Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for WUIS and a dozen other public radio stations across Illinois. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He can be reached at (217) 206-6412.

Subscribe to Brian Mackey's State of the State podcast on WUIS' podcast page, or by copying this URL into iTunes or any other podcast app.

President Barack Obama is set to address the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield Wednesday. Statehouse reporter Brian Mackey filed this preview of what the president is expected to say — and what he probably won’t say.

flickr user / Michael Coghlan "Prison Bars" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Illinois’ overcrowded prisons could be a big topic of debate in Springfield next year.

Local advocacy groups have been raising alarms for years.

Now, a Washington-based advocacy group says it’s joining the fray.

Jenna Moll is with the U.S. Justice Action Network. She says there are ways to cut prison populations that actually improve public safety … at a lower cost.

On episode 16 of the State of the State podcast, a commission working on an overhaul of Illinois’ criminal justice system has approved its first set of recommendations.

Illinois House Republicans

The newest Illinois state legislator has been sworn in.

Sara Wojcicki-Jiminez is a Republican from Springfield. She was previously an aide to first lady Diana Rauner and a spokeswoman for the House Republican caucus.

"One of the things that I learned on staff is that I should definitely keep this brief,” she said. “So I am very humbled by the opportunity. I am honored. I look forward to working with everybody in our caucus, and for our friends across the aisle."

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke in public Wednesday for the first time since Tuesday's big summit with legislative leaders. He says he is still defending his decision not to negotiate a budget until Democrats approve his agenda.

Rauner says he's not expecting quick progress in his standoff with Democrats in the General Assembly. The governor says he wants Illinois to be more business-friendly.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

With Illinois in its sixth month without a budget, the state's top political leaders met Tuesday in Springfield. It was the first time they'd all gotten together in months. Was anything accomplished?

In a word: No.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who run the Illinois House and Senate seem as divided as ever.

flickr/dankdepot

A pair of Libertarian political candidates are suing the state of Illinois. The state's medical marijuana law prohibits campaign donations from companies that grow or dispense cannabis.

Benjamin Barr is a lawyer with the Pillar of Law Institute in Washington, D.C. He says he filed the lawsuit because his clients favor legalization of drugs and should be able to seek support from like-minded businesses.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is standing by his decision to backtrack on cuts to a low-income daycare program. 

That comes even as Democrats in the Illinois House failed to pass legislation that would have forced Rauner to undo his changes to the state’s Child Care Assistance Program.

The program is meant to help parents out of poverty by subsidizing daycare, so they can work or go to school.

WNIJ

The Illinois Supreme Court has once again ruled in favor of tobacco giant Philip Morris. The decision, announced Wednesday, saves the company from a $10.1 billion judgment.

The case has been before the court off and on for more than a decade. A group of smokers say Philip Morris tricked them into thinking “light” cigarettes were safer than regular.

The Supreme Court already threw out the record award back in 2005. But a few years ago, the smokers went to a trial judge and tried to revive the case.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Senior citizens are among those feeling the pain of Illinois' partial government shutdown. AARP and other groups are calling on the state’s top politicians to set aside their differences and pass a state budget.

John Zorn, age 86, says he’s had four eye operations in the past few years, which has made him almost blind.

"I had a choice of either going to assisted living or a nursing home," Zorn said.

Instead, he’s getting a ride to and from a senior center in Springfield every day.

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