Government and Legislature

Flickr user Ryo Chijiiwa / "Tommy Guns" (CC BY 2.0)

The nation's police chiefs are calling for universal background checks for anyone trying to purchase a firearm.

At a gathering in Chicago of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the top cops agreed the checks will help keep guns from people who shouldn't carry them.

The call that such checks for all purchases and not just those from licensed gun dealers is not new.

But in the past, law enforcement officials have included such a call as part of a wider effort that included calls for longer prison sentences for those convicted of gun crimes.


Mark your calendars. A date has been set. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has called a meeting with the legislature's leaders to talk about the budget impasse for Nov. 18.

He did it in response to a request from advocacy groups. It's the latest tactic as volunteers, lobbyists and lawmakers try to nudge the state's highest officials toward a deal.

It seems like it shouldn't be news, let alone a banner headline: The governor and the leaders of the legislature having a meeting.

Members of Illinois's House Government Administration Committee hoped to grill Superintendent Tony Smith about expensive perks he gets on top of his $225,000 salary. But the invitation was declined by Board Chair James Meeks, who sent a letter to the committee saying he wanted to discuss the request with the school board. 

A day later at the state board’s meeting, Smith referred reporters to Meeks for an answer of why they didn’t show up.

"So the conversation to have with the chairman, about the choices, like how we're responding? You can ask him," Smith said.

State of Illinois

Top officials of the Illinois board of education declined to appear before a house committee yesterday to answer questions about costly perks being paid to the board’s superintendent. Tony Smith was appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner and receives a stipend on top of his $225,000 salary. 

Representative Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat who chairs the committee, says their absence shows disrespect and a lack of transparency.

Illinois Budget Breakthrough? Not Tuesday

Oct 21, 2015
Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

A one-day session Tuesday yielded no budget breakthroughs for Illinois lawmakers. The state's been without a spending plan for what'll soon be five months.

It was the first time legislators had been at the capitol since last month, but neither sides' position appeared to move since then.

state of Illinois

Members of the Illinois House and Senate will be in Springfield again Tuesday, but there's still no budget deal for them to vote on.

Illinois' public university presidents warned in a letter of the "irreparable damage" being caused by having to wait more than three months for state money to come their way. Now, they're taking their case to the capitol. University leaders could have audiences with the governor, and legislative leaders.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

A northern Illinois congressman is not throwing his name into consideration for the Speaker of the House, but he does have a few suggestions.

Republican Representative Randy Hultgren says before his colleagues pick a leader, they need to be “leadable.”

“I would love to see Trey Gowdy do it. I think he is a really good guy... very smart.... [and has] great background as a prosecutor.”

He also supports Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, but says he doesn’t blame either if they aren’t up to it.

DeKalb County Jail

Two prosecution witnesses lied and the prosecution withheld evidence in the cold-case trial of Jack McCullough. That’s according to a new motion filed in DeKalb County Circuit Court by Public Defender Tom McCulloch.

McCullough was convicted in September 2012 of murdering 7-year-old Maria Ridulph of Sycamore in 1957. He has maintained his innocence since his arrest in the Seattle, Wash., area.

The motion, filed last week, asks reconsideration of a motion that McCullough filed in June, seeking relief based on actual innocence.

state of Illinois

It's fast approaching the time that the governor and Illinois lawmakers would typically begin planning for next year's budget, even though they've yet to settle on one for this year. Two-year budgets are standard practice for some states.

Should it get to that point in Illinois, it wouldn't be on purpose; universities, 911 centers, programs to help autistic kids, and other agencies that depend on government funding are in upheaval after having gone four months without a cent from the state.

Phil Masterton / WNIJ

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says cooperation and common sense in the General Assembly are the only solutions to the budget impasse. She stopped in Rockford Friday as part of her state-wide tour to talk about the state's financial troubles.