Amanda Vinicky

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.

Amanda Vinicky covered Illinois politics and government for NPR Illinois and  the Illinois public radio network from 2006-2016.  Highlights include reporting on the historic impeachment and removal from office of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, winning a national award for her coverage of Illinois' electric rate fight as a result of deregulation, and following Illinois' delegations to the Democratic and Republican national political conventions in 2008, 2012 and 2016.  

She interned with WUIS in graduate school; she  graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program in 2005.  She also holds degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. 

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Politicians will not be on the field as the Chicago Cubs compete in the World Series for the first time since 1945. But some have found another way to participate in the game. The Chicago Cubs, versus the Cleveland Indians is pitting Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner against Ohio Gov. John Kasich .

Illinois has created a network of emergency foster care homes. Department of Children and Family Services Director George Sheldon says these homes are places youth in the state's care can be sent in lieu of emergency shelters.  Sheldon told a legislative panel today that there's currently capacity for 36 kids.  His goal is to have room for 50.

The leader of Illinois' largest utility is appealing to lawmakers’ competitive spirits to get them on board with overhauling energy regulations. Com-Ed CEO Ann Pramaggiore says many Fortune 500 companies have committed to meeting sustainable energy goals.

After receiving inquiries the Illinois State Board of Elections has issued an alert to assure voters of the integrity of the upcoming election.

It comes as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to claim that the election is "rigged." In Wednesday night's debate, Trump was cagey about whether he'll accept the outcome on November 8.

The board's assistant director Jim Tenuto says tampering with electronic voting machines or coordinating a statewide effort to cheat would be difficult, given that elections are locally-managed.

Illinois makes it tough for new party and independent candidates to run for office, especially when compared with the petition rules for Democratic and Republican candidates, but even a leading established party politician says the requirements are too tough.

The latest data shows the number of unemployed Illinois residents is at its lowest since September of 2007.

But officials with Governor Bruce Rauner's administration say Illinois is still lagging when it comes to job growth.

A pair of state legislators say this election season has exposed an ethics loophole that Illinois needs to close, but there are suspicions the introduction of the measure in the midst of a heated campaign season is itself a political gesture.

It's illegal for a director of a state agency, or any public employee for that matter, to use government resources for political purposes, but Illinois has no restrictions prohibiting agency directors from being identified by their title in campaign ads.

In the midst of campaign season, two Illinois lawmakers are proposing a new ethics law.

The bipartisan legislation would bar state agency directors from being in campaign ads and brochures.

State Sen. Sam McCann, a Republican from Plainview, has no opposition in the general election. But first he had to win a bruising primary.

McCann says constituents complained when the state director of agriculture, Raymond Poe, appeared in campaign material endorsing his opponent.

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Unions today co-sponsored a forum on nuclear energy in Illinois, part of an effort to save a pair of nuclear plants that Exelon is taking steps to close.  Exelon says the plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities are money-losers. 

Mental health centers were decimated during Illinois’ extended budget stalemate. Illinois is moving forward with plan to extend and expand behavioral health services to people who couldn't otherwise afford it, in a way that officials say will be cost-neutral to taxpayers. 

Dr. Kari Wolf says Illinois is roughly where Texas used to be.

The Girl on the Train. Suicide Squad. Bridget Jones's Baby.  

These are the movies showing now at a theater near you.

Throughout October, a handful of theaters are taking one night each to screen a smaller-budget film with much narrower appeal, starring Michael Madigan. Amanda Vinicky went to a screening last week at the Legacy Theater in Springfield.

(This post has been updated to reflect that a parody of the film is back online)


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A new poll on the environment from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is surprising even to environmentalists. According to a survey of one thousand registered voters completed earlier this month, 64% ranked the environment as a more important issue than economic growth.

He may be the state's highest-ranking Republican. But Governor Bruce Rauner today continued to be cagey about where he stands on Donald Trump. Rauner has been asked about Trump by reporters time and time again. He usually answers something like this:

A group that may have influence over lawmakers wants them to nix ComEd's proposal to change Illinois' electricity rates. It's an issue the General Assembly may tackle in its post-election veto session. Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky reports. 

Your electricity bill is currently based how many kilowatts you use each month. ComEd say it wants to update to something known as "demand charges."  A household's rate would be set based on how much electricity it used when demand was at its highest the previous billing cycle. 

