Sam Dunklau

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.

President Abraham Lincoln would have celebrated his 210th birthday on Tuesday. Military veteran groups and politicians gathered in Springfield to mark the occasion and laid wreaths at the 16th President’s tomb.


For decades, public health advocates have pushed for limits on smoking. They've included warning labels on products to limits on where someone can light up, all of which have helped bring down smoking rates. But in Illinois, a push to raise the smoking age has repeatedly failed to become law. We took a look at this year's push, and what chance it has at becoming law.

A state lawmaker has proposed a plan to use state funds to build a new higher education center in downtown Springfield.

State Senator Andy Manar (D, Bunker Hill) introduced legislation on Wednesday that calls for $50 million to build a campus and public affairs center. The proposed building would sit within a mile of Southern Illinois University's existing medical school.

A program designed to curb Illinois’ pension debt is now underway. Early numbers show more Illinois state employees than expected are choosing to take a pension buyout from the state.


Illinois firearms dealers will now have to have state licenses. That’s part of a package of changes Governor JB Pritzker signed into law on Thursday.


Before leaving office, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner granted a pardon to a man wrongly convicted of attempted murder. What makes this clemency unique is that man, Grover Thompson, is now deceased.


The new Illinois House of Representatives was sworn in Wednesday at a ceremony in Springfield, and longtime Speaker of the House Michael Madigan was elected to his 18th term in that post. But, one of the 74 newly sworn-in Democrats did not vote for Madigan.


The Illinois House on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a measure to remove the members of the Illinois Tollway Board of Directors.


An Illinois politician is going to Africa, after the U-S Senate approved an ambassadorship for outgoing state Senator Kyle McCarter. The Senate also confirmed a former State’s Attorney to be the next US Attorney for Central Illinois.


Amid talk of possibly legalizing marijuana in Illinois in the near future, farmers will soon be able to grow another type of cannabis plant thanks to a new state law.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says Illinois six Roman Catholic dioceses failed to disclose at least 500 sexual abuse cases involving priests. That’s one of the first findings the office has released so far in its ongoing investigation of the dioceses.


The Illinois legislature has approved the so-called Voices Act, overriding a veto from Governor Bruce Rauner. It's aimed at helping certain immigrants obtain special visas.


Illinois lawmakers approved tighter restrictions on the use of jailhouse informants, overturning Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto. The legislation is meant to keep innocent people out of jail.


College in Illinois is becoming more expensive on average, and fewer students are graduating from the state’s large public universities. That’s according to a decade’s-worth of federal education data.


Illinois lawmakers say they’ve begun discussing a potential capital bill. It would fund construction and repair projects for the state’s infrastructure over the next several years.


Illinois state senators approved a measure Wednesday aimed at helping immigrants who are victims of criminal activity. It was vetoed earlier this year by Governor Bruce Rauner.


Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker now tops Donald Trump as the richest politician in America. Pritzker’s wealth has led to more questions about the role of money in politics, and led critics to question how much the Democrat’s personal wealth may have influenced his election win against Gov. Bruce Rauner.


Illinois’ economic outlook is improving by one measure. According to two reports on the state's labor force, Illinois added nearly three thousand jobs in September, while unemployment across most regions has fallen or remains low.


Illinois Senator Dick Durbin was in Springfield today (WED), casting his ballot in the 2018 Election. He says he's encouraged by early voting tallies in Illinois so far, and that immigration is now among the chief issues thanks to President Trump.


Two Illinois PBS outlets say they’re merging. The new public television group would cover almost two-thirds of the state.


An Illinois bed and breakfast that refused to host a gay couple’s civil union ceremony is also refusing to a pay a court-ordered settlement. Illinois’ Attorney General is now intervening in the case.


Health care, trade, and the tax overhaul are three of the biggest issues in the race for the 13th Congressional District between incumbent Rodney Davis and challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan.

Candidates in the race for Illinois’ 13th Congressional seat squared off in the first of four debates in Springfield on Monday. Recent polling has suggested the race could be close between Republican incumbent Rodney Davis and Democratic challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan.


Vice President Mike Pence was in Springfield Friday, stumping for Congressman Rodney Davis. Pence has been crisscrossing the country to help GOP candidates maintain control of districts that could flip Democratic in the midterm election.


An international panel on climate change this week warned greenhouse gas emissions will keep increasing if left unchecked and called for urgent action. According to one Illinois scientist, that means frequent heavy rain events and flooding could become the norm.


A new statewide poll shows Republican President Donald Trump may weigh down Illinois’ GOP candidates in the midterm election.

Southern Illinois University’s Simon Institute surveyed more than 700 Illinois voters. They were asked whether President Trump’s record in office would make them more or less likely to vote for Illinois Republicans in state and Congressional races.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is asking the Attorney General’s office to temporarily shut down a Chicago-area chemical plant. The agency says that plant is releasing an illegal amount of cancer-causing fumes into the air.

Food and drink vendors at this year’s Illinois State Fair say fewer people lined up for things like corn dogs and lemon shake-ups. That fits with an official report of declining overall attendance.

    

Public health advocates and some state lawmakers spurned Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s decision to veto a bill that would have raised the legal tobacco age to 21.

Rauner axed the bill last Friday, though his own Department of Public Health supported it. While he called smoking “detrimental” in his veto message, the governor said Illinois couldn’t take the risk of losing tobacco sales tax revenue to neighboring states.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

Experts say billions in a multi-year plan won't go far enough to address infrastructure repairs and upkeep.

With help from the federal government, Illinois will put more than $2 billion toward infrastructure projects this year across the state's network of roads and bridges. But that network is underfunded by billions more, and what the state has pledged is a far cry from fixing that.

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