Politics

Political news

WUIS

Low-income, working parents are once again fighting for help from the state for childcare.

Since July, Illinois drastically reduced who's eligible for the state's daycare assistance program. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner made the change, he says, to save money.

For nearly two hours Tuesday at a hearing in Springfield, daycare providers and parents -- like Chante Morrison -- pressed Rauner to cancel the rollbacks.

Morrison is a single mother of two girls from Galesburg.

"I wanna work; my children need to know that you have to work to succeed," Morrison said.

Chuck Weaver Picked To Fill Vacant State Senate Seat

Oct 5, 2015
WCBU

Peoria City Councilman Chuck Weaver is replacing Darin LaHood in the state senate.  

A selection committee picked Weaver to fill the vacant 37th District senate seat after LaHood won election to Congress last month.

Weaver was one of 10 applicants for the appointment. He’s served on the Peoria City Council for more than four years.

LaHood was elected to fill Aaron Schock’s seat in Congress after Schock resigned in March. That was amid spending allegations against Schock after decorating his office in the style of the television show “Downton Abbey.”

State of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's approval rating among the state's voters is still falling even after his exit from the presidential race last week. 

A Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday, Sept. 30, shows Walker's job approval rating is 37 percent.  That is down from 39 percent in August, when he was in the midst of his failed presidential run.   62 percent said they would not like to see Walker run for a third term as governor in 2018.

State of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's job approval rating dropped to record lows the month after he formally announced his run for president. A Marquette University Law School poll to be released today will assess how residents feel about Walker since he abruptly dropped out of the race last week.

Walker says he plans to refocus his energy on being governor and traveling around the state.

Walker spent little time in Wisconsin during his presidential run, which officially began on July 13th. But Walker was traveling extensively around the country all year before that.

Wikipedia

If it felt like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker did not spend much time in the state after announcing his run for president…it's because he didn't.

Walker's official calendar for July was released to The Associated Press under Wisconsin's open records law. It shows Walker spent one day that month in Wisconsin on official business after launching his presidential run July 13.

That one day was to attend a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation board meeting and to sign a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

WUIS

Critics say Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is too liberal, but he's gaining in polls against presumed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. 

On Monday, he took his campaign to Illinois.

In 1964, Sanders graduated from the University of Chicago in a ceremony at the on-campus Rockefeller chapel.

Now as a U.S. Senator from Vermont, Sanders returned to students packing the pews to hear him speak.

Federal Plea Deal Possible For Dennis Hastert

Sep 28, 2015
"Dennis Hastert 109th pictorial photo" by United States Congress

There's a possible plea deal in the works for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. He is charged with violating banking laws and lying to the FBI about alleged "hush money."

Prosecutors and defense attorneys told a federal judge they're talking about a possible plea deal for the 73-year-old Republican. This came about at a hearing in federal court in Chicago. Details have not been released yet.

WUIS

Illinois is about to enter its fourth month without a budget. One of the state's top Democrats says the problem could be resolved within days, if the governor moved off his insistence that other laws pass first.

The last time Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislative leaders all got together was when the state had no budget crisis; it was apparently in late May, before the last fiscal year was over.

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin would no longer be eligible for about $3.5 million a year in federal funding under a bill before the state Assembly.

The measure up for a vote Thursday seeks to have the state take control of the federal Title X money that currently all goes to Planned Parenthood.

State of Illinois

For the first time in three weeks, state representatives will convene Thursday in Springfield.

Not much has changed in those three weeks. There's still no agreement between Democratic legislators and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on a state budget.

But representatives are back anyway, and they do have some budget measures on the table.

For one, they're set to discuss Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposal to exempt some middle-class homeowners from paying higher property taxes.

Senator Dick Durbin is urging Congress to pass a long-term transportation plan. He used a bridge in Rockford to illustrate a problem plaguing the nation. Durbin and Rockford-area lawmakers held a news conference Monday under the Jefferson Street Bridge while it was getting some much-needed repairs.

Update: Wednesday 5:26 P.M. A federal judge has ruled that in-home services for senior citizens are covered by Medicaid and should be funded, despite the budget impasse.

Attorneys for the State of Illinois are expected back in federal court today. The state is being challenged for not funding in-home care for seniors during the budget impasse.

Wikipedia

Congressman John Shimkus says he supports efforts in Washington to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood, but he doesn’t favor a government shutdown over the issue.

The fifteenth district Republican says voters have demanded de-funding after secretly-recorded videos surfaced of Planned Parenthood officials allegedly discussing selling fetal organs.

The organization has said those videos were heavily edited and denied it’s done anything illegal. 

WUIS

Illinois's junior, Republican Senator Mark Kirk -- opposes the nuclear deal with Iran. But the state's senior U.S. Senator Democrat Dick Durbin, has been key in sheparding it through Congress. 

That's provided grist for the D.C. rumor mill.

Durbin is the Senate Democrats' No. 2, what's known as the minority whip -- a job at which Durbin excelled when it came to the nuclear agreement.

State of Illinois

State Senator Darin LaHood is expected to step down this week after winning election to Congress. That means the ten Republican Party chairs in the district have one month to review applications and pick a replacement.

Peoria County Republican Party chairwoman Katherine Coyle says four people are interested in the job so far.

“Many of those people have been making their way just to meet for coffee, meet all the county chairman, get to know them, talk to them, show them their resumes, that type of thing,” Coyle said.

Wikipedia

Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker is calling for sweeping restrictions on organized labor in the U.S. He says he seeks to replicate nationwide his successful effort as Wisconsin's governor to curb the power of unions.

At a town hall meeting in Las Vegas today, Walker will propose eliminating unions for federal workers and making all workplaces right-to-work … unless individual states vote otherwise.

