Illinois General Assembly

Dave Severin / Facebook

Several new members of the General Assembly will take office in January. We plan to catch up with some of them to see why they wanted the job and what they hope to accomplish as lawmakers.


First up is Dave Severin. The Republican beat Democratic Representative John Bradley in a hard-fought campaign for the 117th House district. Illinois Public Radio's Jamey Dunn talked with Severin, a small business owner and longtime school board member from Benton.

After calling for daily meetings with Illinois' top leaders, Governor Bruce Rauner called off one that had been scheduled for today. In a statement, his office said Democrats were unprepared for the next steps in budget talks.

Today the Republican took that message to voters, with a video on social media.

Prospects For Budget Deal Still Dim

Dec 2, 2016

Illinois residents are once again facing the prospect of having their elected leaders not agree on a state budget. Illinois Public Radio's Tony Arnold reports.

After a full year without a budget - it looks like the state is heading in that direction again.


Governor Bruce Rauner is demanding term limits and a property tax freeze BEFORE a budget.


A group of Democratic Illinois state legislators are suing to get their paychecks more quickly.  As Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey reports, they've gone without compensation since early summer.

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.

Rachel Otwell

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has asked the top leaders in the Illinois General Assembly to meet ahead of the veto session next week.  State legislators head into the veto session with hopes of coming to an agreement on a full state budget and pension reform. The state is operating on a temporary budget approved in July.

New Details Emerge About Sandack's Resignation

Sep 16, 2016

A former Illinois state lawmaker says he was the victim of an international crime ring - and took their bait “hook, line, and sinker.”


Ron Sandack resigned from Republican leadership in Springfield earlier this year.

A group of pastors is suing Illinois over a law that bars therapists from trying to change a minor's sexual orientation.

To fix its broken state government, Illinois needs term limits for members of the General Assembly, and fairly drawn district maps so both parties have a chance to win. That's according to a republican lawmaker and two candidates for the state house who held a news conference in Moline today.

State Senator Neal Anderson, from Rock Island, hopes both can be voted on, and passed, during the veto session this fall. 

President Barack Obama is now 55 years old. His birthday came and went last week, and most Illinois residents probably didn't take notice.

They may have, had legislation sponsored by Illinois State Representative Andre Thapedi passed. He wanted Obama's birthday to be recognized as a holiday in the President's adopted home state.

Mike Madigan Sued By Primary Opponent

Aug 8, 2016
Illinois Lawmakers

Longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is being sued by one of his opponent’s in this year’s Democratic primary.

Jason Gonzales lost to Speaker Madigan in the March primary - receiving 27 percent of the votes. Now he’s suing Madigan for many reasons - including campaign ads saying Gonzales is a convicted felon.

Gonzales was pardoned by Governor Pat Quinn. And he says in his federal complaint the ads caused emotional distress.

A number of Illinois politicians continue to push the issue of of term limits.

A law signed by Governor Bruce Rauner last week gives high school journalists rights they haven't had since 1988. That's when a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court dictated that student publications could be censored by school administrators.

But Illinois has become the 10th state to restore free speech rights to student media. Stan Zoller, with the Illinois Journalism Education Association, helped guide the legislation.

Governor Bruce Rauner is making another high-profile pitch for term limits.  The longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan has an opposite view on the idea … as he told Amanda Vinicky at the Democratic National Convention.

Madigan’s been House speaker for a long time (nearly uninterrupted since 1983), and during that time, he’s amassed a lot of power.

That’s a big asset for Democrats trying to fend off the governor’s agenda, Madigan says.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed legislation that would have prevented the state from limiting which elderly and disabled Illinoisans qualify for state-subsidized help.  
Illinois uses what's called the Determination of Need score to determine eligibility. The greater the need, the higher the score.
The proposal codified a qualifying score of 29. Rauner had previously proposed raising it to 37 to help free up resources. But advocates say that would've kicked off some 34,000 people.  

State officials are officially seeking a new private manager for the Illinois Lottery after moving to terminate Northstar Lottery Group's contract last year.  

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced the release Thursday of a request for proposal on a 10-year $300 million contract. He says proposed contract changes eliminate past problems.

Illinois awarded Chicago-based Northstar a contract in 2010. The company was criticized about its management style and not meeting revenue goals. Under September's termination agreement, Northstar continues operations until 2017.

Illinois Board of Elections officials say Auditor General Frank Mautino didn't file amended campaign disclosure reports and could face a public hearing.

