State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

IL lawmakers adjourn, leave some big issues unresolved

Jun 1, 2013

The Illinois General Assembly ended its 2013 session last night. As IPR’s Brian Mackey reports, it's more likely to be remembered for what was not accomplished than for what was.

IL concealed carry measure heads to Gov. Quinn

May 31, 2013

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. IPR’s Chris Slaby has more.

Legislators have many issues to take up before they adjourn

May 31, 2013

Illinois has the worst funded pension system in the nation, and lawmakers have until today to do something about it. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn by midnight. After that, it requires extra votes to get legislation to the governor's desk.  Pensions are not the only thing left. As Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky reports, plenty of other big-ticket policy issues are also unresolved.

Senate votes down pension measure

May 31, 2013

It's the final day of the legislative session, and the foremost issue that has plagued lawmakers all year remains unresolved. There's a chance yesterday's actions may have deepened a divide between the House and Senate over what to do about the state's massive pension debt. IPR’S Amanda Vinicky explains. 

Gov. Pat Quinn is asking the state senate to reconsider its vote, after the chamber quashed a pension measure that would cut state employees' and teachers' retirement benefits. Quinn says the Senate's action lets down the people of Illinois, whom he says are paying $17 million every day the current pension system stays in place. 

Fracking regulation bill advances out of the House

May 31, 2013

It's been three months since business and environmental groups announced an agreement to regulate hydraulic fracturing, the controversial oil and gas extraction process. As IPR’S Chris Slaby reports, the Illinois House finally voted to approve those regulations Thursday night.

Advocates pointed to a study by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, which says the state could gain up to 45-thousand jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity.

Economic development bill approved

May 31, 2013

The Illinois House approved a massive economic development bill Thursday evening. The legislation makes way for projects across Illinois from a fertilizer plant in Tuscola to remodeling the convention center in Rosemont. It also has what Governor Pat Quinn calls a "breakthrough" meant to advance the proposed third Chicago airport near Peotone.

ACLU joins state prison lawsuit

May 30, 2013

A lawsuit over health care in prisons in Illinois is getting a boost from the American Civil Liberties Union.  IPR’s Robert Wildeboer reports.

IL House advances pension plan

May 30, 2013

Colleges and universities would assume the cost of their employees' pensions under a proposal advancing in the Illinois House Thursday.

A hole in Il FOID law

May 30, 2013

State lawmakers now have less than two weeks to pass a law allowing Illinoisans to carry concealed guns. But some say Illinois’ existing system of licensing gun owners is badly broken. The state is SUPPOSED to take away Firearm Owners Identification Cards from criminals, the mentally ill and people who have restraining orders against them, like those who have been charged with domestic violence. But more than 67-hundred revoked cards are currently unaccounted for.

House approves drone regulation measure

May 30, 2013

A proposal that would regulate the use of drones by law enforcement agencies in Illinois has cleared the House. Drones are sophisticated, unmanned aircraft that authorities are considering for aerial surveillance.

Pension talks to continue today

May 30, 2013

A solution for dealing with Illinois' 100 billion dollars of pension debt continues to elude legislators, even as the spring session rapidly approaches its end. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn Friday. IPR’S Amanda Vinicky reports.

Lawmakers have taken votes to deal with the pension debt. Problem is the House passed a plan that Speaker Mike Madigan says will save more money. And the Senate passed a different plan that his fellow Democrat, President John Cullerton, says is better because it's more likely to be upheld by the courts.

Senate approves education funding

May 30, 2013

Illinois Democrats continued approving a new state budget on party-line votes Wednesday. The Senate approved spending plans for education, from elementary and high schools to colleges and universities, with funding pretty much at last year's level.

Senate approves changes to state election law

May 30, 2013

The Illinois Senate has approved a multi-faceted change to the state's election laws. The legislation is almost as notable for what it does NOT do, as for what it does. IPR'S Brian Mackey explains.

The proposal would make dozens of changes to state law including online voter registration. But until Wednesday, the legislation also would have changed how Illinois gets a lieutenant governor.

IL concealed carry talks continue

May 29, 2013

Legislators are continuing to negotiate as they seek an agreement on concealed carry legislation.

Gambling expansion proposal still being negotiated

May 29, 2013

Supporters of gambling expansion in Illinois are scrambling to negotiate the bill in Springfield. A plan to add five casinos in Illinois, including one in Chicago, is still being negotiated as state legislators are scheduled to end their session on Friday.

