Illinois General Assembly

A Cook County judge has ruled Illinois' constitution was violated when legislators voted in recent years to freeze their pay.

A former U.S. Secretary of Transportation from Peoria is applauding the Illinois General Assembly for passing its first capital bill in 10 years.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis says he’s pleased a capital bill passed the General Assembly during the spring session.

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 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest labor union representing Illinois state workers, has reached a contract deal with Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration.

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

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. 


SPRINGFIELD - Illinois lawmakers convene Tuesday for the final full day of the 100th General Assembly.

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois General Assembly convenes today for the final three days of its fall legislative session.

The Illinois General Assembly has revived an effort to bridge the so-called “gender wage gap.”

The plan would ban employers from asking about salary history during interviews.

Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a similar measure last year. The latest version still keeps prior salary out of the interview process, but tries to address concerns from business owners who are worried about their bottom line.

Wendy Pollack is with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago. She says no law is perfect and hopes Rauner acknowledges it’s a good starting point.

Nati Harnik / AP

Illinois anti-abortion groups were back in a Springfield courtroom today ... arguing against the new state law allowing for taxpayer-funded abortions.

They’re asking the Fourth District Appellate Court to overturn a trial judge’s dismissal of their case last year.

State Representative Peter Breen, a Lombard Republican and lawyer for the plaintiffs, says this goes beyond abortion. He says his case is really about the procedures the state legislature follows when passing a budget.

Ongoing budget talks at the Illinois Statehouse have shown no real sign of progress. This week, Senate Democrats pressed Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration this week to explain its proposal to shift pension costs to local school districts.

As the state works toward a budget for the next year, some lawmakers say they need a target for how much money is available.

One idea is if the state had a revenue estimate in place, drafting a balanced budget would be an easier process. Without one, budget negotiators say they are in the dark when it comes to how much is available to spend.    

Eight social-service agencies have written Illinois lawmakers urging checks and restrictions on moving hundreds of thousands of Medicaid patients to managed care health care.  

The letter to key legislators this week questions the ability of HealthChoice Illinois to provide sufficient physicians and other health care providers, the low reimbursement rates for medical equipment providers, the inclusion of very ill "medically fragile" children and more.

The issues arise from the state's move of 800,000 Medicaid clients to managed care to cut costs.

A year ago, lawmakers decided to change school health examination requirements. They want to add screenings for social and emotional development.  But the details are still being worked out. 

The law leaves it up to the Illinois Department of Public Health to put together the rules regarding these screenings. As the law reads right now, it’s vague. How they’ll be done, who receives them, and the tools needed to do so isn’t spelled out… that’s what the stakeholders are trying to figure out.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan today issued a warning to his fellow Democratic legislators … on sexual harassment.

In the past month, Madigan has let go of two key political operatives. Last week, he made public some information about complaints against people in his government office.

Now, he says because of recent meetings with staff, he felt compelled to make the rules “crystal clear" to legislators. He says sexual comments, advances and relationships with staff are inappropriate — whether or not the staffer works for that legislator.

Palmetto State Armory

Illinois state lawmakers passed a series of sweeping gun-control measures yesterday in the wake of a nationwide call to action.

 But Governor Bruce Rauner has yet to take a position on many of the ideas — and declined to do so again today. Rauner hasn’t taken questions from Statehouse reporters since last months’ school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Public Domain / Creative Commons

  SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A Peoria lawmaker is co-chairing a new caucus made up of members of the Illinois House and Senate from both parties devoted to children's health.

     A statement Wednesday from the office of the Senate president, Democrat John Cullerton, announced the creation of the bipartisan children's health caucus. It says the caucus will closely examine data on the health of children and adolescents in Illinois.

Palmetto State Armory

The gun debate continues at the Illinois state capitol. 

Sen. Ira Silverstein is targeting weapons like the AR-15, a popular semiautomatic rifle used in the recent Florida school shooting.  

