Illinois General Assembly

torbakhopper / Flickr/Creative Commons

Illinois legislators are considering making it easier for transgender people to change the gender designation on their birth certificates.

Illinois House members are picking up education funding reform where they say a commission convened by the governor left off.
Lawmakers gathered Tuesday to discuss proposals to revise the way Illinois finances its public schools. They plan this spring to write legislation to overhaul what many say is an outdated education funding model.

A state lawmaker from Chicago has announced a plan to raise Illinois' minimum wage to $15 by 2022.

Parents alarmed by the realization that their teenagers cannot decipher cursive handwriting have inspired one Illinois lawmaker to propose requiring schools to offer a course on the art of the flowing font.

Kids use computer keyboards for most communication these days, but what if they need to sign a legal document or read a letter from grandma? State Representative Chris Welch, a Democrat from Hillside, says they’re going to need cursive for that. He’s sponsoring a measure that would ensure students receive at least one class in old-school slanted script. 

A significant expansion of casino gambling is back in play in the Illinois General Assembly.  A proposal to authorize six new casinos got Senate approval this past week. It was one of the few victories in a week dedicated to getting a compromised budget plan through the Senate. 

Proposed Law Would Limit Augmented Reality Games

Mar 1, 2017
Flickr Creative Commons/Nate Pesce / Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office

Milwaukee, Wisconsin recently passed a law saying augmented reality game developers like Niantic, the creators of Pokémon Go, must have a permit in order to use parks as game landmarks. A similar Illinois bill is in the works.

Democrats are questioning whether Gov. Bruce Rauner's plans will produce a balanced budget to help the state dig itself out of a multibillion dollar deficit.

Illinois House Democratic budget negotiator Rep. Greg Harris says the Republican governor shouldn't count on as-yet-unauthorized savings from pension reform, health care cuts and the sale of property to make ends meet.

Governor Bruce Rauner is finally weighing in on a bipartisan deal meant to end Illinois’ budget stalemate.
He shot down a key component of the compromise.

Rauner was kept out of the Senate negotiations from the start. He has since praised them in general, but refused to get into specifics. Until now.

In his budget speech to the General Assembly, Rauner says he does support expanding the state sales tax to cover more services — but says he opposes taxing groceries and drugs.

Gov. Bruce Rauner makes his annual budget address Wed. before the Illinois General Assembly. Democrats say Rauner has never introduced a balanced budget. The governor disagrees.

Illinois is in its 20th month without a state budget, and the question of who's to blame depends on whom you ask: Comptroller Susana Mendoza, a Democrat, or Gov. Rauner, a Republican.

"The governor's job is to introduce a balanced budget. He hasn't done that, and there's no way to sugarcoat that. That is not an alternative fact; that is a true fact," Mendoza said.

Leaders in the Illinois Senate say the bipartisan budget deal is still on track. That’s despite a series of test votes that drew protests from Republicans.

Members of the G-O-P say they want to settle every aspect of the compromise before voting.
But Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat, says every day the state goes without a budget, it’s piling up another 11 million dollars in debt.

“I think that the pressure should be on the Republicans from the business community to finally realize that they have to do something quickly."

Two proposals on raising Illinois' minimum wage will be tackled by the new Illinois General Assembly.

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)

The Illinois General Assembly voted to expand sick leave rights. Under the change, people would be entitled to paid time off to care for stepchildren and domestic partners.  State Representative Peter Breen is a Republican from Lombard. He has opposed same-sex marriage, but says adding domestic partners was simply about keeping Illinois consistent with federal 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."

61 social service agencies are continuing their legal fight over the Illinois budget impasse.

The social services suing the State of Illinois do a range of work… from consulting victims of rape, to helping senior citizens who live at home.

They all had a contract with the state to do that work. And they say because there’s been no full state budget - they’re owed money - and there’s “no coherent rationale” for the state’s failure to pay them.

A preliminary report on college enrollment in Illinois shows a decline at all sectors of higher education.

Public universities, community colleges and private colleges — all three categories showed a drop in enrollment, according to a report from the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Illinois State University and the three University of Illinois campuses showed slight upticks; all other public schools declined by an average of almost 3 percent compared to last year.   Private non-profit schools showed less of a decline, with an overall decrease of about 2 percent.

Durkin Blames Democrats for State Budget Impasse

Dec 15, 2016

The top House Republican in the Illinois legislature says the tone in Springfield is deteriorating - and has been since the election.

Jim Durkin is House Republican Leader. He thinks it’s because Democrats are upset Illinois Republicans picked up seats this year.

"For many years, Republicans have been pushed around. We’ve been defeated, outspent - grossly outspent - for many, many years. Republicans gave them, them - the Democrats, a taste of their own medicine last November and I think that they’re still reeling over it."

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.