Stories by amanda vinicky

(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.

(WTTW News)

After Some Freight Rail Unions Reject Agreement, Strike Is Again a Possibility

The stand-off between railroad companies and a dozen unions representing workers from conductors to locomotive engineers is for the second time heading toward a possible strike.

Mark Curran speaks with "Chicago Tonight" on Nov. 16, 2022. (WTTW News)

State Lawmakers Have Quiet Discussions But Take No Formal Action on SAFE-T Act Revisions

It’s been two years since Illinois Democrats passed the major criminal justice law known as the SAFE-T Act, but it’s getting a lot of attention now as the bail overhaul approaches.

(WTTW News)

After Election Losses, Illinois Republicans Pick New State Senate and House Leaders

A red wave may not have materialized on Tuesday as polls predicted and the GOP had hoped, but election currents swept in changes across the top ranks of the Illinois General Assembly.

(WTTW News)

Illinois Workers’ Rights Amendment Approved by Voters: AP

Illinois’ constitution will be amended to explicitly protect unions, according to backers of the change who’ve been closely watching as mail-in ballots get added to totals from last Tuesday’s election. Outside entities and leading critics of the question say it’s too early for unions to claim victory.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks to the media on Nov. 9, 2022. (WTTW News)

After Democrat Election Successes, Pritzker Takes Victory Lap Heading Into 2nd Term

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is not only the party figurehead. He’s also a billionaire, who over the past two years, has spent at least $150 million on his and other Democrats’ campaigns.

(WTTW News)

Illinois Democrats Show Strength in the Suburbs as General Assembly Super-Majorities Stay in Tact

Election results ensure Democrats will hold onto their super-majorities in the Illinois General Assembly. Republican House Minority Leader Jim Durkin was quick to respond to the bad night for Illinois Republicans.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks the day after his re-election on Nov. 9, 2022. (Alonzo Stallings / WTTW News)

Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker Declares Victory Over Darren Bailey, Says He Will Bring ‘Happy Warrior’ Spirit to 2nd Term

Just minutes after polls closed in Illinois, the Associated Press called the race for the incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Voters line up to cast their ballots during early voting on Nov. 7, 2022, in Chicago. (WTTW News)

From State Offices to Control of Congress, Illinois Voters Have Plenty of Decisions to Make Election Day

Illinois voters on Tuesday will decide races ranging from who will be the next governor and secretary of state, to whether the state will amend its constitution. We break down the races. 

(WTTW News)

Cook, DuPage County Boards With Tight Races Up For Grabs Next Week

In areas that are solidly Democratic or Republican, races were virtually decided over the summer, in the primary contest. But particularly in the suburbs, it's not always as cut and dried.

(WTTW News)

Will Evanston Become the First Illinois Community to Implement Ranked Choice Voting?

If the question in Evanston passes next week, ranked choice voting would first be used in the city in the spring of 2025.