Stories by Peter Hancock — Capitol News Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks to reporters at a news conference on June 14, 2024. (Andrew Adams / Capitol News Illinois)

Illinois’ Ban on Bump Stocks Remains in Place Despite US Supreme Court Decision

Bump stocks became the focus of gun control debate following a 2017 mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas. A gunman used weapons equipped with bump stocks to fire more than 1,000 rounds into a crowd in a matter of minutes, killing 60 people and injuring more than 400.

State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, speaks on the floor after 3 a.m. on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, to stall for time as Democrats gathered enough members to the chamber to pass a revenue bill. The scramble to pass that bill ultimately prevented lawmakers from passing a measure to grant 1,500 acres of park land to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Guzzardi said. (Jerry Nowicki / Capitol News Illinois)

Potawatomi Hope to Finalize DeKalb County Land Transfer When Lawmakers Return in the Fall

The Prairie Band Potawatomi are now headquartered in northeast Kansas. But they once had a reservation in what is now DeKalb County, a reservation that officials now agree was illegally sold out from under them in 1850.

State Sen. Laura Fine, D-Glenview, speaks in favor of her bill to limit the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage or steer individuals toward lower cost, and sometimes less effective, treatments. (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

Health Insurance Changes Targeting ‘Utilization Management,’ More Will Head to Pritzker’s Desk

The Illinois House gave final approval Saturday to a pair of bills that limit the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage or steer individuals toward lower cost, and sometimes less effective, treatments and medications, strategies sometimes referred to as “utilization management.”

State Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, speaks on the Senate floor in favor of her bill to ban authorities in Illinois from aiding another state’s investigation of people coming to the state for reproductive health care. (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

Bill Banning Illinois From Aiding Other States’ Investigations Into Abortion Services Clears General Assembly

The bill is one of several responses Illinois lawmakers have passed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2022 that overturned Roe v. Wade. It came in response to legislative efforts in other states to ban or severely limit access to abortion services.

Prairie Band Potawatomi Chairman Joseph “Zeke” Rupnick, left, and Rep. Will Guzzardi testify before the House Executive Committee in favor of a bill to hand over roughly 1,500 acres of park land in DeKalb County to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

Bill That Would Expand Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation’s Reservation Advances in Illinois House

The bill would authorize the state to hand over what is now Shabbona Lake and State Park to the tribe for $1. It also allows the tribe and the Department of Natural Resources to enter into a land management agreement under which the land would remain open to the public for recreational use for an unspecified period.

Susan Stanton, executive director of the advocacy group ACT Now, on May 7, 2024, leads a rally calling on state lawmakers to provide funding to prevent after-school programs that serve an estimated 40,000 students statewide from being forced to close this summer. (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

Thousands of Illinois Students at Risk of Losing Access to After-School Programs

Advocates say as many as 40,000 youths statewide could lose access to tutoring services, recreation and other extracurricular activities this summer unless Illinois lawmakers approve an infusion of funds to keep them going.

Mario Treto Jr., secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, testifies before the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules in April 2024 about the final adoption of rules to implement the 2021 Illinois Community Reinvestment Act. (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

After 3 Years, Illinois Poised to Enforce Law Aiming to End Lending Discrimination

Banks, credit unions and mortgage companies will soon have to report to state regulators about how many loans they make in low-income, high-minority neighborhoods. That's the result of a state law passed in 2021 as part of the Legislative Black Caucus' social and economic reform agenda.

Medical equipment. (WTTW News)

Immigrant Advocates Tout New Report Showing Benefits of State-Funded Health Plans

Immigrant rights advocates on Friday continued to push for one of their top budget priorities: full funding for state-run health care programs that benefit noncitizens, regardless of their immigration status.

State Rep. Anna Moeller (right), D-Elgin, speaks on the state House floor during debate on her bill to enact several reforms to the state’s insurance industry. (Jerry Nowicki / Capitol News Illinois)

Pritzker’s Health Insurance Reforms Clear House, Move to Senate

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s initiative targets many of the “utilization management” practices insurance companies use to hold down costs by either denying claims or steering patients toward lower-cost options.

Bridget Peach, executive director of the advocacy group ED-RED, a consortium of school districts in northern Cook and Lake counties, testifies before a state House committee on April 16, 2024, in favor of funding to help schools with the cost of educating migrant students. (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

Education Leaders Seek Added State Funding to Help Accommodate Influx of Migrant Students in Illinois

The recent surge of migrants arriving in Illinois has brought with it a host of new challenges for state and local officials. Advocates say the state has not done enough to address educating the children of those coming across the border.

State Sen. Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights, speaking at an event in 2023. Gillespie was recently named acting director of the Illinois Department of Insurance. (Capitol News Illinois)

Pritzker Names State Sen. Ann Gillespie New Head of Illinois’ Insurance Oversight Agency

The announcement came in the middle of a legislative session in which Gov. J.B. Pritzker is proposing sweeping changes in state regulation of the health insurance industry.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice David Overstreet is pictured in a file photo in the Supreme Court chamber. He authored a unanimous opinion upholding the state’s lifetime residency restrictions for child sex offenders. (Jerry Nowicki / Capitol News Illinois)

Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Law Limiting Where Child Sex Offenders Can Live

In a 6-0 decision, the court found the residency restriction “does not infringe upon a child sex offender’s fundamental rights” and that there was a “rational basis” for the state to restrict where a person convicted of such a crime can live.

