Mark Kirk

A push to change Illinois' flat income tax into a graduated tax died on the vine this week. And Illinois Republicans have some difficult decisions to make now that Donald Trump appears to have won the party's presidential nomination.

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

A member of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration says the Republican governor will not endorse Donald Trump as the GOP standard-bearer in the November election.

As Chicago State University moves closer to closing, Gov. Bruce Rauner this week said he's “very upset" about Illinois not having a budget. But didn't he once outline just this sort of plan as a way to advance his agenda of hobbling public employee unions? Meanwhile, several things happening in and around the U.S. Supreme Court are reverberating in Illinois.

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.


Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who is running for U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's seat, sharpened her attacks against the Republican a day after winning the Democratic primary.

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.

Dick Durbin
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Republicans in the U.S. Senate have vowed to block any nominee the president might submit to succeed the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois says there’s more than enough time to consider who should fill the vacancy.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' junior, Republican Senator Mark Kirk -- opposes the nuclear deal with Iran. But the state's senior U.S. Senator Democrat Dick Durbin, has been key in sheparding it through Congress. That's provided grist for the D.C. rumor mill.

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner's November election victory landed his party a summer prize Illinois Republicans haven't had in dozen years --- the pride of having Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair. But Rauner's day of political revelry Wednesday ended with a stinging defeat.

Tammy Duckworth

Much of the focus of this week's political news centered on Washington D.C.  U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth announced that she would seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Mark Kirk.   And with the upcoming retirement of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, there are questions whether Senator Dick Durbin will continue as Minority Whip after 2016.  Also, the latest on beleaguered former Congressman Aaron Schock.  John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel to discuss those and other topics on this week's edition of State Week.

Lisa Ryan

Republicans are making an issue of Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth's ties to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, now that she's running for U.S. Senate.

In 2006, then-Gov. Blagojevich appointed Duckworth to head the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Duckworth says she is proud of her time at the VA and says she is separate from the currently imprisoned Blagojevich.

Lee Strubinger/WUIS

Illinois' Congressional delegation is trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to revise how it distributes aid after natural disasters. As WUIS has previously reported, the lawmakers tried before to no avail.

When a tornado touched down in southern Illinois several years ago, devastating the small town of Harrisburg, FEMA turned down Illinois' request for disaster assistance.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed the wife of a
top aide to a $121,000 post at the Department of Commerce and Economic
Opportunity.
 
Rauner's office Friday said Andria Winters of Chicago would be replacing Dan
Seals as the department's assistant director.
 
Winters' husband, Aaron, is Rauner's deputy chief of staff for policy.
 
Andria Winters previously worked at Motorola Mobility. Like her husband, she is
a former aide to U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and served on Rauner's transition team.
 

Bill Wheelhouse/WUIS

Illinois' top two Republicans say they're disappointed the Federal government has halted funding for the future gen project in the region.

Governor Bruce Rauner and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk released a statement on the public-private coal project at Meredosia. 

They say the Fed's decision will block advancements in  so called "clean coal" efforts and bringing jobs to the region.   The two say they won't give up on the technology and bringing new jobs to the state.

Bruce Rauner at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Yesterday, on Mon. Jan. 12, 2015,  Illinois got a new governor:  Bruce Rauner -- the first Republican to win the governor's mansion in more than a decade.. The former private equity investor spent a record $26 million to win his first ever bid for elected office. And he didn't stop there. At the end of the year, Rauner contributed another $10 million that his spokespeople say he'll use to advance his agenda. Questions abound over what exactly that agenda is. He made a lot of campaign promises, but so far has painted his mission for Illinois in broad strokes.

U.S. House

Illinois' Congressional delegation has mixed reviews on the United States moving to normalize relations with Cuba. Like many key Republicans, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk denounced President Barack Obama for setting what he called a "dangerous precedent" by conceding to a dictator. But another Republican, Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville, says lifting outdated trade restrictions will strengthen Cuba's middle class, and weaken Raoul Castro's regime. Davis also says it'll open the market for Illinois' agricultural commodities. U.S.

Illinois' senators say federal defense legislation includes a request to a study if a National Park designation is merited for the New Philadelphia archaeological site in western Illinois.  

Congress on Friday sent the defense bill to President Barack Obama. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk say the bill includes a provision directing the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the site.  

Senator Mark Kirk facebook

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is requesting a federal inquiry into what he's calling ``voting irregularities'' and ``mishandling of ballots'' during this month's election.
 
