Illinois Senate

The Senate has approved another bump-stock ban.

 

The Senate voted 38-10 Thursday on Sen. Kwame Raoul's plan. It would outlaw the manufacture or possession of bump stocks or trigger cranks which turn rifles into assault-style weapons. It's the device the gunman used in the Las Vegas mass shooting last October.

"US-Mexico border fence" by Flickr User sheilaahmadi / (CC X 2.0)

The Illinois Senate is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to reject a presidential call to send National Guard troops to help secure the U.S.-Mexican border.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 33-22 Thursday to adopt a resolution urging the GOP governor not to comply if President Donald Trump makes a request.

Jaclyn Driscoll

Women in the Illinois Senate plan to advance their voices in leadership with the creation of their own caucus. Women on both sides of the aisle say they’ve had a significant role in crafting policy, but may not always get the credit they deserve. 

“I think the style of women is very different," says State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood. "We don’t have to have the pissing contest.”

senatorsilverstein.com

Chicago Democrat Ira Silverstein is resigning his leadership position in the Illinois Senate following accusations he sexually harassed an advocate working with him on a bill. 

Silverstein represents Lincolnwood and parts of other towns in the northern Chicago suburbs. 

Lobbyist Denise Rotheimer publicly accused him of harassing her last year.

Jenna Dooley

The Illinois Senate is expected to vote on a full budget today.

That’s after the House passed a spending plan and a tax increase over the weekend to try and end the two-year long impasse.

In the House, 15 Republicans went against Gov. Bruce Rauner and voted yes.

But it’s not a given that the Senate has the votes to pass it.

Senate Democrats already passed a budget. It included more spending than the plan they’re set to consider today.

Senate Republicans opposed that budget - and the question now is whether they’ll oppose this one too.

@Bill_Brady / Twitter

A day after Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno announced she was stepping down, the caucus has chosen a new leader.

Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, will be the next Senate minority leader.

Radogno says the ultimate decision was unanimous, though Brady did initially have competition.

Brady emerged as an ally of Gov. Bruce Rauner this spring. He took an active role in pushing for more concessions from Democrats in the so-called “grand bargain" negotiations.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno is stepping down, effective Saturday. That’s the first day of the new Illinois budget year -- which would be the third without a real budget unless she and other legislative leaders cut a deal.

Radogno was behind the secret bipartisan attempt at compromise that became known as the “grand bargain.” She says she’d hoped to be able to resign after getting it passed.

The State Senator representing the Dixon area has announced that he will not run for re-election.

Republican Tim Bivins was appointed to the post in 2008 and is up for re-election next year. His only comments on the decision came in a news release, where Bivins said it "was time to come home."

Illinois Senate Democrats made another attempt Friday to satisfy the demands of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s economic agenda.

The Republican governor has said the expense of workers' compensation insurance has driven businesses out of the state.

Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, sponsored legislation meant to bring costs down.

"I know workers' comp. I’ve practiced workers' comp on behalf of employers," he said during debate. "This, if implemented right, will save employers money, and I urge an aye vote."

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Illinois House Democrats are taking their time in considering the state budget plan sent them this week by the Senate.

Chicago Rep. Greg Harris is the Democrats' budget negotiator. He says lawmakers' first goal is to review the $39.7 billion spending plan and put it in a form the public can understand. 

The House plans hearings to solicit public input despite the looming May 31 scheduled adjournment date for the General Assembly. 

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With only a week to go before the scheduled end of the spring session, Democrats in the Illinois Senate passed a new $37.3 billion budget package Tuesday that would raise the state income tax by $5 billion and cut some spending.

But it got no Republican support, and its future is uncertain.

The Senate voted on a different budget proposal last week, and it failed. So, Democrats tabled their negotiations with Republicans and went for a plan that matches the spending level of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s own budget proposal from earlier in the year.  

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

The Senate has approved a $36.5 billion budget that was initiated by minority Republicans. But it turned down authority to implement it.

The Democratic-controlled chamber voted 31-21 to approve the proposed outlay for the year that begins July 1.

The vote looked like a breakthrough after five months of wrangling over the so-called "grand bargain" budget compromise.

But it was quickly followed by a vote on authority to implement the budget. It failed by three votes, 27-24.

The Illinois State Senate has approved a bill that would raise the wages of workers caring for people with developmental disabilities.  

The provision would raise these health-care providers' pay to $15 per hour, currently at slightly above minimum wage. Sen. Sam McCann, R-Jacksonville, believes the measure is needed to keep good workers. 

Senate Democrats attempted a series of test votes on items in the so-called “grand bargain;” but Republicans refused to go along, saying more negotiation is needed to reach a deal they can support.

Senate President John Cullerton says his Democrats have gone as far as they can go in meeting Gov. Bruce Rauner’s non-budget demands and charged that Rauner and his team “don’t know how to govern.”

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

The Illinois budget stalemate has held up compensation for people who’ve been unjustly imprisoned. But a bipartisan group of state senators took a step toward fixing that Thursday.

James Kluppelberg spent nearly 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But freedom presented its own challenges.

Hemophilia.org

Illinois Democrats want to stop Gov. Bruce Rauner from further changing the way the state manages Medicaid, one of its most expensive programs.

State Sen. Dave Koehler of Peoria previously supported allowing outside companies and hospitals to run portions of the healthcare system for low-income people. But he says the companies are falling short, and the governor's proposal would increase their reach.

