Heather Steans

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly took some steps last week to address concerns of sexual harassment in the statehouse. But some lawmakers themselves don't think legislators policing each other is the best approach.

c/o Eagle Forum (L) & Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth

Illinois remains a battleground over women's rights.

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of  sex. 
—   The proposed Equal Rights Amendment. It might sound simple. It’s not.

BRENT LEVIN / CC BY 2.0 / FLICKR

Some lawmakers say legalizing recreational marijuana should be on the horizon for Illinois. But they admit there are still details to work out. 

Heather Steans
file / Office of Sen. Heather Steans

Illinois lawmakers and the governor have spent the past several days ratcheting up their calls for compromise to end the budget impasse.   

Barbara Flynn Currie
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois House has blocked Governor Bruce Rauner’s attempt to merge the parts of state government that deal with discrimination complaints.

Heather Steans
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Both the Illinois House and Senate return to work in Springfield today. Just over two weeks remain before the annual legislative session is scheduled to end.

Heather Steans
file / Office of Sen. Heather Steans

Illinois Senate Democrats are hoping to win bipartisan support for a partial government spending plan.

The proposal would release more than $800 million that’s been collected in special state accounts for higher education and human services, areas that have been particularly squeezed during the 22-month budget stalemate.

Brent Levin / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

There are reasons for legalizing industrial hemp.

Might pot and ditch weed help ease the state's financial crisis and boost its farm economy?

Grand Bargain GOP
senators via ILGA.gov / Rauner by Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Ten Republican senators voted for at least one bill in the grand bargain. We asked all of them about Gov. Bruce Rauner's role in stopping them from going further.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner is pushing to break off a couple pieces from the Illinois Senate’s so-called grand bargain. Democrats say that’s a bad omen for the prospects of an overall budget deal.

A pair of Republican state senators want to move ahead with a plan to permanently cut Illinois pension benefits and provide a one-time cash infusion to the Chicago Public Schools. Rauner tweeted his endorsement of the idea.

State Sen. Heather Steans
SEN. HEATHER STEANS' OFFICE

The Illinois Senate is still negotiating a compromise to finally rectify the state's historic failure to enact a budget. The proposal has changed a lot in the month since it was introduced. 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan and a young volunteer at the 2016 Democratic National Convention Illinois delegation breakfast.
Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Hillary Clinton was born in Chicago in 1947, and raised in the suburbs. Sixty-eight years later, she’s making history as the first woman to be nominated for President by a major party.

Following, a handful ladies in Illinois’ delegation reflect on Clinton’s candidacy and on what it’s like to be a woman in politics.

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has always said schools are his top priority. Last year, he vetoed the budget except for schools. In the stopgap plan negotiated by leaders this week, most services get only six months of funding, but pre-kindergarten through high school grades get a full year. That includes an increase of more than $330 million.

Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Legislators who've been privately working for the past month to craft a temporary budget have one drafted, but that doesn't make it a done deal.

WUIS

  Billions of dollars in cuts are part of a possible budget for next year.  So are higher taxes. 

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Billions of dollars in cuts are part of a possible budget for next year. So are higher taxes.

Illinois built up a deficit over the years; the current impasse has only exacerbated it. A bipartisan group of legislators chosen to craft a solution has a potential path for fiscal year 2017.

Members are cagey about sharing details. It's politically sensitive; members say they're hesitant to share details out of respect for their private negotiations.

BrettLevinPhotography / Flickr

A measure to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana passed the Illinois Senate Tuesday.

Illinois Lottery

With Illinois Lottery suing the state over unpaid prizes, Democrats in the Illinois Senate have a plan to address the problem. 

Illinois Senate Democrats

Updated estimates show that Illinois is on the trajectory to spend $2 billion more than the spending plan Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed because it's out of balance, even though it has gone 44 days without a budget.

Illinois has been without a budget since the start of July. And yet money's steadily flowing from state coffers, thanks to court orders, decrees, and other arrangements.

"We can't even close down the state right," said Republican Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights.

Organization and business leaders say they were stunned by a Good Friday notice indicating state funding for some programs would be immediately terminated. Democrats say they were “blindsided” too.

Save Abandoned Babies Foundation

Some adoption rights advocates have a problem with a proposal in the Illinois legislature. It would change the Safe Haven law, which allows parents to drop off newborns at certain locations anonymously.

A new plan by Sen. Heather Steans would help protect the parents' identity even more by creating a foundling birth certificate, which would leave off information about the parents.

Amanda Vinicky

Republican Bruce Rauner has signed a temporary budget fix -- his first law since becoming governor earlier this year. 

Illinois' budget has a $1.6 billion dollar gap --- the result of a spending plan Democrats passed in the spring; some had hoped then for a post-election tax increase that never came to fruition.

Democratic Senator Heather Steans of Chicago says this will fill that gap.

Tennessee Department of Human Services

Gaps in the current year's budget mean that the state has stopped paying for its Child Care Assistance Program, and day care providers are worried about more issues in the future.

The program that provides assistance for parents to pay for child care could experience more financial problems if Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposals become next year's budget.

Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, says cutting government assistance to day care has negative consequences in other areas.

Democratic state Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Just before leaving office yesterday, now-former Governor Pat Quinn signed a slew of bills. One of those bills spells out when the state can take over a school district. 

Before this bill became law, the Illinois State Board of Education was theoretically required to intervene when any school district spent at least three years on the academic watch list. That’s about a hundred districts, but the board has neither the resources nor the desire to take such drastic action in so many schools.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

  The budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly does not rely on extending the 2011 income tax hike, as originally planned by Democratic leadership. Instead, it's based on state government borrowing from itself.

Instead of making the five percent income tax rate permanent or chopping away at government programs, lawmakers opted to fill a massive hole in state revenues by doing something called "interfund borrowing."

wikimedia commons

The Illinois Legislature is moving forward with a scaled-back budget lawmakers say will lead to layoffs and further delays in paying the state's bills.
 
The House is expected to vote Tuesday on the approximately $35 billion spending
plan.
Lawmakers drafted the plan after House Speaker Michael Madigan announced his
chamber had given up on extending a temporary income tax increase. That will
result in a roughly $1.8 billion revenue drop next year.
 
Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski says the new budget plan ensures education

Amanda Vinicky

  Gay and lesbian couples may not have to wait until June to marry in Illinois. A lawmaker is moving to accelerate when same-sex marriage becomes legal.

Already, same-sex couples are hurrying to take advantage of the marriage legislation approved on Tuesday. That very night, Rep. Sam Yingling, a Lake County Democrat who's openly gay, got engaged. "Well, we don't have a date yet, but I will certainly let you know when we do," he said.

flickr

Students in Illinois public schools that teach sex education will now be taught about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases _ not just abstinence.  
Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Friday that requires schools to provide the information. It takes effect Jan. 1.  
Sen. Heather Steans sponsored the bill. The Chicago Democrat says it's intended to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.