State budget passes out of the House

May 29, 2013

The bulk of a new state budget passed out of the Illinois House Tuesday, and now heads to the Senate.  It's far less harsh than lawmakers had been predicting at the start of the legislative session.  IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports.

When he presented his budget back in March, Governor Pat Quinn referred to it as his most difficult.He warned that pension costs were eating up money for other causes. But higher-than-expected revenues came into state coffers last month, freeing up enough money to the point that Democratic Rep. Greg Harris says while many human service programs will be cut, it's only by one-percent.  Others won't be at all.

U of I grad makes it easier to follow state capitol bills

May 29, 2013

More than six thousand bills are before the Illinois General Assembly this spring session. Legislators have until Friday to get through them. And with some of the biggest policy issues facing the state still outstanding, measures will move, change and die rapidly. Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky spoke with a recent University of Illinois Urbana Champaign graduate who has founded a company that aims to make it easier to follow what's happening at the capitol.  


Debate on use of drones in non-combat situations

May 29, 2013

Drones have been a controversial military weapon in the last decade, and just last week President Obama set tighter standards and oversight over their use. As debate over military drones continues, there’s another debate going on about the use of drones in non-combat situations within the U.S. Illinois Public Radio’s Sean Powers reports from Urbana.

Il Senate approves Medicaid measure

May 29, 2013

A measure that would implement a key part of “Obamacare” in Illinois is on its way to the governor’s desk, after it was approved by the Senate Tuesday.

IL House approves cellphone driving ban

May 29, 2013
(Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio)

It's now up to Governor Pat Quinn whether "hang up and drive" will become law in Illinois. The House gave final approval Tuesday to a measure that would make it illegal to talk on a hand-held phone while driving. Representative John D'Amico, a Democrat from Chicago, says talking on the phone while driving has been linked to traffic accidents.

IL House pushes for its pension overhaul

May 28, 2013
(Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio)

Members of the Illinois House continued pushing for their version of a pension overhaul Tuesday. The Democratic leaders of the House and Senate remain deadlocked over the best approach to fixing Illinois $100 billion pension problem. The latest twist could affect how public school teachers' pensions are funded. IPR’s Brian Mackey has more.

Il House approves Medicaid expansion

May 28, 2013

Low-income adults who do not have children would for the first time be eligible for state-backed health care coverage under a measure approved Monday in the Illinois House. The Medicaid expansion is a signature plank of the federal Affordable Care Act.

With Days To Go, Crunch Time In Springfield

May 28, 2013

While many people across Illinois had Monday off from work for Memorial Day, the members of the Illinois General Assembly were meeting in Springfield. Just four days remain until lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the summer. 

Il has option of spending more money than realized

May 28, 2013

The state of Illinois' budget has been under pressure for years, forcing lawmakers to make difficult decisions to cut spending. But as IPR’S Brian Mackey reports, they learned about an entirely different kind of problem on Monday.

Even people who closely follow state government can lose track of all the billions and millions that get tossed around during budget-making season. But lawmakers were paying attention when financial experts reported Illinois would have the option of spending $200 million more dollars than they previously realized. It's because of the "April surprise."

Sen. Durbin says vets should receive disability payments sooner

May 28, 2013

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin 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.

Lawmakers have a lot of work to do before legislative session wraps up

May 27, 2013

There are five days left in the Illinois General Assembly's spring session.  And as IPR'S Amanda Vinicky reports legislators have a lot of work ahead of them.

Typically, fighting over the budget carries into the waning hours of a legislative session. But Democrats, who have enough seats to pass a spending plan without any Republican votes, say they've already reached a deal.

Former Il Gov comments on legislative session

May 27, 2013

A former Illinois Governor says he's watching Illinois lawmakers closely as this legislative session draws to a close. Jim Thompson says he’s disappointed with “the partisan rancor” in Springfield, but doesn’t blame the usual suspects:

Senate Democrats to meet on concealed-carry legislation

May 27, 2013

Senate Democrats are planning to meet Monday to figure out how to respond to concealed-carry legislation passed by the House on Friday.

House passes measure allowing internet gambling on horse racing

May 27, 2013

Internet gambling on horse racing would once again be legal in Illinois under legislation approved Sunday by the Illinois House of Representatives. IPR’S Brian Mackey has more.

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.

IL House approves concealed carry plan

May 24, 2013
Brian Mackey, IPR.

The Illinois House Friday approved legislation that would let gun owners carry concealed firearms in public.  But as IPR’s Brian Mackey reports, the governor says he'll work to "stop it in its tracks."