Political news

A special election for the office of Illinois comptroller is almost surely on the horizon. Democratic members of the Illinois General Assembly hurried today to pass a measure setting the election up, and Democratic Governor Pat Quinn says he will sign it into law.                                                                                      

It goes back to last month, when Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka suddenly died. She was about to begin a new, four-year term.

Tougher Gun Laws Are Revisited in Springfield

Jan 9, 2015
state of Illinois

A controversial idea to toughen gun sentences is being revisited in Springfield. Chicago’s police superintendent says Illinois lawmakers can reduce gun crime by passing stricter gun laws.

But the National Rifle Association fought previous attempts to pass a bill. Members argue legal gun owners could get caught in the wide-ranging proposal. 

Mike Zalewski - a suburban Democratic state representative - supports harsher gun penalties. He says the past failures means he’ll tweak the bill.

Special Election For Comptroller Becoming More Likely

Jan 8, 2015
state of Illinois

Chances the state will hold a special election for comptroller in 2016 have improved, now that the Illinois House Speaker has signaled his support. Lawmakers will be back in Springfield for special session today to vote on it.

Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown, says Madigan will support giving voters a say, instead of allowing an appointee to take over long-term.

Brown had previously only said that Madigan believed the future of the comptroller's office was a matter to be settled by the executive branch.

state of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers missed a Jan. 1 deadline to approve a state-run health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act. Without its own exchange, the state forfeits millions of federal dollars while leaving consumers vulnerable to paying more for insurance.

Illinois was facing dual deadlines last month when lawmakers made a final effort to create its own marketplace. The first was the looming New Year---which they blew past last week, losing out on as much as $270 million.


Yesterday was the first day of the new congress, and that means Illinois’ Senator Mark Kirk is now in the majority party. Republicans now control both chambers of congress. 

But when laying out his legislative priorities for the year, Kirk strayed from typical conservative talking points. He says his top two goals are banning sewage dumping in the Great Lakes.

"I wanna make sure that we’re protecting the water supply for 8 million Americans with the reverence and protection that it should be getting."

Quinn: Immigration Status Not Enough To Detain

Jan 6, 2015
State of Illinois

Immigration status alone will no longer be a valid reason for the Illinois State Police to detain someone, under an order issued Monday by Gov. Pat Quinn. 

In the executive order, Quinn says that "community policing efforts are hindered" when immigrants who are victims of, or witness, crimes are wary of cooperating for fear they'll be deported.

Quinn's order only applies to agencies under the governor's control: state troopers and conservation police.

New Illinois Law Bans Police Ticket Quotas

Jan 6, 2015
Flickr user woodleywonderworks / "police trooper writing a ticket" (CC BY 2.0)

Some police departments in Illinois could be issuing fewer tickets in the new year. 

A new state law went into effect that aims to get rid of ticket quotas.

Few police departments would ever admit to having a target number of tickets officers have to write each month. Even if there's no official policy in place, some police departments still follow a loose system.

A $26 million investment by Illinois taxpayers will allow communities to buy land for parks.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced the grants Saturday as part of a plan to increase recreational opportunities and help the economy. The money comes from the state’s Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program. 

Dane County, Wis.

The Rock County Coroner’s office in Wisconsin will not close today, but they will undergo a lot of procedural and personnel changes when they merge with the Dane County Medical Examiner’s office. That's after 132 years of stand-alone service in Rock County.

The Rock County community wanted to see the administrator’s office take accountability for examiner services, and that’s what having an appointed medical examiner versus an elected coroner would do. That’s according to Randy Terronez, who is the county administrator’s assistant.

Quinn Pardons 3 Men For Underground Railroad Work

Jan 2, 2015

Outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn pardoned three men for their work with the Underground Railroad.  

The three men all lived in west central Illinois and were convicted more than 170 years ago based on laws that prohibited helping runaway slaves.  Those laws remained in place even after Illinois abolished slavery in 1824. 

Dr. Richard Eells was from Quincy.  He agreed to help a fugitive slave get to an Underground Railroad site but the slave was caught and Eells arrested.