Daisy Contreras

Daisy reports on various assignments for NPR Illinois. She graduated from the Public Affairs Reporting master’s degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she spent time covering the legislative session for NPR Illinois' Illinois Issues. Daisy interned then researched for the Chicago Reporter. She obtained an associate degree in French language from Harry S Truman College and a bachelor's degree in communications from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Before coming to Springfield, Daisy worked in communication roles for several Chicago non-profits. Daisy is from Chicago where she attended Lane Tech High School.

Gambling has expanded throughout Illinois as the state struggles to catch up with its budget deficit. The lure of additional revenue brought support from local governments, businesses and unions. But not everyone is a fan, as some argue it takes advantage of the vulnerable among us.

One woman has spent the last two decades fighting against state-sanctioned gambling.

In an historic move, the Illinois State Museum in Springfield returned 42 cultural artifacts to Australian indigenous tribes Wednesday.

The Illinois Department of Labor is gearing up to help business owners with the new ‘no salary history’ law, which takes effect Sept. 29. The measure prohibits employers from asking applicants what they made in a previous job. 

Unlike other rural towns in central Illinois, officials in Beardstown say their population is growing. And they want to make sure everyone is counted in the 2020 census. 

For this week’s Illinois Issues, we look at the challenges to an accurate count and what’s at risk if not everyone participates.

Illinois — and the rest of the country — could soon start seeing more days of extreme heat. That’s according to a report released Tuesday, “Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days”— authored by the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

Illinois job seekers might soon avoid disclosing how much money they made in a previous job. 

Illinois’ new infrastructure plan has money set aside to help residents secure affordable housing across the state. This is the first capital plan in 10 years.

The Illinois Pollution Control Board determined an energy company is responsible for contaminating groundwater with coal ash in four Illinois communities. 

Chicago, Rockford, and Southern Illinois will get the casinos they’ve been fighting to get for years.

Illinoisans will soon pay more for gasoline and cigarettes. Those are just two tax increases needed to pay for a $45 billion infrastructure plan, which includes money from sports betting and additional casinos.

The usual May 31st deadline for the Illinois General Assembly passed last night, but lawmakers are not yet done with their work.

With only three full days left in the Illinois Spring legislative session, the long-awaited gaming expansion plan is still under wraps. 

With only four days left in the Illinois legislative session, some lawmakers say they are ready to move forward with a gambling expansion proposal.  But many others have pressing questions about diversity and business opportunities — one of several issues left to be worked out before the end of session May 31. 

With only one week left in the spring legislative session, lawmakers are still trying to piece together a final sports betting proposal, but issues between daily fantasy sports company FanDuel and Rivers Casino chairman Neil Bluhm – could be holding up negotiations.

Republicans are trying to get back in on next year's budget negotiations. Meanwhile, as red states compete to place more and more restrictins on abortion, activists want Illinois to move the other way.

One year after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states outside of Nevada to set up their own sports betting rules, some experts are offering Illinois lawmakers tips as a final proposal is drafted. 

Some rock and roll star power showed up in the Illinois Statehouse Wednesday to help push for a new casino. 

The Illinois Senate last week approved increased protections for those who use alternative electric and gas suppliers.
 

Listen to a special State Week, recorded in front of an audience at the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices state historic site in downtown Springfield.

Host Sean Crawford, along with regular panel members Brian Mackey, Daisy Contreras and Charlie Wheeler, are joined by guest Hannah Meisel of The Daily Line. The discussion focused on the governor’s push for a graduated income tax and Senate Democrats pushing it through that chamber. You'll also hear about prospects for recreational marijuana, sports betting, a capital construction program and more.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker tried to convince business groups Wednesday to accept his graduated income tax plan. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed changes to the state's pension systems. He says this could help cover other pressing areas, like education, healthcare and public safety. But the plan would mean cutting back on pension payments --- atleast on the short-term, that's according to Amanda Kass, the associate director of the Government Finance Research Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Illinois’ former legislative inspector general went public this week with a complaint that one of her reports was buried. She says the office is desperately in need of reform, and absent that, is effectively powerless.

Meanwhile, WBEZ-FM is reporting Gov. J.B. and First Lady M.K. Pritzker are under federal investigation for removing toilets from a mansion in order to lower their property tax bill.

Several of Illinois’ Division I athletic directors say they don’t want gamblers to be able to bet on college sports. Lawmakers heard from them and others Thursday in Chicago as talks continue on how to legalize and regulate sports betting. 

A group of 16 Illinois organizations and agencies have teamed up to help the monarch butterfly survive. 

Even though it’s the legislative spring break, there are several issues still to be negotiated, including a potential construction program funded with a gasoline tax, legalization of recreational marijuna, dealing with the state’s growing pension debt, and what to do about a declining population.

In 2017, then-Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law what was known as Charlie's Law that required insurance companies to cover treatment costs for certain auto immune diseases in children.

One of those conditions is called Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep (PANDAS). And approximately one in 200 children suffer from it. 

PANDAS advocate Wendy Nawara sat down with us to talk about how despite the law, some insurance companies are still not covering treatment costs. 

Some Illinois lawmakers want more protections for employees who are sexually harassed in private sector jobs. 

Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot spends two days meeting with Illinois lawmakers. How much of her agenda runs through Springfield?

Meanwhile, Democrats began moving on a centerpiece of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's agenda: a constitutional amendment that would pave the way for a graduated income tax.

Artist R. Kelly was in Springfield last weekend, where according to TMZ and their sources, the singer earned $20,000 for a one hour show to meet with fans. But his actual show was allegedly no more than a minute and fans paid up to $100 to see him. R. Kelly took to Instagram to address the media before his appearance, asking them to "take it easy on him."

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