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 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.


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.

There was a bit of commotion in the Illinois Capitol Thursday when an activist hijacked a committee hearing to call for the impeachment of Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Brian Mackey

Labor unions are going on the road to make their case against Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s pro-business agenda. The latest in a series of events took place in Springfield this morning.

For months, Rauner has been pushing proposals he says would improve Illinois’ economy — such as by lowering the cost of workers’ compensation insurance and restricting lawsuits.

But the governor is also pushing to weaken labor unions — like by creating right-to-work zones.
Several union leaders and members held an event at a Springfield church to voice their concerns.

state of Illinois

A major anti-heroin initiative is now law in Illinois. It happened yesterday, when the state Senate voted to override Governor Bruce Rauner's veto of parts of the proposal.

Activist Chelsea Laliberte or Arlington Heights -- whose brother died of an overdose at age 20 -- waited years for the changes.

"When you watch peoples' lives crumble because they can't get treatment — or they can't get the appropriate level of treatment — and instead they get incarcerated, or they're in an emergency room, or they die? It's very devastating to witness," Laliberte said.


Government labor unions lost a fight with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner yesterday.

AFSCME and other unions say the governor is making unreasonable demands in contract negotiations. But the governor and like-minded Republicans, such as Representative Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, say unions are asking for more than Illinois can afford.

"Some of you are going to be winners, and some of you are going to be losers,” Ives said. “And what you're going to lose is your livelihood, because there's no other way to pay for this."


A government labor union says it's confident the Illinois House will side with it over Gov. Bruce Rauner. A key vote on whether to override Rauner's veto of a union-backed bill is expected Wednesday.

The legislation would bar unions from striking and prohibit the governor from locking workers out. Instead, if the parties can’t agree on a contract, an arbitrator would decide.

Illinois legislators are considering whether local governments should be allowed to declare bankruptcy. Members of the Illinois House heard from dueling experts Tuesday.

It’s rare for cities and towns to declare what’s known as a Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

William Brandt, a bankruptcy consultant, says when it does happen, it's really just an “abrogation of political will” by elected officials.