Steve Stadelman

Recreational cannabis sales will be legal in Illinois starting January 1st. This means anyone 21 years and older can buy from licensed sellers.

Democratic State Senator Steve Stadelman said the application process for these licenses includes measures meant to address social equity.

“When the law was passed, supporters were hoping to have diversity among those who own those licenses, but how you go about accomplishing that will be a big question," he said. 

Chase Cavanaugh

Rockford’s Nordlof Center played host to a legal clinic recently to help people expunge their criminal records.

Illinois law allows for people under certain conditions to have past offenses expunged, or for their criminal records to be sealed. The Second Chances Summit lets people get free legal assistance with this process, along with educational and career resources.  Illinois State Senator Steve Stadelman said this is the second such summit he’s organized. He said it has a significant impact on participants.

Susan Stephens

The City of Rockford has a new casino in the works, and officials will soon evaluate possible sites and construction plans.

State government is granting six new casino licenses as part of the gambling expansion bill signed in May.  One of these is for Rockford, and city government is currently accepting proposals. Mayor Tom McNamara says the proposals include details such as where the casino will be built, and how it will run.

Chase Cavanaugh

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill at the end of June that allows six new casinos and legalizes sports betting. Rockford is the site of one such casino, and it could significantly contribute to local and state revenue.

A comprehensive gambling bill has been a repeated priority in the state legislature for several years. One of its biggest supporters has been Republican State Sen. Dave Syverson. He says a major concern is gambling dollars being lost to surrounding states. 

This spring, the Illinois Legislature passed a budget – on time and, at least on paper, balanced. It was a rare bipartisan moment in a state which had seen partisan gridlock result in several years of partial or no budgets. In this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Guy Stephens looks at an effort to encourage more bipartisanship in the state of Illinois.

WNIJ continues its Friday Forum with two state senators and their priorities in the 100th General Assembly. 

Democrat Steve Stadelman and Republican Dave Syverson represent Illinois’ 34th and 35th senate districts respectively.  The 34th district comprises Rockford and its surrounding municipalities, while the 35th encompasses the cities of DeKalb, Sycamore, Genoa, Belvidere, and Rockton.

State Agency Wants To Help Cut Utility Bills

Jan 25, 2016

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Rockford-area residents hoping to lower utility costs received help deciphering fees, charges, services and small print on utility bills at a public seminar last week.

State Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford, hosted the event, where Citizens Utility Board personnel met with concerned citizens.

CUB field coordinator Matt Harvey said they reviewed Rockford residents’ electric, gas, and land-line telephone bills to determine if they might be able to save some money.

Rachel Scaman / WNIJ

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner continues to meet with legislative leaders to try to hammer out a state budget before the end of the month. Meanwhile, state lawmakers continue to meet with constituents who will be most affected by budget cuts.

Rockford Democrats gathered a crowd of people at a Milestone, Inc. facility north of Rockford. Their causes ranged from breast cancer screenings to home health care assistance.

Democrats have retained control of the Illinois legislature. In Rockford, a State Senate seat long-held by a Republican went to a Democrat. And a Winnebago County Republican appointed to a State House seat holds on to it.

There’s a three-way race among Democrats in the 34th State Senate District.