Illinois Issues

Disparate entities say laws in this area need to change at the state and national levels.

Anti-Madigan effort fails to sway House members in speaker election.

Campus communities in the state feel the consequences of drastic higher education cuts. 

Illinois Issues: New Laws In 2017

Jan 1, 2017

Nearly 200 new laws go into effect in Illinois on January 1.   

The state still doesn’t have a budget. A stopgap spending plan, which was approved over the summer, will end on January 1, leaving social service agencies, institutions of higher education and others in the lurch.

But, in the past year, legislators did approve hundreds of pieces of legislation, which the governor signed. Nearly 200 laws will go into effect at the start of the new year — close to the number that went into effect at the start of each of the past three years.

Several long-serving lawmakers are retiring from the General Assembly when their terms end in January.  

Between now and the time they leave office, Illinois Issues editor Jamey Dunn will catch up with some of them for exit interviews reflecting on the time they spent as legislators.

A proposed amendment to the state’s constitution would protect money set aside for transportation projects. Supporters say the change is needed because money that's supposed to be earmarked for building roads has gone to other expenses over the years. But the amendment could allow some of those practices to continue, while endangering other popular programs. 

Before he ran for governor, Bruce Rauner described a plan to use funding for social services as a “wedge” issue to persuade Democrats to support anti-union proposals. The fact that lawmakers did nothing to address the rollback of the temporary income tax increase, which was passed in 2011, set the stage for him to try out his strategy.

Teen pregnancy rates are going down in Illinois and across the nation because teens are having less sex, and when they do, they’re using contraception more often. The reasons behind these changes in behavior are harder to pinpoint.  

Illinois Issues: Legislative Checklist

Sep 18, 2016

Gov. Bruce Rauner has taken action on hundreds of bills over the summer. He signed most of them into law, but he also made some high-profile vetoes. 

Illinois Issues: Mike Madigan and the "Party of Economic Opportunity"

Sep 9, 2016
Illinois Issues

This week, we’re revisiting an Illinois Issues interview with House Speaker Michael Madigan — from 1988.

The most recent attempt at changing the way legislative districts are drawn might have had a shot — had only the proposal left the auditor general out of the equation. 

Who should pay for the Illinois courts?

The state’s heroin crisis has captured headlines and the attention of lawmakers. But in the past few years, the number of methamphetamine lab busts has crept back up, and law enforcement officials say the drug is also coming into the state from Mexico. 

Bipartisan working groups are currently trying to find a way out of the budget impasse. But the crisis could have been prevented long before the battle between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic leaders began.

Analysis — Last month, House Speaker Michael Madigan stood in his chamber and delivered a speech on his perspective of the budget impasse.

“The fact is, the current budget crisis was completely avoidable. While this crisis was avoidable, Gov. Rauner has refused to put an end to the crisis,” Madigan said.

Illinois is one of only eight states with a flat income tax. The reasons can be traced to the state’s first-ever successful attempt at putting an income tax in place.  

An effort to change the current tax structure is underway, but supporters face a fast-approaching deadline.  

Cities in Illinois and across the country have laws regulating panhandling. But courts are tossing them out, and Springfields ordinance could be next. How can local governments balance First Amendment rights and maintaining public order? 

A couple of legislative primary races are serving as stand-ins for the political struggle between the governor and Democratic leaders. 

Commentary — Might we be seeing light at the end of the tunnel? Or is it the headlamps of the ongoing train wreck that is Illinois, picking up speed? Such questions came to mind listening to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address last week.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he wants to get the state out of legal agreements called consent decrees. The deals are a big part of the reason the government is still operating without a budget; they also impact the lives of thousands of Illinois residents. But unless you are affected by one, you've probably never heard of them. 

The Illinois Constitution turns 45 on December 15. As the document reaches its birthday, Charlie Wheeler looks at the ways it modernized government. 

Many Illinois nurses are nearing retirement. Baby Boomers in the state are also aging and may need more care. Will there be enough nurses to meet the demand?

Illinois' leaders have yet to present a plan for a balanced budget. The longer they wait, the harder the task will be. 

Illinois has more than $100 billion in pension debt. So far, attempts to fix it have been mostly illegal.