Stories by amanda vinicky

School Districts Canceling Classes Due to Teacher Shortage

(WTTW News)

Evanston/Skokie District 65 had to cancel classes all week due to staffing shortages, but the problem isn’t limited to the district. Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents President Mark Klaisner says there’s an educator shortage statewide.

Parents of Murdered Children Demand Steeper Penalties for Killing Kids

(Photo by Mayron Oliveira on Unsplash)

Illinois has intentionally reduced its prison population, and made changes to sentencing laws to reduce offenders’ time behind bars. Now some victims’ family members are calling for the state to reverse directions when it comes to those who murder children.

Monkey Business: Advocates Say Willis the Monkey Rescued in Chicago Shows Need for Federal Wild Animal Regulation

(Credit: Born Free USA)

Animal rights organizations have been advocating for stricter federal limits on exotic animals for years. Now lawmakers have two bills in the works to put interstate limits on the sale, breeding, possession of and public contact with primates and various species of big cats.

Nurses Fear for Safety, Ask for Security in the Emergency Room

The Illinois Nurses Association and, along with members of SEIU Local 73, picket against unsafe working conditions, Nov. 9, 2021. (WTTW News)

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses were among those hailed as health care heroes. But now, nurses tell WTTW News, they are literally coming under attack. 

Federal Infrastructure Bill Could Pave the Road for Rebuilding the Ike

Legislative leaders drive push to move on stalled Eisenhower Expressway project

The political stars may finally be aligned to overhaul the Eisenhower Expressway. (WTTW News)

President Joe Biden is ready to sign a $1 trillion dollar infrastructure bill into law. Illinois is set to receive at least $17 billion from it, with more than $10 billion slated for federal highway projects and bridge replacements.

Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Working to Address Gaps in Veterans’ Care

A file photo shows the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy. (WTTW News)

After COVID-19 outbreaks earlier in the pandemic, officials say the situation has improved at state-run veterans’ homes, which are only about half full. Admissions are slower than usual because of the pandemic, according to officials.

Local Providers Begin Administering COVID-19 Vaccines to Kids

(WTTW News)

Approximately 15,150 pediatric COVID-19 doses have been administered as of midday Monday, according to the state public health department. 

Illinois Online Sales Tax Law Hits as Online Shopping Surges

(JESHOOTScom / Pixabay)

Illinois tax revenues plummeted when COVID-19 hit, but according to the Illinois Department of Revenue, they’re rising again.

Illinois Lawmakers Approve New Congressional Map

(WTTW News)

Their final product, which still needs Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signoff, is designed to send 14 Democrats and three Republicans to Congress from Illinois. If the strategy works, Democrats will gain a seat from Illinois while the GOP will lose two.

Legislators Approve Repeal of Illinois’ Parental Notification Act

The Illinois legislature is in the midst of its last scheduled session of the year. (WTTW News)

Late Wednesday, the Illinois House of Representatives approved a measure that would repeal a law requiring parents and guardians be notified before their minor child can have an abortion. The measure now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Illinois Senate Rolls Back Illinois’ Parental Notification Act

(valelopardo/ Pixabay)

Spurred in part by Texas’ new restrictions on abortions, Illinois legislators on Tuesday took a step toward moving in the other direction, when the Illinois Senate voted to roll back a law that requires parents and guardians be notified before their minor child can have an abortion.

Dixmoor’s Water Returns, Village Under Boil Order

(Holger Schue / Pixabay)

Suburban Dixmoor residents went more than a week without water. Could other places face a similar water emergency?

Congressional Remap Underway, But Little Participation at Public Hearings

(PartTime Portraits / Unsplash)

Illinois lawmakers have turned their attention toward their task of drawing new Congressional district boundaries, but critics aren’t ready to give up on the previous mapmaking task they say the General Assembly fumbled.

Are More Changes Coming to the Chicago Park District in Wake of CEO’s Resignation?

