Government

Government and Legislature

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ News

There's federal money on the way to help combat domestic violence in northern Illinois. Members of Congress announced a nearly $450,000 grant for Rockford to establish a Family Justice Center. The facility will serve as a hub for survivors of domestic abuse and their children to get help from law enforcement, social services, and other agencies.  Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says he’s grateful for the federal help.

Victoria Lunacek/WNIJ

When a city negotiates a new contract for waste haulers, it can lead to a change in services or opportunities to lower costs.

If you live in a decently-sized city, you probably roll your trash cans to the curb once a week, and the garbage gets hauled off. The City of DeKalb recently approved a contract with Lakeshore Recycling as its new garbage hauler.  It takes effect in September, and Public Works Director Tim Holdeman says the move came about when the city’s old contract was up for renewal. 

ilga.gov

Helene Miller Walsh, the wife of a conservative radio host and former Illinois congressman, will replace a former state lawmaker who resigned after being accused of sharing nude photos of an ex-girlfriend online.

The Chicago Tribune reports Walsh was selected from a pool of about 20 contenders to replace former GOP state Rep. Nick Sauer.

New Laws Digitize Medicaid Applications

Aug 3, 2018
Sarah Jesmer

Governor Bruce Rauner signed two bills Thursday afternoon that will bring changes to the state health system. These bills,  SB 2385 and SB 2913, are expected to make the long-term care application process faster and cheaper. 

Sarah Jesmer

It started with a system glitch in the summer of 2016.

Hackers found a flaw in the online voting registration process in Illinois and exploited it. Illinois State Board of Election’s spokesperson Matt Dietrich said the board’s servers were flooded with queries, which are lines of code.

"A drunk man's gaze" by Flickr User YuMaNuMa / (CC x 2.0)

Wisconsin police can legally draw blood from unconscious drunken drivers without a warrant, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The justices ruled 5-2 that drivers automatically consent to a blood draw when they drive on Wisconsin roads. If drivers drink themselves into unconsciousness, they forfeit any opportunity to withdraw that consent, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack wrote for the majority.

provided by Sara Dorner

People across the nation plan to take to the streets June 30 to protest recent immigration policies that separate families crossing the southwest border of the United States. That includes marches in at least five Illinois cities.

Rockford activist Sara Dorner says she was so angry that children were being separated from their parents at the U.S. border that she contacted the White House, her senators, her representative -- and it still wasn’t enough.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The chief of staff to powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan abruptly resigned Wednesday, at Madigan's request, after an employee accused him of lewd comments and of mishandling complaints of sexual harassment.

 

Sherri Garrett, a $42,000-a-year account technician for the House, told a news conference in Chicago that Timothy Mapes brushed aside her complaints of lawmakers' harassment of her and other women on at least two occasions.

 

While a recent package of legislation approved by the Illinois General Assembly does some good things for state universities and colleges, it doesn’t guarantee four years of Monetary Assistance Program grants.

Lynne Baker, Managing Director of Communications for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, said a couple of conditions apply for students who want to renew MAP grants in succeeding years.

“Students still must apply every year,” she said, “and, while we would very much like it, there is no continuing appropriation for MAP.”

Illinois State Representatives from northern Illinois split on the vote Wednesday to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, with 13 -- all Republicans -- voting against ratification and only 7 -- 2 Democrats and 5 Republicans -- voting in favor.

Two of those votes to approve were from women -- one from each party. Only one of the opponents from northern Illinois was a woman, and she is a Republican.

In the other legislative chamber exactly seven weeks earlier, 4 State Senators from northern Illinois approved of the ERA and 6 opposed it.

Illinois legislators are trying to help state taxpayers get around limitations in the new federal tax law. But the federal government may negate the plan before it even has a chance to become law.

Victoria Lunacek / WNIJ NEWS

 A state inspector on Monday criticized Gov. Bruce Rauner's office for improper hiring that violated the same anti-patronage law Rauner blasted his predecessor for skirting.

 

Winnebago County Bar Association

Winnebago County has reached a settlement over funding with the 17th District Circuit Court.

Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney and Chief Judge Eugene Doherty announced the settlement Thursday in a news release, calling it “acceptable” to both sides.

The Circuit’s former Chief Judge Joseph McGraw sued the county in 2017 after its board cut the court’s budget to help reduce a multi-million dollar deficit.  

Doherty said the dispute wasn’t just about money.

Every Sunday, a group of women meets in the basement of a church in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood to sort and package boxes of books. The boxes are sent to women in prisons in Illinois and beyond the state’s borders. In total, the group, Chicago Books to Women in Prison (BWP), has sent nearly 20,000 books to incarcerated women in the last five years, and tens of thousands since the organization was founded in 2002.


Northern Illinois University

James Pardew, a former U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, will speak at a Northern Illinois University conference this Thursday. He was involved extensively in American efforts to stop conflict in the former territories of Yugoslavia, particularly Bosnia and Macedonia. WNIJ's Chase Cavanaugh spoke with Ambassador Pardew about that work and his thoughts on U.S. foreign policy.

Ambassador Pardew, what do you plan to discuss at Northern Illinois University?

