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

Naperville government prohibits recreational sales of the drug in the community. Corruptions charges are formally dropped against former Congressman Aaron Schock. And a vocal conservative lawmaker says he won’t seek reelection.

The Rev. Edward Ohm speaks to an anti-abortion gathering Wednesday in the rotunda of the Illinois Statehouse.
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A small gathering of anti-abortion activists prayed in the Illinois Capitol Building Wednesday. It comes as lawmakers are considering whether to further relax the state’s abortion laws.

Illinois State Board of Elections
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Tuesday marks the official beginning of campaign season in Illinois — the day potential candidates can start circulating petitions to get their names on the ballot.

In Illinois, people can’t really be political candidates until they collect enough signatures — anywhere from hundreds to thousands, depending on the office. State election law dictates when that process can begin; this year it’s Sept. 3.

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

A new report from NPR Illinois and ProPublica shows the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has protected the reputation of several members of the faculty accused of sexual harassment.

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s tenure crossed the 100-day mark. She marked the ocassion by giving a speech laying out the city's significant fiscal problems, but stopped short of saying precisely what she wants to do to fix them.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker holds giant scissors at the ribbon cutting for the Illinois State Fair in August 2019
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has broken his leg, and his office says he doesn’t know how it happened.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As Democrats and Republicans gear up for next year’s election, the parties rallied in Springfield this week with events timed to the Illinois State Fair.

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi headlined the Illinois Democratic County Chairs' Association brunch Wednesday in Springfield.
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi rallied with Illinois Democrats Wednesday in Springfield.

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

President Donald Trump once again dangles the possibility of a commutation for impeached and imprisoned ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. 

Rod and Patti Blagojevich
WBEZ / Flickr

President Donald Trump says he is “very strongly considering” commuting the prison sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker has proposed a graduated tax system for Illinois.
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

In the wake of last weekend’s shootings in Texas and Ohio, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is calling for a ban on large-capacity magazines.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago announced Friday that state Sen. Tom Cullerton was under indictment for embezzeling from a local branch of the Teamsters union. He’s accused of collecting more than $274,000 in pay and benefits for “little or no work.” Cullerton denies the charges.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

Illinois state government is getting a slightly better assessment from one of the major credit rating agencies.

handout / Illinois Office of Communication and Information

People with criminal records could soon have better luck getting jobs in health care.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

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.

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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.

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