He also wants to scrap the federal agency that oversees unfair labor practices and make it more difficult for unions to organize.

senatorhaine.com

Illinois repealed capital punishment in 2011. Four years later, a state lawmaker wants to bring it back.

Senator Bill Haine, an Alton Democrat, says some acts are so evil, they call for a special response.

"The law should be a force reckoned with,” Haine said. “And part of that is to have available, to a prosecutor and to a jury, the option of asking for the death penalty -- if someone forfeits one's life if they cross that line." 

Illinois’ top four legislative leaders used to hold marathon meetings with the governor to work out their differences. But that changed this year. The state’s top leaders haven’t met in months.

When is the last time House Speaker Michael Madigan met with Gov. Bruce Rauner?

"Last meeting with the governor? I don’t recall exactly when it was."

He said that Wednesday night. A few weeks earlier, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin on the same question:

“It was a month and a half ago."

glbtq.com

A national survey conducted by the University of Illinois-Springfield shows growing positive attitudes toward the rights of transgendered people…but maybe not when it comes to their medical care.

The online survey shows 81 percent support those who are transgendered having the same rights as the rest of us. But only about half are for using public funds to help provide medical treatment for transgender people.

Teamsters Local 916 Facebook

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration says it reached tentative agreements on new labor contracts with several Teamsters Union groups representing almost five thousand workers.

The administration reached agreements with Local 916, which represents professional and technical workers at IDOT, and the negotiating committee representing highway maintenance workers.

Both groups must still vote to ratify the agreements. They call for a four-year wage freeze, continuation of a 40-hour work week before overtime is paid and a reduction in payouts for unused vacation days.

cookcountyil.gov

Candidates with political ambitions both high and low in Illinois have one thing in common today: They can start collecting signatures to get on the 2016 ballot.

Collecting signatures is the kind of thing that can end a candidacy if they aren’t valid.

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin hopes to win the Democratic nomination to run against Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk. He says a candidate collecting thousands of signatures has to do three things:

AFSCME

A key vote in the standoff between Gov. Bruce Rauner and labor is expected in the Illinois House this week, as early as Wednesday.

Rauner has been trying to convince legislators to let him keep his power to negotiate with the AFSCME union, even if it results in a lockout or strike -- though Rauner has vowed he won't call for the former.

At the same time, AFSCME leaders are asking state representatives to stick with them.

WCBU

Candidates seeking Illinois's 18th Congressional District seat vacated by Aaron Schock reiterated their positions during a second debate this week.  

State Senator Darin LaHood and Rob Mellon also talked about campaign finance reform.  

Mellon, a Democrat from Quincy, says the way districts are drawn helped LaHood raise $1.5 million in campaign donations.

“And so they create these very safe districts, and they’re money making schemes,” Mellon said.

That charge was dismissed by LaHood, a Peoria Republican.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

The portion of the gas tax collected when you fuel your car is supposed to be forwarded to Illinois municipalities. They use it to fill potholes, or buy road salt.

Instead, that money is trapped in the budget stalemate.

Macomb Mayor Michael Inman says this month's skipped payment is preventing cities from repairing roads.

"Mayors find themselves in a holding pattern as we wait for the state to take action,” Inman said. “Winter is fast approaching, and time is not on our side."

Wikipedia

The Democratic Party of Illinois isn't officially backing any one candidate for U.S. Senate. That has leading Democrats going their own separate ways when it comes to endorsements.

Nationally, Democrats hope their chances of winning back control of the Senate begin in Illinois next year, when Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk faces re-election.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says Democrats' best shot rests with Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. But state Sen. Kwame Raoul says Andrea Zopp is the best qualified for this race.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS

Illinois Democrats say their party is strong and more energized than ever, thanks to Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

The day after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner accused them of holding up progress, hundreds of Democrats packed into a ballroom rose to their feet and clapped when Senate President John Cullerton said this:

"We are willing to work with Gov. Rauner, but we don't work for Gov. Rauner, okay?"

Secretary Of State Jesse White Announces He Will Not Seek Re-Election

Aug 21, 2015

For the first time in 20 years, Jesse White says he will not be seeking re-election as Illinois’s Secretary of State.

Jesse White’s storied career has taken him from playing for the Chicago Cubs to the U-S Army to the Jesse White Tumblers.

Even though he isn’t up for election for another 3 years, White announced at the State Fair Thursday he won’t be running again.

White has already appointed his political protégé Alderman Walter Burnett Jr to fill his spot as Democratic Committeeman.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday rebuked Governor Bruce Rauner in his labor negotiations with the state's biggest government-employee union.

Unions and Democrats say it would even the playing field for state workers negotiating a new contract with Gov. Bruce Rauner. Rauner and Republicans say it would unnecessarily tie his hands.

After months of negotiations have failed to reach an agreement, unions want legislation that would let an arbitrator resolve intractable disputes.

Rauner vetoed it, saying it would tie his hands. He also promised not to lock workers out.

Senate Approves Aid For Low-Income College Students

Aug 20, 2015
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Among the casualties of the Illinois budget impasse are grants that help low-income students pay for college. On Wednesday, Democrats in the state Senate voted to address that.

Thousands of students take advantage of the so-called MAP grants to attend everything from community colleges to the U. of I.

Randy Dunn, the president of Southern Illinois University, says two-thirds of students at the Carbondale campus get help from the program.

"The average award for our students is significant," Dunn told a Senate committee. "This is not something that's chicken feed."

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner's November election victory landed his party a summer prize Illinois Republicans haven't had in dozen years --- the pride of having Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair. But Rauner's day of political revelry Wednesday ended with a stinging defeat.

Rauner didn't miss the opportunity to make a grand entrance to his first Governor's Day at the fairgrounds. He rode in on his black Harley.

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