Stories by Amanda Vinicky

(WTTW News)

SAFE-T Act Changes Passed in Springfield Specify Pretrial Detainment Criteria

The SAFE-T Act package passed as law two years ago, in January 2021. But only in January 2023 will its most controversial part, the Pretrial Fairness Act, take effect. Illinois lawmakers spent all of Thursday – their last day of session in 2022 – making last minute changes to the law

(WTTW News)

Illinois Legislators Work to Tweak SAFE-T Act Provisions Around Pretrial Release

One of Republicans’ major concerns has been that the legal standards were too narrow for determining when a defendant could be kept in jail as they await trial. A Democratic proposal addresses that by expanding the list of crimes for which someone can be denied pretrial release.

(WTTW News)

Illinois State Legislators Reach Bipartisan Deal to Pay Off Unemployment Fund Debt

On Tuesday, leaders announced a bipartisan plan, which also has the backing of business and labor, to eliminate the $1.8 billion remainder of that debt, including paying back an interest-incurring federal loan that had been used to shore up the fund.

(WTTW News)

After Some Freight Rail Unions Reject Agreement, Strike Is Again a Possibility

The stand-off between railroad companies and a dozen unions representing workers from conductors to locomotive engineers is for the second time heading toward a possible strike.

Mark Curran speaks with "Chicago Tonight" on Nov. 16, 2022. (WTTW News)

State Lawmakers Have Quiet Discussions But Take No Formal Action on SAFE-T Act Revisions

It’s been two years since Illinois Democrats passed the major criminal justice law known as the SAFE-T Act, but it’s getting a lot of attention now as the bail overhaul approaches.

(WTTW News)

After Election Losses, Illinois Republicans Pick New State Senate and House Leaders

A red wave may not have materialized on Tuesday as polls predicted and the GOP had hoped, but election currents swept in changes across the top ranks of the Illinois General Assembly.

(WTTW News)

Illinois Workers’ Rights Amendment Approved by Voters: AP

Illinois’ constitution will be amended to explicitly protect unions, according to backers of the change who’ve been closely watching as mail-in ballots get added to totals from last Tuesday’s election. Outside entities and leading critics of the question say it’s too early for unions to claim victory.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks to the media on Nov. 9, 2022. (WTTW News)

After Democrat Election Successes, Pritzker Takes Victory Lap Heading Into 2nd Term

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is not only the party figurehead. He’s also a billionaire, who over the past two years, has spent at least $150 million on his and other Democrats’ campaigns.

(WTTW News)

Illinois Democrats Show Strength in the Suburbs as General Assembly Super-Majorities Stay in Tact

Election results ensure Democrats will hold onto their super-majorities in the Illinois General Assembly. Republican House Minority Leader Jim Durkin was quick to respond to the bad night for Illinois Republicans.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks the day after his re-election on Nov. 9, 2022. (Alonzo Stallings / WTTW News)

Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker Declares Victory Over Darren Bailey, Says He Will Bring ‘Happy Warrior’ Spirit to 2nd Term

Just minutes after polls closed in Illinois, the Associated Press called the race for the incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Voters line up to cast their ballots during early voting on Nov. 7, 2022, in Chicago. (WTTW News)

From State Offices to Control of Congress, Illinois Voters Have Plenty of Decisions to Make Election Day

Illinois voters on Tuesday will decide races ranging from who will be the next governor and secretary of state, to whether the state will amend its constitution. We break down the races. 

(WTTW News)

Cook, DuPage County Boards With Tight Races Up For Grabs Next Week

In areas that are solidly Democratic or Republican, races were virtually decided over the summer, in the primary contest. But particularly in the suburbs, it's not always as cut and dried.

(WTTW News)

Will Evanston Become the First Illinois Community to Implement Ranked Choice Voting?

If the question in Evanston passes next week, ranked choice voting would first be used in the city in the spring of 2025.

