Statehouse

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, confirmed cases of the new coronavirus have spiked on university campuses throughout the state.  Meanwhile, many kids are beginning the new school year with virtual, remote learning only.  And the Illinois House has created a committee to look into possible wrongdoing by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Illinois Newsroom's Lee Gaines, WNIJ's Peter Medlin, and WGLT's Dana Vollmer join the panel.

Illinois unemployment offices have been closed to public access since the stay at home order was put in effect earlier this year. 

But Governor J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday there was another safety reason for keeping the doors locked.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, rising COVID-19 positivity rates prompted Governor J.B. Pritzker to once again shut down indoor service for restaurants and bars in Will and Kankakee counties, and warned that the same might soon happen for the Metro East counties.  Local governments are becoming more worried about declining tax revenues due to the pandemic.  And energy company Exelon announced that it may have to close two of its nuclear plants.  

Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois and Kelsey Landis of the Belleville News-Democrat join the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week saw the virtual Democratic National Convention, the decision to remove some controversial statues from the State Capitol grounds, and the death of former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson.

The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson joins the panel this week.

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Statues of two former Illinois leaders with ties to slavery will be removed from outside the state capitol building in Springfield.

The longest serving governor in Illinois history died Friday.  James R. Thompson was 84  Known as Big Jim for his stature (he stood 6'6"), he had a personality to match.  

Charlie Wheeler was already a veteran of the statehouse press corps when Thompson took office in 1977.  He would continue to cover Illinois government through Thompson's fourteen year tenure.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, the Illinois General Assembly's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules approved Governor Pritzker's intent to fine business owners who don't enforce the state's COVID-19 mitigation orders.  Also, state Senator Terry Link has been charged with tax fraud.

Amanda Vinicky of WTTW's Chicago Tonight joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Amid the pandemic, the state's ongoing budget woes received some attention this week, with uncertainty over federal aid to states and local governments.  Also, novel coronavirus positivity rates continue to slowly rise, prompting Governor J.B. Pritzker to issue new emergency guidelines for businesses, schools, and daycare centers.

WBEZ Public Radio's Tony Arnold and Capitol News Illinois' Peter Hancock join the panel.

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This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, there were more calls for Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan to resign due to a long-term bribery scheme involving energy provider Commonwealth Edison.  Also, Governor Pritzker issued new guidelines for sports as Illinois' COVID-19 numbers have been rising.

John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

While he denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any wrongdoing, Illinois Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is alleged to have participated in a wide-ranging bribery scheme involving energy provider Commonwealth Edison.  Illinois Republicans are calling for swift action on new ethics legislation.  Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reacted to President Trump's declaration to send undercover federal agents to the city.

Illinois Information Service

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is giving more time to those behind on rent or mortgage payments.  He’s extending a ban on evictions through August 22.  A moratorium was set to expire at the end of this month. 

As the minority party at the Illinois State Capitol, Republicans only have a bully pulpit. But when House Speaker Mike Madigan was implicated last week in a utility bribery case, they got more of a megaphone to go with it. 

Bill Wheelhouse

Rapper Kanye West was among those submitting petitions for the fall ballot Illinois on the final day for independent and third party candidates to file.   

West said he is running for president. But he has missed the deadline to file in several states. While he was on time in Illinois, filing does not guarantee a spot on the ballot.  Petitions can be challenged for the number of signatures and their vailidity.  West did not have a vice presidential candidate file with him.  

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, the major electric utility ComEd agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.  Meanwhile, Governor J.B. Pritzker adjusted some aspects of the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson joins the panel.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

The U.S. Attorney’s office says electric utility ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. 

Pritzker Deciding Whether To Halt Evictions Again

Jul 16, 2020
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Governor J.B. Pritzker says he is considering extending a moratorium on evictions beyond the end of July.  During a stop in Rockford, Thursday, Pritzker was asked if he planned to renew the order when it expires at the end of the month.

J.B. Pritzker
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As coronavirus cases surge nationwide, Governor J.B. Pritzker introduced a new plan to address a resurgence in Illinois. 

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Before the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois was already fighting a public health crisis - the opioid epidemic. Clinicians at two drug rehab centers said more patients have been admitted to their facility since the coronavirus pandemic. 

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The deadline to file state and federal income tax returns is this week.  The date was extended from April to July 15.  The change was made to help those having difficulties bacause of the pandemic. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Over the past week, Democratic Illinois U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth weathered Republican criticism at the same time her name is being put forward, among others, as Joe Biden's potential running mate.  Governor J.B. Pritzker called on the Trump administration for a nationwide mandate for wearing masks to combat the coronavirus, while still not issuing such a mandate in his own state.  More revelations are showing just who received federal PPP money.  And House Speaker Michael Madigan calls for the removal of statues at the State Capitol building.

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It was only a matter a time that recent events caused someone to focus in on Illinois State Capitol statues dedicated to those with racist pasts.  Now, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is calling for the removal of two statues sitting outside the State Capitol and a portrait inside the chamber of the Illinois House.

Battle For The Amendment

Jul 7, 2020
Ill. House Republicans

The advertisements will soon start flying through the airwaves, over the cable and on your favorite social media channel.   It is all in the battle for a constitutional amendment this November that would change the way Illinois’ income tax system works.

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Drivers in Illinois will no longer have their license or vehicle registration suspended for unpaid parking fines and tollway violations. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, a Clay County judge ruled that Governor J.B. Pritzker did not have the authority to issue executive orders to combat the spread of the new coronavirus after his initial order expired.   Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned the city that there would be conseqences for those who flout precautionary measures.  Also, it's the start of a new fiscal year and several new laws went into effect July 1st.

WTTW Chicago Tonight's Amanda Vinicky joins the panel.

Epilepsy Awareness Facebook Page / Epilepsy Awareness

The Seizure Smart School Act, is a new law in Illinois that requires schools to train employees and care aides on how to handle students with epilepsy, and how to administer their medications.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which the brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the country.

Higher Minimum Wage, Gas Tax Increase Among New Laws

Jun 30, 2020
dnr.illinois.gov

July 1 marks the start of a new fiscal year in Illinois.  It also means several new laws take effect.  Here is a rundown of some of those:

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage is going up in the state.  Workers across most of Illinois will see a boost in their pay to $10 per hour. That is up .75 cents from the bump they received the first of the year.  Those making minimum wage will continue to see annual hikes of a buck per hour each January until the hourly minimum hits $15.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This Friday marked Illinois moving to Phase 4 of Governor J.B. Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan, along with guidelines for in-person school attendance in the Fall.  However, the governor says that the threat of COVID-19 remains and that restrictions could be tightened again if there is a resurgence of the disease.

Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As the state gets closer to the Phase 4 stage of Governor Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan, there are still concerns over the possibility of a surge in COVID-19 cases along with calls to speed up the process.  Also, the state is making it easier to vote by mail for the upcoming election.

the Illinois Supreme Court bench in the court's main building in Springfield
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Police departments across Illinois may be able to keep officer disciplinary files longer than union agreements allow.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of the City of Chicago’s right to keep records, even though the union contract calls for them to be destroyed after five years.

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