Amanda Vinicky

217-206-6019

Read Amanda's "Leadership" 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. 

Flickr user oatsy40 / "Coal" (CC BY 2.0)

There's a new player in a battle over energy policy that's playing out at the Illinois Capitol.

Exelon wants support for its nuclear plants, a renewable energy coalition wants to require more wind and solar, and now a coal company and its supporters want in on the action.

The latest push would give the state's coal industry a boost.

housedem.state.il.us

Members of the Illinois House observed a moment of silence for peace in Baltimore before adjourning for the week. 

There were riots in the city this week following the death of Freddie Gray while he was in police custody. 

The moment of silence in Springfield was led by State Representative Marcus Evans. The Chicago Democrat says he's proud of bipartisan efforts to make Illinois a better place.

"Fighting the battle for equality here in Illinois, for restorative justice here in Illinois," Evans said. "We've got a lot of work to do."

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

A top official with Gov. Bruce Rauner's office confirms Illinois will restore $26 million in funding for a tobacco quitline, programs for autistic children and other social service grants. 

Projections show the state is taking in more money than expected.  While some cuts will remain, the windfall frees up money to reverse the cuts Rauner made with little warning on Good Friday, in early April.

The news has Joanne Guthrie-Gard beaming. 

"I'm ecstatic," she said. "I'm so excited."

Rachel Otwell

Gov. Bruce Rauner made an appearance yesterday at an Illinois Department of Transportation hearing on infrastructure needs.

IDOT is traveling across the state to build support for a new construction program. Rauner used his own travel experiences as an example. As is often good practice when giving a speech, the governor started his remarks with a joke.

Flickr user Jim Bowen / "Illinois State Capitol" (CC BY 2.0)

Legislators have begun to discuss Gov. Bruce Rauner's agenda.

They split into seven so-called working groups. Members of both parties and chambers will meet with aides from the governor's office to talk about issues like workers' compensation, limits on torts, and taxes.

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

Illinois' second-richest man is backing Gov. Bruce Rauner's agenda, according to a campaign contribution filed on Monday.

Rauner is amassing enough money to dwarf that of his political foes.

Sam Zell sat out of Rauner's race for governor. State records show no listing of Zell giving any money leading up to the election last November.

But now Zell, a Chicago real estate and investment mogul, came through with a record-setting $4 million contribution. Not to the governor himself, but to his new "Turnaround Illinois" Political Action Committee.

WUIS

Low-level marijuana users may soon catch a break in Illinois. Rather than going to jail, it would be more like getting a speeding ticket.

The repercussions for having pot vary; Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, says there are more than 100 different local ordinances all over the state.

An architectural rendering of the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which may be built on Chicago's lakefront. Credit LMNA Architecture Renderings / Lucas Museum of Narrative Art press kit

The force of the Illinois legislature is behind bringing George Lucas's museum and Barack Obama's presidential library to Chicago.

A measure to ward off legal problems that could prevent the Star Wars creator's museum and the President's library from being located in Chicago first popped up Wednesday evening. 

Less than 24 hours later, it's on the way to the governor. It's supposed to take at three days at minimum for that to happen.

But this measure had support from leaders like House Speaker Michael Madigan.

WUIS

Low level marijuana users may soon catch a break in Illinois. Rather than going to jail, it'd be more like getting a speeding ticket.

The repercussions for having pot vary; Rep. Kelly Cassidy says there are more than 100 different local ordinances all over the state.

"And the outcome from this patchwork system puts in place an unjust and confusing system wherein where you live and what you look like dictates whether or not you'll be arrested for extremely low-level marijuana possession," Cassidy said.

FLICKR User Jim Bowen

There's a hold-up over efforts to save programs dealing with autism and drug prevention from ending in Illinois. It seems like advocates should be celebrating.

After Gov. Bruce Rauner says he was forced to earlier this month suddenly pull $26 million worth of state grants, the Illinois Senate used the legislative version of searching under the couch cushions for change.

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