Daisy Contreras

Daisy reports on statehouse issues for our Illinois Issues project.  She's currently a Public Affairs Reporting graduate program student at the University of Illinois Springfield.  She graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology with an associates degrees from Truman College.  Daisy is from Chicago where she attended Lane Tech High School.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy said this week House Speaker Michael Madigan should at least temporarily step down as head of the Democratic Party, while state Sen. Daniel Biss said he hopes Madigan’s firing of the aide accused of harassment isn’t just political damage control. Frontrunner J.B. Pritzker has been more tentative in his response. 

Survivors of domestic violence who want to change their name might get additional protections under a new Illinois proposal.  

Survivors of domestic violence who want to change their name might get additional protections under a new Illinois proposal.  

  

Illinois is joining 35 other states this year attempting to give divorced couples equal parenting time. The issue is stirring debate among family law attorneys, mental health professionals, parents and others.  

James Reynolds / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Adapted by Peoria Public Radio / Flickr

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is changing his campaign strategy against Republican primary opponent Jeanne Ives. Previously, he dismissed her as a "fringe candidate.” But now he’s spending money on a TV attack ad, attempting to link Ives to Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The Illinois legislature will soon discuss if good Samaritans should be allowed to rescue kids and pets left inside hot vehicles. The plan would decriminalize breaking windows or opening locked doors when the temperature makes it a potentially deadly situation.

President Donald Trump’s administration has been in power for a year now. “State of Trump” is our series discussing what’s changed in the state and what might be ahead.

Diane Doherty is the executive director of the Illinois Hunger Coalition. She talks about federally funded programs for low-income individuals — such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — and their future in 2018.

The future of the Quincy Veteran's Home remains uncertain, as 13 deaths have occurred there in recent years related to Legionnaires' disease. The outcome may impact an entire region. 

Many research labs across the country use animals for testing products such as make-up or medicines. For the past decade, advocates have pushed to get more of these animals — especially research dogs — adopted after they are no longer needed. Just a handful of states have policies in place. Illinois just recently joined that list.

Employees at the Illinois State Capitol Complex are advised to continue their normal work routine, after initial tests showed a possibility of Legionella bacteria in the water system. 

Health centers in Illinois are forming partnerships with local food banks to offer fresh fruits and vegetables to some patients. With an estimated 1.5 million residents in the state classified as food insecure by the U.S. census, could this be a key approach to improving food access?

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Advocates for youth are urging Illinois to end the incarceration of young people in large facilities. They say these settings do not address their needs and safety concerns. Stephanie Kollmann is with the Children and Family Justice Center's legal clinic ​at Northwestern’s law school. She says the state should consider moving toward small-scale community settings that offer a more personal approach.

 “The number one goal of adolescent development is to be able to get youth toward adult independence and successful, thriving lives. Prisons unfortunately build  walls between youth and community, and that’s exactly the resources that they will need in order to move on successfully.” Kollman says. 

Many blind parents say they have fallen prey to preconceived biases involving their children and their parenting capabilities. A new law in Illinois aims to address these concerns.

Illinois lawmakers acted quickly last month in response to sexual harassment allegations at the statehouse.  But several female legislators say this isn't a quick fix.  They say the process was rushed and not enough thought was given to explore alternative options.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat, says the new policies were not inclusive of everyone affected by the issue—such as legislative staff and lobbyists. She says she hopes newly formed legislative task forces in the House and Senate will resolve this concern. 

National politics and the recent surge of sexual harassment allegations have resulted in calls to increase the number of female candidates in the 2018 races for legislative and statewide offices. But Illinois did not necessarily follow along with these expectations.

In another step to help prevent more overdose related deaths, the state of Illinois rolled out a 24/7 opioid and substance addiction helpline Tuesday.

Communities across Illinois lacking access to fresh food will soon be tracked. This initiative, which goes into effect mid-2018, will attempt to solve more than one issue in these affected areas. 
        

The Illinois General Assembly took some steps last week to address concerns of sexual harassment in the statehouse. But some lawmakers themselves don't think legislators policing each other is the best approach.

With the final week of veto session underway, the Illinois General Assembly took action meant to address sexual harassment at the state Capitol. 

The gender wage gap in the United States hasn’t changed much: On average, women overall still make 80 cents for every dollar a white male makes during a year. But this gap widens when women are broken down by racial group.  Latina Equal Pay Day is November 2--which raised awareness for the widest gap out of all racial groups.

Workers in the temporary labor industry have gained new protections after years rallying around worker's rights. These changes will impact the state's current regulations, which have remained the same for several years.

Illinois draws about 512, 000 hunters every year. Now a group is promoting how that number impacts Illinois' economy. 

The bill puts Rauner in a tricky position as he prepares to seek re-election--one where a veto would anger those who favor abortion rights, while signing it could alienate conservatives who are opposed. 

Time is running out on Governor Bruce Rauner to act on a bill that would change the way websites track a user's location and how they store that data. 

As of this month – Illinois is required to have updated signage for emergency situations at rail-road crossings. People can call the number on these standardized blue signs to report track obstructions or other safety issues at specific locations. If a crossing gate is malfunctioning, for example, railroad authorities need to know. 

Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield is addressing the issue of African American male underrepresentation in the workforce. The college launched the Open Door Mentorship Program a year ago, which has so far helped 25 male students get a head start in gaining professional experience.

WUIS.org

The Illinois State Fair began yesterday with the usual variety of attractions—AND a few changes.

Governor Bruce Rauner joined organizers to declare the fair officially open.

(applause) “What a great day, one of the greatest days of the year! The opening of the Illinois State Fair 2017—165 years. Extraordinary. One of the oldest, most beautiful, biggest, best state fairs in America.”

The ribbon-cutting was moved up to Thursday afternoon — in previous years, it’d been left to Friday mornings. And that’s not the only change.

Several breweries from across the state will compete during a new attraction at this year's Illinois State Fair. 

Over 50 people rallied in Springfield Tuesday night to protest efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Signs had phrases like "Stop Repeal" and "Healthcare is a Human Right." On Tuesday, a close vote in the U.S. Senate led to the first potential legislative steps in dismantling the law.

The issue pits business interests against privacy concerns.

For Carolyn Parrish, a privacy professional based in Evanston, data privacy is just as important in her personal, everyday life, as it is to keeping her business running.

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