Illinois Public Radio

Posts tagged with this author are either entirely or partially reported by the staff at Illinois Public Radio. If possible, the specific staff member who reported each story will be listed within the body of each corresponding post.

State comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, shown in this state photo, died December 10, 2014 from complications of a stroke at the age of 70.
via Illinois Comptroller website

(Updated 3:54 p.m., Wed., Dec. 10 with more reaction.)

Judy Baar Topinka, a leading figure in Illinois politics for decades, died suddenly Wednesday morning. Topinka, the state comptroller, won re-election to a second term in that office in November. Her office says she suffered a stroke. She was 70 years old. 

Wikimedia Commons

Will be updated further.

Updated 9:39 a.m. Nov. 6:

The final step to make same-sex marriage legal in Illinois, Gov. Quinn's signature, will come this month at a big event, Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky reports:

Brian Mackey, Illinois Public Radio

Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley will not run for Illinois governor after all. His campaign says Daley will explain more at a press conference in Chicago Tuesday morning. 

Daley has flirted with running for office before, only to back out.  This time, he insisted he was in it for keeps.

"I'm committed to running for governor," Daley said in a recent campaign video. "There is no exploratory piece in this anymore."

But Monday night, Daley's campaign confirmed he's dropping out of the race. 

In an interview on WGN-TV, Daley explained his decision.

Governor Pat Quinn departs today for the annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Association Conference, where he will speak with Japanese business leaders. The governor says he's confident he can drum up support for Illinois business, despite the relatively poor condition of Illinois' economy. 

The most recent numbers, from last month, say 9.2 percent of Illinoisans who are looking for work can’t find it. That’s the second-worst unemployment rate in the U.S., behind only Nevada.

(Illinois General Assembly website)

Reporting from Tri-States Public Radio's Jason Parrott.

State Senator Kirk Dillard has selected a west-central Illinois lawmaker to join him on the ballot in his bid to be the state’s next Governor.

State Representative Jil Tracy stood before a crowd of about 150 in Quincy, Ill.'s Washington Park and accepted Dillard’s request to run as lieutenant governor.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Updated July 23 9:01 a.m. with reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky

Illinois is beginning to implement the Affordable Care Act.  The Governor signed a major component of it into law Monday.

Government backed health insurance is available to seniors; Medicare kicks in at age 65.

And Medicaid's available to low-income children, and their parents.

The new law will extend Medicaid to childless adults with incomes under $16,000.

State Senator Heather Steans, the Chicago Democrat who sponsored the legislation.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

Updated 11:08 a.m., 12:42 p.m., 3:19 p.m. (with reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey)

A lengthy legal battle over an abortion notification law appears to be ending, clearing the way for Illinois to begin enforcing a 1995 measure requiring doctors to notify a girl's parents before she undergoes the procedure.

Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court ruling says the case shouldn't be reconsidered and has to be enforced - unless there's an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 11:55 a.m. with reporting by Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey.

Governor Pat Quinn Wednesday used his veto power to eliminate salaries for Illinois legislators. Quinn says until lawmakers fix the state's pension problem, they shouldn't get paid.

On Illinois' $100 billion unfunded pension liability Quinn has been setting deadlines for more than a year.

Until now, there haven't been any direct consequences for lawmakers when they've blown each of those deadlines.

Quinn changed that today in a big way.

(via Flickr/kcdsTM)

Updated 2:26 p.m. via Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky. Will be updated further.

Illinois is now a state where concealed carry of weapons is legal. The Illinois Senate voted to override the veto of Gov. Quinn 41-17.

Earlier story:

The Illinois House has rejected Gov. Pat Quinn's changes to legislation allowing the carrying of concealed guns on the deadline for action set by a federal court.

If the Senate approves it later today, Illinois would join the rest of the nation in allowing firearms to be carried in public.

(via Flickr/kcdsTM)

Updated 4;50 p.m. Reporting by Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky.

With a week to go before a deadline requiring Illinois allow people to carry guns in public, Governor Pat Quinn today vetoed the legislation Tuesday that would have authorized concealed carry. 

(See full veto statement below)

The governor claims he's concerned about public safety, but he's already under fire by critics who say it's a political stunt. The measure's sponsor has already filed paperwork to override Quinn's changes.

About Public Safety?

Wikimedia Commons

The sponsor of same-sex marriage legislation is facing a backlash for not calling it for a vote before the Illinois General Assembly adjourned on Friday. 

Gay rights activists praised Rep. Greg Harris in 2011 for helping pass civil unions. Some of those same activists are now criticizing him.

Most of those running for governor in 2014 have already expressed their interest in the job. Only a few have made it official. Congressman Aaron Schock is not running for governor. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is.

“I sense the citizens of Illinois are in depression and frustration with their government," Rutherford said at a Chicago event at the restaurant Harry Caray's downtown.

Rutherford toured the state Sunday as part of his announcement. 

(via Flickr/kcdsTM)

Will be updated. Reporting from Chris Slaby.

Both the Illinois House and Senate have approved legislation allowing people to carry guns in public. Illinois, under threat of a court order, is poised to be the last state with such a law. 

The fate of concealed carry in Illinois now rests with Governor Pat Quinn.

(Elena Schneider/Medill News Service)

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois says the way American veterans receive disability claims has "got to change."

His comments come as the federal Department of Veterans Affairs is working on a new digital, paper-less way of handling the claims. The V.A is working to get that done by September.

Durbin says on average, Illinois veterans wait close to a year for payments - which he says is the third-worst rate in the country.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Reporting from Chris Slaby.

A measure that would regulate hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” heads to the full Illinois House after Representatives approved it at a hearing Tuesday.

The plan, which passed unanimously, comes two months after a previous version appeared to have enough momentum to go before the House. It stalled over environmentalists’ raised concern there was not enough protection to keep water wells from becoming contaminated.

