Statehouse

Reps. Darlene Senger and Elaine Nekritz
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois criminal justice system has become increasingly reliant on fees. People convicted of crimes have become money makers for state and local government — paying for everything from prosecutors' offices to new police cars.

Milkweed could become the Illinois state wildflower under legislation pending in the General assembly. The proposal would also prohibit local governments from treating it as a noxious weed.

Vanessa Tyler is a Girl Scout who attends Pleasant Plains Middle School, near Springfield. She and her troop lobbied lawmakers to support the proposed state designation. She says it’ll help people think twice about killing milkweed.

 

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As public universities face fiscal emergencies and domestic violence shelters are closing, House Democrats approve what they call "lifeline spending." Republicans object, saying it relieves pressure on legislators to pass a comprehensive state budget.

Meanwhile, billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker formally declares his candidacy for governor. Will the Democratic primary be a story of David vs. Goliath vs. David vs. Goliath vs. David?

handgun
Wikimedia Commons

The Illinois Senate on Thursday passed stricter gun legislation long sought by the Chicago Police.

Credit wikimedia commons

 

Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives Thursday passed a plan to send more than $800 million to human services and universities. They call it a “lifeline” for programs facing catastrophe.

No Republicans joined them, saying a temporary fix just removes the urgency to enact a real budget. "The reality is we don’t do things around here without pressure. And so we need that pressure to get to a full budget,” said Rep. Steve Andersson (R-Geneva).

Brent Levin / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

There are reasons for legalizing industrial hemp.

Might pot and ditch weed help ease the state's financial crisis and boost its farm economy?

Illinois State capitol building in the fog / rain
Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

As Illinois enters its 22nd month without a real budget, the state services most affected by the political fight include those that help victims of domestic violence.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A month after Gov. Bruce Rauner conveyed to Republicans his opposition to the grand bargain, Senate Democrats are rejecting his attempt to break off pieces of the deal. Meanwhile, Democrats are offering a "Comeback Agenda" as an alternative to Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda," and House Speaker Michael Madigan is taking public offense to some of the governor's remarks.

The Illinois General Assembly is considering legislation meant to expand privacy rights on the Internet. Two of the bills cleared procedural hurdles Thursday in the House, but they both have powerful opponents.

If you’ve spent any amount of time online, chances are you’ve been confronted with a long privacy policy. And if you’re like most people, you scroll to the bottom and click “accept” — without reading it.

I Voted sticker roll
Wikimedia

 

Yesterday’s “I voted” sticker is today’s ballot selfie. But some voters last fall found out Illinois makes it illegal to take a selfie with your ballot. Lawmakers are trying to change that, inspired by the young people who simply wanted to share their fulfillment of their civic duty on social media.

Sen. Don Harmon and Democrats
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

It’s been two years since Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled his Republican “Turnaround Agenda.” On Wednesday, a group of rank-and-file Democratic legislators responded with their own “Comeback Agenda.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says Gov. Bruce Rauner is making “false statements” about the speaker’s position on selling a state building in Chicago.

On Tuesday, Rauner repeatedly declined opportunities to refute Madigan’s allegations.

NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Ten years ago, Cindy Bonnet found out she was getting new neighbors in Nora, Illinois: 10,000 cows. It’s what’s known in the industry as a “concentrated animal feeding operation,” or CAFO: basically a big cow warehouse, with a giant trough under it to catch their waste.

Bonnet says a California businessman was behind the venture.

“You know that’s what bothered us, that he wasn’t even going to be farming there and actually going out milking the cows himself. He was gonna hire someone else to do it, ” she said.

Interstate 55
Marc Buehler / flickr.com/marc_buehler (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Gov. Bruce Rauner was in the Chicago Suburbs Monday pushing to add toll lanes to Interstate 55. He also took the opportunity to attack Illinois Democrats.

NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) made a stop at the Springfield Boys & Girls Club, saying it’s funding is under threat by President Trump’s budget proposal.

