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. 

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is set to get a new leader in July.  He has experience running presidential libraries.

Illinois' governor today used his executive authority to centralize, and potentially speed up an administrative process that's in play when a doctor misbehaves, a welfare recipient has a problem with benefits, or an employee alleges discrimination. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he isn't a billionaire, but he's not far off. Me? I'm Amanda Vinicky, statehouse bureau chief for Illinois Public Radio, and let's just say I've got a better chance of walking on the moon than ever making a billion bucks.

But both Rauner and I -- as does everyone else who lives in Illinois, no matter how rich or poor -- pay the same state income tax rate. The constitution requires a flat tax.

Some Illinois Democrats are moving to change that. 

All Illinois residents -- no matter how rich, no matter how poor -- pay the same income tax rate. Now a plan is afoot to change that, with a constitutional amendment, and to have the wealthy pay more.

Illinois legislators should expect a delay in their paychecks.

Comptroller Leslie Munger announced Sunday that elected officials' pay will wait in line, just like other bills.

Vendors and agencies that perform work for the state are waiting months to be paid. Until now, officials' paychecks were essentially given preferential treatment.

With a handful of Constitutional officers and 177 state legislators, the paychecks collectively total $1.3 million a month, or $15.6 for the year.

Members of the Illinois House today (FRI) voted 65 to 37 to set a floor for the number of state employees providing health care in state prisons.
 
 

Representative Greg Harris -- a Chicago Democrat -- says Illinois can't afford to reduce what is already inadequate health care.

Governor Bruce Rauner was elected on the promise he would "shake up" state politics.

Thursday, he admitted he's struggling to make good on that pledge.

Governor Bruce Rauner was elected on the promise he would "shake up" state politics.

Today, he admitted he's struggling to make good on that pledge.

Rauner -- a Republican who has never before held public office -- told the nonpartisan Taxpayers Federation that Illinois began going "down the drain" a long time ago. He says the state's problems were created by politicians who took the easy way out.

"Forcing a change in the system? I knew it was going to be hard. It's harder than I thought. And it takes longer."

Illinois lawmakers have taken the first step toward eliminating the office of Lieutenant Governor. Estimates show the proposed constitutional amendment could save $1.6 million dollars a year.

The lieutenant governor doesn't actually have to do much: The Constitution vaguely says whoever holds the office "shall perform the duties ... delegated to him by the Governor."

This year, the Lt. Gov is actually a “her," Evelyn Sanguinetti. She led a local government consolidation task force.

Illinois' information technology is getting an update --- one the State's CIO has said is necessary. He's said it's like state government's stuck in 1986 rather than 2016.

One IT overhaul took effect in late February. The state shifted from an old-school system of renewing professional licenses --- be it for roof contractors, nail technicians, or dentists -- to an online renewal system.

The Illinois legislature is regional mélange, comprised of legislators from the nation's third largest city, as well as lawmakers who represent rural areas that are geographically closer to Mississippi than they are to Chicago. That diversity was on display Thursday when the House took up legislation to regulate fishing.

Republicans are making an offer to get money to social services agencies that have gone three-quarters of the year without any state funding.

Illinois' political stalemate has caused crises all over the state, says Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

A section of Illinois Route 8 in East Peoria may be dedicated to a fallen Illinois soldier. State representatives Thursday moved to designate a roadway as the "Staff Sergeant Paul Smith Memorial Highway."

A House committee Wednesday gave the nod to a measure that could lighten the sentence of a mentally ill criminal.

A judge can take a lot 16 different factors into consideration when meting out a sentence.

The legislation proposed by Chicago Democratic Rep. Pamela Reeves-Harris adds another one.

"The court may consider, in mitigation, information that at the time of the offense the defendant was suffering from a serious mental illness," she said.

 Access to guns could be restricted from someone going through a personal crisis. It comes after a series of mass shootings where advocates say warning signs were missed. State representatives advanced the legislation Wednesday.

It's not a lifetime ban. Rather, Rep. Kathleen Willis, a Democrat from Addison, stresses she wants to temporarily keep guns away from someone suffering a mental breakdown, contemplating suicide, or otherwise going through a rough patch.

