Amanda Vinicky

Read Amanda's "The Players" blog.

Amanda Vinicky has covered Illinois politics and government for WUIS and the Illinois Public Radio network since 2006.  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 '08 and '12.  

Though she's full-time with WUIS now, she previously interned with the station in graduate school; she graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program in '05.  She also holds degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. 

Amanda is insatiably curious, so please reach out to her and get in touch if you notice something interesting going on at the Capitol! She can be reached at (217) 206-6019 or (773) 217-0316. If she's not in the statehouse bureau, you can usually find Amanda tweeting, dining at a local restaurant, taking a jog around Springfield or Chicago or practicing yoga. 

Illinois lawmakers' two-week, fall veto session has come to an end.

Gov.  Bruce Rauner used his veto pen on 37 bills this second half of the General Assembly's two-year session.

Legislators successfully overrode just one of them -- a relatively minor measure having to do with Chicago fire fighters' pensions. Leaving the rest effectively dead.

That includes automatic voter registration, higher wages for caretakers of the disabled and legislation that will leave a $215 million shortfall in the Chicago Public Schools' budget.

After taking a break for Thanksgiving, Governor Bruce Rauner and the four legislative leaders are scheduled to meet Monday afternoon, as the second, and final, week of Illinois' annual veto session begins.

The governor and leaders are meeting as Illinois approaches a deadline: When 2016 is over, so is a temporary spending plan.

Rauner continues to prioritize an agenda he says will grow the economy in the long run; Democrats continue to resist those plans.

Illinois lawmakers will meet in Springfield this week for the first time since the election, but things are already off to a rough start.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies made a big public push last week about his wanting to meet with the General Assembly's for top leaders ... including Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Mind you, Rauner and his allies spent months making a much bigger public push -- in hundreds of campaign ads -- to paint Madigan as a greedy, corrupt insider.

Sunday evening, Madigan's spokesman issued a short statement.

Illinois legislators will only get a brief post-election respite from politics; a week from Wednesday they’ll be back in Springfield to begin the veto session.The current makeup of the General Assembly will remain in place for that, but come the new year -- when the Capitol welcomes a new set of lawmakers elected Tuesday night -- the balance of power will shift, slightly.

Election Day is like the Super Bowl of politics.

Illinois Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk has apologized for mocking his challenger Thursday night during a Springfield debate, and Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth accepted.

A relatively small crowd was there to hear it live, but thanks to social media, Kirk's gaffe was quickly heard (and criticized) round the nation.

In talking about the cost of war, Duckworth brought up that her family's military service goes back to the American Revolution.

Illinois voters aren't getting many chances to see their candidates for U.S. Senate face off. Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth and the incumbent -- Republican Mark Kirk -- met Thursday in Springfield. It was the first of only two televised debates, and their only downstate match-up.

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 Tuesday that there's currently capacity for 36 kids. His goal is to have room for 50.

"Frankly, this state had a series of emergency foster homes a decade or so ago," he said. "I don't know why that was abandoned. I think it's a much more appropriate facility."

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.

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)


He may be the state's highest-ranking Republican, but Gov. Bruce Rauner Thursday 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 "I'm not going to talk about politics, per se, or the Presidential election. I've made my statements clear."

But actually not all that clear.

Rauner in May said he would back his party's nominee; at the time Trump hadn't locked up the nomination, but he was close.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies are shoveling historic piles of cash into legislative races this year. A new federal super-PAC that goes by the acronym "LIFT" is seeking to counter that, by tying Rauner to Donald Trump.

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.

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.

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 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 federal judge's order dismissing their case.

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

Illinois has long had a day to honor Gold Star Mothers. For the first time Monday the state recognized the rest of their families.

The Illinois Supreme Court Thursday issued an opinion striking down a law that cut civil juries in half. The law would also have hiked juror pay.

When they passed it during veto session in late 2014, legislators argued that having fewer jurors made the higher pay affordable.

That, they said, was good for justice: People may be more willing to serve if they got paid $25 versus as little as $4.

 Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, has gotten a lot of traction with his push for term limits. Voters seem to love the idea just as much as legislators hate it, even if the governor's plan doesn't seem all that practical.

Illinois is getting ready to celebrate a milestone. In 2018, the state turns 200.

Gov. Bruce Rauner Tuesday used his executive authority to create an office and a 51-member commission (members haven't yet been appointed) to coordinate the festivities.

"And we want leaders from all over the state coming up with their ideas and recommendations on how we can best celebrate," he said. "It's going to be a lot of fun, it's going to be a really big deal."

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign surged in part because of his tuition-free college platform. Now one of Sanders' backers -- State Representative Will Guzzardi -- is bringing that concept to Illinois.


Illinois hunters are gearing up to harvest bobcats, for the first time since the '70s.

Interest in participating is outpacing the permit supply. 

Bobcats were once considered a threatened species in Illinois.

Not anymore.

The November election will determine if the balance of power in Illinois politics tips in a direction that will help Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner carry out his agenda or whether Democrats will maintain enough seats to stand in his way. Even with that at stake, Rauner is professing a hands-off approach.

Before he was governor, Rauner was a private equity investor. He became rich by keeping a sharp eye on his investments.

A conservative-backed organization says it will continue efforts to topple the Illinois law limiting campaign contributions, after a judge ruled the law constitutional.

The law caps how much individuals, corporations, and political action committees can give.

Committees controlled by the legislative leaders are subject to caps too, but only in the primary. There's no limit on what they can give to candidates during the general election.

Activists from across Illinois gathered in Springfield to recognize "Moral Monday."

It's a rare occurrence of late: A credit rating agency saying something positive about Illinois' finances. But the comment published Tuesday by Moody's Investor Service was tempered.

Illinois could end up having to put an additional half billion dollars into one of its pension funds next year.

As the name suggests, the Teachers Retirement System is the retirement benefits fund for all Illinois public school teachers outside of Chicago.

Anxious legislators will once again see a deposit from the state of Illinois in their bank accounts. They’re getting paid Tuesday for the first time since July, when their April paychecks came through.

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