State Week: Budget Battles Continue In Courts

Mar 24, 2017
State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

It seems there more budget action in Illinois courts than in the Statehouse. After getting just one paycheck since last summer, state legislators are finally getting paid.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday decided not to answer a question about whether non-profit hospitals must pay property taxes. The case began with Carle Hospital in Urbana, but has implications across Illinois.

flickr

 

 

The nursing home industry is fighting legislation that would require them to have higher staffing levels — and greater penalties if they don’t meet them.

Illinois’ long-term care ombudsman tracks complaints and looks out for residents of nursing homes.

But the ombudsman has her own complaint. She says state agencies that regulate nursing homes are ignoring her.

Grand Bargain GOP
senators via ILGA.gov / Rauner by Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Ten Republican senators voted for at least one bill in the grand bargain. We asked all of them about Gov. Bruce Rauner's role in stopping them from going further.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Republican senators working with Gov. Bruce Rauner began breaking off pieces of the "grand bargain," which Democrats say undermines efforts to move toward a compromise budget. Meanwhile, what had been a bipartisan selection process for Illinois' U.S. attorneys is changing, with senior Republican Congressman John Shimkus saying he's waiting for the Trump administration to advise him on how to proceed.

Alex Proimos / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

The Republican health plan currently in Congress would remove $40 billion from the Illinois’ current Medicaid program over the next 10 years, according to numbers from the Congressional Budget Office. The Illinois Hospital Association says they expect over 400,000 Medicaid recipients to lose coverage.

The largest factor for the state comes from dismantling the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which Illinois chose to accept. In its first three years of operation, 650,000 new people in the state got coverage under Medicaid.

NPR Illinois

As Illinois remains mired in gridlock and nearing two years without a full budget, voters are pinning the blame on state leaders.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner is pushing to break off a couple pieces from the Illinois Senate’s so-called grand bargain. Democrats say that’s a bad omen for the prospects of an overall budget deal.

A pair of Republican state senators want to move ahead with a plan to permanently cut Illinois pension benefits and provide a one-time cash infusion to the Chicago Public Schools. Rauner tweeted his endorsement of the idea.

Matt Turner / Flickr

The spring legislative session is in full swing under the shadow of a failed Grand Bargain, which aimed to end a 20-month stretch without a budget. Bills proposed are diverse, including lobbyist ethics, an Obama holiday, wage theft and animal welfare.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new rules restricting overtime pay for home health aids passed a major test Tuesday. Starting August 1, caretakers will be limited to a 45-hour work-week. If people require more care, they’ll have to find an additional worker.

NPRIllinois

A lot of uncertainty these days for Illinois members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees who work for state government.   

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has supported a lawsuit to keep state workers getting paid. But he’s refused to extend that support to a similar case brought by human service contractors.

The governor was recently asked to answer this question: Why treat state employees as superior to employees of human service providers?

RAUNER: "Inside government, those folks are working every day, and they should be paid. They should have a continuing appropriation.”

MACKEY: “But human service workers are working every day, too.”

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Chance the Rapper critiques Gov. Bruce Rauner's job performance, the governor alleges a conspiracy among Democrats, and the Appellate Court gives AFSCME a temporary reprieve in its contract fight.

Chicago’s top police officer is acknowledging a connection between violence in the city and Illinois’ failure to pass a budget.

Some Democrats have blamed the rise in shootings on the closure of anti-violence programs, as Illinois has gone more than 20 months without a real state budget.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says he’s “sure that has some effect."

Chicago’s police superintendent was in Springfield Thursday urging state Senators to toughen penalties for gun possession. But he was met with resistance.

Chicago recorded 762 murders last year. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told legislators it’s “pivotal” that they target repeat unlawful gun possessors. The proposal would basically double the minimum sentence for the second time someone is caught with an illegal gun – from 3 to 6 years — though judges could give less time if they spell out a reason.

Pages