In a letter dated Monday and obtained by The Associated Press, the Illinois
Republican asks U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon to ``secure'' questioned ballots
and ensure proper handling.
 
Kirk references allegations raised last week by a lawyer for GOP candidate for
treasurer Tom Cross. Among them is that elections officials couldn't account for
all mail-in and provisional ballots.
 

A bipartisan effort to name a veterans facility in Galesburg, Illinois, after the late Lane Evans is underway.  
 U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos introduced legislation Thursday in Congress to name the Galesburg Veterans Affairs clinic after Evans.  

The former congressman from Illinois died last week at age 63 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Evans had fought for veterans' rights during his 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Kirk.Senate.Gov

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says the United States should take a hard line against the Islamic State group.  

Islamic State extremists released a video Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist. It also warns President Barack Obama that as long as U.S. air strikes against the group continue there'll be continued violence.  

  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.

NPR.

Federal officials say 305 unaccompanied children caught at the U.S.-Mexico border were placed with Illinois sponsors this year, but officials say hundreds more could be at shelters.  

The country faces a sharp rise in unaccompanied minors. They're placed at government shelters and then released to sponsors as they go through deportation proceedings. Often, sponsors are family members.  
The Chicago-based Heartland Alliance contracts with the federal government for area shelters and legal services. The group doesn't make shelter locations public for safety reasons.  

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says he doesn't agree with proposals in Illinois to impose term limits on elected officials.

Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner is pushing a voter initiative to limit state lawmakers. This week, the Republican leaders of the
Illinois House and Senate backed an amendment to the state's constitution that'll limit statewide officers to two terms. The officers include the governor
and comptroller.

NPR

Illinois' Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says he has no plans to campaign with the GOP state lawmaker hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick
Durbin in November.
 
On election night, Kirk said he'd support the GOP nominee. Still, he told reporters Monday he's going to be ``protecting his relationship'' with Durbin
and won't launch ``into a partisan jihad.''
 
Durbin is the Senate's No. 2 Democrat.
 
State Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove won the GOP nomination last week. His

andrewmalone/Flickr

The U.S. Senate passed the farm bill Tuesday by a vote of 68-32, sending it to the president’s desk and ending years of political wrangling.

Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk were among the 68 "yea" votes.  To view Durbin's video statement on the farm bill vote, click here.

Mark Kirk
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has had his gall bladder removed. The procedure happened Monday morning at a hospital in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

Kirk checked himself in to Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital on Saturday. He reported feeling pain in his abdomen. Doctors diagnosed gall stones, and decided to remove his gall bladder.

Dr. Kim Sobinsky did the 30-minute operation. He says most patients recover pretty quickly.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says a pension-reform deal under consideration in Springfield ``falls short of finding the savings needed to solve Illinois' fiscal crisis.''  

The Republican senator issued his statement Monday morning. The deal that legislative leaders announced last week could go to a vote in the Illinois General Assembly as early as Tuesday. Kirk says state lawmakers shouldn't pass a bill that he says lawmakers and voters haven't had time to read.  

Kirk says the proposal ``relies heavily on accounting gimmicks'' and doesn't prevent a permanent income tax hike.  

Food Allergy Awareness Law

Nov 14, 2013

President Barack Obama has signed legislation giving financial incentives to states to stockpile emergency medications in schools that could save lives in the cases of allergic reactions.  
The deaths of two girls in Illinois and Virginia from severe food allergies helped spur efforts to get schools to stockpile epinephrine.  

Epinephrine is considered the first-line treatment for people with severe allergies. The medication is administered by injection through preloaded EpiPens.  
The measure was co-sponsored by Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.  

Mark Kirk
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

(AP)-Republican Sen. Mark Kirk says he won't endorse any candidate in Illinois' GOP gubernatorial primary.  
However, Kirk gave some advice. He contends the only way Republicans will take control of the governor's mansion is to be moderate on social issues.  

Kirk said that includes accepting same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois. Kirk said he backs same-sex marriage and applauds the General Assembly for making it legal last week.  
Kirk made the assertion Monday, following a Veterans Day ceremony at Buffalo Grove High School outside Chicago.  

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

 A year-and-a-half after his stroke, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk returned to central Illinois for the first time this week.  Members of his party gave him a warm welcome at a Republican rally Thursday at the Illinois State Fair. 

Senator Kirk made his way slowly across the stage, aided by a cane. It has been a long, slow, partial recovery since his stroke last January.

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