“I don’t know why people need these guns in the first place. They’re highly sophisticated powerful guns.”

But his plan goes further.  It classifies several guns and attachments as “assault weapons.” Todd Vandermyde, a pro-gun lobbyist, says the title is misleading.

Democrats in Springfield are pushing ahead with a plan hospitals say can’t come soon enough. It’s worth billions of dollars for treating some of the state’s most vulnerable people.

It’s called the Hospital Assessment Program, and it’s how the state pulls in billions of dollars in federal money to treat elderly, poor and disabled patients on the Medicaid program.

The two political parties have been negotiating in private for months, and now Democrats are pushing the debate out into the open.

A bill has been proposed at the Illinois General Assembly that would put term limits on four legislative positions.
Republican Rep. Thomas M. Bennett of Gibson City has proposed the bill. It would limit the House speaker, Senate president and the minority leader in each chamber to 10 consecutive years in their roles.
Bennett submitted a similar bill in March, but it never left the committee. But last year, the chamber approved a resolution that limits the tenure of the Senate president and the minority leader to 10 years.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration is requiring state lawmakers to jump through a public-records law hoop before turning over emails about a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.
Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah told a joint House-Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Wednesday that Sen. Tom Cullerton's request for communication surrounding the crisis that has led to the deaths of 13 residents and sickened dozens more is subject to the Freedom of Information Act .

A proposal at the Illinois statehouse aims to hold lawmakers accountable in cases of sexual harassment and discrimination. The measure is sponsored by state Representative David McSweeny. He says it would prohibit taxpayer money from covering settlement payouts in cases of harassment by state legislators:

“Somebody that is guilty of sexual harassment should be punished, and they should pay for it themselves.”

Governor Bruce Rauner delivers his annual State of the State address this week. Political watchers expect it to focus on issues critical to this year's elections.

Political analyst and Illinois Lawmakers host Jak Tichenor says in an election year, leaders in Springfield try to play it safe – they don't want to upset their base or any potential swing voters. He expects this year's State of the State address to follow that trend.

AARP Illinois is launching a voter-education campaign aimed at putting pressure on state lawmakers.

Hospitals in Illinois are warning of dire federal funding cuts without quick action from the state legislature.

Time is running out for the “hospital assessment program,” which provides money to treat low-income patients on Medicaid.

Danny Chun is spokesman for the Illinois Hospital Association.

"This is a 3 and a half billion dollar program. The state can’t do without 3 and a half billion dollars in Medicaid funding."

Illinois lawmakers are warning the state is at risk of losing millions of dollars meant to bring fast internet to remote schools.

The federal government will help pay for fiber optic cables — if Illinois comes up with 16 million dollars in matching funds.

State Senator Sam McCann, a Republican from Plainview, is among lawmakers asking Governor Bruce Rauner to include the funds in next year’s budget.

The Illinois State Board of Education today voted unanimously to ask the general assembly to double state funding for public schools.

Last summer, the legislature voted to change the way Illinois funds schools by adopting what's called an evidence-based model. That model weighs what each district needs against its local resources. As it turns out, some districts can't achieve even 50 percent of adequate funding, while others can get close to tripling what they need.

Seth Perlman / AP Photo

Illinois lawmakers appeared to act swiftly when they approved new ethical standards for sexual misconduct during the national flap over the issue last fall.
House Speaker Michael Madigan introduced legislation to add sexual harassment to a list of punishable charges. But the process revealed new problems along the way.
Questions surfaced about why past misconduct hadn't been addressed and who was monitoring lawmakers. The process also was clouded by a complaint against misconduct against a sitting state senator.

The Illinois General Assembly's two veterans committees are scheduled to hold a joint legislative hearing to address the Legionnaires' disease outbreak at a veterans home.
Thirteen residents at the Illinois Veterans Home have died from the disease over the past three years.
Democratic state Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park toured the home in Quincy Tuesday to prepare for the hearing. It'll be held in Chicago on Jan. 9.