Pat Quinn

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Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a law allowing universities and the Illinois Department of Agriculture to study industrial hemp.  

The Chicago Democrat signed the measure Tuesday creating a pilot program.  
Industrial hemp is in the same species as marijuana but has a negligible amount of marijuana's active ingredient. Hemp can be used in the production of plastics, fuel, textiles and food.

State parks and historic sites now have to set up an "American Made" section in their gift shops.  

Governor Pat Quinn signed  into law this week a measure that is supposed to increase the number of American and Illinois-made goods state facilities sell.    Illinois has, in recent years, put special emphasis on promoting domestic products, especially those from in-state.

Taxi by Ben Fredericson Ipad wallpaper

Gone are the days of standing outside, in the rain, hoping a taxi will pass by. Ridesharing services allow anyone with a smart-phone to download an app and get setup with a ride ... at least in the Chicago where it's available. It hasn't taken off yet elsewhere in Illinois. Even so, the General Assembly this spring passed a controversial measure that would regulate ridesharing statewide. Monday morning, Governor Pat Quinn vetoed it.  Amanda Vinicky has more on why.

Mike/anotherpintplease via Flickr Creative Commons

Rideshare services have scored a win against Chicago's taxi industry in a battle that began in the legislature and moved on to the race for Illinois governor. Gov. Pat Quinn this morning vetoed a plan that would have established statewide regulations for the on-demand driving service, that let passengers call for rides via smart phone apps.

The minimum wage and what to do about Illinois' income tax are big campaign issues in the race between Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican rival Bruce Rauner.

No surprise: these sorts of policy issues will have a big impact statewide.

Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says not having a term limits measure on November's ballot is a temporary setback.  

He told reporters Sunday he'll ``campaign very aggressively'' on term limits in both his bid to unseat Gov. Pat Quinn and on behalf of state lawmakers who commit to term limits. A new ad released Sunday focuses on term limits.  

term limits
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Voters will not have a chance to weigh in on legislative term limits in November.

The Illinois Supreme Court this Friday afternoon issued a brief order saying it will not hear the case.

That leaves in place the decision of two lower courts that ruled the question unconstitutional.

In a statement, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner said that "Springfield career politicians" — like his Democratic opponent, Governor Pat Quinn — won.


The state's top ethics investigator says the Illinois Department of Transportation improperly hired more than 250 employees in the past decade.  

Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza's  report says the practice began in 2003 but continued under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. 


The Illinois Department of Transportation is eliminating 58
positions that are at the center of a lawsuit alleging questionable hiring
 Acting Secretary Erica Borggren said Thursday the move is designed to boost
``accountability and restore public trust.''
In addition to eliminating ``staff assistant'' positions, IDOT is creating a
board to evaluate hiring, and is continuing a freeze on hiring for positions
that can be filled based on political connections.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed two pieces of legislation giving seniors and the disabled greater access to people who can address complaints about their care or their living conditions.  

One of the measures allows people with complaints about nursing homes to submit them electronically to the Illinois Department of Public Health. That takes effect immediately.

Illinois has increased the penalties for some drug offenses.  

Gov. Pat Quinn signed three drug-related pieces of legislation Saturday. They take effect Jan. 1.  

Manufacturing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of any school property will now be a Class X felony, punishable by a minimum of six years in prison. It was previously considered a Class 1 felony.  

Bruce Rauner

Even though Illinois' general election is months away, a controversial ballot question could be answered by the end of this week. Friday is the deadline for a term limits initiative to make it on the ballot.

Republican's nominee for governor, Bruce Rauner, has made instituting term limits for legislators a central plank of his campaign.

That would require a constitutional amendment. Rauner funded an effort to collected a half million signatures, so that the question could go before voters this fall.

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Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, taffy and politics at the Illinois State Fair.

Hannah Meisel

  With summer coming to an end, and the November election getting ever closer, Gov. Pat Quinn and other Illinois Democrats gathered Wednesday in Springfield, for an annual party meeting and rally. But Thursday, Republicans had their day. The GOP hopes it'll be their year.

There's no "normal" way to get to the area on the Illinois State Fairgrounds where Republicans had their gathering.

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.

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.

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.

One of Illinois' most popular Democrats is expressing doubts about Governor Pat Quinn's chances.  It's an annual event; hundreds of Democrats get together at a Springfield hotel for breakfast and speeches, before heading out to the state fairgrounds.  It's part reunion, part rally.

But as he headed into the event, Secretary of State Jesse White was candid about his fears that November's election may not go well for Democrats ... or at least for the Democrat near the top of the ticket, Gov. Pat Quinn.

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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Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, the continuing investigation into patronage hiring at IDOT, questions about Bruce Rauner's companies' tax shelters, and a plea deal agreement involving state Representative LaShawn Ford.

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.

John Knowles

Bruce Rauner says there's "nothing sinister" about venture capital firms using the Cayman Islands as a tax shelter, but says he has never used the investment vehicle for his personal benefit. 

A recent report by the Chicago Sun-Times details that a portion of his earnings have connections to the Cayman Islands -- considered a tax haven for the wealthy.

Until he stepped down to run for governor, Rauner was head of a capital investment firm, GTCR, which has several investment pools there.

Amanda Vinicky

  Amtrak ridership in Illinois has risen in recent years; it's up almost 85 percent from 2006 through last year. That trend developed after the rail service added routes. The train service could grow more in the future.

In 2006, lines branching out from Chicago that went to Carbondale, Quincy and St. Louis added trips.

Then there's the ongoing construction on tracks, that's supposed to make way for so-called "high speed rail" on line that runs through Bloomington and Springfield, and into Missouri. There's a potential for more expansion going forward.

Bruce Rauner
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says money channeled through the Cayman Islands and connected to his business dealings had no impact on his personal tax rate.  

Rauner spoke to reporters Sunday, the day a published report detailed how three of his five holdings in the Caribbean were tied to GTCR, a Chicago-based private equity firm he helped found.  

The Chicago Sun-Times  cited a comparison of investments Rauner listed on a state economic disclosure form with the online corporate registry maintained by the Cayman Islands government.  

Illinois Dept. of Agriculture

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is criticizing Gov. Pat Quinn's agriculture director.
Lee Enterprises Newspapers' Springfield bureau reports that Rauner did not mention Bob Flider by name in outlining his agriculture plans. But he said the agency's director must ``have first-hand farming
Flider was named director of agriculture after he lost a 2010 re-election race
for the Illinois House. He then voted for Quinn's 67 percent income-tax increase
after earlier opposing it.


  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.

  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.

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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Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week's topics include the Illinois Inspector General's investigation into possible political hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation.  Also, an overview of the state's rules and regulations regarding medical marijuana.


  As Gov. Pat Quinn battles a lawsuit accusing his administration of political hiring, the state watchdog charged with investigating ethics violations is asking to get involved.

Confidentiality restrictions prevent the Inspector General from saying what he is or isn't looking into.

Wall Street's view of Illinois' financial health has taken a hit, thanks largely to the state budget that took effect at the start of this month. Pensions also continue to be a drag. 

When Illinois Democrats passed the state's latest budget, many seemed to hold their nose. Credit ratings agencies are more direct: Standard & Poors has revised Illinois' credit outlook to "negative." 

It says the new budget "is not structurally balanced and will contribute to growing."