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.

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.

Illinois lawmakers and the governor have spent the past several days ratcheting up their calls for compromise to end the budget impasse.   

In response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s order for a 10-day special session, the General Assembly  returned to Springfield this week to focus on crafting a budget. Three weeks ago, legislators tried to beat the end of the official spring legislative session and worked to pass measures ranging from women’s and LGBT rights, farmer’s market concerns and issues related to women in prison. Many of these bills were approved by both chambers, and are waiting to be sent to the governor.

Some reformers say Illinois' minimum age for juvenile detention needs to go up.

The spring legislative session has been overshadowed by a 22-month stretch without a budget. Nevertheless, meaty legislation is being weighed. Those issues include abortion, wage theft, animal research and criminal justice.

Abortion

Legislation passed out of the House Wednesday is meant to help close the gender wage gap in the state.

After a House vote of 91-24, the Equal Pay Act amendment will now be considered in the Senate as SB 981, under the sponsorship of Sen.  Daniel Biss, a Democrat from Evanston. 

Democratic Rep. Anna Moeller of Elgin, who sponsored House Bill 2462, says that while she expected the House to pass the bill, she was surprised by the number of yes votes.

Legislation aims to improve working conditions for temporary workers as the need for them increases.

The spring legislative session is in full swing under the shadow of a failed Grand Bargain, which aimed to end a 20-month stretch without a budget. Bills proposed are diverse, including lobbyist ethics, an Obama holiday, wage theft and animal welfare.