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

Jerry Nowicki / Capitol News Illinois, used with permission

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs is among the first Illinois officials to endorse a candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, and he's backing Elizabeth Warren.


Ashley's Law
Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Illinois’ medical marijuana program is getting a second wind. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a pair of bills on Monday expanding who can get a medical card, and when they can use it.


Lindsay Fox https://ecigarettereviewed.com/ / via Flickr CC BY 2.0

At least three young people in Illinois have been sent to the hospital in recent months after having used e-cigarettes, also known as “vapes.” That’s according to an investigation by the state’s Department of Public Health.


Tom Irwin Music

Artists of all kinds often struggle to find inspiration for their work, but sometimes it strikes in unexpected ways. For singer/songwriter and columnist Tom Irwin, inspiration came from a diary he found. It was written more than 125 years ago by a young man who lived in the same Pleasant Plains farmhouse that’s been in his family for generations.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Ahead of the start of the Illinois State Fair next week, organizers say they’re optimistic about attendance and attractions. But the fair’s success is an open question.


Ruin Raider / via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In the wake of an increase in roadside injuries and deaths among Illinois state troopers, Governor J.B. Pritzker has approved harsher penalties for those who break what’s known as Scott’s Law.


Jaclyn Driscoll

An unprecedented number of Illinois State Police troopers have been injured or killed this year at the hands of drivers who don’t move over when directed to. That’s prompted state and federal lawmakers to get tougher and more changes could be coming.


Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

A self-described unpaid volunteer for Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis’ campaign crashed a news call being held by a Democrat running for Congress in 2020. Betsy Dirksen Londrigan’s campaign called the incident “underhanded.”


Dr. Partha Sarathi Sahana / via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Kids across Illinois will be heading to school next month. For parents, that means checking off supply lists, calming those first day jitters, and even getting their kids vaccinated. Not everyone believes in that last one, which is why states like Illinois offer families exemptions for religious reasons.

via salvilaw.com

Illinois reached an agreement this week with a suburban Chicago cleaning facility that was releasing toxins into the air at unsafe levels. But attorneys representing residents who live near the plant aren’t happy with it.

via Google Maps

Springfield-based Land of Lincoln Goodwill is backpedaling on its recent decision to lay off a number of workers with disabilities. The move by CEO Sharon Durbin sparked broad criticism this week.


via Twitter

A hot and unusually wet summer has stretches of Illinois roads at the breaking point. Drivers are being warned to watch out for road buckling.


Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Illinois farmers now have until July 15 to officially say they won’t be planting crops this year. A key deadline has been extended for claiming some types of crop insurance.

It's been one of the wettest springs in state history. Just last month alone, Illinois averaged more than five inches of rainfall, a whole inch above normal. It’s been so wet for so much of the planting season, farmers across the state haven’t had much of a chance to get their crops in the ground.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

The Illinois State Armory is perhaps the largest state-owned building that no longer has a purpose. The 200,000-square foot behemoth was once a fixture of life and culture in downtown Springfield, and a central component to the State Capitol complex.

But, the more than 80 year-old building is a shell of what it once was. It’s fallen into disrepair.

That may soon change now that state lawmakers devoted $120 million from the latest infrastructure bill to fix up the place. 

Michael Kappel via Flikr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=rich

If you’re driving this holiday weekend, you’ll be paying more to fill up your tank in Illinois.  A 19 cent per gallon gas tax increase went into effect this week. But Governor J.B. Pritzker claims the money is an investment.


via Illinois CMS

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is rejecting a push to take on Chicago’s pension debt. But local pension costs are a growing problem across the state.

Inventorchris via Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=rich

Illinois’ weed legalization law won’t take effect until next year, but the Illinois State Police is wasting no time. That agency is preparing to enforce new regulations surrounding legal cannabis.


Ratclimaa via Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

The age to buy tobacco products in Illinois will officially be raised from 18 to 21 next week. Supporters say the move is aimed at stopping young people from starting a bad habit.


via Twitter

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law Tuesday legalizing recreational marijuana. That makes the state the 11th to approve recreational use.

Susana Mendoza speaks to people attending a women's march outside the Illinois Capitol
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.


Pages