Brian Mackey

Reporter - Statehouse

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

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A week before the primary election, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the first gun-control legislation sent to him after the mass murder at a school in Parkland, Florida. It would have required gun dealers to obtain state licenses.

Senate Democrats say they'll try to override the governor — eventually. They bought themselves more time by refusing to immediately recognize his veto, breaking with past practice and the Illinois Constitution.

Logan Correctional Center satellite view
Google Maps

A mother is suing Illinois and Sangamon County officials for failing to prevent her daughter's suicide.

School desks
Flickr user: dcJohn

Next Wednesday, March 14, is one month since the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, and students across the country are planning another walkout.

On Monday, the ACLU of Illinois encouraged schools to take the opportunity for a "lesson in civics."

Mikaela Lefrak - WAMU

With more student protests expected after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, the ACLU of Illinois is encouraging schools to respect free speech rights.

A series of gun control measures advanced in the Illinois Statehouse this week — requiring state licenses for gun dealers, banning "bump stocks," and raising the purchase age for so-called assault weapons, among other bills.

In Washington, an Illinois case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Janus v. AFSCME challenges "fair share" fees for workers who are in collective bargaining units but don't want to join a union, and could have dire financial implications for public employee labor unions across the country.

Democratic candidates for Attorney General. From left to right: Sharon Fairley, state Rep. Scott Drury, state Sen. Kwame Raoul, Aaron Goldstein, Renato Mariotti, former Gov. Pat Quinn, Nancy Rotering and Jessie Ruiz.
Courtesy of Candidates' Campaigns

How would contenders for the state's top legal office have handled the budget stalemate?

Five of the six Democrats running for governor met in Springfield for a debate. House Speaker Michael Madigan was once again a hot topic, as the speaker had earlier in the week cut ties with a second aide over allegations of harassment.

Meanwhile, Republicans were distancing themselves from their own problem candidate — one who'd used racial and anti-gay language in a conversation with Republican attorney general candidate Erika Harold.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

An Illinois labor union is suing Gov. Bruce Rauner over an Illinois law. The case — filed Thursday afternoon in federal court — expects bad news for labor in the (potential) landmark Janus v. AFSCME case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democratic candidates for governor
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Five of the Democrats running for Illinois governor met at a debate Wednesday night in Springfield. Among the prime topics was House Speaker Michael Madigan’s handing of harassment in his political organization. (CC-BY-NC)

A divided Illinois Supreme Court says it was OK for the government to seize a woman’s Harley-Davidson — even though it was her husband who used it to drive drunk.

This week, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual Budget Address before the General Assembly and House Speaker Michael Madigan fired a long-time campaign worker due to sexual harassment allegations.

Gatehouse Media's Doug Finke joins the panel.

Bruce Rauner
Rich Saal / The State Journal-Register (pool)

When out campaigning, Governor Bruce Rauner has been making big claims about lowering taxes. But there was little follow-through in Wednesday's budget proposal.

Bruce Rauner
Rich Saal / The State Journal-Register (pool)

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has been campaigning relentlessly against last year’s income tax increase.

But in his annual budget address Wednesday, he'll call for spending the extra money that rate hike has generated.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner is scheduled to unveil his fourth budget proposal Wednesday in a speech to the General Assembly.

Illinois lawmakers have only enacted a budget for one of the three years he’s been in office.

That led to service cuts and some layoffs, but the state didn’t collapse. For most people, life went on as normal.

So we asked Statehouse reporter Brian Mackey: Does it really matter if Illinois has a budget?

Billionaire hotel heir and Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker apologizes after another Chicago Tribune story about his 2008 phone conversations with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate for governor Jeanne Ives, a state representative from Wheaton, is not apologizing for an ad that's been condemned by people across the political spectrum.

The Democratic candidates for governor appeared in the first of several televised debates, an unsealed lawsuit reveals Gov. Bruce Rauner has been more involved in his personal finances than he let on, and an audit finds the administration could not properly account for more than $7.11 billion in Medicaid payments to private insurance companies. 

Todd Maisch
Illinois Chamber of Commerce

After one year of Donald Trump’s presidency, the business community is largely pleased with the results: reductions in tax rates and a rollback of Obama-era environmental regulations. But there are concerns about the president's positions on immigration, and the general chaos of the White House.

For more on the business perspective of Trump's first year in office, I spoke with with Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. I began by asking him what, from a business perspective, were the best things to come out of Washington this year.

This week, Gov. Bruce Rauner dodged a Nerf-ball question about whether former Congressman and Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was a racist. Meanwhile, Rauner, a Republican, is running an infomercial about Democratic primary candidate J.B. Pritzker. And we hear the latest on the school funding overhaul that just won't end.

Bob Daiber, state Sen. Daniel Biss, J.B. Pritzker, Tio Hardiman, and Chris Kennedy
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Five of the six Democrats running for governor were in Peoria over the Martin Luther King Day weekend. They were making largely similar cases to voters at a forum on criminal and economic justice.

Gov. Bruce Rauner wrapped up his stay at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, where 13 people have died from Legionnaires' Disease since 2015. It came a day after a legislative hearing at which members of the Rauner administration defended their response to outbreaks.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court has heard arguments over a state law that bans child sex offenders from public parks.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is staying at the Illinois Veteran Home in Quincy, in response to accusations that his administration has not responded well to repeated outbreaks of Legionnaires' Disease at the facility.

Meanwhile on the gubernatorial campaign trail, Chris Kennedy says Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel should be held accountable for driving African American people out of the city while Bob Daiber is getting detailed about a graduated income tax.

Bob Daiber
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Most of the Democrats running for governor of Illinois have long since come out in favor of a graduated income tax, where wealthier people pay a higher rate on income above a certain amount. But it wasn’t until Thursday that one candidate said what that amount ought to be.

John Cullerton and Christine Radogno
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As we get ready to welcome 2018, we thought we’d take a few minutes to listen back to another wild year in Illinois government and politics.

Twenty-seventeen was a wild year in Illinois government and politics: it began without a budget and ended with the Republican governor facing a primary challenge.

Along the way there was a tax hike, a once-in-a-generation overhaul of education funding, hot-button bills relating to abortion and immigration, and accusations of a culture of sexual harassment in the Statehouse.

Peter Breen
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A new law allowing public funding of abortion in Illinois will take effect as scheduled on January 1. That’s after a judge on Thursday ruled against anti-abortion groups who’d sued to block it.

Mark Goebel-Flickr/

A law taking effect January first is meant to force Illinois government to be more honest about its money problems.

Gov. Bruce Rauner requested a sit-down with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, and covered a range of grievances in his hour-long conversation.

He blamed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for not supporting the governor's agenda, he said House Republicans were not principled enough, and he seemed disappointed that Illinois no longer had a crisis he could leverage to pass his business-friendly, union-weakening agenda.

The state representative challenging Governor Bruce Rauner in next year’s Republican primary is proposing several changes to Illinois’ pension systems.

Over the last few years, 13 residents of the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy have died from Legionnaires’ disease. Public radio station WBEZ this week published an investigation into problems at the home. The political reaction was swift, with calls for investigations that could last well into next year.