(WTTW News)

Longtime Chicago Park District Superintendent Michael Kelly’s resignation Saturday amid criticism he’s mishandled a wide-ranging sexual abuse scandal could portend future changes at the city’s sister agency.

CPS CEO Blames Staffing Shortage for Test Delays

New Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez says by the end of last week, testing had made it to all but a dozen CPS schools, but also as of late last week, less than 4% of students had consented to participate. (WTTW News)

Who would have imagined that students and their parents would be upset about not enough testing in schools? But that’s the case in Chicago, where the district’s been slow to roll out COVID-19 testing.

White Sox Set for Playoffs, Fans Rally to ‘Change the Game’

Chicago White Sox fans are brimming with excitement as the team heads into the playoffs, cheering on their team at a Monday rally. 

Does This Illinois Law Protect Workers Who Defy COVID Mandates?

Teachers, police officers are others who are refusing to get the coronavirus vaccine are taking a shot at using a longtime Illinois statute to skirt compliance with state and city mandates: Illinois’ right of conscience law.

Illinois’ Energy Bill a Power Surge for Equity Efforts

Illinois’ gigantic new energy law will change the source of the state’s power into the future. (Nuno Marques / Unsplash)

The state’s gigantic new energy law will change the source of Illinois’ power. The package aims to move Illinois to carbon-free energy by 2045, but it also serves to tip the scales in terms of who makes up the transforming energy industry.

New Partisan Political Maps in Courts’ Hands, Now That Governor Has Signed Them Into Law

(WTTW News)

Extolling redrawn state legislative districts as reflective of Illinois’ diversity, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed into law a new set of maps that will come into play in next year’s election and elections over the next decade. 

Illinois Child Care Investments Show Early Dividends, Pritzker Says

(WTTW News)

While specifics of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion economic recovery initiative are still being negotiated, Gov. Pritzker honed in on the package’s enhanced child care benefits and universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

CTU, CPS in Standoff Over COVID Safety; Union Wants More Than ‘Contrition’

According to the CPS website’s COVID tracker, since the start of school, 350 students of the more than 340,000 who attend CPS have had what the district calls “actionable” — meaning confirmed — COVID cases. (WTTW News)

State education officials say students who don’t have medical exemptions must be taught in school this year. But in Chicago, there’s still a standoff between the mayor’s office and the teachers union over what in-person learning should look like during a pandemic.

Mandatory Vaccine Checks: Alderpeople Want Proof, Restaurants Don’t

People dine out in Chicago on June 1, 2021. (WTTW News)

Heading out to a bar, restaurant or theater in Chicago? You may be asked to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Proof is not required — and a coalition of restaurateurs say it shouldn’t ever be. But a group of City Council members have a different view.

Legislators Question Authority to Punish Schools Over Masks

(WTTW News)

It was early August, just before most students returned to their classrooms for the new school year, that Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order requiring students, teachers and staff to wear masks in school, regardless of their vaccination status — or face the consequences.

Lightfoot Gets Pushback on Her Plan to Go After Gangs’ Profits

A file photo shows a crime scene blocked off by the Chicago Police Department. (WTTW News)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants to employ a new tactic in the fight against crime and violence: sue gang members in civil court. But the plan is proving controversial.

Illinois House Approves Energy Bill

(WTTW News)

An ambitious – and controversial – energy package that aims to move Illinois to 100% clean energy within the next several decades is on the path to becoming law. 

Energy Package Teed Up for Springfield Vote

Exelon has been steadfast that it will begin to shut down its nuclear plant in Byron unless a law is passed by Monday’s end, a law that would have ratepayers pay an extra charge on electric bills to keep Exelon nuclear plants running. (WTTW News)

The Illinois House is reconvening Thursday for what lawmakers hope will be the penultimate chapter of yearslong energy negotiations. And now it’s truly down to the wire for a far-reaching omnibus package.