Statehouse

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Illinois lawmakers want to eliminate medical co-pays for prisoners.

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Governor J.B. Pritzker has nominated an Ohio prison official to lead the Illinois Department of Corrections.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois gets an April surprise — $1.5 billion in unexpected revenue — as lawmakers debate what the windfall means. The public also got its first look at the long-anticipated language in a proposal that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Meanwhile, an audit found that child abuse and neglect investigations suffered during the budget impasse of 2015-17, and lawmakers advanced legislation that would more than double the gas tax in order to pay for infrastructure building and repair.

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Illinois has officially proposed legalizing cannabis for adults 21 years and older by Jan. 1, 2020. But as details of the legislation emerge, so does the opposition. 

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Illinois lawmakers say they’re ready to move ahead with a major road construction program. It would mean tax and fee increases on gasoline, license plates and driver’s licenses.

An audit released Tuesday paints a damning picture of Illinois’ child-welfare agency.

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The Illinois Senate last week approved increased protections for those who use alternative electric and gas suppliers. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Listen to a special State Week, recorded in front of an audience at the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices state historic site in downtown Springfield.

Host Sean Crawford, along with regular panel members Brian Mackey, Daisy Contreras and Charlie Wheeler, are joined by guest Hannah Meisel of The Daily Line. The discussion focused on the governor’s push for a graduated income tax and Senate Democrats pushing it through that chamber. You'll also hear about prospects for recreational marijuana, sports betting, a capital construction program and more.

Dana Vollmer / NPR Illinois

Mourners gathered at the Old State Capitol on Thursday for an annual event memorializing the millions of lives lost in the Holocaust.

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker tried to convince business groups Wednesday to accept his graduated income tax plan. 

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

David Sam, president of Elgin Community College, said Wednesday the school has received nearly $1 million in donated equipment to help train workers for manufacturing jobs. But there’s a problem – he doesn’t have the space on campus to put it.

“Most of us don’t even have the space to put the equipment so that we can train the much-needed individuals to serve the manufacturing community,” Sam said during a news conference at the statehouse. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois Senate is moving the state closer to a major overhaul of its tax system.

Senate Democrats approved a constitutional amendment that would change Illinois’ flat income tax to one that’s graduated — where the wealthy pay more.

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Illinois lawmakers want judges to consider people’s family obligations when sentencing or detaining them for a crime.

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Illinois lawmakers are moving forward with a measure that aims to keep your digital devices from secretely recording you without consent. The bill is called the KIDS Act, which stands for Keeping Internet Devices Safe.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Former Republican congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made a pitch Monday for Illinois to raise its gas tax.

The Peoria native told a panel of lawmakers he would champion the tax hike even though his fellow Republicans may be opposed.

“I remember the days like many of you do when Illinois was a great state, when we had great infrastructure, when we were able to attract business to our state,” said LaHood, who headed the U.S. Department of Transportation under former President Barack Obama. “That’s what we want to get back to.”

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois’ former legislative inspector general went public this week with a complaint that one of her reports was buried. She says the office is desperately in need of reform, and absent that, is effectively powerless.

Meanwhile, WBEZ-FM is reporting Gov. J.B. and First Lady M.K. Pritzker are under federal investigation for removing toilets from a mansion in order to lower their property tax bill.

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Several of Illinois’ Division I athletic directors say they don’t want gamblers to be able to bet on college sports. Lawmakers heard from them and others Thursday in Chicago as talks continue on how to legalize and regulate sports betting. 

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed changes to the state's pension systems. He says this could help cover other pressing areas, like education, healthcare and public safety. But the plan would mean cutting back on pension payments --- atleast on the short-term, that's according to Amanda Kass, the associate director of the Government Finance Research Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Illinois Department of Corrections

Illinois lawmakers want to divert more people convicted of crimes from prison to boot camp.

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Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois

The former ethics watchdog for the Illinois General Assembly says the office is “broken.”

Julie Porter says as her term was ending earlier this year, lawmakers on the Legislative Ethics Commission buried a report in which she concluded one of their colleagues had engaged in wrongdoing.

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Pan American Health Organization / via flickr.com/pahowho (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Public health officials say they‘ll work to increase vaccination rates across Illinois.

The announcement comes as the the U.S. is expected to have the worst run of measles cases since the disease was deemed eliminated in the year 2000.

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Illinois House lawmakers passed legislation requiring a parent be present when students are questioned or detained in connection to a crime.

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Around 150,000 children have an allergy to sesame, a study from Northwestern University shows. A proposal at the Illinois Statehouse could help parents and children avoid foods with the ingredient.

State Rep. Jonathan Carroll’s eight-year-old daughter is among the kids with the food allergy. During a cooking demonstration at school, she started swelling up because of tahini – a sesame-based product. Luckily, she took an antihistamine before the reaction was too bad.

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Illinois lawmakers are at odds over how to punish damage to important infrastructure. Some fear it would mean harsher sentences for charges that already exist.

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Brian Mackey

Even though it’s the legislative spring break, there are several issues still to be negotiated, including a potential construction program funded with a gasoline tax, legalization of recreational marijuna, dealing with the state’s growing pension debt, and what to do about a declining population.

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An Illinois toddler died nine years ago after suffering third degree burns from bathwater. The Illinois House last week approved legislation to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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Some Illinois lawmakers want more protections for employees who are sexually harassed in private sector jobs. 

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Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers are moving to give judges more discretion in sentencing people convicted of certain crimes.

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Governor J.B. Pritzker held his largest press conference over the weekend — and he’s promising media transparency under his administration.

Governor Prtizker bill signing
Dana Vollmer / NPR Illinois

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law today intended to protect collective bargaining rights for labor unions.

It would ban local governments from creating “right-to-work zones” — where employees at a unionized company no longer have to pay fees if they choose not to join.

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