Lisa Ryan

2015 Public Affairs Reporting Program Graduate Intern - Statehouse

Lisa Ryan is a graduate student in the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She previously worked at Indiana Public Radio and the college radio station founded by David Letterman. She is a 2014 broadcast journalism and political science graduate of Ball State University.

In addition to public radio, Lisa loves traveling. In 2014 she traveled to Budapest, Vienna and Bratislava as part of an international reporting class.

Ways to Connect

Raise Your Hand

Different states have incorporated Common Core standards in different ways. Illinois students will begin taking the related test, called PARCC, next week.

A discussion about student testing raised voices and emotions among those for and against the controversial test, which stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. It consists of math and reading exams given to students starting in third grade.

John Barker from Chicago Public Schools says CPS is a strong proponent of the common core standards.

Illinois General Assembly

Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed a large budget cut for higher education, including the University of Illinois.

Illinois Sen. Scott Bennett is trying to stop the governor from slashing the U of I's budget, and he's beginning to fight that battle with a stack of paper and a list of names. Bennett, who is from Champaign, where the University of Illinois' main campus is located, has started a petition in opposition to Rauner's plan.

Bennett says the names he collects signify more than a line on a budget.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/emagineart/4742089272/

Prescription pain pills can lead to addiction — that’s why they’re not supposed to be easy to get. The Illinois State Medical Society, or ISMS, is proposing legislation it says will fight addiction to prescription pain medication.

Dr. William McDade, the president of ISMS, says expanding the state's prescription monitoring database would help prevent "doctor shopping," where a patient gathers multiple prescriptions from different doctors.

Illinois General Assembly

Republicans' choice of a 22 year old to take over a vacated seat in the Illinois House of Representatives has some wondering how she'll handle the responsibility.

Representative Avery Bourne is the youngest lawmaker to serve in the legislature. Bourne was going to law school at Washington University in St. Louis before the GOP county chairmen in central Illinois chose her to fill an empty seat in the House. She will take a leave of absence from school.

Turbines at the Twin Groves Wind Farm near Bloomington
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Legislation introduced in Springfield calls for stricter statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy standards.

Advocates for clean energy say that increasing the amount of energy generated by renewable resources, such as wind and solar power, will bring jobs to Illinois. A large group of bipartisan lawmakers have signed on to a proposal to increase energy efficiency standards to 20 percent by 2025, then 35 percent by 2030.

Nick Magrisso of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition says Illinois exports some of that energy to other states, which helps create jobs.

Peoria Public Radio

Illinois requires high school students take four years of gym class, but a proposal in the Illinois Senate could allow some students to opt out.

Senate Bill 114 would allow local school boards to excuse students from physical education if they are taking two or more Advanced Placement, or AP, classes.

Senator Pamela Althoff says she's talked with parents who are concerned about getting their children into competitive colleges.

http://www.infouas.com/la-policia-de-california-dispuesta-a-emplear-drones/

A handful of states have already passed measures that would ban the use of drones to hunt or fish, and Illinois could be next.

Senator Julie Morrison sees her bill as a precautionary measure. She says hunting and fishing with drones hasn't yet become a problem in Illinois, but the Democrat from Deerfield wants to make sure it never is.

"Drones are a piece of technology that we are not completely prepared to deal with yet, but this will be one step forward," she said.

Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs

The possibility of budget cuts makes the future of agricultural fairs in Illinois unknown. A study released by the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs focused on the importance of county fairs to the state's economy.

Agricultural fairs rarely make a profit, and most are slowly using up their savings, if they had any. Bill Jennings, president of the Richland County Fair, says they are lucky to have a financial reserve for maintenance of the fairgrounds.

Department of Homeland Security

Immigrants in the country illegally will soon be able to file requests to stay in the U.S. without fear of being deported.

President Barack Obama announced an executive order helping immigrants in the country illegally gain lawful employment and defer deportation. Opponents say this could hurt the economy and take jobs away from U.S. citizens.

Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, says the opposite is true.

healthcaregov.net

The deadline is approaching to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act. In-person counselors help walk people through the process.

Loren Greer is a 63-year-old truck driver who was taken off his company's health coverage when he was forced into early retirement. He sought help from an in-person counselor so he can avoid paying a fee after the February 15 deadline. If it weren't for the threat of a 325 dollar fee, Greer might not enroll.

childcarecenter.us

Illinois' program that provides subsidized daycare for low-income families is out of cash. A Senate committee attempted to address the issue on Thursday.

Chandra Ankoor is a 24-year-old single mother from Springfield. While she is working, she sends her three daughters to child care that is partially paid for with the help of the state.

If it weren't for this assistance, she says it would cost her every dollar she makes, and then some, to afford the cost of child care.

Illinois Department of Transportation

Illinois law is pretty straightforward: one child, per seat, each with his or her own seat belt. Rep. Mary Flowers, a Democrat from Chicago, wants to change the law for drivers who don't have enough room in their car for each kid. She proposes allowing two children, if they're between the ages of 8 and 15, to buckle into a single seat belt.

"It's a financial burden on a poor family. If they're trying to comply with the law, they should not be penalized because they don't have a bigger vehicle," Flowers said.

@GovRauner

If Illinois had political gravity, it could be said that all things orbit around Chicago. Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife Diana vow to change all that by living in the mansion and running state government from Springfield.

  Some might find it surprising that a governor would need to make such a statement. The historic mansion, 150 years old and just a few blocks from the statehouse, is considered the official residence of the governor, but not all have made it their home.

Springfield's plan to move rail traffic from Third Street to Tenth Street will displace an estimated 150 properties. Residents affected by the relocation agreed to the construction as long as the government provides job training for minorities and help for those losing their homes or businesses.

Sen. Andy Manar says the state should have oversight of that agreement.

Barbara Flynn Currie
ILGA.gov

Even though lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said they're going to work together this year, a simple vote on the rules the House has to follow when it conducts business was divided along party lines.

Republicans objected to the rules, saying they lack transparency and give too much power to lame-duck legislators. Representative Ed Sullivan, a Republican from Mundelein, wants to extend the time period that information is posted online before legislators can debate a bill. The rules require only a one-hour notice before a hearing.

United States Department of Agriculture

There are many ways to add pumpkin to recipes, but one lawmaker wants to make it a permanent ingredient on the list of state symbols.

You can find pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin ice cream, and even pumpkin chili at the pumpkin festival in Morton. Representative Keith Sommer, a Republican who's from Morton, wants to bring even more attention to the state's star squash.

Sommer is a sponsor of legislation to make pumpkin pie the official state pie of Illinois. He says it is a way to recognize something good from Illinois.

Illinois General Assembly

Counseling that tries to change a person's sexual orientation can cause depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, according to reports from psychologists.

A proposal to make the therapy off limits for minors failed last year in the Illinois House. The CEO of the gay rights group Equality Illinois, Bernard Cherkasov, is hopeful it will pass this time.

Back On The Bobcat Hunt

Jan 16, 2015

 A state senator is still smarting from former Governor Pat Quinn's last minute veto of a proposal to once again allow bobcat hunting in Illinois. The senator says he's going to try again now that Quinn's out of office.

In a press release issued on one of his final days as governor, Quinn's office said he vetoed the bobcat hunting measure because it violated the state's responsibility to protect wildlife.

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