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. 

Governor Bruce Rauner was elected on the promise he would "shake up" state politics.  But he admits he's struggling to make good on that pledge.

Rauner, a Republican who held no previous public office, told the nonpartisan Taxpayers Federation on Thursday that Illinois began going "down the drain" a long time ago.  "Forcing a change in the system? ... I knew it was going to be hard," he said. "It's harder than I thought. And it takes longer." Illinois is in its tenth month without a budget. Rauner presses his agenda, but Democrats refuse to go along with it.  

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois Senate today moved swiftly to approve a spending plan the House passed yesterday.

It authorizes spending nearly 4 billion dollars on higher education and social services -- two areas that have been caught without funding during a prolonged political fight. But Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno says it doesn't mean universities or programs would actually get money. 

Radogno says the state has none to give.

"If you vote for this, you're voting for a hollow promise,” Radogno said. “Let's look at the bills that have funding." 

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois IT is getting an update that will help bring government technology out of 1986. 

In late February, the state shifted from a paper professional licensing renewal system to one that works online.  Amanda Vinicky had the chance to speak with Bryan Schneider, the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, about the change.   

Amanda Vinicky

  Republicans are making an offer to get money for social services agencies that have gone without state funding for most of the year.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radongo says Illinois' political stalemate has caused crises all over the state.

adamsguns.com

  Access to guns could be restricted from someone going through a personal crisis. It comes after a series of mass shootings where advocates say warning signs were missed. State representatives advanced the legislation Wednesday.

It's not a lifetime ban. Rather, Rep. Kathleen Willis, a Democrat from Addison, stresses she wants to temporarily keep guns away from someone suffering a mental breakdown, contemplating suicide, or otherwise going through a rough patch.

A concerned close friend or relative could ask a circuit court to prevent them from buying, or possessing a gun.

Illinois lawmakers have given initial approval to a measure allowing transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates, passports, and identification cards.  

  Currently, people must first undergo surgery before changing their gender on documents.  Legislation that advanced out of a House committee Tuesday would remove that requirement. 

Maya Zimmerman says she would like to have sex change surgery, but she can't afford it.

Susan Stephens/Roberta F / Creative Commons

Senate Democrats are taking another bite at the school funding apple.

Senator Andy Manar -- a Democrat from Bunker Hill -- has tried for years to get Illinois to send more money to poor districts.

Until now ... that has meant taking money from wealthier ones.

Manar's latest plan would still do that … but gradually. Next year, no district would lose state money.

Manar says his plan eliminates special deals, so all school funding is distributed fairly.

Medicare.gov

Governor Bruce Rauner has created a task force charged with finding fraud in taxpayer-funded health care programs.

The Republican today used his executive authority to form the group. It'll seek ways to prevent waste in state- and federally funded Medicaid ... the state employee's health insurance ... and even costs of caring for inmates in Illinois prisons.

Rauner says the cost of state-run health care programs increases when no one watches to stop abuse and fraud.

A stalemate persists, as Illinois begins a tenth month without a budget. Legislators are back in Springfield after a spring break. They now have a few months to also find an agreement on a new budget, to cover next year.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says the urgency to pass a budget has heightened.

WUIS

  Republican Representative Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon told a House committee Monday that he wants to warn users of serious potential side effect such as hallucinations, delusions and impaired thinking.

Illinois' medical cannabis pilot program was sponsored by Democrat Representative Lou Lang of Skokie. Lang says he'd rather wait until the pilot program ends in 20-17 rather than pass piecemeal legislation.

"There may be an opportunity in the future to work on something like this. I just think it's ill-timed," he says.

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