Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey covers Illinois state government and politics from the WUIS Statehouse bureau. 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) 206-6020.

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NPR Story
4:56 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Speaker Wants 'Millionaire Tax' Referendum

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 3:56 pm

House Speaker Michael Madigan wants voters to weigh in on his so-called "millionaires' tax" at the November elections.

The referendum would ask if income greater than a million dollars should be taxed an additional three percent, with the money going to schools.

Earlier this year, Madigan tried to put this before voters as a constitutional amendment, but he says there wasn't enough support in the House.

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NPR Story
3:57 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Quinn Pitches Tax Plan To House Democrats

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks with reporters Monday in the Capitol after meeting with House Democrats for more than two-and-a-half hours.

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 11:27 pm

Gov. Pat Quinn appealed directly to Democrats in the Illinois House Monday evening. He’s struggling to win support for his plan to extend Illinois’ higher income tax rate.

The governor appeared at a closed meeting of the Illinois House Democratic caucus.

Quinn is trying to win the support of the 60 Democrats required to make Illinois’ 5 percent income-tax rate permanent — instead of letting it decline by more than a percentage point as scheduled at the end of the year. Quinn warns without the higher tax rate, there will have to be drastic cuts in state services.

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NPR Story
4:29 am
Thu May 15, 2014

House Democrats Play Coy On Taxes

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 9:35 pm

Illinois House Democrats are assembling a budget plan for state government. But a big piece of the puzzle is being left out.

The plan makes it seem obvious House Democrats have heeded Gov. Pat Quinn's call to keep the income tax rate at 5 percent. Except they won't actually say that out loud.

Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago typified the coyness.

"This always comes own to the last couple weeks," he says, "and we have to look at different sources of revenue. We have to look at: Do we add here? Do we cut there?"

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NPR Story
4:08 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Buy A Car On Sunday? Dealers Say No

Car dealers could legally operate on Sundays in Illinois until the law was changed in 1982.

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 6:04 am

An Illinois lawmakers is trying to change state law so car dealers can be open on Sundays. But he's facing long odds.

When Sen. Jim Oberweis, from Sugar Grove, learned it was against the law for a car dealer to be open on Sunday, his Republican instincts kicked in.

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NPR Story
4:06 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Jury Duty: ¿Se Habla Español?

Cook County is among the locations where jurors would be allowed to serve with translators.

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 3:52 pm

Jury duty could soon be open to people who are not fluent in the English language. The Illinois Senate today approved a pilot program to provide translators for jurors.

Illinois law currently says jurors must be able to "understand the English language." This proposal would allow jurors who speak other languages to have interpreters.

It's the idea of Dan Locallo, a retired Cook County judge.

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NPR Story
4:37 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Holocaust Survivor Tells Of Shanghai Ghetto

Doris Fogel, in foreground, recounts her childhood as a refugee from the Nazis, spent among 20,000 Jews in the Shanghai ghetto. Behind her is Gov. Pat Quinn. The annual Holocaust Memorial Ceremony took place in the House chamber of the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 6:03 am

Illinois officials are remembering the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. An annual ceremony took place Thursday in Springfield's Old State Capitol.

Praying: "Y'hey sh'lama raba min sh'ma-ya ..."

The ceremony included the Kaddish — a Jewish prayer of mourning. Gov. Pat Quinn and other officials spoke. Then a survivor shared her story.

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NPR Story
4:12 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Illinois Capitol Police Face Elimination

Metal detectors and X-ray machines were installed in the Illinois Capitol after a gunman killed an unarmed security guard in 2004.

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 5:24 pm

Illinois lawmakers continue to hear dire scenarios for the state budget if they do not vote to extend the five-percent income tax rate. The latest threatened cuts include the entire state Capitol Police force.

The Capitol Police Department was established less than 10 years ago, after a deranged man shot and killed an unarmed security officer.

The shooting led to the installation of metal detectors and x-ray machines, and hiring sworn, armed law enforcement personnel.

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NPR Story
4:16 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Former HFS Director To Pay $100k Ethics Fine

Former HFS director Barry Maram says he agreed, after four years, to settle the ethics complaint "in order to finally put it to rest."

Originally published on Fri April 25, 2014 5:44 pm

A former state official has agreed to pay a record $100,000 fine to settle charges he violated a state ethics law. Barry Maram is accused of going to work for a state contractor a week after he left his job as director of Healthcare and Family Services.

Maram was HFS director from the earliest days of the Blagojevich administration through April 2010.

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NPR Story
4:33 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Quinn Signs Law Intended To Lower Cost Of Auto Leasing

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 5:33 pm

Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday signed legislation intended to lower the cost of leasing a car in Illinois. Backers of the law say far fewer people lease in Illinois than in surrounding states.

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NPR Story
5:04 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Illinois Finally Gets 'No Child Left Behind' Waiver

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 5:06 pm

After more than two years of trying, Illinois has finally won a waiver from the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind. Brian Mackey reports on what this means for schools in Illinois.

  The short answer is not much.

Illinois has already been moving beyond the No Child Left Behind law for some time, even as it waited for permission from the federal government.

Matt Vanover, a spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Education, says there were problems with No Child Left Behind.

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