Illinois legislature | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois legislature

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
File photo | Seth Perlman | Associated Press

Updated 1 p.m. July 27 with lack of action on second day — Illinois legislators adjourned Thursday, the second day of a special session on school funding, after just a few minutes. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner summoned lawmakers to Springfield with the task of resolving a fight over a new funding calculation. Both chambers have approved a plan, but the Senate has refused to send it to Rauner, who says he'll rewrite it and send it back over objections to money for Chicago Public Schools.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has launched a website to show that most school districts stand to gain more state funding under his plan than under the Democrats' plan. How he calculated those numbers is a question reporters have asked repeatedly. We turned to the state board of education for answers.

schoolbus
Vipal | Flickr

Updated at 11 a.m. July 25 with statement from House Speaker Mike Madigan — Illinois lawmakers must hold the summer’s second special session due to disagreements over state’s K-12 school funding formula.

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
File photo | Seth Perlman | Associated Press

The Illinois General Assembly is once again ending its annual legislative session without passing a budget. 

Although Senate Democrats passed both a budget bill and a variety of tax hikes earlier in May to pay for it, House Democrats couldn't agree on what to do. Try to meet Gov. Bruce Rauner’s demands, as the Senate tried and failed to do with the so-called grand bargain? 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Democratic-controlled Illinois House approved public funding for all abortions on Tuesday by a 62-55 vote.

The measure would allow state-employee health insurance or Medicaid to cover abortions. Medicaid currently covers abortions in limited cases.

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:55 p.m. with Rauner administration response — An anti-abortion law firm has sued Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state of Illinois over a law that requires medical providers to tell pregnant patients that an abortion is an option.

 

The lawsuit, filed last week by the Thomas More Society, claims the provision in the Health Care Right of Conscience Act that took effect in January, is unconstitutional and violates religious rights. The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction.

Fairview Heights resident Laycee Thigpen discusses the impact budget cost-cutting measures would have on her ability to afford child care.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

Several Illinois Democratic lawmakers again called on Republican Governor Bruce Rauner to break an impasse and compromise on a budget plan that doesn't hurt the middle class, all before a July 1 deadline.

(Courtesy of the City of Belleville)

The board of Belleville Township could soon be voting to dissolve itself.

Currently an Illinois township can only be dissolved by a referendum of the people and approval from surrounding townships, but a bill awaiting consideration by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner would allow the Metro East township’s elected officials to vote for dissolution instead.

The Illinois Capitol in Springfield
Flickr | jglazer75

Illinois lawmakers wrapped up the most recent legislative session on Sunday after a budget battle pitting Republican Governor Bruce Rauner against a House and Senate both controlled by Democrats. After failing to reach an agreement with Rauner, however, lawmakers are set to return to Springfield this Thursday, June 4.

Amanda Vinicky, Illinois Public Radio statehouse bureau chief, joined “St. Louis on the Air” to help sort out the prickly politics surrounding budget negotiations between Gov. Rauner and the legislature.

File photo | WUIS Radio

Illinois' new Republican governor is calling for deep spending cuts to address a state budget billions in the red without raising taxes.

Gov. Bruce Rauner said during his first budget address Wednesday that Illinois has been living beyond its means.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Illinois residents would continue paying a 5-percent income tax rate under the much-anticipated budget proposal Gov. Pat Quinn presented Wednesday. 

Illinois' income tax rate is supposed to expire in January, midway through the fiscal year. But Quinn says that would cause "savage cuts" to schools and other critical state services. Instead, the governor wants to make the higher income tax rate permanent.

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/dennis.tang)

Illinois lawmakers will not be addressing gun control legislation before the end of session. Some members of the state House of Representatives were scheduled to debate the proposal Sunday.

State Representative Eddie Acevedo favors the bill. He says he withdrew it since a similar attempt didn’t pass the Senate last week.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Buying fuel can be a challenge for people with disabilities. Legislation awaiting action by the governor aims to make it easier.  Illinois is making an effort to comply with federal disability law.

Illinois law says service stations are required to pump gas for people with disabilities. But in order to get that help, drivers have to honk or find some other way to get the attention of an attendant.

Ann Ford, with the Centers for Independent Living, says that can lead to frustration.

WBEZ's Tony Arnold explains the situation in the state legislature of the Land of Lincoln this election cycle.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

For the first time in more than a century, the Illinois House has expelled one of its members.

Lawmakers voted 100-6 on Friday to expel Chicago Democratic state Rep. Derrick Smith. And as Amanda Vinicky reports via Twitter, House Speaker Michael Madigan asked that Smith's name be moved immediately from the chamber's roll.