Unions were also divided over a labor dispute.

kevindooley via Flickr

Despite years of cuts to the Illinois state budget, even more are ahead.  Legislators are still deciding where else they can slash spending.

"Human services" is a legislative phrase that covers many departments and services, according to Representative Greg Harris.

"All the state departments  dealing with health care, senior services, children services, so the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Medicaid, human services, mental health, substance abuse, Department of Aging, DCFS, public health and veterans," said Harris.

(via Flickr/USACE HQ)

Reporting by Chris Slaby of WUIS.

Governor Pat Quinn has asked for federal help in the recovery after this spring’s flooding.

Quinn says the application is for 11 counties, mostly located in the northern part of the state.
He says with more than 3,000 homes affected in those counties alone, there’s more than enough evidence for the president to approve his request.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Updated 5:39 p.m. with reporting from Brian Mackey.

The Illinois House approved a massive overhaul of state-employee pension systems on Thursday. It's a development that's been more than a year in the making.

Earlier this year, there was a pension measure that had just a single "yes" vote. That makes what happened with this latest proposal significant.

Today's measure received 62 "yes" votes, 51 "no" votes and two voting present. Having received the constitutional majority, it passed.

(Amanda Vinicky/Illinois Public Radio)

Updated 9:55 a.m. April 25 with more information about the investigation from Amanda Vinicky. Headline changed. Updated 12:22 p.m. with suspect dead. Will be updated further.

Autopsies are scheduled for Thursday morning on five people found murdered early Wednesday morning in their Manchester, Ill. home. Police say their shooter, who’s also from a rural part of west-central Illinois, is also dead.

Flickr/Jason Dunnivant

Legislators and lobbyists will once again fill Illinois' capitol this week, as the General Assembly returns from a two-week break. 

This is the time the legislative session ratchets up - as it will until a scheduled May 31 adjournment.

The Senate will take up legislation already approved by the House, or vice versa -- either killing proposals or sending them to the governor's desk.  For example: a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois.  It passed the Senate, but is awaiting a vote in the House.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn took his call for new state gun regulations to the church pulpit.

Quinn has been talking to church-goers about how to reduce gun violence in Chicago.

At Saint Sabina's Sunday on the city's South Side - Quinn invoked the Bible in talking about proposals like expanding background checks and banning certain guns.

"We're not going to stand by and let children and others be killed," Quinn said. "No no no. We're going to listen to what Paul said: Love is patient. Love is kind. Love never fails."

(via Wikimedia Commons/J. Pelkonen)

Illinois lawmakers are considering a change that would keep more teenagers out of adult court. The measure, which so far has had bipartisan support, would send 17-year-olds charged with non-violent felonies into the juvenile court system.

Since 2010, 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors have been sent to juvenile court, while those charged with felonies are sent to adult court.

Flickr/Mid-America Public Safety Police/Fire

Illinois lawmakers are considering a plan that would make it easier for police to get search warrants. A  proposal in the state legislature would allow police and judges to talk over an online video chat.  Currently most warrants have to be obtained in person.

(via Flickr/kcdsTM)

Groups on both sides of the concealed carry debate in Illinois say the state is no closer to crafting a court-ordered law than they were the first day of this legislative session.

Richard Pearson is executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. He says lawmakers are sidelining the plan by bypassing the usual committee process:

"We've had committee meetings from one end of the state to the other, and out of this we have gotten nothing," Pearson said.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is defending his decision to reappoint the director of the state's prison system to a second two-year term.

Republicans have criticized Corrections Director S.A. "Tony" Godinez for prison overcrowding and understaffing. But Governor Quinn, a Democrat, says Godinez has done a good job leading the department.

"They understand the importance of public safety for everyone. For the prison guards, for the public, and for the inmates, and Tony understands that, and he's going forward," Quinn told reporters.

(Flickr/ Jason Dunnivant

The Illinois Senate has passed a pension overhaul, but it only affects suburban and downstate teachers. It doesn't touch state employees' and university workers' retirement benefits.

The measure was approved by the Illinois Senate and forces teachers to choose between taking a reduced pension, or retaining access to state-backed health care upon retirement.

It took two tries, passing only after Democratic Senator Dave Koehler of Peoria switched his vote.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

By a margin of 96-to-4, members of Illinois' largest public employees' union voted to ratify a new contract with the state.

AFSCME and Governor Pat Quinn's administration reached a deal in late February, but in order for it to take effect, a majority of the union's 35,000 members had to agree to it.

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says the negotiations may have been the toughest the union has ever experienced.

(National Institutes of Health)

Ambulance and fire agencies in Illinois have seen their budgets crunched. Some clients pay using Medicaid,  the Illinois-backed insurance for the poor. But the state is months behind on those payments.

According to Josh Ross, operations manager for America Ambulance in Springfield, Illinois is nearly six months behind. That's a total of $330,000.

"The Medicaid problem is kind of a double-edged sword," Ross said.  "On one is the fact we're not receiving the payments, but the other is the fact that the actual reimbursement is so much lower."

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

The Illinois Department of Public Health says when it comes to HIV awareness, sexually-active women and young girls are often overlooked.  The Department is putting a renewed emphasis on teaching women to protect themselves and how to get tested.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

If Governor Pat Quinn's agreement with AFSCME, Illinois' largest public employee union, goes through, new employees will be treated differently than those already on the payroll. 

Union members get pay boosts the longer they work for the state. Quinn's Chief of Staff Jack Lavin, says it will take longer for new hires to reach those step increases, and he says they'll start off making less too. 

"To achieve the top of that job classification it was previously eight years, now it’ll be 11 years," said Lavin. "So new employees will start at a lower wage.”