Stories by amanda vinicky

(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.

(WTTW News)

Lawsuit Takes Aim at Cook County Property Tax Sales System: ‘It Violates Provisions of the Constitution’

federal lawsuit brought Thursday by two Black homeowners caught up in the Cook County propoerty tax sale system on behalf of themselves and everyone else who alleges the process violates the constitution and both federal and civil rights laws.


Despite State Incentive Push, Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Slow to Spread in Illinois

An economic package, which gives tax credits to incentivize electric vehicle and parts production and training in Illinois, has yielded few results, to the point that Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to soon sign legislation that will expand some tax credits.

A memorial to the victims of the July 4, 2022, shooting in Highland Park. (WTTW News)

Survivors of East Garfield Park, Highland Park Mass Shootings Speak Out in Support of Ban on Assault Weapons

The proposed legislation would ban the future sale of a list of guns defined as assault weapons. While the bill is many stages away from becoming law, leading Democrats are committed to its passage.

Illinois state Sen. Scott Bennett is pictured in April 2022. (Amanda Vinicky / WTTW News)

State Sen. Scott Bennett, Central Figure in Recent SAFE-T Act Negotiations, Dead at 45

Illinois state Sen. Scott Bennett, a Democrat who represented Champaign and surrounding areas in central Illinois, died Friday from complications of a brain tumor. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the opening of Ivy Hall Dispensary in Bucktown on Dec. 7, 2022.

While a Black-Owned Cannabis Dispensary Opens in Chicago, Critics Say State’s Equity Work Still Falling Short

The lag time for shops to open raises the question of whether Illinois has followed through on its pledge to use legal marijuana to lift communities and people who were previously punished by anti-cannabis laws.

Gary LaPaille appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Jan. 28, 1998. (WTTW News)

Gary LaPaille, Former Illinois Democratic Party Chair, Dies at 68

Gary LaPaille, who served as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party from 1990 to 1998, died Thursday at 68 from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is pictured at a Nov. 29, 2022 press conference. (WTTW News_

Pritzker Quietly Signs Revisions to SAFE-T Act, Which Eliminates Cash Bail

The changes approved last week by Democratic members of the General Assembly is the fourth follow-up bill to the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act, or SAFE-T Act.

FBI investigators examine the scene in downtown Highland Park on July 5, 2022, a day after a mass shooting occurred at the Fourth of July parade. (WTTW News)

Illinois State Legislator Introduces Wide-Ranging Gun Control Bill

Last week, state Rep. Morgan, D-Deerfield, introduced a wide-ranging gun control bill that would prevent the future sale of what the measure describes as “assault weapons,” as well as large-capacity magazines and devices that can switch other firearms into machine-gun style guns.

(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.