Stories by Amanda Vinicky

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a bill-signing event on March 13, 2023. (WTTW News)

Pritzker Signs Law Requiring Some Paid Leave for Illinois Workers

Come next year, a new law will mandate nearly all Illinois employers give their workers a minimum of five paid days off, for any reason.

(WTTW News)

Police, Jewish Organizations Urge Vigilance as Extremists Call for ‘Day of Hate’

White supremacists and neo-Nazis are trying to make Saturday the “National Day of Hate.” Law enforcement agencies and religious organizations are urging people to be cautious and report any incidents.

(WTTW News)

Illinois Gets Credit Rating Upgrade from S&P

Ratings agency S&P on Thursday moved Illinois’ bond rating up a notch, from BBB+ to A- on general obligation bonds. It’s the agency’s third upgrade since the summer of 2021.

(WTTW News)

Mendoza, Lightfoot Clash Over Benefits for Chicago Police Officers Disabled by COVID-19

The dispute is over what sort of disability benefits Chicago police officers deserve if they contracted COVID-19 before the vaccine was available.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears at an event for law enforcement officers on Feb. 20, 2023, in Elmhurst. (WTTW News)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Appears at ‘Law and Order’ Event in Elmhurst

The Chicago area was DeSantis’ third stop after visiting New York and Philadelphia, so the tour will certainly be cast as part of his early exploration of a White House run.

(WTTW News)

Which Guns Are Covered by Illinois’ Assault Weapons Ban?

Guns classified by the state of Illinois as "assault weapons" have been banned since Jan. 11. That means that hundreds — perhaps thousands — of guns can no longer be legally sold in Illinois. Those who already own guns and ammunition covered by the ban can keep them; they must be registered with the state.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his budget address on Feb. 15, 2023. (Governor's Office Video)

Pritzker Unveils State Budget With Additional Education, Homeless Funding

Speaking before a joint session of the General Assembly, Gov. J.B. Pritzker acknowledged that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has been years since he last gave the ceremonial presentation from the Illinois House.

(WTTW News)

Pritzker Proposes $75 Million Increase in Preschool Spending as Part of Multi-Year Expansion

An additional 5,000 children will be able to go to preschool next year under a proposal Gov. J.B. Pritzker will introduce Wednesday when he pitches his 2024 fiscal year plan to legislators and the public.

(WTTW News)

Pritzker to Outline Vision for Illinois in Budget, State of the State Address

For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker will present from the Illinois House chambers to a joint session of state representatives and senators.

(WTTW News)

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: ‘Groundhog Day’ Leaves Lasting Legacy in Woodstock

Pennsylvania may have Punxsutawney Phil, but Illinois has its own weather-forecasting rodent: Woodstock Willie, made famous by the movie “Groundhog Day,” which was filmed in Woodstock and released 30 years ago.

Dick Durbin. (WTTW News)

Democrats Renew Push to Ratify Equal Rights Amendment

The concept of the Equal Rights Amendment has been around for a century, but it's getting a renewed push of momentum in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the federal right to abortion.

(WTTW News)

Many Illinois Child Care Providers Still Awaiting Payment from the State

A technical delay is holding up payments to providers who care for children of low-income families that are part of the state’s Child Care Assistance Program, designed to help parents go to work or school with the help of subsidized child care.

(WTTW News)

Wealthy Illinois Residents Would Pay More in Income Tax Under New Proposals

No matter how much money a person makes, Illinois residents all pay the same income tax rate. A pair of new proposals could change that by taking aim at the bank accounts of high earners.

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

Pritzker Meets With Political, Business Leaders in Switzerland at World Economic Forum

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called himself the state’s chief marketing officer during a trip to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. He couldn’t name any specific projects that have been secured after his Swiss schmoozing but said Illinois’ commitment to 100% clean energy by 2050 is an “important calling card here.”

(WTTW News)

Illinois Utilities Seek to Increase Rates Across the State

Utilities companies like ComEd and Peoples Gas make money by delivering energy. The rates they’re seeking to hike are for distribution, including infrastructure like pipes and transmission lines, and the profit they can tack on to those costs.

(WTTW News)

Pritzker Signs Law Expanding Access to Abortion, Protecting Out-of-State Patients

The law expands the number of health practitioners who can provide certain types of abortions; requires Illinois public entities to cover abortion, gender-affirming and HIV-prevention drugs as part of health insurance; and establishes legal criteria for ensuring parental autonomy in reproductive technology.

(WTTW News)

New Illinois General Assembly Convenes

Illinois’ leadership has shifted, with a fresh group of 177 lawmakers sworn in to office on Wednesday.

(WTTW News)

Pritzker Quickly Signs Illinois Assault Weapons Ban Into Law: ‘We Got It Done’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the law Tuesday night , hours after it passed the legislature on the final day of the General Assembly’s session, and roughly six months since the July 4 mass shooting at the Highland Park Independence Day parade.

(WTTW News)

From Driver’s Licenses to Police Body Cams, the SAFE-T Act Contains Much More Than Cash Bail Changes

With the Illinois Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments in March, it will likely be months before justices decide the fate of cashless bail in Illinois. But bail transformation is just one of many provisions contained in the SAFE-T Act.

Workers at Howard Brown Health strike on Jan. 4, 2023. (WTTW News)

Employees at Howard Brown Health Continue Strike Over Recent Layoffs; CEO Says Cost Cuts Necessary

Howard Brown Health will next year mark 50 years of serving the health needs of the LBGTQ and HIV-positive communities. Going forward, it will do so minus about 16% of its workforce. 

(WTTW News)

Future of Cash Bail to be Determined by Illinois Supreme Court. Here’s What Happens Now

On New Year’s Eve, less than 12 hours before cashless bail was to take effect, Illinois Supreme Court justices put the elimination of cash bail in the state on hold indefinitely.

(WTTW News)

Illinois Supreme Court Pauses Plans to Eliminate Cash Bail on Eve Before Taking Effect

The Illinois Supreme Court on Saturday posted an online notice that it is staying the Pretrial Fairness Act, the law within a broader criminal justice overhaul called the SAFE-T Act, which contains the cashless-bail change. The stay will remain in place until the justices issue a new order.

(WTTW News)

Domestic Violence Protections to Minimum Wage Bump, Here’s the New Illinois Laws Taking Effect Jan. 1

The Illinois legislature was busy in 2022, enacting hundreds of new laws, many of which will take effect on Sunday.

Gene's Sausage Shop on Dec. 21, 2022. (WTTW News)

Winter Storm Preparation and Holiday Shopping Collide at Chicago Grocery Stores: ‘Crazier Than Expected’

Blizzard-like conditions are predicted just ahead of Christmas and during Hanukkah. The double whammy caused crowded parking lots and long aisles at grocery stores on Wednesday as folks stocked up.

Gun Rights Advocates Get Their Say as Illinois Legislators Hold Hearings on Assault Weapons Ban

Illinois lawmakers are pressing forward with an attempt to ban certain firearms they describe as assault weapons, but gun rights advocates say it’s a fruitless effort that will be tossed by the courts.

(WTTW News)

Jesse White Looks Back on Decadeslong Career in Illinois Politics

For the first time in two dozen years, Illinois will get a new secretary of state. Former state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a Democrat, will be sworn Jan. 9 in to replace Secretary Jesse White, who did not run for reelection this year.