Tom Lisi

Public Affairs Reporting Intern - Statehouse

Tom reports on statehouse issues for NPR Illinois.  He's currently a Public Affairs Reporting graduate program student at the University of Illinois Springfield.  He graduated from Macalester College.  Tom is from New York City where he also did stand-up and improv and wrote for the Awl and WNYC public radio.

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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.

 

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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).

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

A screenshot of The Illinois Opportunity Project website.
Credit illinoisopportunityproject.org

Illinois Democrats want to make it harder for outside political groups to confuse voters with absentee ballot schemes.

It’s a reaction to reports of a conservative political group started by radio host and activist Dan Proft. The group is called Illinois Opportunity Project, but during election season last year it sent absentee ballot applications under the name “Rock Island County Vote by Mail Center.”

Before Mary Rabbe died from complications related to Alzheimer’s in 2015, she moved between several different long-term care facilities in the Springfield area — five nursing homes, a 10-day stay at a hospital psychiatric ward, and three visits to the E.R. — all in less than three years.

A green dentist chair
Liz West / CC by 2.0 / Flickr

Dr. Ronald Lynch runs a family dentistry in Jacksonville. He says approximately 20 percent of his patients are state workers. Because Illinois is still running with no budget, the state has not been paying its employees’ health bills on time — and the delays are growing.

Sunset over long canyon
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Yet another proposal aims to get the state out of crisis.

A 1917 report conducted on the Illinois pension system revealed bad news. After a pension-focused trip around the globe, with studies on such nations as Great Britain, New Zealand, and Austro-Hungary, it got to crux of the matter:

Flickr Commons

 

A group of retired military generals is the latest to come out against an element of the Illinois Senate's "grand bargain" legislation. Their focus is a measure that would cut the state’s mandate of daily physical education to just three times a week.

The generals said the proposal would be a threat to national security, as many young Americans are too overweight to enter basic training.

 

 

Donald Trump’s presidency has Illinois lawmakers weighing an issue not usually given as much attention in the General Assembly: abortion.

 

Since the 1970s, Illinois’ abortion laws have stayed mostly the same. Brigid Leahy, legislative director of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, says legal-abortion advocates are now moving to stem the tide they see coming from Washington. “We haven’t done a proactive bill like this in a number of years,” she said.

 

Student rally in Illinois state capitol rotunda.
Tom Lisi / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

College students rallied in the state Capitol rotunda Wednesday. They’re urging lawmakers to restore state funding to universities and community colleges.

Red light camera at intersection
Derek Jensen / Wikimedia Commons

If there’s anything in Illinois with a lower approval rating than state government, one imagines it could be red-light cameras: those big-brother tattle-tales that catch drivers in the act of running a red light at intersections.

NPR Illinois

Members of Springfield’s Muslim community turned out for a demonstration on Monday against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Rep. Will Guzzardi
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

A state representative from Chicago is trying to bring the spirit of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign to Illinois. His idea? Free tuition at Illinois’ public universities.

Jannes Pockele/flickr

Part of a potential compromise at the statehouse would make Illinois the first state with a tax on sugary drinks, like soda. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Governor Bruce Rauner said he does not support a repeal of Obamacare without a replacement.

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The Vatican recently announced that Catholics may be cremated, but should not have their ashes scattered at sea or kept in urns at home. The Church has allowed cremation for decades, but these guidelines aim to make the position clearer.