(via Flickr/JimBowen0306)

Lawmakers in Illinois went past their midnight deadline in Springfield on Thursday in an effort to finish their business before the campaign season. In a frenzied end, the General Assembly approved a new state budget and authorized a massive expansion of gambling.

But they're not finished.

The collapse of pension reform means lawmakers will probably return to Springfield this summer. This recap is from Amanda Vinicky in Springfield.

Illinois House of Representatives

Illinois lawmakers are scheduled to debate today a massive overhaul of the state’s pension system.

The measure’s revival was made possible last night by a surprise move from House Speaker Michael Madigan, who calls an overhaul necessary.

Madigan told Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky he regrets his role in passing an early retirement package a decade ago that added to the state’s $83 billion unfunded pension liability – and what he wants to do about it now.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Nixon to sign funding stream for Mo. veterans homes

Gov. Jay Nixon is set to sign legislation that provides a dedicated funding source for the state’s veterans homes.

The measure redirects casino fees that now benefit early childhood programs into a trust fund for the Missouri Veterans Commission. Those early childhood funds will be replaced with money from the state’s tobacco settlement.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Reporting from Rachel Otwell of WUIS used in this report.

More legislators are refusing to participate in Illinois' controversial General Assembly scholarship program. It's a program that allows legislators to give students living in their districts tuition waivers to for state-run universities.

Many lawmakers promise they hold little to no sway in the decision process of who wins a waiver.

But others are accused of ensuring the scholarships go to relatives or campaign supporters, making the program one more example of Illinois policy gone corrupt.

Flickr/soundfromwayout

Blagojevich plans to keep fighting

Rod Blagojevich has just over two months of freedom before he's scheduled to begin a 14-year prison term. But the ex-governor and his lawyers plan to keep fighting.  

After Judge James Zagel handed down the sentence, and the public was ushered out of the courtroom, more than an hour passed before the ex-governor, his wife and his lawyers appeared in the lobby of the court building.

(Screen capture via YouTube user thomasstout25)

Devastation in Joplin Following Tornado

Rescue workers are searching for survivors following a massive tornado that blasted a four-mile path across southwestern Missouri slamming into the city of Joplin with cataclysmic force. The tornado last night ripped into a hospital, destroyed neighborhoods and upended cars.

Eighty-nine people have been confirmed dead.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Illinois lawmakers face some big decisions in the next two weeks, including how much to cut the budget and whether to overhaul workers' compensation.

The spring legislative session is supposed to end by May 31, but there are still three different budget plans on the table. They're roughly $2 billion apart on how much to spend.

Now lawmakers must decide whether to back one particular proposal or come up with a compromise.

(via Flickr/Photo Illustration/Jason Dunnivant)

Illinois Legislators Return to Springfield

When Illinois legislators return to the Capitol Monday afternoon, it could be the beginning of the end. The General Assembly is scheduled to meet daily through the end of this month, when they're supposed to adjourn.

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

  • St. Louis police are investigating after a You Tube video surfaced showing a city officer beating a man with his nightstick. The officer is on administrative duty pending the completion of the department's investigation. The video was shot at a convenience store, through an uninvolved vehicle's window. The convenience store owner says the off-duty officer was working security when a young man came in and caused a disturbance. He says the video doesn't show the man grabbing at the officer's ankles and that he believes the officer did nothing wrong. You Tube removed the video Tuesday afternoon.
  • Illinois legislators will begin the process to redraw the state's political lines in the spring. On Tuesday, lawmakers passed changes to the redistricting process, making public input mandatory. If the governor signs the measure, four public hearing will be required by law. There, voters can tell legislators what they want the map to look like before one is drafted. However, critics say the hearing should also be mandatory after a proposed new legislative map is released. Woodstock Democratic Representative Jack Franks says the reforms aren't a panacea to the politically charged process. The changes will also provide increased protections for monitories, ensuring that districts are drawn so minority voters aren't split into too many districts.
  • The U.S. Army's chief of staff is pledging to get financial help from Congress for soldiers and families affected by last week's tornado at Missouri Fort Leonard Wood. General George Casey Jr. toured the sprawling southern Missouri post on Tuesday, four days after an EF-3tornado destroyed about 30 homes and left more than 60 others needing repairs. Thousands of people were off the post when the tornado struck on New Year's Eve. Casey noted that only a few people were injured. He said most people at the post had a 15-minute warning through sirens and a public address system. He also praised the support from neighboring communities that have donated thousands of items of food, clothing, toys and bedding.