Lou Lang

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A busy week in Springfield as the Illinois General Assembly approves a budget, the House ratifies the ERA, and a leading Democrat is accused of inappropriate behavior.

A prominent state legislator, who led efforts in the Illinois House to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, has stepped down from his leadership post after being accused of bullying and intimidation. 

Brian Mackey

On Wednesday, Illinois ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed change to the U.S. Constitution — 46 years after Congress approved it.

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois

A resolution that would have Illinois ratify the Equal Rights Amendment has yet to be called for a deciding House vote. The House sponsor, Democratic State Rep. from Skokie, Lou Lang, says he's close to reaching the 3/5ths vote needed, but there are still "attendance issues."

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

A measure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment got approval from an Illinois House committee Wednesday, in what could be the final step before it's called for a decisive vote in that chamber.  

The measure has already passed the state Senate. Opponents argue it could mandate government funded abortions and force co-ed prison populations.

Chief sponsor and Democratic representative from Skokie, Lou Lang, says two of his colleagues told him they're worried a "yes" vote could be used against them in future campaigns.

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There are both federal and state laws requiring insurance providers cover not only physical health issues, but also mental health. Illinois has strict laws, but some argue they’re not properly enforced and those with mental health or addiction issues don’t always understand what’s covered with insurance. 

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.  

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.

Illinois Senate
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A day after Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois vetoed the state’s first budget plan in two years, the Democrats who control the legislature are plotting when they'll try to override him.

Lou Lang
file / Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Wednesday is the last day of the Illinois General Assembly's annual legislative session.

It also happens to mark 700 days since Illinois last had a real budget. Majority Democrats still aren’t saying whether they plan to do anything about that.

Gov. Bruce Rauner headshot
State of Illinois

Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his State of the State Address before a joint session of the General Assembly.

nprillinois

July 1 will mark a shameful anniversary for Illinois -- it will mean the state has completed a full year without a complete budget. How long can this go on?

  Bruce Rauner has been at the state's helm since last January, which means he'll be governor for at least another two and a half years. Democratic State Representative Lou Lang has remarked that it's possible that Illinois could go without a budget the entire length of Rauner's term.

A new law makes a drug that counteracts opioid overdose easier to get. But is that enough?

Northlake resident Steve Kamenicky is lucky to be alive.

He’s 58 years old and says he’s used heroin for 46 years, starting at age 12. He has overdosed several times and nearly died, but he survived because of the medication naloxone hydrochloride, also known by the brand name Narcan. 

Illinois Department of Revenue

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he isn't a billionaire, but he's not far off. Me? I'm Amanda Vinicky, statehouse bureau chief for Illinois Public Radio, and let's just say I've got a better chance of walking on the moon than ever making a billion bucks.

But both Rauner and I -- as does everyone else who lives in Illinois, no matter how rich or poor -- pay the same state income tax rate. The constitution requires a flat tax.

Some Illinois Democrats are moving to change that. 

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All Illinois residents -- no matter how rich, no matter how poor -- pay the same income tax rate. Now a plan is afoot to change that, with a constitutional amendment, and to have the wealthy pay more.

College of DuPage

College campuses (and the politics behind them) are taking center stage in Springfield's festering stalemate.

Flickr user: Dean Hochman

Lawmakers return to Springfield with some new ideas, but the unfinished business of 2015 will likely overshadow other topics in the second year of the legislative session. 


Rep. Lou Lang
Brian Mackey / WUIS

A federal lawsuit is seeking to overturn Illinois’ ban on campaign contributions from medical marijuana companies.

  The case was brought last week by two Libertarian Party political candidates: Claire Ball of Addison, who says she's running for comptroller, and Scott Schluter of Marion, who says he's running for state representative. They say they favor legalization of drugs, and that companies that agree with them should be able to support their campaigns.

Rep. Lou Lang
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois House has overruled Governor Bruce Rauner over how to address heroin addiction in the state.

