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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Senate President John Cullerton and Senators Kim Lightford and Don Harmon
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Members of the Illinois Senate will gather in the Capitol Sunday to choose a new president.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

More fallout from the “rape in Champaign” email: Ag Director John Sullivan is out.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Tuesday marks one year since J.B. Pritzker was sworn in as governor of Illinois. Since then, the state has raised its minimum wage, legalized marijuana, and passed several other pieces of legislation long sought by Democrats.

Pritzker marked the occasion with a series of interviews, including with our Statehouse reporter.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, WBEZ Chicago reported on a 2012 email in which then-lobbyist Mike McClain priased a former state worker for having “kept his mouth shut on ... the rape in Champaign,” among other things.

Seven Democratic candidates at the beginning of the PBS-Politico debate in December
PBS Newshour

Friday was the deadline for major party presidential candidates to try to get on the ballot for Illinois’ upcoming primary election.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Marijuana sales began with more than $3 million in sales on New Year’s Day. Backers of the law, however, say that news ought to take a back seat to the more than 11,000 pardons for past pot convictions Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a day earlier.

J.B. Pritzker speaks with reporters in his ceremonial office
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday issued pardons for more than 11,000 low-level marijuana convictions.

graphic for the 2019 installment of the voices in the news feature
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As we close the book on 2019, we thought we’d take a few minutes to listen back to what has been a most consequential year in Illinois government and politics. From novice politicians taking power to a flood of major legislation, these are some of the voices that made news in 2019.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

It would be difficult to overstate how consequential the past year was in Illinois government and politics. This week on State Week, the panel looks back at some of the top stories of 2019.

Dick Durbin speaks with reporters outside his house in Springfield
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says some of his colleagues have gone too far in public comments about President Trump's impeachment.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Legal marijuana is coming January 1 — what will that look like in Illinois? Will there be enough supply to meet demand? And what will happen to the black market?

Rep. Lauren Underwood announcing her intention to vote to impeach President Trump in a speech on the floor of the U.S. House
U.S. House of Representatives

Freshman Illinois Congresswoman Lauren Underwood says she will vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said Monday he has not spoken to House Speaker Michael Madigan about a series of federal inquiries. That’s despite reports that investigators appear to be targeting the speaker's inner circle.

TV ads targeting Reps. Adam Kinzinger, left, and Lauren Underwood, right. Pictured are President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
illustration by Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As members of the U.S. House of Representatives prepare to vote on whether to impeach President Trump this week, Republican interest groups have been waging an ad war in selected districts across the country, including in Illinois.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx personally filed paperwork that led to vacating and expunging the marijuana convictions of more than 1,000 people.

Rodney Davis speaks with reporters after an event with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, at a church in Springfield
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A man from the Springfield area was charged Thursday with threatening to shoot central Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaking with reporters in his ceremonial office in the Illinois Statehouse on April 9, 2019
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is giving $5 million to a campaign supporting a graduated income tax. It’s the first reported contribution in what’s expected to be an expensive fight over the state’s tax policy.

J.B. Pritzker speaks with reporters in his ceremonial office
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

More than a thousand Illinoisans with low-level marijuana convictions had their records wiped clean Wednesday. It’s part of the new marijuana legalization coming in January.

the Chicago skyline as viewed from the south side
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A pair of credit rating agencies on Tuesday issued warnings on the finances of both the state of Illinois and its largest city.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot abruptly sacked CPD Chief Eddie Johnson this week, accusing the department veteran of lying to her over the details of an incident in which he was found slumped over the steering wheel of his government vehicle. Johnson denies wrongdoing.

Doris Turner, J.B. Pritzker, and Juliana Stratton
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s campaign operation is striking back against a group of former workers who’re suing for racial discrimination.

Alaina Hampton, right, speaks with reporters about her sexual harassment complaint. She is with her spokeswoman Lorna Brett.
Chicago Tonight / WTTW-TV

Former campaign staffer Alaina Hampton has agreed to settle a lawsuit against the Democratic Party of Illinois and several political organizations tied to House Speaker Michael Madigan.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

For our Thanksgiving-week episode, we take a step back from the day-to-day workings of state government to go deep on the federal investigation swirling around one of Illinois' most powerful people.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune collaborated on a story that revealed the extent to which Illinois schools are using "seclusion rooms" — essentially solitary confinement — to handle children who cause trouble, mostly in special education classes.

Sandbagging the Bulkheads (mural study, Cairo, Illinois Post Office) by Wendell Jones
Wendell Jones / Smithsonian American Art Museum

Would you say that most people can be trusted, or that you can’t be too careful? An NPR Illinois survey shows Illinoisans are divided on the question — though not in the usual ways of politics. This week, we look at the issue of trust, and why it matters for democracy.

flickr/katerha

Lawyers are asking a federal judge to hold the state of Illinois in contempt over the way it deals with mental illness in prisons.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

After four decades in the legislature, Senate President John Cullerton announced he'll retire in January. Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spent a day lobbying in the Capitol, but came away empty handed. And lawmakers approved measures intended to improve the fiscal future of police and fire department pensions.

Rodney Davis speaking at the Illinois State Fair in August 2019
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

With the impeachment investigation moving into a more public phase this week, members of Congress are calibrating their responses.

Rodney Davis’ 13th District includes wide swaths of rural, central Illinois, where President Trump is popular. But is also includes college towns filled with Democratic voters, and Davis was re-elected by a slim margin last year.

It’s against that backdrop that Davis has traveled from being a Trump objector — to a Trump supporter.

Dick Durbin speaks with reporters outside his house in Springfield
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says he’ll try again this week to pass legislation that would permanently resolve the immigration status of the young immigrants known as “dreamers.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot leaves the Press Room in the Illinois Statehouse on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019.
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

After spending Tuesday lobbying in the state Capitol, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she’s optimistic lawmakers will go along with her changes for a proposed Chicago casino. Otherwise she says there could be negative consequences for the entire state.

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