Daisy Contreras

Daisy reports on various assignments for NPR Illinois. She graduated from the Public Affairs Reporting master’s degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she spent time covering the legislative session for NPR Illinois' Illinois Issues. Daisy interned then researched for the Chicago Reporter. She obtained an associate degree in French language from Harry S Truman College and a bachelor's degree in communications from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Before coming to Springfield, Daisy worked in communication roles for several Chicago non-profits. Daisy is from Chicago where she attended Lane Tech High School.

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Illinois lawmakers acted quickly last month in response to sexual harassment allegations at the statehouse.  But several female legislators say this isn't a quick fix. They say the process was rushed and not enough thought was given to explore alternative options.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, says the new policies were not inclusive of everyone affected by the issue—such as legislative staff and lobbyists. She says she hopes newly-formed legislative task forces in the House and Senate will resolve this concern.

State of Illinois

National politics and the recent surge of sexual harassment allegations have resulted in calls to increase the number of female candidates in the 2018 state legislative elections. But Illinois did not necessarily meet these expectations.

The only increase came from female participation in the races for the state House of Representatives and the race for lieutenant governor—where three women are competing for the spot.

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Communities across Illinois lacking access to fresh food will soon be tracked. This initiative, which goes into effect mid-2018, will attempt to solve more than one issue in these affected areas. 

Communities across Illinois lacking access to fresh food will soon be tracked. This initiative, which goes into effect mid-2018, will attempt to solve more than one issue in these affected areas. 
        

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The push continues to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois. This time, support comes from a travel expert who wants to see the state adopt the European approach to cannabis.

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A recent report shows Illinois is facing a teacher shortage. But changes to teachers’ pensions — including cutbacks on the state’s share of contributions — spells uncertainty for anyone going into the profession.

  

When the Illinois General Assembly approved a budget last summer, they also agreed to cut back on about $500 million to the state's pension system. This might sound like a good idea if the money is allocated to pay for other needs in the immediate future. For teachers, however, it means the state might not be able to cover their pensions. 

With the final week of veto session underway, the Illinois General Assembly took action meant to address sexual harassment at the state Capitol. 

Warehouse Workers For Justice

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation meant to increase workplace protections for temporary workers.

Temp agencies will be required to give their workers information about equipment, protective clothing and training before sending them to a work place and, if the agency offers transportation to and from work, the service should be free of charge.

Illinois draws about 512,000 hunters every year. Now, a group is promoting how that number affects the state's economy.

The group, called "Hunting Works for Illinois," said the money that hunters spend on equipment, travel, food and lodging creates a "ripple effect" by adding jobs and maintaining local economies.

As of this month, Illinois is required to have updated signage for emergency situations at railroad crossings. People can call the number on these standardized blue signs to report track obstructions or other safety issues at specific locations. If a crossing gate is malfunctioning, for example, railroad authorities need to know.

Lincoln Land Community College

Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield is addressing the issue of African American male underrepresentation in the workforce. The college launched the Open Door Mentorship Program a year ago, which has so far helped 25 male students get a head start in gaining professional experience.

Local businesses committed time and resources to offer internships, while program coordinator Michael Phelon offers year-round support and guidance. 

Carter Stanley/NPR Illinois

For Carolyn Parrish, a privacy professional based in Evanston, data privacy is just as important in her personal everyday life as is it to keeping her business running.

When Parrish was looking to download a women’s health and menstrual cycle tracker on her phone, she noticed that many of the available U.S.-based apps required access to her location and her phone’s contacts before she could use any of their features. Parrish said this made her feel uneasy.

So she opted for a German-based app that only required a user account without additional data-sharing.

Sean Tenner

In response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s order for a 10-day special session, the General Assembly returned to Springfield this week to focus on crafting a budget.

Three weeks ago, legislators tried to beat the end of the official spring legislative session and worked to pass measures dealing with women’s and LGBT rights, farmer’s market concerns, and issues related to women in prison.

 

Justin Wright

Some reformers say the Illinois minimum age for juvenile detention needs to go up. 

Justin Wright still remembers well the time he spent as an 11-year-old at the Cook County Juvenile Detention facility. That was nearly 25 years ago.

“When I went in there, I was a scared little kid. But I came out a hardened criminal,” he said.

Daisy Contreras/Illinois Issues

Thirty-four activists were arrested outside Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Statehouse office last night.

They’d come to Springfield on foot, marching about 200 miles from Chicago. The protestors wanted to pass a so-called “People and Planet First Budget” — taxing the wealthy to pay for universal health care and free tuition at public universities.  Members zip-tied themselves to each other by the wrist to block access to Rauner’s offices.

Organizer Joe Padilla said his group originally intended to stay overnight.

Warehouse Workers for Justice

Isaura Martinez was working at a Bolingbrook factory when she felt a pull in her left wrist as she was attaching a metal hook to the back of a Christmas-card holder. Four years have passed, but the Cicero woman still feels pain after surgery to correct the issue. 

Legislation aims to improve working conditions for temporary workers as the need for them increases.

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