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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Courts
7:04 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Another Pension Lawsuit Is Filed

More Illinois retirees are suing to block changes to the state's pension system. They're fighting a new law that seeks to save billions of dollars by cutting benefits.

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NPR Story
6:01 am
Thu January 2, 2014

'Siri, Tell Me About The Hands-Free Law'

Bluetooth headsets are among the ways one will be permitted to talk and drive beginning in 2014. Holding a phone, however, will be banned under Illinois law.

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 11:53 am

Jan. 1 brings a new Illinois law that limits talking on the phone while driving. It's often been referred to as "cell phone ban." But it's actually a bit more nuanced.

The law starts out by saying you cannot drive while using an electronic device such as a phone or laptop. But it's not that cut-and-dry. For example, you can place a call if it only requires pressing one button.

SIRI: *ding*

MACKEY: Siri, can you make a call for me?

SIRI: "With whom would you like to speak?"

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Courts
6:21 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Insurance Company Must Defend Policyholder

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:33 am

The Illinois Supreme Court has put a limit on just who can be excluded from a car insurance policy.

Ana Reyes is being sued for allegedly hitting two people with her car — injuring a mother and killing the woman's four-year-old.

In the lawsuit that followed, Reyes’ insurance company argued it had no duty to defend Reyes or pay the victims.

Insurance company American Access listed Reyes as the policyholder, but it also excluded her from her own policy, and made another man the primary driver.

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NPR Story
5:55 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Sen. Mark Kirk Hospitalized for Gall Stones

Sen. Mark Kirk takes the stage a Repbulican rally at the 2013 Illinois State Fair.

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 5:33 pm

Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has had his gall bladder removed. The procedure happened Monday morning at a hospital in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

Kirk checked himself in to Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital on Saturday. He reported feeling pain in his abdomen. Doctors diagnosed gall stones, and decided to remove his gall bladder.

Dr. Kim Sobinsky did the 30-minute operation. He says most patients recover pretty quickly.

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Politics
2:57 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Bishop Holds 'Minor Exorcism' Over Same-Sex Marriage

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield speaks with reporters after his prayers of "exorcism" over same-sex marriage.

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 2:23 am

Minutes after Gov. Pat Quinn made gay marriage legal in Illinois, the Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield began a prayer service in response. Tuesday's service was formally called a prayer of “exorcism.” But the ceremony was more subdued than that dramatic word might suggest.

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NPR Story
4:39 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Thoughts On Fracking? Illinois Wants To Hear From You

Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves pumping massive amounts of water and chemicals underground, shattering rock, in order to release oil and natural gas.

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 5:08 pm

Illinois took another step Friday toward allowing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The state has published draft rules on the controversial oil and gas extraction process, and it's looking for comments from the public.

Back in the spring, lawmakers touted Illinois' fracking law as the toughest in the country. It was the product of long negotiations between environmentalists and business groups.

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Senate Bill 10
6:16 am
Wed November 6, 2013

#15: Illinois Soon To Be Latest Same-Sex Marriage State

Credit Elsie esq / Flickr/Creative Commons

Illinois will be the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage, after the state House and Senate approved  legislation (SB10) today.  Governor Pat Quinn says he will sign it into law, and same-sex couples can marry starting next June.

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Click on updated story below
4:18 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Illinois House Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Credit Elsie esq / Flickr/Creative Commons

Same-sex marriage took a big step toward becoming law in Illinois today. The Illinois House of Representatives approved gay marriage in a narrow vote. 

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NPR Story
9:00 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Illinois Did Not Lose Money Under Default Threat: Rutherford

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford is seen in this August 2013 file photo.

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 6:32 am

With the federal shutdown over and a government default averted, investors are breathing a sigh of relief Thursday. That includes the people responsible for investing billions of dollars on behalf of Illinois state government.

The state of Illinois has about $10 billion in investments. That money is the responsibility of Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who says about $1.2 billion of Illinois' portfolio is in the form of U.S. Treasury Bills.

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NPR Story
5:54 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Lincoln Home Would Be Closed By Federal Shutdown

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 4:21 pm

The historic home of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield would be among the victims of a federal shutdown Monday night.

During a shutdown, the federal government makes all kinds of decisions about what's considered an essential government function.

Air traffic control and National Weather Service forecasts are essential. National parks are not. Which is why the Lincoln Home National Historic Site is on the block.

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