A measure in the Illinois Senate aims to reduce the number of veteran suicides.

It's a response to a recent study that found nearly 22 veterans kill themselves every day in the U.S.  The bill would address specific problems that could add to a service member's stress. Sen. Paul Schimpf says this includes better state Department of Veterans Affairs assistance with mental health issues.

"There is a stigma in the veterans community ... saying that it's a sign of weakness to seek help," Schimpf said.

M. Spencer Green/AP

The Illinois Senate approved legislation meant to address record gun violence in Chicago.

It's intended to push judges into imposing longer prison sentences on repeat gun offenders.
It passed on a vote of 35 to 9, but several legislators voted “present” — or didn’t vote at all.

Democrat Jackie Collins of Chicago, says “locking up more people is not the solution to gun violence.”

“What is needed is economic development, police reform, and stopping the flow of illegal guns in communities ravaged by deep concentrations of poverty and hopelessness.”

The Illinois Senate's leader is promoting legislation he says will protect immigrants from Trump administration actions.

Several immigrant and anti-crime groups and labor unions joined Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago on Monday to unveil legislation he calls the TRUST act. It would bar law enforcement agencies in Illinois from helping in immigration actions unless federal authorities present a warrant from a judge.

It also would bar federal agents from state-funded schools or health institutions unless they have a court-issued warrant.

"Wheelchair" by Flickr User zeevveez / (CC X 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration is frustrating state senators by refusing to answer questions about where agencies could tighten their belts.

Several Senate committees grilled agency directors Tuesday about spending cuts to deal with a multibillion-dollar deficit. The Democratic-controlled committees teamed up to put Rauner on the spot.  They blame him for scuttling the Senate's negotiated budget compromise last week.  

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he's urged Republican state senators to keep negotiating for a budget compromise that's ``a good deal for taxpayers.''

The Illinois Senate has been working for months to pass a so-called ``grand bargain'' that could resolve a nearly two-year state budget impasse.

After a deal fell apart last week, Democratic Senate President John Cullerton blamed the Republican governor for sabotaging it. He says Rauner peeled off GOP votes that had been lined up to support an income tax increase, property tax freeze and other measures.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Illinois moved a few inches closer to having a budget Tuesday. The state Senate began voting on its so-called “grand bargain.”

The deal has changes to business law long favored by Republicans, and a tax hike members of both parties have said is necessary to balance the state budget.

But none of that was called for a vote yet; instead, senators passed relatively easier bills, like those meant to make state and local government more efficient.

State of Illinois

The Senate adjourned abruptly early Wednesday evening after Democrats and Republicans held private caucus meetings that lasted more than three hours.

 

A spokesman for Democratic Senate President John Cullerton issued a statement saying Senate leaders continue to discuss the massive compromise plan, and the Senate will return to session today.

Jenna Dooley

Leaders in the Illinois Senate are pressuring members to vote this week on a massive compromise. It would include a state budget.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Illinois Senate leaders are sticking to their word that they plan to vote on a compromise budget deal next week.

Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago and Minority Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont told the Chicago Tribune editorial board that they plan to put the proposal to a floor vote Wednesday.

It would raise income taxes, borrow to pay off overdue bills, expand casino gambling, and freeze local property taxes.

Cullerton says the Senate must act quickly in part to fend off lobbyists lining up to kill parts of the plan.

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Two proposals on raising the minimum wage in Illinois will be tackled by the new General Assembly.

The Decatur Herald and Review reports that Senate members have proposed raising the current minimum wage, which is $8.25 an hour, by 50 cents each year until it reaches $11 in 2021 as part of a bipartisan budget package.

A proposed bill by House members, meanwhile, is looking to bump up minimum wage to $15 an hour by October.

FLICKR User Jim Bowen

Illinois Senate leaders are hoping to move swiftly on their pledge to advance a state-budget compromise by month's end.

The Democratic-controlled chamber has assigned 13 pieces of legislation for committee hearings that aim to break the two-year budget deadlock between legislative Democrats and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The proposals include an income tax increase and a hike in the minimum wage, but also attempt to satisfy Rauner's pro-business agenda with a property-tax freeze and restrictions on workers' compensation awards.

"Writing? Yeah." By Flickr User Caleb Roenigk / (CC X 2.0)

A measure that would give Illinois adoptees more information about why they were adopted is heading to the governor's desk. 

The plan sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Ann Williams and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson would require state adoption agencies to give adoptees age 18 and older information detailing the reasons for the adoption.

Illinois Senate members approved the plan Tuesday on a 53-0 vote. It now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

  Illinois senators are calling for a ban on unnecessary government travel to two states with bathroom laws targeting transgender individuals.

The resolution, which passed a state Senate committee Tuesday, caused spirited debate.

 

It urges North Carolina and Mississippi to repeal laws that requires people to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth, rather than their gender identity.   It also urges Governor Bruce Rauner to restrict travel to those states.

Brian Mackey

The Illinois Senate has adopted a plan that would create a uniform, interstate process for drawing political boundaries.

Chicago Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul's plan was adopted 42-6 Thursday. He says it answers the call President Barack Obama made in February when he addressed the Illinois General Assembly in which he once served.

Obama called for fair redistricting processes that eliminated drawing boundaries to favor one party over another.

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