Government and Legislature

Clean Power Plan Could Benefit Illinois

Aug 4, 2015

President Obama's new Clean Power Plan could mean good things for Illinois - both environmentally and economically.

The Clean Power Plan will mean dramatic changes to how Illinois coal is used for power production, but Susan Casey-Lefkowitz with the Natural Resources Defense Council says energy trading and collaboration will help ease the transition to more renewable resources.

"Some of this is going to happen with trading between states, and we fully expect states in a region to look across the whole region to try to have their targets be met," Casey-Lefkowitz said.

Schock Challenges Possible Civil Contempt Citation

Jul 30, 2015
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Former Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock appeared before a federal judge in Springfield this week to challenge a possible civil contempt citation. 

U.S. Attorney's office spokeswoman Sharon Paul says the hearings relate to whether Schock failed to comply with the judge’s order to produce campaign and congressional records.

The matter was postponed, pending a status conference next month. 

Paul declined to comment whether this week’s hearings are related to a grand jury investigation into allegations of Schock’s improper campaign spending.

Six-Year Highway Bill Stalls In U.S. Senate

Jul 29, 2015

Efforts by the Senate to pass a six-year highway bill have stalled.  Instead, the House is scheduled to vote today on another short-term extension and then leave town for its five-week August Break.

If approved, it will be the 34th short-term extension since 2009, but Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt says it will likely be the last, for years to come. He says both the House and Senate are committed to using this extension to work out details for a five or six year highway bill.

Gov. Bruce Rauner celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act over the weekend by signing five new laws relating to persons with disabilities.

Effective immediately

Americans With Disabilities Act Celebrates 25th Year

Jul 27, 2015

This week is the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lisa Seymour is the DeKalb County manager for RAMP. It's an agency that helps people with disabilities live independently and get jobs. 

"I think there has been much progress due to the ADA for individuals with disabilities, but there is still much progress that needs to be made," Seymour said.

Before the act, there was little protection for those with disabilities. They ran the risk of being discriminated against if their disabilities were physically apparent.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Rockford is one of 27 cities that will get help closing “the digital divide” under a White House pilot program.

The plan is called ConnectHome. The idea is to connect 275-thousand low income homes to the internet. That means broadband access, training, and even devices for people living in public housing.

State of Illinois

Before he'll agree to raise money to prevent massive budget cuts, Gov. Bruce Rauner says Illinois must pass a freeze on property taxes. His plan also calls for changes to the prevailing wage, a move that threaten unions.

The House has frequently voted down that concept.

Now, a group of Democratic Senators -- including Kim Lightford of Maywood -- are poised to try. They're set to unveil a plan Wednesday morning.

Hastert, Blagojevich Prosecutor Becoming Illinois Judge

Jul 15, 2015

A federal prosecutor who played a central role in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's trial is leaving to become an Illinois judge.

A U.S. judge overseeing Hastert's case congratulated Carrie Hamilton during a Tuesday status hearing. Her appointment as a Cook County circuit judge takes effect Friday.

Hamilton is also prosecuting former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Hamilton also helped convict Blagojevich insider Tony Rezko. She opened his 2008 trial by telling jurors he was “the man behind the curtain, pulling the strings.”

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Although the Illinois state budget for Fiscal Year 2016 still has not been decided, Gov. Bruce Rauner did take action on 24 pieces of legislation last Friday.

The news release from his office, however, provided absolutely no real information about what he had approved. Here is one example of how the “information” provided by the Gov. Rauner’s press office was sent out:

Bill No.: SB 38
An Act Concerning Employment
Action: Signed     
Effective: January 1, 2016


The U.S. House has overwhelmingly approved legislation to change the way the Environmental Protection Agency reviews and evaluates potentially toxic and dangerous chemicals used in commerce.

The existing Toxic Substances Control Act, written in 1976, is seen as a failure by many business and environmental organizations. Members of Congress say it has built-in weaknesses and unnecessary complexities that prevent the EPA from doing its job.