Maureen Foertsch McKinney

News Editor

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers,  and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Speaker Michael Madigan and attorney Heather Wier Vaught respond to questions following campaign woker Alaina Hamilton filling a sexual harassment charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Will the pressure be too much for the long-standing speaker and state party chair?

Kelsey Greene Photography

In the midst of the national #metoo phenomenon, Illinois women wrestle with their own experiences.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Editor's Note: A version of this story appeared in the February, 2015 edition of Illinois Issues. 

Three different men sexually assaulted me when I was a sophomore in college. That was 30 years ago or so. In that time, I've come to re-evaluate what it means to be to be raped. And I've kept in mind what I can do to help protect my daughter, who, at 22, is a little older than I was in the early 1980s when I was assaulted while a student at Eastern Illinois University.

Annie E. Casey Foundation

The standard of living for African-American children in Illinois is worse than most other states. That’s according to a report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Illinois is 34th in the nation in the terms of the living conditions of African- American children, according to the report.

“You see that African-American children in particular are lagging far behind when you look at this composite score,” says Anna Rowan of Voices for Illinois Children.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

The Trump administration earlier this month rolled back birth control provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  The new rules let almost any employer with religious or moral objections to skip rule that contraception coverage had to be provided without co-pays.  

The State of Illinois already passed a law to offer even greater protections than the ACA.  But with the new Trump guidelines not all women in the state can be sure they're covered.  

DAISY CONTRERAS

Psychologists in Illinois talk of fears they have for young recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Luis Gomez says his anxiety has been exacerbated by the ongoing debate over whether to end DACA.

Last month, the Trump administration announced it was terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also known as DACA. Created by President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential order, DACA grants undocumented youth who entered the country as children temporary protection against deportation, as well as the right to work.

Keith Freeman / Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Illinois' child poverty rate is just as high as it was in 2010. Is the state doing enough to bring it down?

Kellia Phillips’ teen-aged daughters Jaleece and Janae run track. They have had to do so in ill-fitting shoes sometimes as old as three years.

Janae, 13, loves to knit and crochet. Her mother, says, “I could only get her yarn like every three months and she was so much into knitting and crocheting. I still can’t do that for her right now because I have no income.’’ 

Chicago Police Department

The General Assembly passes legislation aimed at strengthening hate crime laws after a post-presidental-campaign spike in bias incidents.

Tom Lisi / NPR Illinois

The spring legislative session has been overshadowed by a 22-month stretch without a budget. Nevertheless, meaty legislation is being weighed. Those issues include abortion, wage theft, animal research and criminal justice.

Equality Illinois

As rapid-fire change comes at the federal level, advocates want  to keep Illinois' status as one of the leading states in offering protections.

Alex McCray didn’t want to believe Donald Trump had won the election. In the words of the transgender nursing student from downstate Sherman: “I was hoping it was all just one terrible nightmare. It felt like my rights were being ripped out right from underneath me.”

KENT KRIEGSHAUSER / GALESBURG REGISTER-MAIL

Who has been hurt the most by shifts in the Illinois economy?

Chart of children in poverty by race.
2015 American Community Survey / U.S. Census Bureau

Poverty rates in Illinois are starting to go down. But economic inequality  is growing between white Illinoisans and their black and Latino counterparts.   That's according a recently issued report by group of anti-poverty organizations. That report also showed that being poor in Illinois is a costly proposition. Food, housing, credit and other things often cost for impoverished people than the general population

Daniel Biss speaking to group
Office of state Sen. Daniel Biss

Recently, several social policy debates have moved  from the legislature to the judicial system.

Jordan Boner

After hundreds of layoffs at Eastern Illinois University earlier this year, faculty members with annually renewed contracts got word they might be let go this fall semester. One of those 17 faculty members let go, EIU  journalism instructor Dan Hagen, says he was dismissed just two weeks before classes started.  We talked with Hagen about his experience and what he thinks it means for the state of higher education in Illinois.

Teen pregnancy rates are going down in Illinois and across the nation because teens are having less sex, and when they do, they’re using contraception more often. The reasons behind these changes in behavior are harder to pinpoint.  

