Sam Dunklau

Reporter

Sam is a general assignment reporter.  Previously, Sam was a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working at the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.

Since 2015, he's been floating around the radio airwaves as a reporter, disc jockey, and station manager.  A multimedia journalism degree from Augustana College now rests comfortably under his belt. 

Ways to Connect

Susana Mendoza
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers from both parties have been bragging about passing a balanced budget this year, but Comptroller Susana Mendoza says the state still needs to address more than $7 billion in unpaid bills.

Illinois is among the 45 states that celebrate Juneteenth today. The holiday recalls the day at the end of the Civil War when slaves in Texas were told they were free, and is the oldest known commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.

Rebecca Anzel / Capitol News Illinois

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed a controversial bill expanding access to reproductive healthcare, including abortions. The move comes as several other states have all but banned the procedure.


Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker is starting to act on the flurry of bills sent to his desk in the wake of this year’s spring legislative session. Among the first that he’s signed requires schools to provide a minimum of five hours of learning time.


via Twitter

Illinois colleges and universities are set to receive more funding from the state now that lawmakers have approved a nearly $40 billion state budget. They’ll also be getting chunks of the $45 billion capital plan that will fund state construction projects over the next several years.

The University of Illinois at Springfield appears poised to benefit from both bills. Among other things, it’s expecting some $35 million dollars for a new library.

Reporter Sam Dunklau sat down with UIS Chancellor Susan Koch to talk details on the planned building, and how the University plans to move forward with more money to use.


Jacob Torres

Spring is back in Illinois, and soon comes April showers, May flowers, and of course the bees that help those flowers grow. In recent years though, bee populations have been dwindling for largely unexplained reasons. If the trend isn’t reversed, food supply chains across the country could suffer shortages.

But one graduate student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is out to stop that, by arming beekeepers and concerned citizens alike with data. 

Nicholas King / via Flikr

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is asking state lawmakers to raise the tax on cigarettes, and begin taxing vaping products. It’s part of a plan he introduced last month to balance the state budget.


Caleb Froidcouer

A team of Illinois college students is trying to get to the bottom of bad recycling habits. Undergraduate students Caleb Froidcoeur and Marissa Jones headed up a waste management study based at the University of Illinois Springfield. It examined how the public interacted with bedazzled recycling bins. I spoke with them about the results.


Nearly 100 Illinois children who died within the last two years were involved with the state’s Department of Children and Family Services. That’s according to a recent Inspector General report

 

Lee Milner / Illinois Times

Mayor Jim Langfelder is facing challenger Frank Edwards in Springfield city elections this spring. The candidates met on Friday in the campaign’s first forum.


Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

A group of Illinois state lawmakers is moving to limit the industrial use of a cancer-causing gas known as ethylene oxide.


via Think Big Illinois Facebook page

A new dark money group in Illinois says it plans to shed some light on what it's doing by voluntarily disclosing the names of its donors.


Lee Milner

President Abraham Lincoln would have celebrated his 210th birthday on Tuesday. Military veteran groups and politicians gathered in Springfield to mark the occasion and laid wreaths at the 16th President’s tomb.


via Think Big Illinois Facebook page

A new lobbying group says it plans to promote Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s agenda using secret money. It’s being run by a close Pritzker ally.


inhaling a cigarette
Julie via Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

For decades, public health advocates have pushed for limits on smoking. They've included warning labels on products to limits on where someone can light up, all of which have helped bring down smoking rates. But in Illinois, a push to raise the smoking age has repeatedly failed to become law. We took a look at this year's push, and what chance it has at becoming law.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A state lawmaker has proposed a plan to use state funds to build a new higher education center in downtown Springfield.

State Senator Andy Manar (D, Bunker Hill) introduced legislation on Wednesday that calls for $50 million to build a campus and public affairs center. The proposed building would sit within a mile of Southern Illinois University's existing medical school.

401kcalculator.org via Flikr

A program designed to curb Illinois’ pension debt is now underway. Early numbers show more Illinois state employees than expected are choosing to take a pension buyout from the state.


via Blue Room Stream

Illinois firearms dealers will now have to have state licenses. That’s part of a package of changes Governor JB Pritzker signed into law on Thursday.


Illinois Department of Corrections

Before leaving office, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner granted a pardon to a man wrongly convicted of attempted murder. What makes this clemency unique is that man, Grover Thompson, is now deceased.


The Illinois General Assembly began a new legislative session Wednesday—with both new and familiar faces. Though the legislative leaders remain the same, making what was old “new” again,  Democrats have expanded their veto-proof majority, known as a “supermajority".

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

The new Illinois House of Representatives was sworn in Wednesday at a ceremony in Springfield, and longtime Speaker of the House Michael Madigan was elected to his 18th term in that post. But, one of the 74 newly sworn-in Democrats did not vote for Madigan.


Lee Milner

The Illinois House on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a measure to remove the members of the Illinois Tollway Board of Directors.


Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

An Illinois politician is going to Africa, after the U-S Senate approved an ambassadorship for outgoing state Senator Kyle McCarter. The Senate also confirmed a former State’s Attorney to be the next US Attorney for Central Illinois.


via WI State Representative Joel Kleefisch / Facebook

Illinois hunters will soon be able to swap their orange hunting gear with pink if they wish, thanks to a new state law taking effect in January.


Mitch Barrie / Flickr

The ongoing series of mass shootings across the country prompted Illinois lawmakers to pass a number of measures in 2018 aimed at preventing such tragedies. One of those is taking effect on January 1st.

Claire Harbage / NPR

Amid talk of possibly legalizing marijuana in Illinois in the near future, farmers will soon be able to grow another type of cannabis plant thanks to a new state law.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

In the wake of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Catholic Church investigation, a victim’s advocacy group is accusing the Catholic Diocese of Springfield of intentionally leaving the names of two predator priests off its public list. They say those names are part of the group of 500 Madigan uncovered.


via Annie Thompson / Office of The Attorney General of Illinois

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says Illinois six Roman Catholic dioceses failed to disclose at least 500 sexual abuse cases involving priests. That’s one of the first findings the office has released so far in its ongoing investigation of the dioceses.


Jimmy Baikovicius via Flikr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is continuing her investigation of the state’s six Roman Catholic dioceses, and now says criminal prosecution is a potential.


via Creative Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Hundreds of Chicago murder cases from as far back as 2014 have DNA evidence from the crime scene: it just hasn’t been processed yet by Illinois’ Forensic Science Lab. State senators met in Chicago on Monday to find out why.


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