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.

A federal judge has put limits on election-day voter registration in Illinois.

The law in question allowed people in the most-populated parts of the state to register at their polling place, while the county seat was the only option for rural voters.

Jacob Huebert, with the conservative Liberty Justice Center which sued over the law, said it wasn’t fair.

“That’s giving an opportunity — an important opportunity — to people in high-population counties that it doesn’t give to people in low-population counties,” he said.

"Courtroom One Gavel" by Flickr User Beth Cortez-Neavel / (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois is more than a year behind on payments to people who've been wronged by state government.

These individuals can seek compensation through the Court of Claims.  Its caseload ranges from injuries caused by state workers, to the pleas of people unjustly imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.

Claims Court Chief Justice Peter Birnbaum says the court hasn't let the budget impasse interfere with its work.

Central Illinois physician David Gill lost another battle in his fight to become an independent Congressional candidate.  

He says it’s not fair that independents like him have to gather nearly 15 times as many signatures as Democrats and Republicans. Gill fell short, but successfully convinced a federal judge that he should be on the ballot anyway.

Then, higher-ranking appeals-court judges overturned that order, which led the Illinois State Board of Elections  to formally remove Gill from the ballot in the 13th Congressional District.

flickr user / lisa borbely "cutest baby foot" (CC BY 2.0)

An economist is trying to move the debate over the minimum wage beyond its usual focus on jobs — and has found higher wages lead to healthier babies.

Robert Kaestner is with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. He's co-author of a paper that looked at babies of mothers with lower education levels. He compared babies born in areas with higher minimum wages to those born elsewhere.

Kaestner says for this group, every dollar-per-hour increase means about a thousand dollars annually.

state of Illinois

  The ongoing budget crisis  hobbling Illinois government was front and center in Springfield.

The state's "Budgeting for Results” commission is supposed to single out well-managed programs for the government to fund.  The idea is that focusing funding makes the government more efficient.  

But Vickie Smith was among several people who told commissioners that the state government workforce has gotten so small, it’s actually making things less efficient.