(WTTW News)

Despite Federal Indictment, Michael Madigan Still Bringing in Campaign Cash as Ward Committeeman

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is under federal indictment on corruption charges and no longer holds a reputation as the state’s most powerful politician. Despite all that, he is still a successful fundraiser.

(WTTW News)

50 Years After Title IX, Transgender Athletes Advocate for Protections in High School and College Sports

“Title Nine at 50: Past, Present, Future” is a three-day event at Northwestern University’s Evanston campus running Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It's free and open to the public and this story will be screened on Friday as part of the symposium.

WTTW News Explains: What Happens to Your Ballot After You Vote?

You’ve done your research. Made your choices. Cast your ballot. What happens next? WTTW News explains the ballot counting and storing procedure used in Chicago. 

(Randy von Liski / Flickr)

Balance of Power Could Shift on the Illinois Supreme Court. Here Are the Candidates Running in November

With terms that last 10 years, having two competitive Illinois Supreme Court contests in a single election cycle – as is the case in the suburbs outside of Cook County this November – is rare and the results potentially significant.

(Randy von Liski / Flickr)

Illinois Supreme Court Races Could Determine Who Controls State's Highest Court

“These races often fly under the radar but these are the two most important races on our ballot in November,” said lawyer Trisha Rich, who is on the board of the abortion rights group Personal PAC. “And even though that might sound like an overstatement, it’s not.”

(WTTW News)

National Trend of Candidates Limiting or Skipping Debates Reflected in Some Illinois Races

Early voting begins in Chicago on Friday, but voters will have fewer opportunities to be informed about the positions of those on the ballot because there are fewer debates. It’s a national trend, though one that’s difficult to measure.

(WTTW News)

A Focus of Political Campaigns, Illinois’ SAFE-T Act Likely to See Tweaks This Year

The law, known as the SAFE-T Act, will eliminate cash bail come January. But it’s likely the law will see an overhaul of its own — or at least, tweaks — before then.

A cannabis cultivation facility. (WTTW News)

The Illinois Marijuana Industry Was Supposed to Bring Equity. Advocates Say Those Promises Are Falling Short

Illinois was supposed to be the national model when government leaders pledged they’d use the 2020 legalization of marijuana to right the wrongs of the war on drugs that disproportionately harmed Black and Latino communities. Nearly three years later, those poised to benefit say they’re still stymied.

(WTTW News)

A Workers’ Rights Amendment Will Be on the Illinois Ballot. Here’s What It Does

Among the choices voters will have to make on Nov. 8 is whether to add a new amendment to the Illinois constitution that would give workers the “fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively” while at the same time forbidding any law that interferes with that ability.

Cook County Courthouse. (WTTW News)

State’s Attorneys Representing 3 Illinois Counties File Lawsuits Against SAFE-T Act

In January, Illinois will eliminate cash bail —  money paid to release someone from jail, as a guarantee that they will return for trial. But the change won’t go into effect if a trio of state’s attorneys have their way as they seek to have the law, dubbed by drafters as the SAFE-T Act, declared null and void.

(WTTW News)

Local Election Officials in Dire Need of Volunteers for November Midterms

“We have a serious shortage of judges and poll workers,” Cook County Clerk Yarbrough said. “The clerk’s office manages elections in suburban Cook County and we’ve seen our number of election judges shrink significantly in recent years. Over the last eight years, we’ve seen a reduction of about 40%.”

Aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. (Credit: CNN)

Hurricane Devastation Highlights Past Wrongs in Puerto Rico, Say Area Residents

As Puerto Rico is battling the devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona, Chicago-area residents of Puerto Rican descent say the storm calls attention to past wrongs and opportunities for change.

(WTTW News)

Some Area Commuter Trains Already Canceling Service as National Rail Strike Looms

The countdown is on for railroad companies and unions to reach a deal. If one isn’t reached by late Thursday night, workers could strike. That would have a big impact, most immediately for commuters.