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Illinois Legislature

Illinois Lawmakers Take Aim At 'Prior Authorization' In Health Insurance

Feb 18, 2020
Isabella McKenna (center) speaks at a press conference alongside (from left to right) Sen. Linda Homes, Rep. Greg Harris and Illinois State Medical Society President Paul Pedersen.
Mike Smith | NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers want to reduce delays in medical care caused by the requirements of insurance companies.

They said the process, known as “prior authorization,” is time-consuming and raises unnecessary obstacles for people in need.

Isabella McKenna has been dealing with arthritis since she was age 14. She said several times in her life, she had to wait for prior authorization to get medical care, often leaving her impaired.

New Law Removes Big Barrier For Aspiring Teachers

Jan 12, 2020

In an attempt to relieve Illinois' severe teacher shortage, state lawmakers last year voted to remove a requirement known as the "basic skills test." That test has proven to be a stumbling block, especially for people pursuing the profession later in life, as a second career. This change, enacted just five months ago, has already opened the door for a would-be special education teacher in the East Moline School District. 

Rookie Gov Lands 'Historic' First Session

Jun 3, 2019

The Illinois General Assembly finally finished its annual legislative session this weekend, with lawmakers approving item after item on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s agenda.

Observers and participants are calling it one of the most significant sessions in living memory.

In Anger And Sorrow, House OKs Abortion Bill

May 29, 2019

After a long and unusually emotional debate in the Illinois House Tuesday, lawmakers approved legislation aimed at keeping abortion legal in Illinois, regardless of what happens in other states or Washington, D.C.

The Illinois General Assembly is continuing its push to change what’s been criticized as a culture of sexual harassment. Lawmakers approved the first set of recommendations from a task force Thursday.

The measure would overhaul the power of the legislative inspector general — taking hiring and firing authority away from the legislative leaders and giving it to the Legislative Ethics Commission.

It would also allow the inspector general to investigate sexual harassment without getting permission from the commission.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

U. S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth made history last week by being the first to bring her infant to the Senate floor while she voted. In Springfield, both chambers have been open to mothers and children.

Illinois’ school formula passes, giving 800-plus public districts more money

Aug 28, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:45 p.m. Aug. 29 with comment from Belleville superintendent — Illinois’ school funding overhaul fight is all but over thanks to Tuesday’s 38-13 Senate vote.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he’ll quickly sign the plan, which will increase aid to more than 800 public school districts. Already, schools haven't received two payments from the state due to the delay in instituting the new funding mechanism.

The Illinois state seal
The Illinois state seal / Jeremy Wilburn | Flickr

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has been busy in the last few days, having signed into law bills that restrict cooperation with federal immigration authorities, automatically register eligible voters when they get a license, make it easier for transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificates and re-establish the Illinois Muslim American Advisory Council.

But the Republican also has used his veto powers on college loan protection, limits on what employers can ask job candidates and a workers’ compensation plan. Here's a rundown of the action:

Cullerton: Illinois school-funding bill likely headed to Rauner next week

Jul 27, 2017
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.

ISBE Supplied Staffers DIY School Funding Simulator

Jul 27, 2017

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.

Illinois' new governor calls for billions in budget cuts

Feb 18, 2015
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.

Quinn Pushes To Extend Illinois Income Tax Increase

Mar 26, 2014
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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 16, 2013: Gov. Pat Quinn, who cut his political teeth during the rancorous reign of the combative Dan Walker, is biting back in a fashion that evokes instructive memories of his former boss.

Ill. Plan Would Allow Police To Obtain Warrants Via Video Chat

Apr 1, 2013
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.

Ill. Lawmakers To Wait On Gun Control

Jan 7, 2013
(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.

Ill. Legislation Could Make Buying Gas Easier For Disabled

Dec 10, 2012
(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.

Ill. House expels Chicago Democrat over bribery allegations

Aug 17, 2012
(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.

Madigan reflects on his role, regrets for Ill. pension system

May 31, 2012
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.

Morning headlines - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 30, 2012
(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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 26, 2012 - The Illinois General Assembly is working to change the state's eavesdropping law to allow citizens to record police and other public officials in public. Currently, audiotaping without the permission of everyone involved in a conversation is a felony in Illinois.

(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.

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