Daisy Contreras

Reporter

Daisy reports on various assignments for NPR Illinois.  She graduated from the Public Affairs Reporting master’s  degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she spent time covering the legislative session for NPR Illinois' Illinois Issues.  Daisy interned then researched for the Chicago Reporter.  She obtained an associate degree in French language from Harry S Truman College and a bachelor's degree in communications from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Before coming to Springfield, Daisy worked in communication roles for several Chicago non-profits. Daisy is from Chicago where she attended Lane Tech High School.

Katie Buck / NPR ILLINOIS | 91.9 UIS

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.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

Update: February 7, 2018 - A memo sent out to all Capitol Complex employees detailed Legionella bacteria testing came back positive in four of the 300 preliminary test results. The memo says tests are ongoing and final results are expected to come out in another two weeks.

According to Dave Druker, spokesperson for the Secretary of State's office, two of the positive tests came from the Computer Center at 201 West Adams. A women's bathroom in the Howlett Building also tested positive. Druker says a flushing program has been ongoing there since before these results came out. The fourth positive test came from the Capitol building's south end, where a humidifier has been shut off as a precaution. Another set of 300 test results are expected to come out in about fourteen days. 

Katie Buck / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

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?

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Advocates across Illinois are calling on the state to change the way it handles young people who’ve committed serious crimes. They want to end the use of large prison facilities.

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A new Illinois law breaks down the guidelines an attorney must follow in a so-called “collaborative divorce”. 

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.

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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. 

Several women running for statewide office.
IL General Assembly, Comptroller's Office, Lieutenant Governor's Office, Friends of Nancy Rotering, Darlene Senger, Erika Harold.

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.

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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.

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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 push continues to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois. This time, support comes from a travel expert who wants to see the state adopt the European approach to cannabis.

Public broadcasting travel host Rick Steves calls it “an anti-prohibition movement.” That’s what his home state of Washington, as well as Colorado, started by legalizing marijuana in 2012. He has personally funded initiatives in several states to continue this movement.

 

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A recent report shows Illinois is facing a teacher shortage. But changes to teachers’ pensions — including cutbacks on the state’s share of contributions — spells uncertainty for anyone going into the profession.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Sexual harassment at the Capitol, workers' rights and student loans — a look at recent action in the state legislature.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

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.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

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

LatinaEqualPay.org

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.

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Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield for their fall veto session beginning this week. On the agenda is a measure intended to make reports of the state’s debt more accurate.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois and New Jersey are in dire financial straits, but experts hope California's fiscal gains can be duplicated in those states now struggling.

Nancy Hudspeth, who lived in Chicago for nearly 30 years, says she feels as if she escaped the state’s current fiscal problems when she left to pursue a teaching job in California two years ago. Before her move, Hudspeth spent six years analyzing Illinois’ finances with the University of Illinois’ Fiscal Futures Project.

Mujeres Mutantes

A group of Latina artists are using visual arts--from mural painting, graffiti, and zines--to fuel social change in Chicago's communities. The Mujeres Mutantes Art Collective-- or Mutant Women-- are partnering  with art professor Nicole Marroquin from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and UIS gender studies professor Hinda Seif, to address the underrepresentation of Latinas in the arts.

Warehouse Workers for Justice

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.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 40, allowing for the expansion of public funding for abortions.  Also, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to revisit Rauner's challenge to public sector union "fair share" fees.  UIS Professor Emeritus Kent Redfield and WTTW's Amanda Vinicky join the panel, which includes Sean Crawford and Daisy Contreras.

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

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

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. 

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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. 

Shereen Marisol Meraji / NPR

Seventy years ago a California lawsuit started by five Mexican-American families, helped pave the way for the landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education.  That court decision led to the desegregation of schools across the country. Sylvia Mendez, the oldest daughter of the Mendez family—one of the families in the lawsuit— has spent the last twenty years sharing her family’s lesser known story. 

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

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.

Craft Brew glasses on tasting board
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Several breweries from across the state will compete during a new attraction at this year's Illinois State Fair. 

Amanda Vinicky

We talked to leaders at the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and The Civic Federation to learn about their insights on the state's first spending plan in more than two years.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

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 rally was one of several taking place across the state. Organizers say they will continue efforts to draw attention to the proposed changes by telling the stories of those impacted. 

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