Kelly Cassidy

Cassidy debate
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois is poised to become the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana after lawmakers approved a massive 610-page proposal that is touted as one of the most equitable in the country. 

Sens. Healther Steans and Toi Hutchinson celebrate passage of the recreational cannabis legislation in the Illinois Senate
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois state Senate approved a proposal on Wednesday to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older beginning on January 1, 2020. 

Rep. Kelly Cassidy watched as the Reproductive Health Act passes.
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

After a long and unusually emotional debate in the Illinois House Tuesday, lawmakers approved legislation aimed at keeping abortion legal in Illinois, regardless of what happens in other states or Washington, D.C.

Kelly Cassidy testifies with Dr. Tabatha Wells of Planned Parenthood and Colleen Connell of the ACLU of Illinois
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Late Sunday night, Illinois Democrats advanced legislation meant to protect abortion rights in case Roe v. Wade is overturned.

cannabis ladies
State Sen. Heather Steans / State Sen. Heather Steans

Earlier in May when language for Illinois' recreational cannabis proposal was unveiled, it was Gov. J.B. Pritzker who stole the headlines, receiving much of the credit. While it's his signature that will ultimately appear on any proposal passed by the legislature, it was four female lawmakers who chose to embark on the difficult path to legalization years ago. 

Office of Rep. Kelly Cassidy

This week, public radio station across Illinois are tackling a once taboo topic.

Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

Politicians spearheading the effort to legalize recreational marijuana say revenue isn’t the driving force. It’s about promoting justice for people of color who have been unfairly targeted by the war on drugs. But, the lack of diversity and transparency in Illinois’ medical marijuana program causes some concern.

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Illinois lawmakers are at odds over how to punish damage to important infrastructure. Some fear it would mean harsher sentences for charges that already exist.

Marijuana and criminal justice
Flickr: users memphislaw & temiraydisfruta, with adaptation

Politicians spearheading the effort to legalize recreational marijuana say revenue isn't the driving force. It's about promoting criminal and social justice for people of color who have been unfairly targeted by the war on drugs. But, prominent activists from minority communities question whether these lofty goals are possible. 

adapted photo from Heath Alseike/flickr

Growing and selling cannabis for medical purposes in Illinois is legal, and it's looking more likely that the state will legalize a recreational program as well. But one crucial component that remains illegal is for banks to do business with marijuana-related companies. 

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Governor J.B. Pritzker wants to create a host of new taxes to help balance Illinois’ budget – on everything from e-cigarettes to medical insurance companies. 

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Illinois has been mulling over the idea of legalizing recreational cannabis for years. While some proponents tout it as a social justice issue, others focus on the additional revenue it could bring in for the cash-strapped state.

Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

When talking about legalizing recreational cannabis in Illinois, the conversation has shifted from “if” to “when.” Still, many residents have questions and concerns about what such a program would mean for the state. Lawmakers pushing for a legalized program held a meeting in Springfield on Monday where they attempted to clear up any confusion and gather feedback from residents. 

adapted photo from Heath Alseike/flickr

With growing support among politicians and the public, Illinois could likely legalize recreational marijuana as soon as next year. But, passing legislation may hinge on where the revenue will go. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers say they've made real progress toward passage of a budget. But even if they can get it passed by the scheduled end of session next Thursday (May 31), the big question remains: Will Gov. Bruce Rauner sign or veto it?

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Illinois lawmakers on Friday rejected legislation that would have loosened restriction on how police use drone surveillance. It was meant to help law enforcement keep tabs on large crowds.


Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said he will cooperate with a special investigation over claims he used intimidation to pressure state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) to quit her part-time job with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's office. Cassidy alleges Madigan retaliated after she criticized him over his handling of sexual harassment cases within his office earlier this year.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

U. S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth made history last week by being the first to bring her infant to the Senate floor while she voted. In Springfield, both chambers have been open to mothers and children.

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Lawmakers see chance for green with recreational marijuana.

Marijuana legalization is getting another look in Illinois, particularly for the money it could bring the state. The state has overdue bills nearing $9 billion after a more than two-year budget stalemate, and some argue a little extra cash could go a long way.

Sexual Harassment
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Illinois lawmakers acted quickly last month in response to sexual harassment allegations at the statehouse.  But several female legislators say this isn't a quick fix.  They say the process was rushed and not enough thought was given to explore alternative options.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat, says the new policies were not inclusive of everyone affected by the issue—such as legislative staff and lobbyists. She says she hopes newly formed legislative task forces in the House and Senate will resolve this concern. 

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether women who are pregnant and in jail should have to give birth behind bars.

Brent Levin / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

There are reasons for legalizing industrial hemp.

Might pot and ditch weed help ease the state's financial crisis and boost its farm economy?

Illinois Issues: This State's Abortion Debate

Mar 30, 2017
U.S. Supreme Court exterior
Brittany Hogan / Flickr (CC-by 2.0)

Bill aims to protect abortion rights on the chance Roe v. Wade  is overturned.

With Democrats in firm control of the Illinois General Assembly, abortion rights might seem to be safe in the state. But what would happen if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal across the country in 1973?

Daniel Biss speaking to group
Office of state Sen. Daniel Biss

Recently, several social policy debates have moved  from the legislature to the judicial system.

John Bradley soft on crime ad
screen capture / Friends of John Bradley

In an era of political gridlock, one of the few topics on which there's been hope of bipartisan cooperation is on the issues of crime and punishment.

Politicians have traditionally been averse to doing anything that could get them painted as being "soft on crime."

It's an easy attack, and one that's been frequently deployed in the past. But this year, criminal justice reform advocates are fighting back.

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Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is open to decriminalizing marijuana.

Rauner has a goal of reforming the criminal justice system. One way to do that, advocates say: issuing civil penalties for low-level drug charges.

ilga.gov

In some Illinois school districts, transgender students are allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, rather than their anatomy. But an Illinois lawmaker wants to change that.

Flickr user: Dean Hochman

Lawmakers return to Springfield with some new ideas, but the unfinished business of 2015 will likely overshadow other topics in the second year of the legislative session. 


Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Most experts say the governor’s target of a 25 percent reduction in the state's prison population can't be met by simply backing off the war on drugs. Instead, policymakers will have to look beyond the "nons” — nonviolent, nonserious and nonsexual offenders — and in so doing, challenge entrenched attitudes about crime and justice. 

BrettLevinPhotography / Flickr

Low level marijuana users may soon catch a break in Illinois. Rather than going to jail, it'd be more like getting a speeding ticket.

The repercussions for having pot vary; Rep. Kelly Cassidy says there's a patchwork of more than 100 different local ordinances all over the state.

"And the outcome from this patchwork system puts in place an unjust and confusing system wherein where you live and what you look like dictates whether or not you'll be arrested for extremely low-level marijuana possession," she says.

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