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Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Democratic state lawmakers are pushing to make permanent many of the voting options Illinois piloted for the 2020 General Election last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Illinois House last week approved extending the use of ballot drop boxes and curbside voting indefinitely. However, critics said the proposal could lead to election security issues.

This week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said he was optimistic that vaccine supply will allow the state to allow those 16 and older, outside of Chicago, to get their shots starting April 12.  The governor also laid out a new "bridge" phase as part of the Restore Illinois plan.  It's a step toward getting the state back to some sort of normalcy.  

UIS Community Garden Facebook Page

Elmhurst resident Nicole Virgil got into home gardening after researching the industrial food process and watching documentaries like “Food Inc.”

But after she and her husband set up a homemade hoop house in her backyard to protect her vegetable garden during the winter, she received multiple citations from the city for violating local building codes.

Senate Democratic Caucus

State lawmakers this week will kick off the once-in-a-decade process to reshape how Illinois’ legislative and congressional maps are drawn.

Hannah Meisel/NPR Illinois

Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of Illinois’ first reported death from COVID-19. In the next 12 months, Illinois would go on to report nearly 21,000 more confirmed COVID-19 deaths, while more than 1.2 million Illinoisans have been infected so far.

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For millions of students in Illinois, attending school a year into the COVID-19 pandemic still means logging onto a computer or completing assignment packets. Though some students have adjusted well, many others have not had an easy time learning over the past year.

But while the federal government granted Illinois’ request to waive standardized tests last spring, President Joe Biden’s administration rejected the state’s bid this year.

Some state lawmakers are pushing back on the mandate and petitioning the federal government to reconsider.

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VictorBjorkund / Flickr

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a renewed focus on mental health issues, particularly among students. Some Illinois lawmakers say schools must bolster suicide prevention procedures to better identify warning signs.

In a week that marked the one year anniversary of the pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he's cautiously optimistic as more vaccines arrive.  His administration even mentioned a return to holding conventions and trade shows this summer.   

Pritzker is also pleased that a windfall will be coming to the state as part of a federal coronavirus stimulus package.   How might the state use that money?

Our panel discusses where things stand in Illinois -- on the public health front and with the state budget.  

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Some Democratic Illinois lawmakers want to adopt more comprehensive sex education standards for K-12 schools to ensure students have a firm understanding of the importance of consent, the consequences of sharing underage sexually explicit material, and knowing when an action is considered sexual abuse.

On this episode, we discuss Congresswoman Robin Kelly, who becomes the new Illinois Democratic Party Chair, replacing Michael Madigan.  Gov. J.B. Pritzker supported her opponent and some view Kelly's ascension as a defeat for the governor.  

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger has been outspoken about his own party.  It appears he'll face a primary challenge.  We discuss his political future.  

And Illinois continues to fall behind when it comes to its pension obligations.  We discuss it all on State Week. 

npr illinois

Illinois has long held the record for the most units of local government in any state — 8,923 local taxing bodies to be exact, according to a recent report by the Chicago-based Civic Federation.

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Brian Mackey

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's legislative district seat saw not just one, but two replacements within a week.  And Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a large reform package dealing with crime and policing.

The Chicago Sun-Times' Rachel Hinton joins the panel.

BlueRoomStream

Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday announced $11 million in new infrastructure funding aimed at spurring economic development in underserved areas.

Hannah Meisel/NPR Illinois

Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s vacated 22nd District House seat has a new occupant — the second replacement in four days — after Madigan asked his first choice to step down this week in an embarrassment to the normally fastidious Democratic boss.

Hannah Meisel/NPR Illinois

This story has been updated to reflect Kodatt's resignation effective Wednesday morning.

Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan's handpicked successor for the House seat he held for more than 50 years has stepped down from the General Assembly after just three days. 

BlueRoomStream

In a visit to Springfield Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker announced forthcoming state aid for local governments struggling with rising natural gas prices and help for students and families struggling with food insecurity.

Governor JB Pritzker today (MONDAY) signed a sweeping criminal justice bill that — among other reforms — will end cash bail in Illinois.

As Hannah Meisel reports, members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus draw a direct line from protests in the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor this past summer to the new law.

Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan on Monday resigned from his role heading the state’s Democratic Party just one day after he told reporters he didn’t know when or if he might leave that job.

Illinois Housing Development Authority

Illinois housing officials are touting the success of their programs helping families hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, the Illinois Housing Development Authority reported that in 2020 it dispersed around $325 million in rent and mortgage assistance grants to more than 56,000 households.

Hannah Meisel/NPR Illinois

 

Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) on Sunday used his remaining political power to install a 26-year-old political protege to the House seat he resigned from last week after more than 50 years.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Governor J.B. Pritzker delivered a combined State of the State and State Budget address this week with proposals to fill the deficit left by the pandemic.  And after 50 years in the state legislature, former House Speaker Michael Madigan resigned his district seat.

Chicago Tribune State Government Reporter Dan Petrella joins the panel.

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Flickr user: dcJohn www.flickr.com/photos/dcjohn/

For the second year in a row, the Illinois State Board of Education is seeking a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education for standardized tests normally given during schools’ spring semester.

Justin Fowler/State Journal-Register via AP

Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan has resigned the seat he’s held for the last 50 years effective Thursday.

Governor JB Pritzker introduced his budget framework for next year on Wednesday — a plan that includes neither a tax hike nor deep cuts to social services. Both were consequences  he’d warned of after his graduated income tax plan failed at the polls in November.

 

npr illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's combined State of the State and Budget Address (as prepared). 

ACLU of Illinois

Decades of tough-on-crime policies have begun to give way in recent years to conversations about alternatives to incarceration.

State lawmakers on Tuesday heard from advocates who say interventions that get at the roots of crime, like mental health and poverty, can be more effective at reducing crime.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

While Illinois expands eligibility to receive the new coronavirus vaccine, there are still questions about the speed of distribution so far.  Also this week, the state Republican party has a new leader.

Chicago Tribune Investigative Reporter Joe Mahr joins the panel.

Hannah Meisel/NPR Illinois

Democratic lawmakers are again re-introducing the so-called Clean Energy Jobs Act, renewing the effort for comprehensive legislation to address both climate change and expanding Illinois’ renewable energy industry.

WGEM

Faculty, staff and other advocates for Illinois colleges and universities are asking Gov. JB Pritzker to allow higher education employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines during the state’s current phase of vaccine rollout.

Illinois has been in Phase 1b of its vaccination campaign for nearly two weeks, but the frontline essential workers currently eligible for COVID vaccines only include teachers and staff at pre-K through 12 schools.

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