Office of State Sen. Karen McConnaughay

More than ninety cases of human trafficking in Illinois have been reported so far this year. Gov. Bruce Rauner recently signed legislation about efforts to combat it and to assist its victims. One bill created a statewide task force on the issue. 

The task force will work with others in the state, including one in Cook County, says Sen. Sponsor Karen McConnaughay, a Republican from St. Charles. The task force is expected to give its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by June 30, 2017.

Illinois Center for Renewable Energy / Illinois State University

  Gov. Bruce Rauner recently signed legislation extending how wind farms are assessed from this year’s original sunset date out five years. The wind farms generate tens of millions of dollars each year.

Flckr/Lauren Manning

 Global warming could cause hundreds of deaths in the Chicago area by the year 2080 — if preventive policies aren't enacted. That’s according to a report by the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs. Maureen McKinney recently spoke with Julian Reif, an economist, who is one of the study's authors. He says not only could there be substantial loss of life because of  consequences of global warming — but the costs associated could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

To read the report, go to igpa.uillinois.edu.

The Phoenix Center

The state has some of the most aggressive protections for transgender people in the country, but the issue still generates controversy here.

Illinois, with its expansive decade-old anti-discrimination law, is one of the most progressive states in the country when it comes to transgender rights, but even in this state there has been a noisy response to rapidly evolving national and local policies on the issue.

In Illinois, it would take more than two full-time jobs at minimum wage to afford rent for a two-bedroom apartment. That’s according to a report released this week by the Washington, D.C.-based National Low Income Housing Coalition.

A single earner in Illinois would have to put in 97 hours of work a week at minimum wage to pay for that rent, according to the report. The state’s fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,309. Illinois’ minimum wage is $8.25 per hour.

The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority

A recent report calls attention to the need for more temporary housing for victims of domestic violence.

The report, produced by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, was an assessment of needs that could be used for determining the direction of federal funding for housing programs that deal with specifically with victims of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Recently, Illinois Issues looked at the issue of whether the Pregnancy Fairness Law, which was enacted last year, has been effective. This is a story about a woman for whom the law came too late.

UIS Campus Relations

George Sheldon, director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, is expected to be at the University of Illinois Springfield Monday to dedicate a new training center on campus.

The training center opened in February. It  has a mock trial room and a simulated residential setting that are meant to emulate situations that investigators could face in the field.

c-uphd.org

In Illinois, House bill 6073 would make it so transgender people can change the sex designation on their birth certificate without having to have reassignment surgery. Proponents of the measure say it's a needed change since not all trans people want the surgery, and many who do can't afford it. 

Frank de Kleine/Flickr

 A new state law aims to end the days of women having to choose between a healthy pregnancy and work, but has it been effective?

Senate Republicans

  Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont has been in the state Senate longer than any other woman and is the longest-serving GOP woman lawmaker in the state. Radogno was a stay-at-home parent when she first got into politics. She says it started with a debate over a fire house in her hometown. Maureen McKinney interviewed Radogno because March is Women’s History Month.

You can also hear  her interview with Democrat Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, the longest-serving woman in the General Assembly, at wuis.org.

Barbara Flynn Currie
Illinois House Democrats

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie is the longest-serving woman in the Illinois General Assembly, having been inaugurated in 1979. The Democrat from Chicago was working on a sociology project at the University of Chicago when she was encouraged to run for the state House. Maureen McKinney interviewed Currie  because March is Women’s History Month.

We will also post McKinney’s interview with Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, the longest serving Republican women in the General Assembly. 

 Youth unemployment is at crisis levels in Illinois, especially in Chicago among blacks and Latinos, according to a study released last month by the Great Cities Institute at the University of Chicago. An author of the study, the institute’s director Teresa Córdova says, “the crisis of joblessness for young people of color is chronic and concentrated.”

To see the study, go to https://greatcities.uic.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/ASN-Report-v3.2.pdf

      

Syrian Community Network

Historically, Illinois has been a leading state in refugee resettlement, but lately it seems less welcoming to some.

Poverty rates for the biggest racial minority groups in Illinois are two to three times higher than those for whites.

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