A new super-PAC that goes by the acronym "LIFT" is spending a million dollars on ads tying Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to Donald Trump.  Democratic State Senator Daniel Biss is the PAC's chairman.  Biss says the campaign is meant to inform voters what their choices from the top of the ballot on down mean for the state's future.

Low-income university students had until early March this year to fill out a form that allowed them to take advantage of Illinois' primary financial aid program.

Incoming and continuing college students can't wait that long if they hope to receive a "MAP grant" for the next school year.

That form, known as the FAFSA (short for the Free Application For Federal Student Aid) came out early this year, at the start of October, Which means the deadline has moved up for everyone.

There's another reason to get the forms in quickly.

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If you watched last night's presidential debate on television... chances are you caught a glimpse of Illinois' senior U.S. Senator in the audience. But his title is not why cameras turned in Dick Durbin's direction.  Durbin says something was curious:

Illinois hasn't set aside any money to pay for the MAP grants that help poor students go to college. Students should still hurry to fill out financial aid forms.  

 

The FAFSA sounds like a mouthful. Lynne Baker with the Illinois' Student Assistance Commission says, It's actually, "The Free Application For Federal Student Aid."

 

It’s a federal form, but one students need to submit in order to qualify for state programs too, like the Monetary Award Program.

 

Illinois voters will be able to register and cast their ballot at the same time - on election day, Nov. 8th. The U.S. Court of Appeals handed down a ruling Friday that puts an end to a series of back-and-forth court orders issued in recent weeks.

Illinois first permitted voters to register on election day two years ago. But it only had to be available at one location in a jurisdiction.

In places it was so popular, there were huge lines.

A law set to take effect for this general election sought to curb that problem.

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A new rule issued by Illinois Supreme Court will keep teens out of shackles. Advocates are lauding that decision. Vice chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, Lisa Jacobs says youth are particularly vulnerable to trauma.

Illinois voters will be able to register and cast their ballot at the same time on election day, November 8th.  The U.S. Court of Appeals handed down a ruling today that puts an end to a series of back-and-forth court orders issued in recent weeks. 

After exhausting his chances in court, an independent candidate for Congress is dropping out, but his bid still has the potential to change Illinois elections in the future.

Bloomington Doctor David Gill has been on the ballot before (four times, actually) and lost. As a Democrat.

He says he's always criticized the party ""in regards to their selling out, as it were, to corporate interests and Wall Street banks."

This cycle he tried again to run in the 13th district, but as an independent.

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As officials warn coastal residents to get out of Hurricane Matthew's path, Illinois elections officials are putting out a notice of their own.  The Illinois National Guard hasn't been activated to help.  Nor has the Illinois Emergency Management Agency received a request. 

A cannabis dispensary is using a new tactic nearly a year into Illinois' slow-rollout of a medical marijuana program. The advertising campaign is designed to encourage doctors and patients to view cannabis as an alternative to opioids.

More than 10,000 Illinois residents are certified to use marijuana for medical purposes; Kyla Travis, a Springfield resident who has multiple sclerosis, is one of them.

"I'm almost 60 years old. I was diagnosed when I was 17. So for these many years, they had me on opiates," she says.

A cannabis dispensary is using a new tactic nearly a year into Illinois' slow-rollout of a medical marijuana program.  The advertising campaign is designed to encourage doctors and patients to view cannabis as an alternative to opioids.  

State workers suing to put an end to mandatory union dues will appeal a federal judge's order dismissing their case.

A federal judge is sticking by his decision, determining Thursday that a state law that would have made last-minute voting easier for residents of Illinois' biggest counties is unconstitutional.

With online voter registration, a prolonged early voting period, and registration that runs through election day, Illinois has recently made it easier to vote.

But a federal judge says one of the latest efforts violates the Equal Protection Clause.

State workers suing to put an end to mandatory union dues will appeal a judge's order dismissing their case.  That's according to their attorney, Jacob Huebert, who is with the conservative-supported Liberty Justice Center.  

A federal judge is sticking by his decision, determining today that a state law that would have made last-minute voting easier for residents of places including Chicago, Aurora, Bloomington and Rockford is unconstitutional.

The man who calls himself the leader of Illinois' Republican Party conti ues to refuse to weigh in on this year's election.

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