Maureen Foertsch McKinney

News Editor

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers,  and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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Illinois House Republicans in a press conference Monday said Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration has not done enough to address the tsunami of unemployment insurance claims from recent weeks.

Ronnie Cobb

Illinoisans experiencing mental illness have had to face a new world in the pandemic.

Most -- except for those in residential or emergency situations – have had to make the choice between not having therapy or having to do it by phone or computer screen.

For this week’s Illinois Issues in-depth report, Maureen McKinney looked into how the transition is working.


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Illinois domestic violence shelters have not received as many calls in recent days perhaps because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s likely to change.

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By Saturday, officials expect 500 hospital beds to be in place at a converted McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago to deal with the overflow of COVID-19 patients. 

The massive facility off Lakeshore Drive is expected by mid-April to have up to 3,000 beds, including ICU units, to deal, if needed with COVID-19 cases. There are now more than 5,000 cases statewide, most in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Gov. J.B Pritzker announced the progress in his daily press briefing on Monday.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker in his daily COVID-19 briefing had harsh words for people who
gathered on Chicago’s beaches and in parks during this week’s warmer
temperatures

“Right now, hosting a party, crowding down 
by the lake, playing a pickup basketball game in a public park.  If you are doing these things you are spitting
in the face of the doctors and nurses and first responders who are risking
everything so you can survive. “

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday described an Illinois worst-case scenario in which the state could  be far short of the ventilators, hospital beds and intensive-care unit spaces for expected COVID-19 cases.

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After days of blasting President Donald Trump over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the two spoke by phone Monday.

Pritzker has been especially critical regarding the lack of supplies going to states.  But he said in their conversation, the president was “very responsive.”

ILLINOIS OFFICE OF COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION

Gov. J.B. Pritzker Tuesday announced Illinois’ first COVID-19 death – a Chicago woman in her 60’s with underlying medical conditions.

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Polls are open, even though far fewer voters than usual are expected to turn out for today’s primary election because of coronavirus concerns.

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Courtesy of RIchard Riley

One of the four women featured in the award-winning documentary Knock Down the House will be at UIS Thursday.

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As national debate on government-mandated paid family leave continues, lawmakers in Illinois say they want it enacted here.

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Income of about $1.4 billion a year for Illinois workers would be generated if paid parental leave became law — that’s according to a report out today from a pair of Illinois think tanks.

Paid-leave legislation was introduced last year, and state Rep. Mary Flowers, a Chicago Democrat, told NPR Illinois she would introduce a version of that again this legislative session.

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Illinois today joined Virginia and Nevada, in filing a federal lawsuit to get the Equal Rights Amendment on the books now that it’s been ratified by enough states.

Virginia on Monday became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, but President Trump’s administration is trying to block it from being added to the Constitution.

University of Illinois Springfield

University of Illinois Springfield professor Jason Pierceson recently published an encyclopedia detailing LGBTQ politics. It includes profiles on candidates, officials and activists; a timeline of events;  government documents; speeches; and court cases. Pierceson recently talked about the two-volume work with reporter Maureen McKinney, as well as the Trump administration's handling of LGBTQ issues. 

Courtesy of Alexis Mansfield

Advocates have ideas being hashed out by a state task force.

Attorney Alexis Mansfield said her clients have told her troubling stories of what happens when small children reach the glass in a jail that separates them from a parent.

Illinois Department of Corrections

A pair of laws recently enacted  in Illinois were designed to take into account how children are affected by their parents' incarceration and to find ways to address their needs.

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Buying and using marijuana will be legal in Illinois as of January 1. We asked top state experts what that does and doesn’t mean, and compiled their answers in this Q&A.

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Likely more than 100,000 Illinoisans will lose food stamps under a rule change finalized by President Donald’s Trump administration this week. 

Anti-Defamation League

Hate crimes rose by 30 percent in Illinois in 2018, according to a recently released FBI report.

A coalition of 26 advocacy organizations sent a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker this week asking him to order the Illinois Department of Corrections to immediately improve its treatment of a suicidal transgender inmate. 

Janiah Monroe, who is isolated in a medical unit, is in danger of committing suicide because of the departments’ refusal recognize her as a woman and its denial of her request to provide surgery to treat gender dysphoria, according to the letter. She's one of five transgender women who have a lawsuit pending against IDOC.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has a bill on his desk that would end the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for most non-moving violations, like unpaid parking tickets.

Cynthia Buckley and students / Univesity of Illinois Urbana Champaign

Nationwide, the abortion rate has been declining since the 1980s, but Illinois has recorded a smaller drop than our neighboring states.

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Amid a federal corruption probe, a suburban Chicago lawmaker wants to effectively ban red-light cameras.

The company SafeSpeed has contracts to provide red-light cameras to several Chicago suburbs. And it's reportedly part of a federal investigation driving raids on several suburban municipal offices and on the offices and home of state Sen. Martin Sandoval. Late last week the Chicago Democrat resigned his powerful position as head of the Senate Transportation Committee.

ACLU of Illinois

The Illinois Human Rights Commission, in the first case of its kind in the state, ordered a Chicago area school district to give a transgender student access to a communal boys’ restroom.

In 2015, the Komarek School in suburban North Riverside refused to let a now-12-year-old use the communal boys’ restroom, forcing him to use the male staff members’ bathroom.

The Human Rights commission ruled that was discrimination based on gender-related identity.

Plannned Parenthood

*The city of Fairview Heights in southwestern Illinois has drawn national attention for the stealthily built Planned Parenthood Clinic that will open there later this month.

The 18,000-square-foot clinic will dwarf another one that  Planned Parenthood already operates in Fairview Heights, about a dozen miles from downtown St. Louis.  That site only provides medication abortions and other medical treatments.

Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority

An Illinois agency is conducting a survey to gauge violent crime against LGBTQ  individuals.

The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority points out research has shown a higher incidence of violence against those who identify as LGBTQ.  That’s according to the agency’s Jaclyn Houston Kolnik. Twenty percent of hate crimes reported in 2015 were related to sexual orientation or gender-identity bias.

Maureen McKinney / NPR Illinois

An Illinois lawmaker has filed legislation that would prohibit the state from requiring employees to travel to any state that has enacted tight abortion restrictions.

State Rep. Daniel Didech, a Buffalo Grove Democrat, says his bill covers states with laws aimed to restrict abortions within eight weeks of pregnancy or laws that could trigger a criminal investigation if a woman miscarries, as some have interpreted a Georgia measure to do.

Chicago Tonight

Illinois' Legislative Inspector General says a former aide to House Speaker Michael Madigan sexually harassed a subordinate, Alaina Hampton.

Inspector General Carol Pope’s report says Kevin Quinn harassed Hampton, relentlessly pursuing a relationship over her objections. Pope says that harassment created “an intimidating, hostile, and offensive working environment.”

In a letter, Quinn accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to Hampton.

Heartland Alliance Social Impact Research Center / Heart

Though the U.S. poverty rate has dropped to the pre-recession level, Illinois has not yet reached that target.

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