Tom Lisi

Tom reports on statehouse issues for NPR Illinois.  He's currently a Public Affairs Reporting graduate program student at the University of Illinois Springfield.  He graduated from Macalester College.  Tom is from New York City where he also did stand-up and improv and wrote for the Awl and WNYC public radio.

Flickr user / Victor "Handcuffs" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois General Assembly has approved legislation intended to make it easier to hold drug dealers accountable when their customers overdose.

After eight years in the Army, Evan Rushing had PTSD. One day last year, he drove to St. Louis to buy heroin. It was a bad batch; he overdosed and died.

Evan’s mother, Janice, said police identified the dealer who sold the drugs. Prosecutors couldn’t charge him with drug-induced homicide though, because Rushing bought the heroin in Missouri.

Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday at the governor’s mansion in Springfield. The Rauners are raising $15 million privately to finance a restoration of the 162-year old building.


Beyond long-delayed repairs, the plans call for a small art gallery and an educational exhibit for school children. Diana Rauner said she looks forward to helping out with a new garden.


The Illinois General Assembly voted to increase a fee on cell phone bills in order to fund 911 services.  

Negotiators involved with the legislation say Gov. Bruce Rauner tried to pull Republican support because he didn't want to give Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel a victory. But GOP lawmakers voted in favor of the measure, which includes a fee increase in Chicago.

Rep. Chad Hays, R-Caitlin, said that, without the fee increase, 911 services would be on life support.


Flickr User Nadbasher/ CC 2.0

Illinois legislators have abandoned a bipartisan effort to increase funding for 911 services. People involved in the negotiations say Gov. Bruce Rauner got Republicans to pull their support.

Dispatchers, phone companies, and local governments had been in agreement that the 911 fee on cell phone bills should be increased to keep the emergency-response service going and to add new technology. They say the cost of keeping the service running is falling increasingly on local governments.

Medical marijuana is still new to Illinois, but some lawmakers are taking a look at expanding its use to help stem the opioid epidemic.

State senators heard from recovering opioid addicts on how marijuana has helped them manage chronic pain from injuries. Ingalore Wood of Auburn said opiates made her angry and reluctant to leave the house. Then she switched to medical marijuana.