Sam Dunklau

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.

Illinois will soon mint commemorative coins to mark the state’s 200th birthday. They're the latest in a string of products the state is offering to mark its bicentennial year.

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs hosted a several months-long contest, challenging designers to capture Illinois’ history on a single coin face. Submissions poured in from far and wide, but they were eventually whittled down to five finalists, whose designs were then voted on by the public.

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Democratic U-S Senator Dick Durbin is supporting a Republican state senator to be the next ambassador to Kenya. That’s despite the significant political differences Durbin has with state Senator Kyle McCarter.

Durbin says he’s impressed with McCarter’s decades-long experience with the African nation.

“I doubt if very many people in Illinois know the commitment that Kyle and his family have made to Kenya, and the medical care that they provide through a clinic there is nothing short of amazing.”

Federal net neutrality protections ended Monday, despite Illinois lawmakers attempting to block the move earlier this year.

Democrats in both the Illinois House and Senate worked feverishly to get some kind of net neutrality measure passed ahead of the rollback, but to no avail. Its supporters say changing the Obama-era rules allows internet companies to prioritize some websites and content over other kinds. 

Ed Yohnka of ACLU Illinois says internet users should have the right to choose what they see.

As part of the new Illinois budget, thousands and thousands of state workers will get paid for salary increases they were supposed to get as far back as 2011.


Illinois lawmakers have approved a plan that would let schools, churches, and workplaces take out restraining orders against someone considered dangerous.

Under current Illinois law, only an individual can take out a restraining order against another person. But after recent shootings at schools and churches, state lawmakers have been pushing for legislation to protect those places from future attacks.

The Illinois legislature overwhelmingly passed a full year budget Thursday. It includes a few plans to cut down on the state’s massive pension debt.


The legal age to buy tobacco in Illinois may soon go up from 18 to 21. The measure narrowly passed the Illinois House Wednesday night 61 to 49, after failing once before.


Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday voted to make it easier to try to take guns from someone a court determines is dangerous. Supporters say “lethal order of protections” could prevent mass shootings.


The Illinois legislature has again moved to regulate gun dealers. It comes after Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a similar measure back in March, calling it "onerous bureaucracy."


Legislation allowing a major expansion of gambling in Illinois failed on Monday. It’s something lawmakers have been working on for years, as an effort to raise money for state and local governments.

It’s been just about six months since a new Illinois law allowing 16 and 17 year olds to donate organs went into effect. Has the change made a difference for those waiting for life-saving organ transplants?

State lawmakers are continuing to push Illinois gun legislation in the wake of a recent run of mass shootings. The Illinois House approved a measure Wednesday that would allow police to take guns away from someone if a court finds them dangerous.


Illinois lawmakers are pushing a measure to allow immigrants who are victims of domestic or sexual abuse to more easily make their case to the police.


After more than two years of extensive renovations, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner moved back into the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield on Monday.

The Illinois General Assembly approved a measure allowing parents to give their kids medical marijuana while at school.


Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner this week added sweeping changes to a piece of gun legislation, in a move some state legislators called “political gamesmanship” and “unconstitutional.” But the lawmaker behind the original bill isn’t backing down, announcing Wednesday he's asking the Illinois House to agree with those changes.


About 114 million people visited Illinois last year, setting a new state record. That’s according to the latest state tourism data released on Tuesday.


Illinois legislators are taking up a measure to change the way police gather information for gang databases. It comes after more than a year of controversy surrounding the Chicago Police Department’s data collection practices.


Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says the state should be able to execute those who kill police officers or commit mass shootings. The Governor proposed that and several other measures on Monday in an amendatory veto of gun legislation.


Ongoing budget talks at the Illinois Statehouse have shown no real sign of progress. This week, Senate Democrats pressed Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration this week to explain its proposal to shift pension costs to local school districts.


Illinois is promoting its ties to famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. State tourism officials on Tuesday unveiled a self-guided trail linking more than a dozen Wright-designed homes.


lllinois' 3 million Medicaid users will soon have more access to mental health and substance abuse treatments. Officials in Washington, D.C. ok’d a new state program that sets aside about $2 billion in Medicaid funds for the services.


Hundreds of police officers, families, and state officials gathered in Springfield on Thursday for an annual service honoring officers killed in the line of duty. Officers from the Chicago area and Rockford were memorialized in the service at the Illinois State Library.

Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration says a costly rebuild of the Quincy Veterans Home is the best way to get rid of legionella bacteria linked to more than a dozen deaths there. While some state legislators support the move, others remain skeptical.

Lawmakers in the Illinois House voted to implement more stringent background checks on drivers for rideshare services like Uber and Lyft.

The Illinois House has voted to allow tax breaks for those who take vacant land and use it for urban farming. The aim is to give an economic boost to the state’s low-income areas.

Illinois' largest public employee union feels it has plenty to complain about. The union known as AFSCME has been fighting for what it says is overdue pay -- going all the way back to 2011.

NPR

The Illinois House has voted to allow tax breaks for those who take vacant land and use it for urban farming. The aim is to give an economic boost to the state’s low-income areas.

The idea comes from state Representative Sonya Harper, a Democrat from Chicago. She explained during the debate that the people she represents on the south and west sides of the city live in food deserts. That means they don’t have easy access to fresh food. But what those neighborhoods do have is vacant land.

A long-fought battle between state government and the AFSCME union came to the forefront again Thursday.  State government workers from the union rallied at the capitol to call for periodic raises they say the state owes them.

Roberta Lynch, AFSCME’s Executive Director in Illinois, says even though the state Supreme Court sided with the union, workers have yet to see the money.

Criminal justice advocates say a measure that's cleared the Illinois legislature will keep innocent people from winding up in prison. Among other things, it would require criminal informants to be vetted before their testimony could be used at trial.


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