Stories by amanda vinicky

The Science Behind Chicago’s First Major Snowstorm

Chicago experienced its first major snowstorm 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? 

Illinois’ Pot Program Falls Short on Social Equity Promises

Dispensary 33 in Andersonville (WTTW News)

Illinois’ recreational marijuana program was set up to right the wrongs of a war on drugs by giving a leg up to those from disadvantaged communities or who had been punished for low-level drug crimes. But nearly a year later, social equity applicants remain locked out.

Illinois Exodus: Census Data Finds People Continue to Leave State

Nearly 80,000 people left Illinois last year, according to just-released data estimates. In the past decade, nearly a quarter million people have moved.

As COVID-19 Vaccinations Begin, Illinois Officials Say Feds Cut Future Shipments by Half

(WTTW News)

All Illinois hospitals and health departments promised the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine now have it, but state officials are worried future shipments will be smaller than expected.

Traumatized by Wrongful Police Raid, Anjanette Young Takes Legal Action

A still image from a Chicago Police Department body camera video shows a police raid at the home of Anjanette Young in February 2019. (WTTW News via Ja’Mal Green)

A Chicago woman has filed a lawsuit against the city, and expects to take more legal action after she says Chicago police forcefully, and wrongly, raided her home and then sought to stifle the video evidence.

Illinois’ Electors Cast Their Votes for Biden at Socially Distanced Ceremony

The state’s Electoral College met Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 to cast votes for president in the 2020 election. (WTTW News)

Illinois’ 20 members of the Electoral College played their part Monday in getting former Vice President Joe Biden to the White House, despite President Donald Trump’s continued attempts to overturn last month’s election results.

What Happens When Legislators Speak Out Against Speaker Madigan?

State Rep. Terra Costa Howard (WTTW News)

Who will be the next speaker of the Illinois House? For the first time in decades, there’s no clear answer. Longtime Speaker Michael Madigan still wants the job — but at least 19 of his fellow Democrats say they won’t support him. We check in with some of the first to defect.

Total Recall: Republicans Pitch Plan to Allow Recall of Any Elected Official in Illinois

(WTTW News)

Tired of politics as usual? A pair of lawmakers say there’s a way to keep officials on their toes: allow voters to recall them. 

Illinois Driver’s License Facilities Are Closed. What Now?

10 things to know about driving during the pandemic

(WTTW News)

Illinois driver’s license facilities have been closed since mid-November, and they’ll remain that way through the beginning of 2021. Here’s what you need to know if you’re driving on an expired license. (Hint: It may not be expired after all.)