Government

Government and Legislature

Illinois Fraternal Order of Police

The Illinois Attorney General ruled earlier this month that private e-mail from Chicago police about the shooting of Laquan McDonald must be released. The president of a police organization says it brings more questions than answers about officer privacy.

Lisa Madigan said Chicago police officers must release private e-mails as requested by a CNN reporter back in January regarding the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. Chris Southwood, president of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, says he sees no good coming from Madigan’s opinion from a right-to-privacy standpoint.

WUIS

Accessing life insurance benefits in Illinois will be easier, thanks to a new website and state law signed Friday by Governor Bruce Rauner.

What happens if a family grieving the loss of a loved one is owed life insurance money, but doesn't make a claim for it? In cases, the insurance companies held onto the money.

Illinois Supreme Court Says No To Remap Referendum

Aug 25, 2016
Illinois State Board of Elections

A divided Illinois Supreme Court has ruled a voter referendum seeking to change the system Illinois uses to draw political boundaries is unconstitutional, meaning it can't appear on the November ballot. 

  The ruling Thursday affirms a Cook County judge's decision that the proposal doesn't meet constitutional muster.

 

 

Rosecrance / rosecrance.org

A Rockford center that helps people who are having a psychiatric crisis will close in 30 days, unless it comes up with funding that’s being held back by the state. 

Aetna / @aetnahelp, twitter.com

Aetna is leaving the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange in Illinois for 2017. That further reduces competition in the state.

Aetna's announcement late Monday leaves six companies selling plans for next year to individuals and families on the Illinois ACA marketplace. Illinois Department of Insurance spokesman Michael Batkins says two insurers remain selling plans to small businesses. 

The announcement follows UnitedHealthcare's departure from the Illinois exchange. And Chicago-based Land of Lincoln Health is folding after suffering heavy losses. 

Illinois Board of Elections officials say Auditor General Frank Mautino didn't file amended campaign disclosure reports and could face a public hearing.  

Election board Executive Director Steve Sandvoss tells The State Journal-Register Mautino didn't file the amended reports by Monday's deadline. The hearing would look into Mautino's use of campaign money while serving in the Illinois House.  

Phil Masterton / WNIJ

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger visited Rockford today to announce a new internet tool aimed at improving government transparency.

She said the website, named Open Book, allows Illinois residents to search and compare state contracts with campaign contributions.

“Going through the endless amounts of data that were available on our website, it was very difficult for me to navigate, it was overwhelming the amount of data, and I thought, we have to do something about this,” Munger said.

unitedwayrrv.org

The financial struggle isn’t over for the organizations that provide social services to people in need in Illinois.

There are still a lot of questions about the stopgap budget passed by lawmakers, according to Paul Logli. He’s the president and CEO of United Way of Rock River Valley. Logli says providers have heard from a number of state agencies that they have 18-month contracts that expire January 1st.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

One “best case scenario” – according to an NIU spokesman in a previous report – has happened for Northern Illinois University; NIU received its appropriation from Illinois after the state passed a temporary budget last week. 

NIU will get a $48 million appropriation in operating funds, which university officials say will go primarily to payroll. The school will also receive more than $15 million to complete renovations for an academic building that houses theater and anthropology students and faculty.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois legislators haven’t been paid in months, but that’s about to change.

Legislators get a base salary of about $5,600 a month -- or they did.

A few months ago, Comptroller Leslie Munger announced that lawmakers’ paychecks would get placed in a cue, along with the rest of the state’s bills. It can take a while to make it to the front of the line because Illinois doesn’t have money to pay all of its bills.

It’s a persistent problem that’s been exacerbated by the budget impasse.

Flickr user Jim Bowen / "Illinois State Capitol" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner are trying to craft a short-term budget deal to ensure schools open this fall and social service programs are funded while an epic battle over a long-term spending plan continues.

Two House committee planned on meeting Wednesday evening and lawmakers are scheduled to be in session Thursday with the expectation that they can vote on a plan. The Republican governor and Democrats who control the Legislature have spent several hours the last two days trying to agree on a deal.

DUI Enforcement Will Intensify This Weekend

Jun 29, 2016
Phil Masterton/WNIJ

Fourth of July weekend will be a “No Refusal” weekend in Winnebago County for drivers who are stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato is moving ahead with an idea from South Beloit Police Chief Dean Stiegemeier, to intensify DUI enforcement.

Stiegemeier had success with a similar program while he was deputy police chief in Carpentersville in Kane County.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

A week from today is a shameful anniversary for Illinois. It will mean the state has gone a full year without a complete budget.

          

Bruce Rauner has been at the state's helm since last January -- which means he'll be governor for at least another two and a half years.

Back in May, Democratic State Representative Lou Lang remarked:

“…That it was entirely possible that there would not be an agreed budget during the entire four years of Bruce Rauner's governorship."

State of Illinois

Illinois legislators who have been working privately for the past month to craft a temporary budget have one drafted, but that doesn't make it a done deal.

Illinois lawmakers will return to Springfield Wednesday. That’s only two days before the new fiscal year begins and the end of a full year of the state having no budget.

The strain of going nearly a year without a budget coupled with doubt that a full deal can be reached  in the near future have made a stopgap budget the priority.

Dan Libman

Restaurants within a few northern Illinois counties will have to complete a new alcohol training program by July 1.

