Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for WUIS and a dozen other public radio stations across Illinois. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He can be reached at (217) 206-6412.

Subscribe to Brian Mackey's State of the State podcast on WUIS' podcast page, or by copying this URL into iTunes or any other podcast app.

After last year’s historic violence in parts of Chicago, a group of state legislators are once again pushing for tougher gun possession laws.

The proposal would ratchet up minimum prison sentences for people who illegally carry a gun.

The ACLU of Illinois opposes the legislation in part because it says it would target the act of carrying a gun, not shooting it.

The Illinois Supreme Court considered a case Thursday that asks whether not-for-profit hospitals have to pay property taxes.

Illinois state legislators opened a new two-year session of the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday. Amid the ceremonies and celebrations, the focus remains on the political stalemate that's left Illinois without a budget for more than 18 months.

Michael Madigan was re-elected speaker of the House Wednesday in Springfield. It was the opening day of the 100th General Assembly, and Madigan used the occasion to call for a focus on economic growth.

Flickr Creative Commons/Daniel X. O'Neil

Michael Madigan was re-elected speaker of the House today in Springfield. It was the opening day of the 100th General Assembly. And Madigan used the occasion to call for a focus on economic growth.  Madigan's agenda consists largely of ideas he's suggested before: cutting the corporate tax rate, increasing taxes on millionaires, and raising the minimum wage.

Illinois state legislators opened a new two-year session of the Illinois General Assembly today. Amid the ceremonies and celebrations, the focus remains on the political stalemate that's left Illinois without a budget for more than 18 months.

Democrats remain in firm control of the General Assembly, so it's not surprising Michael Madigan was re-elected speaker of the House for a 17th time. That's despite a Republican Party campaign to pressure Democrats into dropping him.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate:

"The state needs a budget. Period." (applause)

State Rep. Michael Madigan on Wednesday will seek his 17th term as speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. He's not expected to have any trouble winning.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his fellow Republicans have spent years vilifying Madigan. But lately the party has gone further, trying to sway House Democrats away from re-electing Madigan as their leader.

Republican interference in the House Democratic leadership election is not just a departure from political norms. It's also a huge departure from Illinois history.

Governor Bruce Rauner and his fellow Republicans have spent years vilifying House Speaker Michael Madigan. Lately, the party has gone further… trying to sway House Democrats away from re-electing Madigan as their leader. 

As Chicago confronts an increasing murder rate, the Illinois legislature is trying to take on the root causes of violence in some of the state's most traumatized communities.

Paul Coussens

Details of a massive, bipartisan compromise meant to end Illinois' budget stalemate emerged today in the Illinois Senate. But the plan has been put on hold.

Illinois legislators return to Springfield Monday. Disagreements between Democrats and Republicans have left state government without a full budget for more than 18 months — though Senate leaders are now said be trying to hammer out a compromise.

Illinois' senior U.S. senator, Dick Durbin, is raising questions about President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general. Durbin met yesterday with nominee and fellow Senator Jeff Sessions.  Durbin, a Democrat, says his first priority was to ask Sessions about violence in Chicago. There were 762 murders reported there last year.

Partisan gridlock has caused Illinois to run without a full budget for more than a year-and-a-half. But there's one area Democrats and Republicans are working together.

It's one of the rare bright spots in Springfield: Members of both parties have been coming together to improve the criminal justice system.

"I think that's right. In fact, in the bill that you just called me about -- there was very strong bipartisan support."

Representative Barbara Flynn Currie is majority leader in the Illinois House. The "bill" she referred to is now a law.

Partisan gridlock has caused Illinois to run without a full budget for more than a year-and-a-half. But there's one area Democrats and Republicans ARE working together.

It's one of the rare bright spots in Springfield: Members of both parties have been coming together to improve the criminal justice system.

"I think that's right. In fact, in the bill that you just called me about ... there was very strong bipartisan support."

Any day now, Governor Bruce Rauner's criminal justice reform commission is expected to release its final set of recommendations. It's trying to figure out how to safely reduce Illinois' prison population by 25% over the next decade.

With the dysfunction in Illinois politics, state government this year is projected to spend as much as $13 billion more than it will collect in taxes. And the situation could be getting worse.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has made clear his intention to seek re-election. Days before Christmas, he dropped 50-million dollars into his campaign account.

Meanwhile, Democrats are pondering who should take him on. But they are not alone.

As we get ready to welcome 2017, we thought we’d take a few minutes to listen back to another tough year in Illinois government and politics.

Governor Bruce Rauner's administration is accusing Illinois' biggest government union of an unfair labor practice.

An Illinois group is warning that if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement, there could be significant human and financial consequences.

President-elect Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans made repealing the Affordable Care Act a key plank in their campaigns.

That could be expensive, says Illinois Hospital Association president A-J Wilhelmi.

Illinois has officially cast its 20 electoral votes for Hillary Clinton.

The slate of Democratic Party electors met Monday in the state Capitol building in Springfield.

Illinois was not among the states where there was a concern about so-called "faithless electors."

They met in the state Capitol building ... mostly Democratic Party stalwarts — like Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, former Chicago mayoral candidate Jesús "Chuy" Garcia, and House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie.

In other words, the outcome was in no way a surprise.

The Illinois Supreme Court has upheld a barrier to suing for "negligent infliction of emotional distress."

Flickr Creative Commons/prsa-ny

The Illinois Supreme Court has upheld a barrier to suing for "negligent infliction of emotional distress." It’s called the “impact rule.”  The rule is simple: in order to claim someone’s negligence caused you distress, you have to be “impacted.” Literally have something or someone make physical contact with you.

crimemuseum.org

A new survey argues criminals should get rehabilitation rather than punishment. The recommendation comes straight from crime victims themselves.

The study says one in three Illinoisans have been a victim of crime in the last decade. More likely to be victimized are people who are younger and lower-income, as well as blacks, Latinos and residents of Chicago.

Lenore Anderson is president of the Alliance for Safety and Justice, which commissioned the survey. She says contrary to the conventional wisdom, a majority of victims do not support long prison sentences.

The Illinois Department of Corrections on Wednesday announced most of its workers have completed mental-illness training. It's part of the settlement in a long-running legal dispute over how Illinois prisons treat inmates with mental-heath disorders.

State prison director John Baldwin says the training will help make working in prisons a safer job.

"Seventy-eight percent of all assaults on staff across the United States are committed by an offender with an identified behavioral health issue," Baldwin says.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner appeared in another Facebook Live video Tuesday. What's behind the Republican's push on social media?

Former Congressman Aaron Schock has pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges.

It happened Monday afternoon in Springfield’s federal courthouse. That’s just across the street from what had been one of the 35-year-old Republican’s district offices.

Former Congressman Aaron Schock is due to be arraigned in a Springfield courtroom Monday afternoon.

A group of Democratic Illinois state legislators are suing to get their paychecks more quickly. They've gone without compensation since May 31.

After nearly a year-and-a-half without a full budget, Illinois is taking months and months to pay its bills.

Earlier this year, Comptroller Leslie Munger said she was putting legislator pay at the back of the line with every other state IOU.

Democrats, like Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, from Hillside, say that's just a way to help push Gov. Bruce Rauner's controversial agenda. And that, he says, is unconstitutional.

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