Brian Mackey

Reporter - Statehouse

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

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

Republicans are lining up to try to reclaim the seats won by freshmen U.S. Reps. Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood, there are fights over a suburban business emitting a cancer-causing chemical, the feds are inching up on the speaker, and more.

Birds N Brooks Army Navy Surplus features an M16/AR-15 rifle atop its sign
Google Maps

A group of gun dealers is suing the state of Illinois to block new regulations on their businesses.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker canceled an upcoming performance by the band Confederate Railroad at the DuQuoin State Fair. 

satellite image of Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, cut into puzzle pieces with a few missing
Photo: Apple Maps / Illustration: Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

After decades of growth, the number of men and women in the Illinois prison system has declined sharply in the last several years. A complex blend of decisions is behind the drop — ranging from the highest reaches of power in the General Assembly down to individual police on the beat.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants Illinois to help Chicago with its ballooning pension payments, which are squeezing other priorities in the state budget.

decades of budget books line the shelves in the LEgislative Reference Bureau's library in the Illinois state Capitol
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

When lawmakers made performance-based budgeting the law in Illinois, they promised it would transform the way the state spends money. But after years of failing to invest in the program, backers say Illinois is finally getting serious about Budgeting for Results.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois is investing $29 million to try to get an accurate count in the 2020 Census. On the line are two seats in Congress and the Electoral College.

Chao, Pritzker, DeSantis, Trump
still image from video / pool

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed a series of laws meant to protect immigrants in Illinois. The Democrat says it’s a direct response to the rhetoric and actions of President Donald Trump.

stacks of LaCroix sparkling water
Altitude Summit / Flickr.com/alt_design_summit (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Illinois Supreme Court is letting Walgreens off the hook for improperly collecting a tax on sparkling water.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker this week signed a bill to make what he and activists say is the most progressive abortion-rights law in the country. But could Democrats risk a backlash by going too far? And what are they targeting next?

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly ended its spring legislative session last weekend, passing what some are calling the most productive session in a generation.

men's room sigh indicating a baby changing station is inside
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers are trying to make it easier for parents to share diaper changing duty.

Gov. J.B. Pritzer flanked by senators at a news conference
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly finally finished its annual legislative session this weekend, with lawmakers approving item after item on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s agenda.

Observers and participants are calling it one of the most significant sessions in living memory.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Sunday night, the Illinois General Assembly finished what by most accounts was a historic session.

From the legalization of marijuana to a massive expansion of gambling, lawmakers made significant changes to the state. We thought we’d listen back to some of the voices that made news in the last week of the 2019 legislative session.

HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER JIM DURKIN: “It's been a long year, we've had a lot of emotions that have gone on in this chamber.”

House Speaker Michael Madigan speaks to his colleagues and Gov. J.B. Pritzker on the last day of the 2019 legislative session
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinoisans will soon pay more for gasoline and cigarettes. Those are just two tax increases needed to pay for a $45 billion infrastructure plan, which includes money from sports betting and additional casinos.

Speaker Madigan watching a roll call on the electronic display board.
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The usual May 31st deadline for the Illinois General Assembly passed last night, but lawmakers are not yet done with their work.

Roberta Lynch speaks with reporters at a news conference
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest labor union representing Illinois state workers, has reached a contract deal with Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration.

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Brian Mackey

Note: The show was taped during the noon hour on Friday, while debate and negotiations at the Statehouse were still ongoing.

On the final day of the Regular Legislative Session, lawmakers continued to work on finalizing the state budget, along with votes still to come on a constitutional amendment to switch Illinois to a graduated income tax, legalization of marijuana, expansion of gambling, and abortion legislation.  WTTW's Amanda Vinicky joins the panel.

House Speaker Michael Madigan makes a rare visit to the House floor
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Friday is the last day of the Illinois General Assembly’s scheduled spring legislative session, and lawmakers still have a long list of things to do.

Reps. Mike Zalewski and Rob Martwick listen to debate over proposed rates for a graduated income tax
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Democrats are almost finished carrying out one of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s top campaign pledges, as the Illinois House on Thursday approved tax brackets for his proposed graduated income tax.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker hugs Rep. Robert Martwick after passage of a graduated income tax constitutional amendment
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois voters will get to decide the future of the state’s income tax. Democrats on Monday approved a measure to put a graduated income tax on the ballot next fall.

Illinois Capitol Rotunda
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers are back in Springfield Monday. They’ve got a long to-do list — with just five days until the end of session.

House Revenue and Finance Committee
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Democrats are advancing legislation that spells out the rates for a proposed graduated state income tax.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly has just one week left in its spring legislative session, and the number of outstanding issues are beginning to pile up.

A graduated income tax constitutional amendment seems to be on track, but lawmakers are still hashing out details — and rounding up votes — on crafting state budget, funding an infrastructure program, legalizing marijuana, and expanding gambling.

Delia Ramirez
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Affordable-housing advocates are joining the chorus calling on Illinois lawmakers to approve an infrastructure plan.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois officials faced tough questioning Monday over the lease of a warehouse for file storage.

The Legislative Audit Commission hearing also got at broader questions over how state government spends money.

road construction
Gary Brown via Flickr (gsbrown99)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is finally getting specific on what could be in a massive statewide building plan — and what taxes and fees could be raised to pay for it.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Republicans are trying to get back in on next year's budget negotiations. Meanwhile, as red states compete to place more and more restrictins on abortion, activists want Illinois to move the other way.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Republican on Thursday were trying to elbow their way back into budget negotiations.

The move comes as lawmakers have just two weeks left in their annual legislative session, with a long to-do list that includes passing a state budget.

Illustration by Brian Mackey / Photo by Kenwood

News Analysis — The Illinois Department of Corrections did not fare well in a recent state audit. Among the findings was that the agency could not account for 3,568 pieces of equipment.

Dig into the numbers and property records, and you’ll find a bigger story about the challenges of pursuing efficiency in state government.

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