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.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s ideas about how to change government-employee pensions are getting extra scrutiny in Springfield.

Rauner wants employees to be moved into less generous plans for future pension benefits.

So far, it’s just something he’s just talked about. Democrats who’ve long focused on pension issues say that needs to change.

Sen. Daniel Biss, of Evanston, is calling for an actuarial analysis. He also says the idea that legislation would be passed and make it through the inevitable court challenge anytime soon is a “fantasy."

Two Chicago-area cousins accused of trying to help the so-called Islamic State made their first appearance in court Thursday. A top Illinois law enforcement official says the state's National Guard worked with federal authorities to prevent an attack.

state of Illinois

A proposal in the Illinois House would let cities and towns declare bankruptcy.

Many municipalities say they’re struggling to pay for local police and fire pensions. Backers of bankruptcy say it would give mayors more leverage in negotiating with unions.

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Unions and other advocates for raising Illinois' minimum wage won a small victory yesterday. For the first time in years, an increase is advancing in the Illinois House.  

Even Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner says he can get behind it — if it comes after a long list of pro-business legislation.

Democrat Art Turner, from Chicago, got the measure through a committee on a party-line vote.

There's a simple rule of thumb for determining when the Illinois Supreme Court will rule on a given case, and it's that there is no rule of thumb for determining when the Illinois Supreme Court will rule on a given case.

In 2009, Illinois enacted a law requiring the Department of Corrections and the Prisoner Review Board to use a risk-assessment tool to evaluate inmates. The agencies did not meet a 2013 deadline to get it up and running, and that failure is now the subject of a class-action lawsuit. The idea behind the risk-assessment tool is to make an objective analysis about whether an inmate poses a danger to the public.

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs is keeping secret the results of an investigation into his predecessor. 

Former Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s political career imploded after an employee accused him of sexual harassment and political intimidation.

Rutherford, a Republican, denied the allegations and hired a former IRS investigator to look into the charges. He said he’d release the results of that $27,000 investigation — taxpayer funded — but later backtracked, citing the advice of attorneys to keep it secret.

Illinois’ main prison for women has nearly 2,000 inmates. An outside monitor says that’s the result of poor planning when Illinois closed the prison at Dwight nearly two years ago.

The majority of Illinois female inmates are incarcerated at Logan Correctional Center in central Illinois.


Illinois lawmakers passed driver regulations for ridesharers. 

The House and Senate approved creating statewide regulations yesterday for drivers working for services such as Uber and Lyft. It includes modified insurance requirements, background checks and a zero-tolerance substance policy. 

Flickr user / kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop) "Vote!" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois General Assembly voted to make same-day voter registration a permanent feature of state elections. 

Democrats allowed it for the first time in this year’s election. As with most changes to election law, there was a fierce debate. Republicans charged Democrats rushed it through and the changes open the door to voter fraud.

But Barbara Flynn Currie, the Democratic Majority Leader, says that’s not true.