Amanda Vinicky

Read Amanda's "The Players" blog.

Amanda Vinicky has covered Illinois politics and government for WUIS and the Illinois Public Radio network since 2006.  Highlights include reporting on the historic impeachment and removal from office of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, winning a national award for her coverage of Illinois' electric rate fight as a result of deregulation, and following Illinois' delegations to the Democratic and Republican national political conventions in '08 and '12.  

Though she's full-time with WUIS now, she previously interned with the station in graduate school; she graduated from the University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program in '05.  She also holds degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. 

Amanda is insatiably curious, so please reach out to her and get in touch if you notice something interesting going on at the Capitol! She can be reached at (217) 206-6019 or (773) 217-0316. If she's not in the statehouse bureau, you can usually find Amanda tweeting, dining at a local restaurant, taking a jog around Springfield or Chicago or practicing yoga. 

Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board

A state board that's charged with protecting rare flora and fauna has fallen victim to the state's budget woes. Gov. Bruce Rauner 's administration says funding for staff has been eliminated. 


Families with babies, from birth until they're three years old, are eligible for state assistance to help their children learn and grow. It's called early intervention. But without a budget, Illinois stopped paying the therapists who provide these services.

Now, the comptroller and the governor's administration says they've come up with a way to pay again, even though Illinois still has no budget in place.

When Tamiko Schaefer's baby Daniel was about six months old, she started noticing something.

Flickr user / Andrew "Chickens" (CC BY 2.0)

Birds from out of state are once again welcome within Illinois's borders. They were banned from fairs and exhibitions.

If you noticed the price of eggs going up this summer, there's a reason why. The bird populations in other states were hit by avian flu.

That included wild birds, captive ones and poultry -- commercial and backyard. But no cases were detected in Illinois.

Agriculture officials here reacted by trying to keep visiting birds, like chickens, out of places like the Illinois State Fair.


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.

It's been years since the last long-term federal transportation program. But with Congress back in session Tuesday, Illinois' senior U-S Senator is making a push for it to get done by the end of the month.

Federal transportation projects have been stuck in stop and go traffic.

Lawmakers pass a temporary authorization, allowing construction to move ahead until the red-light of a deadline; then another temporary measure, another stop … and go ... and stop ... and go.

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." 

First responders gathered in Springfield Friday for a training summit.

Director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency James Joseph led a tribute, in recognition of the 14th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks.

"On this very day, there was a heinous attack on our country, on our nation, that our changed our way of life. That sometimes ... that in many aspects re- solidified what we do as emergency managers, as public safety professionals, as police, as law enforcement."


Illinois’s lack of budget is threatening rape crisis services, programs that help women get screened for cervical cancer and the public health network. Senators meeting at the capitol Wednesday heard details of these and other woes. 

There's been a mumps outbreak at the University of Illinois, and measles are back, too.

“The reemergence of STDs – HIV.  The globalization of travel certainly puts these once-thought eradicated diseases back on our doorstep," says administrator of McLean County’s health department Walter Howe. 


The U.S. Supreme Court will not get the last word on Illinois’s attempts to cut government pension costs; a 2013 pension law is dead, for good.

There'd been a slim possibility the law would have another big day in court.

Lawmakers attempt at reducing the state's ballooning retirement costs was viewed as landmark when it passed in 2013. 

Also major? A ruling this May from Illinois' Supreme Court that that law --- with its reduced benefits -- was unconstitutional.

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

A credit analyst with Moody's Investor Service says Illinois's bond rating will remain unchanged, despite the state entering its third month without a budget. But the chances of a downgrade increase the longer a gridlock continues.

Illinois has the nations' lowest credit rating -- a grade that symbolizes its fiscal troubles, and adds to them. A lower score makes it costlier to borrow.

But the rating won't drop any further just yet.