Lawmakers spent more than a year working on a big anti-heroin initiative. It passed with both Democratic and Republican support, but Rauner vetoed a provision to expand treatment for low-income addicts.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin was among the bipartisan group of lawmakers who voted to overrule the governor's changes.

Amanda Vinicky

A state lawmaker says he won't agree to changes Governor Bruce Rauner has made to a major anti-heroin package. 

It took more than a year for legislators to draft what Rep. Lou Lang says could be a model for the nation, in combating an uptick of opiod use.

The end result requires school nurses and ambulances to be equipped with antidotes, mandates the state maintain a list of heroin-related deaths, and has doctors track some painkiller prescriptions.

Democrat Day 2015
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois Democrats say they're in an "epic" struggle with the state's new Republican governor. The party met in Springfield Thursday for its annual fundraising breakfast and State Fair rally.

The afternoon rally began with a tongue-in-cheek thank-you to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

"Why am I here to thank Bruce Rauner?" asked state Rep. Lou Lang, from Skokie. "Look around you — the Democratic Party has never been as energized or as organized as it is right now."

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois House overwhelmingly approved a plan that seeks to curb the abuse of heroin and painkilling drugs.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has stayed out of the public eye for the past couple of days. But he's making his feelings on the budget known in an op-ed that came out late Wednesday night.

The Illinois House chamber uses a ventilation system that circulates air from columns in the chamber to the attic, where the air is filtered and dispersed over the lawmakers’ desks.
Bethany Jaeger / WUIS/Illinois Issues

With just a dozen days until the General Assembly is set to adjourn, there is a crescendo of partisan accusations. Republican and Democratic legislators both continue to publicly say they hope to reach a bipartisan budget solution, even as both sides accuse the other of bargaining in bad faith.

Amanda Vinicky

Sweeping legislation intended to combat a heroin epidemic has been introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators.

Before he became a state legislator, Republican Rep. John Anthony was a cop in Champaign, and a sheriff's deputy in Kendall County.

marijuana buds next to prescription container
eggrole / flickr

People who buy medical marijuana in Illinois might find out it's cash-only.  

Lawmakers approved using cannabis for medical conditions last summer. But the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports selling and using marijuana remain federal offenses, so it's unlikely pot dispensaries will be able to open a bank account or get a line of credit.  

Lawmakers Say "No" To Further Video Gaming Restrictions

Jan 15, 2014
Peter Gray/WUIS

A state legislative committee has rejected rules aimed at tightening who sells contracts for video gambling terminals and who can do business with Illinois.

But Illinois Gaming Board chairman Aaron Jaffe  says he'll try again. He said Wednesday that he'll bring the issue back to the panel or to the General Assembly this year.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted unanimously Tuesday to deny rules that would also create a list of businesses and individuals Illinois won't work with. It's similar to what the state does with casinos.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As we get ready to welcome 2014, we thought we’d take a few minutes to reflect on some of the voices in the news this past year in Illinois state politics and government. People in the Capitol were busy with same-sex marriage, medical marijuana, and dozens of other issues. What follows are a few of the more memorable moments.

Gov. Pat Quinn: “This is no small issue. This is a choice about whether we will make the tough decisions necessary to balance our budget by reforming our public pension systems."

Rep. Lou Lang
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Union workers are still fighting for raises they were owed starting in 2011, but have never been paid. A court has ruled in their favor, but the Illinois legislature is still debating whether to make good.

To finally settle the pay raise issue, lawmakers would have to come up with about $100 million.

Paul Kehrer via Flickr

Internet gambling on horse racing would once again be legal in Illinois under legislation approved Sunday by the Illinois House of Representatives.

Online and telephone horse betting has been illegal in Illinois all year — a law authorizing it expired on Dec. 31. The practice, known as "advanced deposit wagering," was a $122 million business in Illinois last year.

The legislation would also finally redistribute money from casino gambling that was supposed to shore up the struggling horse racing industry, but instead has been languishing in a state account.