Stories by Amanda Vinicky

Ahead of Budget Address, A Look at Fiscal Pressures Facing Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker (WTTW News)

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on people’s lives, and also on government budgets. On Wednesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker will propose his ideas for getting Illinois through it. Here’s a preview of that address.

Gun Control Advocates Push for Action in Springfield

(WTTW News)

It’s been two years since an aggrieved worker at the Henry Pratt warehouse in suburban Aurora killed five people. Advocates for gun control say in that time, Illinois still hasn’t taken the necessary steps to fix problems with state firearms laws.

Mercy Hospital Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Mercy Hospital (WTTW News)

Chicago’s oldest hospital is closer to shuttering this spring after filing for bankruptcy. What that may mean for patients.

Chicago Cracks Down on COVID-19 Vaccine Code-Sharing

(WTTW News)

A QR code that allows eligible Chicagoans to sign up for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is being shared, inappropriately, with family and friends, health officials say. And it’s causing headaches for the health department.

When It Comes to COVID-19 Vaccine, Is Illinois’ Priority List Fair?

(WTTW News)

According to the latest Illinois Department of Public Health data, about 2.35% of Illinois’ population is fully vaccinated, which means millions more are still waiting for a shot — and many won’t have the opportunity for months. 

Super Bet: Sports Wagering Now Legal in Illinois

(WTTW News)

The coronavirus means Sunday’s Super Bowl will be different this year. But something else about this year’s matchup is new: You don’t have to travel to Las Vegas to legally bet on it. 

As CPS Talks Continue, Some Suburban Schools Reopen

(WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Teachers Union negotiators spent Tuesday back at the bargaining table as they attempt to reach an agreement on how to reopen schools safely. Districts and teachers throughout the Chicago area have likewise worked to broker agreements, to varying degrees of success.

CPS Parents Caught in the Middle as Negotiations Drag On

(WTTW News)

Monday was supposed to be the first day back for thousands of Chicago Public Schools students who wanted to return to in-person learning. Instead, it was another day of remote learning — and it’s just the sort of last-minute maneuvering that’s frustrating parents.

The Science Behind Chicago’s First Major Snowstorm

Chicago experienced its first major snowstorm of the season on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (WTTW News)

The Chicago area finally got its first true snowstorm of the season — about two to four weeks behind schedule. But climatologist Trent Lord said in other ways, the storm is a textbook example of the range of precipitation a major winter weather event can produce.

5 Things to Know About Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine in the Chicago Area

Mayor Lori Lightfoot gets her first COVID-19 vaccine shot, administered by Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, at St. Bernard’s Hospital in Englewood on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. (WTTW News)

It’s another benchmark in the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine: Chicago has entered phase 1B. But what does that mean? And how can you sign up to get a shot? We’ve got answers to some common questions.

Breaking Down Illinois’ COVID-19 Mitigations

A bartender mixes a drink at the Chicago restaurant 14 Parish. (WTTW News)

Metrics. Warnings. Phases. Tiers. What does it all mean? We break it all down.

Demands, Hopes, Expectations: Illinois Leaders on Biden Agenda

(WTTW News via CNN)

Now that President Joe Biden is officially in the Oval Office, it’s time to get down to work. Interest groups — made of supporters and critics alike — have a lot of expectations for the country’s 46th president. Here’s a sampling.

Federal Court Rules Illinois’ Panhandling Law Unconstitutional

(WTTW News)

A federal judge has permanently banned Illinois’ panhandling law from being enforced on the basis the statute violates the First Amendment. The case was part of a yearlong effort by advocates, including the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, to eliminate such laws.

Exploring the Link Between Unemployment and Poverty

(WTTW News)

When Illinois required businesses to shut down last March because of the coronavirus pandemic, many workers were left without an income. Now, researchers say they are seeing a dramatic increase in poverty.

After House Speaker, State Lawmakers Tackle Other Initiatives

(Meagan Davis / Wikimedia Commons)

A lot happened in Springfield besides the selection of a new Illinois House speaker. Amanda Vinicky has the legislative scorecard.

Madigan Reign Ends as Welch Becomes Illinois’ First Black House Speaker

Illinois State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, takes the Oath of Office to become the Illinois Speaker of the House for the 102nd General Assembly for the Illinois House of Representatives at the Bank of Springfield Center, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Springfield, Ill. (Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register / Pool)

On the 50th anniversary of his becoming a state representative, Michael Madigan lost the gavel to Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch – making the representative from suburban Hillside the first Black House speaker in state history.

Last-Minute Jockeying for Illinois House Speaker Ahead of Vote

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (WTTW News)

With longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan pausing his campaign for another term as speaker, Democratic members of the Illinois House are scrambling as the other contenders for the job attempt to secure the necessary votes.

Madigan Suspends Campaign to Remain House Speaker

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (WTTW News)

After a nearly interrupted 36-year reign as speaker of the Illinois House, state Rep. Michael Madigan is suspending his campaign for another term — but that doesn’t mean he’s giving up.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Belmont Cragin

(WTTW News)

On the day that Illinois reached the unfortunate milestone of surpassing one million cases of the coronavirus, we go to one of the Chicago communities bearing the brunt of the pandemic. 

Illinois Congress Members Share Their Experiences from the Capitol

Protesters storm the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (WTTW News via CNN)

For members of Illinois’ congressional delegation, Wednesday was an unprecedented —  and for some, scary — experience.

Staff at Illinois Veterans Homes Declining COVID-19 Vaccine

(WTTW News)

Many people in the state are clamoring for the coronavirus vaccine. But some of those who have the chance to get the shot aren’t taking it, including employees at various state government-run veterans homes.

Illinois Drivers Licenses Facilities to Open Again for Business

(WTTW News)

State driver service facilities will reopen on Tuesday for the first time since mid-November.

State Officials: Nearly 500,000 Marijuana Arrest Records Have Been Expunged

(WTTW News)

In the first year since Illinois legalized recreational marijuana, the Illinois State Police expunged 492,192 non-felony cannabis arrest records, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office announced on Thursday.

Bill Brady Resigns from Illinois Senate

State Sen. Bill Brady appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. (WTTW News)

A top legislator who in 2010 came close to becoming Illinois’ governor and who had only a couple of weeks left as the Senate’s top Republican is instead stepping down from the General Assembly, effective Friday.

Fir Real: A Pedicab Will Pick Up, Recycle Your Christmas Tree

(WTTW News)

At some point, Christmas trees get brown, the needles fall off, and it’s time for them to go. But that doesn’t necessarily mean tossing your tree in the trash.

A Look at Illinois’ Marijuana Expungement Efforts

(WTTW News)

Friday marks one year since it became legal to buy and use marijuana in Illinois. But what about the thousands of people who previously got in trouble for possessing, smoking or selling pot?