Sam Dunklau

2018 Public Affairs Reporting Intern - Statehouse

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working at the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau. Since 2015, he's been floating around the radio airwaves as a reporter, disc jockey, and station manager.  A multimedia journalism degree from Augustana College now rests comfortably under his belt. 

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Illinois Innocence Project

Criminal justice advocates say a measure that's cleared the Illinois legislature will keep innocent people from winding up in prison. Among other things, it would require criminal informants to be vetted before their testimony could be used at trial.


Moody Air Force Base via Creative Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

People caught texting and driving on Illinois roadways could risk losing their licenses under a measure being considered by state lawmakers.  It’s part of a statewide effort against distracted driving. 

 

The proposed rule change would up the ante on anyone who breaks the state’s distracted driving law. Instead of just a ticket or warning, anyone who’s caught texting and driving would be hit with a moving violation. 

Those are the kind of tickets that count as strikes against your driving record; after three, your license gets suspended.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

The Illinois House failed to pass legislation related to the Affordable Care Act on Friday. It would have locked in certain health insurance benefits. 

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, more than 90% of Illinoisans have health insurance. The landmark 2010 law banned companies from using pre-existing condition clauses, and let more low-income people join Medicaid. 

But federal health officials are letting states waive those parts of the law, and put in work requirements for people on Medicaid. The Trump administration has been encouraging both moves.

Illinois State Board of Elections

As the midterm election draws near, some state lawmakers want to change the way Illinois’ political districts are drawn. They want to do that by giving voters a chance to change the constitution. 

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Illinois state legislators and advocates say state employees need more protection from a growing trend of workplace violence. But statehouse measures addressing that have gotten a mixed reception. 

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

The annual statewide Holocaust Remembrance service was held  in Springfield on Thursday. Each year, the scores of Jews and political targets killed by the Nazis are remembered in a service called Yom HaShoah. 

Solidarity and somberness echoed through the Old State Capitol hall, where those gathered recalled the six million Jews and millions of others killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. 

via TheMuuj / Flikr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

With summer fast approaching, one Illinois lawmaker wants to let people break into cars to rescue animals trapped inside. But some argue that might do more harm than good. 

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Governor Bruce Rauner says if asked by President Trump, he would send Illinois National Guard soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Tom Driggers / via Flickr

Illinois farmers are among the targets of new Chinese tariffs. Beijing this week said it will impose a tax on American soy and pork products, two of Illinois' chief exports. The move is a response to President Trump’s announced tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly is considering whether people should be allowed to sue to block regulatory decisions of state government. The state’s business community says that’s dangerous for the economy.

Kyle McCarter
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois State Sen. Kyle McCarter’s nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to Kenya comes at a time of challenges for the African nation.

via State Representative David McSweeney website

An Illinois lawmaker wants to give police officers more power to take away guns from someone who poses a threat. 

via Creative Commons 2.0 / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Though Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a measure to license gun dealers, Illinois House Democrats are trying to muster support to overturn the decision. 

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

In central Illinois’ 13th congressional district, Betsy Dirksen-Londrigan coasted to victory in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, and will be that party's candidate in the November election.

Johan Fantenberg via flikr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

People who use Illinois currency exchanges will pay less in fees to cash certain types of checks. It’s part of an overhaul of the state’s check cashing fee structure.  

Mike Stewart / Associated Press

Last year’s data breach at the Equifax credit reporting agency brought attention to the fees customers can be charged for freezing their accounts. The Illinois Senate Wednesday approved a ban on such fees.

via Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs

Illinois is using emergency spending rules to upgrade the water system at the veterans’ home in Quincy. Outbreaks of the waterborne Legionnaires’ Disease have killed and sickened dozens of residents and staff.

Media & Marketing / Illinois Department of Central Management Services

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner approved legislation on Monday to revamp the way hospitals are paid for treating low-income people on Medicaid. It's intended to help them collect billions of dollars.

Wikimedia Commons

Illinois county fair officials say they still don’t have nearly $1.5 million promised to them in the current state budget for fair operations.  

Jason Parrott / Tri States Public Radio

 The Illinois House lawmakers are considering a requirement that veterans’ home officials promptly inform families about Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks. The proposal is the latest in a string of measures responding to the state’s handling of an outbreak at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy.

Kids who use medical marijuana for a qualifying condition might be allowed to use the drug on school grounds under a Illinois proposal. The legislation would allow parents to give cannabis medication to those kids if and when they need it.  

Flickr/Meeshpants

If you’re under 21 and have been convicted of a crime, you might wind up serving time in the juvenile justice system instead of an adult jail. Illinois state lawmakers are considering a measure that would raise the system's age limit from 18 to no more than 20.

via Google Street

Illinois hospitals are one step closer to saving a program that generates a lot of money used to treat low-income patients. State lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a plan on Wednesday that revamps the so-called hospital assessment program.  

Under the program,  Illinois hospitals front money to take care of people with government health insurance. Federal matching payments then add $3.5 billion more. 

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers voted this week on a string of gun control measures amid renewed national concern about public safety. But Governor Bruce Rauner isn’t saying where he stands on most of the proposals.   

Rauner hasn’t taken questions from Statehouse reporters since last months’ school shooting in Parkland, Florida. 

Rachel Otwell, Daisy Contreras, Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

 

Big changes to Illinois' gun laws don't happen often. But a growing movement across the country appears to be resonating in the state's General Assembly.

Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan tried to set the record straight on how his office handles sexual harassment claims. The Speaker issued a one-page press release on Tuesday with brief summaries of complaints involving staffers working in his state office. 

via Creative Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Early voting in this year’s primary election came a little late in some parts of Illinois. But officials say the polls are now officially open statewide.

An advocacy group says Illinois schools are in need of more diverse history lessons. Equality Illinois is behind a new statehouse proposal that would require the curriculum to include lessons on people who made history and were LGBTQ+.

Check cashing signage
Eden, Janine and Jim / Flickr/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

A group of Illinois state legislators want to lower check cashing rates at currency exchanges — while the industry is pushing to raise those rates.

 

Last summer, the industry told Illinois’ financial regulator it hadn’t been allowed to increase service fees since 2007, and the time had come for a raise. 

Illinois Campaign for Political Reform via press release

The polls have opened for Illinois’ primary election, as voters were allowed to start casting early ballots Thursday. But the state’s election technology needs to be overhauled, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

 

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