Illinois Issues


Reporting and analysis taking you beyond the daily news and providing a deeper understanding of our state. 

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Rick Proctor / Unsplash

Lawmakers see chance for green with recreational marijuana.

Marijuana legalization is getting another look in Illinois, particularly for the money it could bring the state. The state has overdue bills nearing $9 billion after a more than two-year budget stalemate, and some argue a little extra cash could go a long way.

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?

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?

Jason Karsh / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

In 2010, lawmakers changed the rules for how the state picks its second-in-command. No longer would voters separately nominate candidates for lieutenant governor and governor in the primary, and hope for a successful match.

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, as well as the 2016 election, have sparked renewed passion for electing women to office in Illinois.

A Call For Immunization

Feb 8, 2018
Mary Cullen / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

With more cases of vaccine-preventable disease in Illinois, doctors say shots should not be skipped.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Part 2: Most of the radium-tainted earth from decades-old manufacturing in Ottawa has been removed, but one major site still needs cleanup.

Mary Cullen / NPR ILLINOIS | 91.9 UIS

Part 1: Radium poisoning took the lives of perhaps thousands of female factory workers, many in Ottawa, Illinois, in the last century.

Katie Buck / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Health centers in Illinois are forming partnerships with local food banks to offer fresh fruits and vegetables to some patients. With an estimated 1.5 million residents in the state classified as food insecure by the U.S. census, could this be a key approach to improving food access?

'Moneyball' : The 2018 Illinois Governor's Race

Jan 11, 2018

This year’s campaign pits a multimillionaire incumbent against a field that includes a multibillionaire in what could be the costliest governor's race in U.S. history.

Richard Sitler / The Southern Illinoisan

The federal government returned the East St. Louis Housing Authority to local control last fall, a sign of confidence in the city's new leadership. But challenges remain, including millions of dollars in repairs and concerns about the conditions at its aging public housing complexes.

New Illinois Laws In 2018

Dec 28, 2017
Meagan Davis / FLICKR

Laws about divorce, pets and traveling elephants will take effect January 1.

With Gov. Bruce Rauner's approval, Illinois legislators designated August 4 as Barack Obama Day in the state. That law along with more than 200 others take effect January 1.

In addition to overhauling the school funding formula and passing a spending plan for the first time in two years, lawmakers approved new consumer protections, rules for electric bikes and animal welfare measures.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois lawmakers ended the state budget impasse and made big changes to how the state pays for public schools. The state also wrestled with the debate over abortion and a nationwide rise in hate incidents.

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.

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

School districts had a year to implement a state law that banned zero-tolerance policies and emphasized restorative justice practices. We check back in with five districts we visited  in the summer of 2016 to see how school discipline has changed.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Commentary: Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Madigan fixation may reflect how little the governor has to show for his first three years in office.

A derivative of photo by Erik Hersman, licensed under CC BY 2.0 / FLICKR

A recent federal appeals court decision struck down the requirement that minor parties offer a full-slate of candidates for statewide or countywide offices, while another court battle looms.

Watch the eleventh Illinois Issues forum on the state budget and Illinois' financial future in Edwardsville.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Sexual harassment at the Capitol, workers' rights and student loans — a look at recent action in the state legislature.

Alex Proimos
Flickr Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0

During the more than two years that Illinois went without a state spending plan, hospitals, dentists and other health care providers waited months or even years to get paid for services to state employees and Medicaid patients.

Football players on sideline
Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

A 2015 state law required high schools to develop concussion response procedures to protect student-athletes from further injury, but smaller schools may be at a disadvantage.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Watch the tenth Illinois Issues forum on the state budget and Illinois' financial future in Carbondale, Illinois. The forum is hosted by NPR Illinois and WSIU Radio with support provided by AARP. /

Commentary: Gov. Bruce Rauner recently criticized the Democrats for passing a spending plan that is more than a billion dollars out of balance, according to analysis from his budget office. That same report noted that if one-time revenues are included, the state could see a surplus at the end of the year.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

Buying shoes, a new computer or even toilet paper online can be convenient and cheap, but officials in cities across central Illinois say it’s taking a bite out of their budgets.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Watch the ninth Illinois Issues forum on the state budget and Illinois' financial future in DeKalb, Illinois. The forum is hosted by NPR Illinois and Northern Public Radio with support provided by AARP. 

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois and New Jersey are in dire financial straits, but experts hope California's fiscal gains can be duplicated in those states now struggling.

Nancy Hudspeth, who lived in Chicago for nearly 30 years, says she feels as if she escaped the state’s current fiscal problems when she left to pursue a teaching job in California two years ago. Before her move, Hudspeth spent six years analyzing Illinois’ finances with the University of Illinois’ Fiscal Futures Project.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

NPR Illinois and WVIK hosted the eighth Illinois Issues Forum on the state's financial health and the lasting impacts of the two-year-long state budget impasse on the Quad Cities community. 


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.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office

*Editor's Note: This piece was published prior to Gov. Bruce Rauner's announcement he signed House Bill 40, the abortion bill. 

Commentary: A capital bill; spending cuts; a veto of the abortion bill? A look at some pending questions for the fall legislative session. 

When Illinois lawmakers return for their fall session next month, they, and by extension, taxpayers, will face tantalizing questions.