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.

durbin.senate.gov

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin voted against two of President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees Wednesday.

In the morning, Durbin and all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee voted against Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions.

It came days after Trump fired the acting Attorney General for refusing to enforce the president’s order on refugees and immigration.

"This is a constitutional moment, and a challenge to us to envision what the next attorney general will be facing in the remaining three years and 11 months with this president," Durbin said.

FLICKR USER SPDUCHAMP (CREATIVE COMMONS)

Moody’s Analytics says Illinois is among the Midwest’s “weakest links.”  That’s according to a report prepared for the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (the legislature's nonpartisan research group). 

State economist Ed Boss acknowledges that an economic downturn could undo any progress toward a balanced budget. 

“I think even though the forecast that Moody’s gives is for some improvement next year, it’s not much," he said. "It’s still a pretty dismal picture."

M. Spencer Green/AP

A group of Chicago-area legislators are once again planning to push for tougher gun laws.

It comes the wake of last year’s increase in violence in parts of the city. State Representative Mike Zalewski says the proposal would force judges to impose longer prison sentences on people who carry guns illegally, or carefully explain their reasoning if they choose not to.The Riverside Democrat says the idea is to make court decisions more transparent. 

“Judges will be guided by the fact that the General Assembly wishes you to take your time on these cases," he said.  

Flickr user Mark Hillary / "My bed" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois Supreme Court considered a case Thursday that asks whether not-for-profit hospitals have to pay property taxes.

The case involves Urbana-based Carle hospital and clinics — though it could affect health systems across Illinois.  

At issue is the constitutionality of a state law that exempts not-for-profit hospitals from paying property taxes.

Laurel Prussing, the mayor of Urbana, says losing that tax money cost the city 11 percent of its tax base. 

llinois state legislators opened a new two-year session of the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday. Amid the ceremonies and celebrations, the focus remains on the political stalemate that's left Illinois without a budget for more than 18 months.

Democrats remain in firm control of the General Assembly, so it's not surprising Michael Madigan was re-elected speaker of the House for a 17th time. That's despite a Republican Party campaign to pressure Democrats into dropping him.

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