Illinois's NAACP chapter, George Mitchell, says his organization has been supportive of the concept as far back as 2001.

But he says Ferguson shows why. Mitchell says had the Brown incident been on tape, much of the controversy could have been avoided.

Amanda Vinicky

Even as states like Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin are known as political battlegrounds and bellwethers, Illinois has the reputation for being a solid "blue" state. Illinois sends double as many Democrats to Washington as it does Congressional Republicans. The state legislature tips heavily in favor of Democrats, who hold veto-proof majorities. And it has been more than a decade since a Republican last sat in Illinois' governor's seat.

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.

flickr

Illinois gun owners who've been denied a concealed carry permit can appeal. But instead of going through the courts, Illinois' Attorney General wants a state panel to decide those cases.

There are about 200 concealed carry denials before Illinois courts, brought by people who say they shouldn't have been deemed dangerous or a threat to public safety by Illinois' Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board.

Until recently, applicants didn't actually know why they were rejected.

Tony Arnold/WBEZ

  The Repubican Party’s longshot candidate for Illinois attorney general is throwing punches at the incumbent Democrat, Lisa Madigan. Paul Schimpf says Madigan is a political insider incapable of going after corruption.

Harvey Tillis / Illinois Information Service

Even as the "We Are One" broad coalition of unions seeks to prevent any of the pension law from taking effect next month, a new agreement would prevent parts of it from being implemented.

It mostly affects university and community college employees nearing the end of their careers.

The deal, between the State Universities Annuitants Association and the attorney general, could put a stop to a surge of retirements at Illinois' public universities.

WUIS

The Illinois attorney general says the former president of a Peoria-area construction firm involved with Illinois Capitol renovations has pleaded guilty to fraud.
 
 Stephen Roeschley is former president of Morton-based Core Construction
Services of Illinois. Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office says Roeschley pleaded guilty Friday to wire fraud in Sangamon County court.
 
Madigan's office says the company used a minority-owned business to obtain a
contract as part of the $50 million Illinois Capitol restoration project.

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Two of Illinois' top Republicans want to limit how long someone can stay on as governor of Illinois. But they only have about two weeks to get the proposed constitutional amendment through the General Assembly.

Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) are floating a two-term limit for the state's six top offices.

That means an eight-year tenure for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, treasurer and secretary of state.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

As we get ready to welcome 2014, we thought we’d take a few minutes to reflect on some of the voices in the news this past year in Illinois state politics and government. People in the Capitol were busy with same-sex marriage, medical marijuana, and dozens of other issues. What follows are a few of the more memorable moments.

Gov. Pat Quinn: “This is no small issue. This is a choice about whether we will make the tough decisions necessary to balance our budget by reforming our public pension systems."

WBEZ

  It's been five years to the day since FBI agents arrived at then Governor Rod Blagojevich's house to arrest him on charges of corruption. Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison sentence, and for most Illinois politicians it's good riddance. Amanda Vinicky reports. 

Fresh off the General Assembly's passing a law to overhaul the state's pensions, I had the chance to catch up with House Speaker Michael Madigan:

VINICKY: "It's the five year anniversary of Blagojevich's arrest coming up ... any reaction, any ...

MADIGAN: "Yeah, we should … celebrate."

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