Senate Democrats are taking another bite at the school funding apple.  Senator Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill, has tried for years to get Illinois to send more money to poor districts.  Until now that has meant taking money from wealthier ones. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner has created a task force charged with finding fraud in taxpayer-funded health care programs.

The Republican Tuesday used his executive authority to form the group. It'll seek ways to prevent waste in state- and federally funded Medicaid , the state employee's health insurance and even costs of caring for inmates in Illinois prisons. Rauner says the cost of state-run health care programs increases when no one watches to stop abuse and fraud.

Illinois lawmakers are moving to make it easier for transgender individuals to change the gender marker on a fundamental document: their birth certificates. Democrats on a House committee approved the legislation Tuesday on a partisan vote of 8 to 6.

Alexandria Dinardo, who was born and raised in Springfield, was born male; that's what Dinardo's birth certificate still says.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

Most of the grandstand acts for this summer's Illinois State Fair have been announced.

Illinois was without a budget for last year's state fair, which means some vendors have been waiting since August to get paid.

Illinois still has no budget. But the show (and the fair) must, evidently, go on.

Officials announced a series of country acts including Dierks Bently, Little Big Town, Cole Swindell, and Jake Owen. 

A stalemate persists, as Illinois begins a tenth month without a budget. Legislators are back in Springfield after a spring break. They now have a few months to also find an agreement on a new budget, to cover next year.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says the urgency to pass a budget has heightened.

A stalemate persists, as Illinois begins a tenth month without a budget.  Legislators are back in Springfield after a spring break.  And they now have a few months to also find an agreement on a new budget, to cover next year.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says the urgency to pass a budget has heightened:

"It has been urgent all along, but I think in large part people have been shielded from that urgency, because they don't all use all the services of the state of Illinois."

Illinois Democratic lawmakers say a proposal to add warning labels to medical cannabis products is “premature”.

Republican Representative Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon told a House committee today he wants to warn users of serious potential side effects … such as hallucinations, delusions and impaired thinking.

Illinois' medical cannabis pilot program was sponsored by Democrat Representative Lou Lang of Skokie. Lang says he'd rather wait until the pilot program ends in 20-17 rather than pass piecemeal legislation.

santheo / Flickr/Creative Commons

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether midwives -- who aren't nurses -- should be legally permitted to oversee home births.

Democratic Representative Robyn Gabel of Evanston says it's a matter of safety. She's sponsor of a measure that would establish training and other standards.  

Gabel says close to one thousand Illinois women hire midwives to help deliver their babies now.  She wants the practice regulated.

The Illinois Lottery is backtracking on a warning that it would have to stop selling tickets over the Internet.

Wednesday night a legislative commission will hear from supporters and critics of shutting down the Illinois Youth Center in Kewanee. The Department of Juvenile Justice announced in February it planned to close the prison.

The Illinois Youth Center in Kewanee is about 150 miles southwest of Chicago. For a juvenile prison, it's big: 11 buildings on 100 acres of land, with room for 350 kids.

Illinois may have no money to spend on higher education or various social services.  But its leaders have plenty to spend on politics.  Some of the primary races in early March were the most expensive in state history.  That does not appear to concern Governor Bruce Rauner.

The Department of Juvenile Justice is moving forward with plans to close a youth prison.  A legislative hearing on the closure is scheduled for tomorrow evening in the community high school.

The Illinois Supreme Court will be asked to re-visit an opinion it just issued March 24. State employees' salaries are at stake. 


AFSCME, the union representing nearly 40 thousand state employees, is planning to ask the Illinois Supreme Court to take another swing at an opinion justices issued last Thursday.

The decision says unless lawmakers specifically appropriate funding, the state does not have to pay out raises employees had been guaranteed in their contracts.  Workers are waiting on about 25-hundred-dollars each.

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says the union will aim to show arguments that were overlooked or misapplied.

 Gov. Bruce Rauner says he supports one of Illinois' top industries: Agriculture. But critics say a recent plan goes against his own assertion that he's a “strong advocate” for it.

Pages