Election board Executive Director Steve Sandvoss says Mautino didn't file the amended reports by Monday's deadline. The hearing would look into Mautino's use of campaign money while serving in the Illinois House.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is renewing his call for term limits and says the General Assembly should vote on the idea in the fall.  

Rauner delivered a campaign-style speech Monday in Chicago. Relying on a teleprompter, he spoke for less than 10 minutes and wouldn't take reporters' questions.

The first-term Republican says Illinois politics needs new ideas and faces. He says he'll be pushing term limits during a two-day state tour.

Rauner: Budget delays will cost the state more

Jul 15, 2016

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says the state will need more revenue to reduce the deficit the longer it goes without a full budget.

Rauner spoke today at an American Legion event in Springfield... a day after a government commission found the state is on pace to spend nearly 8 billion dollars more than it will take in. Rauner says the state will need money because of interest penalties the state must pay for delinquent bills.

Illinois' General Assembly has two new members. And both are in their twenties.

Omar Aquino won a Democratic primary, but didn't have to wait to win the general election to become a state senator. He was sworn in earlier this month to replace Senator William Delgado, who retired. Aquino is a 29-year-old Latino from Chicago.

A group of convicted child sex offenders is challenging the Illinois law that bans them from parks and schools.

They say key sex offender restrictions are so broad it’s impossible to know what is or isn’t allowed … and that means the laws violate the constitution.

The five anonymous offenders are scheduled to make their case to a federal judge this week. Illinois Public Radio's Patrick Smith reports.

Seth Perlman / Associated Press

Last week's budget compromise between the governor and Illinois General Assembly "is a very important step in the right direction." That's according to Governor Bruce Rauner who stopped in Moline today to shake hands with local residents and talk about the partial year, stop-gap plan.

Flickr Creative Commons/Daniel X. O'Neil

The partial-year budget the Illinois General Assembly sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner drew only a handful of "no" votes in the House.  Democratic Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo says the piecemeal plan pushes hard choices off until after the November election. Franks is leaving the House to run for McHenry County Board chairman. He says there were no "profiles in courage". 

First responders seek protection from lawsuits

May 9, 2016

Illinois mayors and first responders want state lawmakers to protect them from lawsuits when responding to emergencies.

Brad Cole, of the Illinois Municipal League, says there was a long-held notion that government employees could serve the general public without fear of being sued.

But he says the Illinois Supreme Court recently struck down that principle. Cole says he wants a law passed to bring it back.

Legislation pending in the General Assembly would give middle and high school trumpet players excused absences if they need to miss class to play Taps at a military funeral. The bill was inspired by Jack Bumann, a senior at Alwood High School in Woodhull, Illinois, just north of Galesburg. He estimates that he has played at the funerals of about two dozen fallen soldiers.

Governor Bruce Rauner today approved a compromise between Republicans and Democrats that sends emergency money to public universities.

But that compromise doesn’t mean the two parties are getting along any better.

This state money is coming just as Chicago State University had said it would close its doors Friday.

The top House Republican Jim Durkin says it took Chicago State’s closing to get Democrats and House Speaker Michael Madigan to quit playing games.

Munger moves to delay lawmakers' pay

Apr 18, 2016

The lack of an Illinois state budget is playing out in the race for state comptroller - who is the person in control of the state’s checkbook.

Illinois’ government has not had a budget in nearly 10 months.

Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger says finances are so tight - she’s going to delay paying Illinois elected officials.

She’s not stopping payments to them - just putting them in line with groups like social services - that the state is also late in paying.

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."

Todd Pilon, WTVP

Governor Bruce Rauner's budget speech today largely avoided specifics about state spending. Instead, he's still arguing Illinois should be more favorable to business. Brian Mackey has more.

Rauner took pains to portray himself as open to working with majority Democrats -- he used the word "compromise" five times. But the governor is standing by his overall strategy: pro-business laws first, then we can balance the budget.

"I won’t support new revenue unless we have major structural reforms to grow more jobs and get more value for taxpayers."

Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

President Barack Obama returned to his political beginnings Wed. and delivered an unprecedented hour-long speech to Illinois state lawmakers. He delivered the speech on the 9th anniversary of the day he launched his campaign for president from Springfield.

The point of the speech was to address the extreme political polarization he sees happening in the country - and Illinois. But afterwards, just about the only thing Republicans and Democrats agreed on is that the speech wouldn’t change things.

A Chicago lawmaker plans to try again next spring to drop criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.