Amanda Vinicky

Read Amanda's "The Players" blog.

Amanda Vinicky has covered Illinois politics and government for WUIS and the Illinois Public Radio network since 2006.  Highlights include reporting on the historic impeachment and removal from office of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, winning a national award for her coverage of Illinois' electric rate fight as a result of deregulation, and following Illinois' delegations to the Democratic and Republican national political conventions in '08 and '12.  

Though she's full-time with WUIS now, she previously interned with the station in graduate school; she graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program in '05.  She also holds degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. 

Amanda is insatiably curious, so please reach out to her and get in touch if you notice something interesting going on at the Capitol! She can be reached at (217) 206-6019 or (773) 217-0316. If she's not in the statehouse bureau, you can usually find Amanda tweeting, dining at a local restaurant, taking a jog around Springfield or Chicago or practicing yoga. 

Vaping360 / Flickr/Creative Commons

Anyone under 18 who's caught with electronic cigarettes or other tobacco-free nicotine products would face a fine or community service under a new Illinois law.                                             

Electronic cigarettes don't contain tobacco, but the vaporized solution users inhale does contain nicotine.

Senator Julie Morrison -- a Democrat from Deerfield -- says she doesn't consider them safe.

Morrison says she'd kept stories about young people puffing on e-cigs.

The Illinois Senate President is encouraging Governor Bruce Rauner to rethink his priorities on student aid legislation, but the governor was quick to repeat his promise of a veto.

Senate President John Cullerton says he'll hold onto legislation for a couple of weeks, to give the governor time to "cool off," then he'll send it to Rauner for action.

Staff Sgt. Robert R. Adams / Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office

Military police from Illinois' National Guard will soon be in Afghanistan; they're expected to do security there for much of this year. 

About thirty members of the Springfield-based 233rd Military Police Company will get additional training in Texas before going overseas. 

 During the deployment ceremony, Congressman Rodney Davis, a Taylorsville Republican,  commended and thanked the guardsmen, like Sergeant Chad Brown for volunteering. 

Governor Bruce Rauner has rejected adding new medical conditions to Illinois' medical marijuana pilot program.

Just days ago, supporters pushed to expand the list protested at the State Capitol.

Caprice Sweatt said medical cannabis helps military veterans cope with debilitating symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or P-T-S-D.

"We're pleading with the governor to hear our voices, to please approve the eight conditions that are so desperately needed for sick people in Illinois."

Next month, President Barack Obama will return to the place where his political career began -- Springfield, Illinois -- to address state legislators.


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

Roughly one year ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner stood before lawmakers and unveiled his so-called "turnaround agenda." He didn't use that phrase this time around. But Wednesday, the governor used his state-of-the-state address to continue fighting for his stalled vision. Rauner has spent months berating Democrats for failing to get on board. Not this time. He gave a more conciliatory message, and talked about "mutual respect." That wasn't enough for some of his critics, who don't trust the governor, or his change in tone.


Governor Bruce Rauner used his state of the state address today to say that he wants to bring back competitive balance to Illinois.  Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky reports.

                      

                                                                               

Rauner had an unenviable duty: to give a major address, before a joint session of the General Assembly, at a time the state has gone nearly eight months without a budget.  It's a task no other Governor has had to face, though Rauner's critics would argue it's self-inflicted.

 Gov. Bruce Rauner will give his second annual State of the State address at noon Wednesday. After a year of stalemate, he's expected to make some effort to bridge a bipartisan divide.

Tomorrow, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner will deliver his second annual state of the state address.  Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky checks in, with this preview.                                                                                     

If you're curious about what Rauner will say, you're not alone. So is Senate President John Cullerton.

"Eager to hear what the governor's plans are on Wednesday, but it's in bad shape, and we want to change it."

Cullerton, a Democrat, sums up the status of the state right now this way.

AP Photo / Seth Perlman

Illinois' top Senate Democrat says it's a bad idea to get out from under the wing of court-ordered spending.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner recently said he wants the state to not have to report to federal court for some basic government services. He says the courts force unnecessary spending, and he doesn't want that dictated by judges.

But Senate President John Cullerton said Monday he doesn't support rescinding those agreements.