The Deadline Has Passed, But DACA Status Remains In Limbo

Mar 30, 2018
Jessie Schlacks/WNIJ

It’s been nearly a month since the deadline passed for Congress to make changes to the DACA program – or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This week’s Friday Forum brings us different perspectives on the issues faced by this immigrant group.

Last fall, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to end the DACA program. Lawmakers were given six months to form a compromise bill -- but didn’t accomplish the task by the March 5 deadline.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

DeKalb resident Misty Haji-Sheikh is entitled to some reimbursed attorney’s fees and costs in an Open Meetings Act case against Northern Illinois University. That’s according to a ruling from a DeKalb County judge this week.

Judge Bradley Waller ruled in November that NIU violated the Open Meetings Act. That's also when he ruled that former NIU President Doug Baker’s awarded severance package of more than $600,000 was null and void.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Voters in both Winnebago and McHenry counties overwhelmingly approved merging the office of Recorder of Deeds into the office of County Clerk in referenda on the March 20 primary ballot.

About 70 percent of Winnebago County voters chose to combine the offices in a binding referendum.

Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney says he knew most citizens agreed with the consolidation proposal, but he says he had no idea that so many residents would be in favor of it.

Each of the Illinois counties in the WNIJ listening area provides Primary Election results online. You can access that detailed information by clicking on the county (or city) name. Aurora is located under Kane County, and Rockford is under Winnebago County.

The results listed on the websites are unofficial totals and subject to review and certification.

Results for countywide candidates where contests existed and ballot referenda are included in this summary. Details on other offices and propositions can be located by following the county link.

Compiled below are listings of ballot issues throughout northern Illinois as provided by the county clerks and election offices of the various jurisdictions.

Only two counties do not have at least one referendum among the many taxing bodies. A few counties have several issues to decide. And some issues overlap county boundaries and are listed in all affected counties.

The two city election commissions are listed under the counties with which they are located: Aurora under DuPage County and Rockford under Winnebago County.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

The first phase of the DeKalb Police Department’s Safe Streets Initiative begins this week. That means some residents will need to get parking permits from the city soon to avoid getting ticketed or towed.

DeKalb police officials say overall crime decreased in the city, but the actual number of shootings increased due to a recent string of incidents in areas close to the Northern Illinois University campus. Visitors now aren’t permitted to park along Russell Road and Crane Drive between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

wchd.org

Leaders in education, social services, and government in Winnebago County are trying to work together on a common thread they see running through their community’s biggest challenges – trauma. 

A former Trump campaign aide spent much of Monday promising to defy a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller, even throwing down the challenge to "arrest me," then backed off his defiance by saying he probably would cooperate in the end.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Sam Nunberg said he was angry over Mueller's request to have him appear in front of a grand jury and turn over thousands of emails and other communications with other ex-officials, among them his mentor Roger Stone.

DeKalb Police Department

In response to a Florida massacre and the killing of a Chicago police officer, the Democrat-controlled Illinois House pushed through some gun control measures Wednesday, endorsing a bump-stock ban and a minimum age of 21 for buying assault-style weapons.

The House voted to prohibit the sale of bump stocks and "trigger cranks," which increase the firing rates of rifles, effectively making them assault-style weapons. Also approved was a bar on anyone younger than 21 buying assault-style weapons of the type used in the shooting deaths of 17 students in Parkland, Fla.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Updated at 10:26 p.m. ET

President Trump sought to strike a unifying tone with his first State of the Union address, but some of his rhetoric has been aimed clearly at his base on immigration and his promise to put "America First."

U.S. Congress

Although they are from different political parties, two members of Congress from northern Illinois expressed remarkably similar sentiments Monday about the Senate action attempting to end the government shutdown and what lies ahead.

In separate interviews with WNIJ News, Republican Adam Kinzinger of the 16th District and Democrat Cheri Bustos of the 17th District both agreed that it is better to have the government open in order to move forward.

Neither of them liked the string of short-term continuing budget resolutions that led to the three-day shutdown.

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

A partial government shutdown now looks inevitable after the Senate lacks the votes on a stopgap spending bill late Friday night.

The vote was 50-48 in favor of the measure with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., yet to vote.

The White House, Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats were unable to reach a deal to get to the 60 votes needed to proceed after a flurry of meetings, leading to finger-pointing and blame over who was responsible for the unprecedented shutdown on the one-year anniversary of President Trump's inauguration.

Public interviews will be held Monday for 10 applicants who hope to serve as Winnebago County Clerk for the next 10 months.

The current clerk, Democrat Margie Mullins, announced last month that she will step down at the end of January.

State law requires that the appointee must be of the same political party as the outgoing clerk. Officials are checking primary voting records to ensure the party status of applicants.

Susan Stephens/WNIJ

Sexual harassment and assault allegations against high-profile entertainment and news executives have surged over the past few months. They spurred the “#MeToo” movement, in which people took to social media to disclose their own stories as victims. The campaign sparked questions of how sexual harassment in the workplace is handled.

In this week Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Jessie Schlacks examines the prevalence of sexual harassment on a smaller scale – and how local officials are working to amend their own policies.

State of Illinois

Illinois State Democrats recently released their list of top ten laws going into effect after the New Year.

More than 200 Illinois laws will go into effect after January first. That includes sale stickers having to be removed from car windshields before going on the road. 

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