The Dirksen Courthouse is pictured in Chicago. (Capitol News Illinois)

Defamation Case Linked to Former Michael Madigan Aide Sent Back to Illinois From Puerto Rico

Brian Hynes seeks damages after being sued in false claims case

The case involves Brian Hynes, a Chicago-based lawyer and one-time protégé of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who maintains a residence in Puerto Rico. Hynes has operated lobbying and business entities over the years that work with the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago.

(WTTW News)

Illinois Teacher Shortage Persists, Survey Finds

This year’s survey found more than 90% of schools responding reported having a “serious” or “very serious” teacher shortage problem.

The Madison County Courthouse is pictured in Edwardsville. (Beth Hundsdorfer / Capitol News Illinois)

Illinois Supreme Court Asked to Review Law Limiting Venue in Constitutional Challenges to Cook, Sangamon Counties

The law passed last year came in response to the large number of constitutional challenges that were filed in multiple jurisdictions challenging Pritzker’s COVID-19 mitigation orders, as well as a law ending cash bail in Illinois and the state’s 2021 assault weapons ban.

The House Human Services Committee hears testimony Wednesday, March 13, 2024, about Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposal to limit the ability of insurance companies to deny claims or steer patients toward cheaper, and possibly less effective, treatments.  (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

Lawmakers Hear Testimony on Pritzker’s Health Insurance Reform Plans

The changes, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker first unveiled in his State of the State address in February, would limit the ability of companies to deny claims or steer patients toward cheaper, and possibly less effective, treatments.

Former Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat from Chicago, is pictured at a state Capitol news conference Tuesday, March 5, 2024, to promote ethics reforms. He and Republican Rep. Ryan Spain, of Peoria, spoke in favor of a constitutional amendment that would allow citizens to propose ethics-related constitutional amendments on the ballot through petitions. (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

Former Gov. Pat Quinn Backs GOP-Sponsored Ethics Amendment

A Republican proposal that would give citizens the ability to propose ethics-related constitutional amendments on the ballot received a bipartisan boost Tuesday when former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn endorsed it.

Ronnie Preston dances in the Illinois Capitol in February 2024 as part of the Native American Summit organized by the Chicago American Indian Community Collaborative. (Andrew Adams / Capitol News Illinois)

Native Tribe Seeks Return of Ancestral Land in DeKalb County

A bill pending in the General Assembly would give back roughly 1,500 acres of park land in DeKalb County to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. That tribe once occupied much of the Great Lakes region but was forcibly removed in the 19th century.

Former state Sen. Sam McCann is pictured in a mugshot after being arrested last week for violating his conditions of pretrial release. (Courthouse photo by Peter Hancock, Capitol News Illinois; booking photo from Macon County Sheriff’s Office)

Trial of Former GOP Illinois Lawmaker Delayed Another Day as He Cancels Plan to Represent Himself

Former state Sen. SamMcCann’s trial has been delayed numerous times since his February 2021 indictment on fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion charges.   

The Illinois State Board of Elections building is pictured in Springfield. (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

Trump Ballot Challenge in Illinois to Move Forward

The case is based on claims that former President Donald Trump’s actions surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol amounted to an insurrection, and thus he should be disqualified from holding public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

State Superintendent of Education Tony Sanders, left, and Illinois State Board of Education Chair Stephen Isoye speak at the board’s regular meeting on Jan. 24, 2023. (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

Illinois State Board of Education to Seek $653M Increase in Upcoming Budget Year

PreK-12 education spending currently makes up about one-fifth of the state’s entire General Revenue Fund budget. The proposed increase, if approved, would bring the state’s total GRF spending on public education to just over $11 billion.

Democratic state Reps. Maurice West, of Rockford, and Carol Ammons, of Urbana, discuss Ammons’ proposal to expand voting by mail in Illinois during a meeting Jan. 10, 2024, of the House Ethics and Elections Committee. (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

Proposal Calls for Expanding Voting by Mail in Illinois

As the 2024 election season draws near, voters will once again choose whether to cast their ballots in person or by mail. One Illinois lawmaker is proposing a bill that would make voting by mail the default option for people in counties and cities that choose to go that route.

The Illinois State Board of Elections building is pictured in Springfield. (Peter Hancock / Capitol News Illinois)

Trump Faces Ballot Challenge in Illinois Minutes After Filing His Petitions

A group of five voters filed a joint objection to former President Donald Trump’s candidacy, arguing that he should be disqualified under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits anyone who took part in an insurrection against the U.S. from holding federal office.

(MD Duran / Unsplash)

As Dual Credit Participation Grows in Illinois, Study Shows Gaps Widening

A growing number of students are working to earn as many college credits as possible while they are still in high school. But even as the popularity continues to grow for “dual credit” offerings, a new study shows disparities between racial, economic and geographic groups are also widening.

Illinois State Police acting chief legal counsel Suzanne Bond told lawmakers the agency has listened to gun owners’ concerns and made changes to the rules that were first proposed in September. (Capitol News Illinois)

As Deadline Looms, Assault Weapons Registration Rules Still Unresolved

Firearm owners in Illinois will have to wait at least another month before knowing exactly what items they must register with the Illinois State Police under the state’s assault weapons ban, even as the deadline for submitting those registrations is less than three weeks away.

Justice Lisa Holder White is pictured in a file photo during the Illinois Supreme Court's oral arguments at Chicago State University in May. (Andrew Adams / Capitol News Illinois)

Supreme Court Rules Chicago Teen Bicyclist Is Covered by Father’s Auto Insurance Policy

The case involved a 14-year-old Chicago boy who was struck by a hit-and-run driver in 2020 while riding his bicycle on a public street. He suffered injuries to his right arm, shoulder and thigh that required medical attention.