Changing how Illinois funds its schools is Senate President John Cullerton's top priority as a new legislative session gets underway. Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, says Illinois shouldn't fund schools at all next year until it comes with a more equitable way to do it. John Cullerton says the way Illinois funds schools "crushes dreams" and "stifles growth."

The future of some 36,000 state government employees lies -- in part, anyway -- with the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

The union that represents most state workers -- AFSCME -- and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration had been at the bargaining table for a about a year when, on Jan. 15, Rauner announced he'd had enough.

Illinois' largest provider of social services today announced that the budget stalemate will force it to close programs and let go more than 40% of its staff.

A new pension plan introduced Thursday by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner as a bipartisan deal immediately crashed and burned. 

The question of whether talks between Governor Bruce Rauner's administration and the state's largest union AFSCME have reached an impasse is in the hands of the state's labor relations board. 

In a tight election, sometimes something as minor as where a name falls on the ballot can make a difference. As Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky reports ... the order for presidential candidates in Illinois has been determined ... as long as they all actually *remain* on the ballot.

Union leaders say Governor Bruce Rauner's move to end negotiations with Illinois' largest state employees union is frustrating and capricious.

On Friday ... Rauner announced that he was seeking an impasse in talks with AFSCME after roughly a year of talks.
Public school teachers aren't directly affected.
But Dan Montgomery -- who heads the Illinois Federation of Teachers -- says some of its members do work for the state.
Mongtomery says it was a knock to labor, especially given that it happened heading into Martin Luther King weekend.

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. 


The rift between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state's public employee union has escalated. Friday morning Rauner announced he's asking the state labor board to decide if negotiations with AFSCME have reached an impasse.

A few days ago in an interview with Illinois Public Radio, Rauner -- a Republican -- said his bargaining team is spinning its wheels.

A Chicago-area lawmaker has been pushing for a measure that would allow the city's mayor to be recalled. Now come efforts to take it a step further.

Illinois allows recall of elected officials -- or one of them anyway. It's a cumbersome process that only applies to the governor. Voters approved that in 2010 after the Rod Blagojevich scandal.

Your driver's license will suffice to get through airport security for another couple of years, even though Illinois doesn't meet federal guidelines under the REAL ID Act. Here's what Illinois needs to change if it's to comply.

 Gov. Bruce Rauner says his team is trying to assess its options after an apparent breakdown in talks with AFSCME last week. The union is bargaining on behalf of 36 thousand state workers for a new contract.

There's an impasse over whether there's an impasse. In this case, that's not just a synonym for "not going well." It's a high-stakes legal term, that basically signals the gulf that divides the two sides is so wide it can't be bridged, so there's no point to negotiating further.

Tuesday, Jan. 12 marks Bruce Rauner's first anniversary holding the title "Illinois Governor."

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is marking his one-year anniversary in office. 

Rauner campaigned on a promise to shake-up Springfield. And on that account, at least, he has succeeded.

Illinois' in the midst of a historic budget impasse -- with no signs of coming to an end.

Critics, including Democratic Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie, lay the blame on the governor.

Your driver's license will suffice to get through airport security for another couple of years, even though Illinois doesn't meet federal guidelines under the REAL-ID Act.  But Illinois needs to make changes if it's to comply.

More than 30-thousand state employees are members of AFSCME, Illinois' largest public employee union. Today (FRIDAY) the union says Governor Bruce Rauner has walked away from contract talks. Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky reports.

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It was clear early on that Rauner, a Republican, was no fan of AFSCME -- listen to the nickname he once bestowed upon the union:

It's a week into the New Year, and gyms across the country are packed with people who've vowed to get in shape. Our Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky had resolved to be one of them, but admits that already, she's fallen short. Maybe Illinois' leaders will have better luck. Vinicky asked around for their civic-minded resolutions.

No matter your political persuasion, given the stalemate that's gripping the state, we can all agree that Illinois could use some self-improvements.

New figures from Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's administration outline just how deep Illinois' deficit is as the state's in is seventh month without a budget.  Even without a budget in place, Illinois is spending million more than last year.

A total of 23 Illinois counties are under state disaster status due to flooding. Gov. Bruce Rauner added 11 to that list Tuesday.

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