Voices for Creative Non-Violence / vcnv.org

A 125-mile walk from Chicago to Thomson ends Saturday for a group protesting solitary confinement. 

Voices for Creative Non-Violence holds a rally outside Thomson Prison, where the federal government plans to add as many as 19-hundred isolation cells. The group’s co-coordinator Kathy Kelly says she hopes Thomson residents will join their rally.  She says she sees this as “the beginning of an opportunity to learn more from people in this little town of 600.”

summit.fbi.gov

As Illinois draws close to entering its second year without a budget, one of its many unpaid bills threatens to provoke a dispute with the nation's top crime-fighting force.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the state owes $3 million to the FBI for processing fingerprints and conducting background checks.

The debt is now so long overdue that it could be turned over to the federal government's collection agency - the Treasury Department.

Rockford Police Department

Rockford City Council will determine the next step in the case of a police officer who wants to return to duty after being fired five years ago. Oda Poole was one of two officers involved in the 2009 shooting of Mark Barmore, an unarmed man who was killed in a church daycare center. 

FLICKR User Jim Bowen

The prospects that Illinois' nearly yearlong budget stalemate will soon end are quickly diminishing even though Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner says he's still "hopeful" for a deal.

Legislative leaders were meeting with Rauner Thursday afternoon. But Democrats have so far ignored Rauner's calls for compromise.

House Democrats have approved their own budget that the governor says is $7 billion out of balance.

His aides say he'll likely veto it if the plan gets to his desk. It includes education funding but Rauner hasn't said what he'll do with that portion of the plan.

Winnebago County

A former Winnebago County purchasing director was charged with two counts of embezzlement.

Sally Claassen was charged with taking at least $5,000 from county funds in 2014 and again last year. Court documents also say Claassen must return more than $450,000 to federal authorities, but the indictment does not say exactly how much Claassen is accused of stealing.

ISAWWA.org

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency resumed sending out vehicle emissions test notices last month. That puts an additional requirement on certain drivers who want to renew their license plates after June 1.

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office suspended the required emissions tests last December because the IEPA stopped sending out notices to motorists, due to the state budget impasse.

U.S. Government

The Supreme Court won't reconsider its decision to reject former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's of his corruption convictions.

The justices on Monday denied without comment a long-shot petition urging the court to take another look at the case.

The court first turned down Blagojevich's appeal on March 28. He challenged an appeals court ruling that said Blagojevich crossed the line when he sought money in exchange for naming someone to fill the vacant Senate seat once occupied by President Barack Obama.

State of Illinois

Illinois mayors and first responders want state lawmakers to protect them from lawsuits when responding to emergencies.

Brad Cole, with the Illinois Municipal League, says there was a long-held notion that government employees could serve the general public without fear of being sued. But he says the Illinois Supreme Court recently struck down that principle.

Cole says he wants a law passed to bring it back.

seiu.imagepointe.com

A union representing home-care workers says a cap on care for people with disabilities violates the law. They've filed a charge against Governor Bruce Rauner's administration.

The charge filed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois says the state's Department of Human Services should have negotiated with the union over a limit on overtime hours that took effect this month. A federal rule took effect at the beginning of this year, which required time-and-a-half pay for home-care work over 40 hours.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The man behind an $8-billion plan to route train traffic around Chicago met with the public in a forum in Grundy County Monday night. Great Lakes Basin Railroad co-founder Frank Patton was in the hot seat. A very hot seat.

To Avoid Another Crundwell, Dixon Changes Government

Apr 25, 2016
City of Dixon, Illinois

The city of Dixon radically restructured its government to a council-manager format. The changes come in the wake of the Rita Crundwell embezzlement scandal.  Officials hope these adjustments will prevent a similar case of fraud.  

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says she and other officeholders will have to wait for their paychecks just like others in the state during the budget impasse.

Munger says it isn't fair that she, members of the General Assembly and other state officeholders get their paychecks on time during the budget stalemate, while social service organizations and small companies that do business with Illinois must wait.

The failure to pass a budget created a crisis that is now stretching into its tenth month. It left the state nearly 8 billion dollars in debt.

Flickr user Images Money / "Tax" (CC BY 2.0)

All Illinois residents -- no matter how rich, no matter how poor -- pay the same income tax rate. Now a plan is afoot to change that with a constitutional amendment, where the wealthy would pay more.

A pair of Democratic legislators are trying to likewise move Illinois from a flat to a graduated income tax.

Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie says those who are well off need to do more to help the state.

Under his four-tiered plan, anyone making more than a million dollars would pay 9.75 percent, which is more than double today's rate of 3.75 percent.

Landmarks Illinois

Landmarks Illinois says 11 building in the state are in danger of being lost forever because there's no money to make capital improvements. Most of the sites are publicly owned, and local governments are facing the choice of their resources to rehabilitate these buildings or tearing them down.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois Senate today moved swiftly to approve a spending plan the House passed yesterday.

It authorizes spending nearly 4 billion dollars on higher education and social services -- two areas that have been caught without funding during a prolonged political fight. But Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno says it doesn't mean universities or programs would actually get money. 

Radogno says the state has none to give.

"If you vote for this, you're voting for a hollow promise,” Radogno said. “Let's look at the bills that have funding." 

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