Stories by Amanda Vinicky

Legal Marijuana Sales in Illinois Top $3.1M on Day 1 of New Law

Dispensary 33 in Andersonville (WTTW News)

Just one day into the new decade – and one day into Illinois’ foray into legal marijuana – the state’s network of licensed cannabis dispensaries sold $3.17 million worth of recreational pot to 77,128 customers.

Starting Next Week, Demand for Legal Pot Likely to Exceed Supply

In less than a week, marijuana will be legal in Illinois. Cannabis dispensaries are preparing for long lines and excited customers, but it’s likely that not everyone who wants it will be able to legally buy it, at least not right away.

Amid Sprawling Federal Probe, State Ethics Commission Gets to Work

(Meagan Davis / Wikimedia Commons)

A new state commission has just over three months to come up with recommendations on how Illinois can “improve public trust in government.” On Monday, the group had its initial meeting in Chicago.

Holiday Cheer Takes Root at Poinsettia Farm in Woodstock

They appear to be marbled, speckled, dipped and dyed, with names like “Red Glitter” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” We visit a poinsettia farm and learn what it takes to cultivate the crop in time for the holidays.

Top News Stories from 2019: The Year in Review

File photos of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. (WTTW News)

A new Chicago mayor and Illinois governor. A massive teachers strike. A Hollywood actor who put the city’s criminal justice system on the world stage. Those and more top stories of the year from our “Chicago Tonight” reporters.

A $50 Gift for Every Illinois Baby, Courtesy of Taxpayers

(WTTW News)

Among the new laws taking effect in 2020 is a program that seeks to give Illinois children a leg up, before they’re even able to crawl.

New Year, New Taxes: What Will Cost More in 2020

Illinois’ income tax will hold steady in 2020 and despite warnings from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s new budget avoids a major property tax hike. But before you go on a holiday shopping spree, a word of caution.

Spotlight Politics: Top Cop Ousted Weeks Before Retirement

A bombshell announcement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot – with few specifics. Our politics team digs into that story and more in our weekly roundtable.

Chicago Parking Fees Increasing, But City Set to Save Millions

(John Lodder / Flickr)

Starting Jan. 1, parking meter rates will increase across Chicago, peaking at $7 per hour in the Loop. While the city doesn’t collect that revenue, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration estimates it will save $7.9 million with the plan. Here’s how.

Embattled Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval to Resign

In this file photo, state Sen. Martin Sandoval speaks with WTTW News.

State Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, hasn’t made a public appearance since the FBI raided his home and offices in September. He will step down on Jan. 1, 2020.

Chicagoans Avoid Major Property Tax Increase as Lightfoot’s 1st Budget Passes

(Ken Teegardin / Flickr)

Taking an Uber or a Lyft, dining out, and parking at a metered spot will cost Chicagoans more come January, on account of the new city budget approved Tuesday by the City Council, following a nearly two-hour debate.

Candidates Eyeing 2020 Ballot in Illinois Begin Filing Paperwork

Jacob Meister, a Democratic candidate for Cook County circuit court clerk, speaks to reporters on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019. (WTTW News)

Candidates hoping to make it on the March 17 primary ballot have another week to collect the required signatures from local registered voters, but those hoping for the coveted first spot filed that paperwork Monday morning.

Will Illinois’ Marijuana Law Meet its Social Equity Aims?

(WTTW News)

When he signed a law that will make it legal for adults to use marijuana starting in 2020, Gov. J.B. Pritzker proclaimed it to be the most equity-centric in the nation. But is it? And what exactly does that mean?

Spotlight Politics: Will Smollett Saga Sway State’s Attorney’s Race?

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is back in the headlines as the state’s attorney whose office cleared him of charges announces she’s running for re-election. Our politics team digs into that story and more in our weekly roundtable.

Mayor: Progressive Pushback to City Budget ‘Untethered’ from Reality

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot responds to criticism from progressive groups on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (WTTW News)

By this time next week, Chicago alderman will have voted on the city’s next budget. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is optimistic that her budget will pass, even as progressive groups say she’s breaking campaign promises. 

Race to Replace: Who Will Be the Next Illinois Senate President?

In this June 2016 file photo, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton talks about plans for a temporary state budget. (WTTW News)

Senators have been scrambling since Senate President John Cullerton made a surprise announcement that he’ll resign in the new year, leaving vacant one of the most powerful positions in state politics.

No Dice: Veto Session Ends Without Chicago Casino Fix

(Meagan Davis / Wikimedia Commons)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot failed to beat the odds in Springfield, with legislators on Thursday adjourning for the year without taking up a fix she says is needed before the city can move forward with a casino.

Early Exit for Retiring Senate President John Cullerton

In this June 2016 file photo, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton talks about plans for a temporary state budget. (WTTW News)

One of the most powerful figures in Illinois politics is giving up his position.

Chicago Still Betting on Casino Deal Before Veto Session’s End

(stokpic / Pixabay)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot isn’t folding her cards just yet on a new casino tax structure, though a deal proved elusive Wednesday. That leaves just one remaining day in the veto session for a framework to be finalized and get through both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.

Black Veterans Celebrate 100 Years as American Legion Post

Blistery winds and falling snow Monday didn’t prevent members of the George L. Giles American Legion Post 87 from the journey they’ve made every Veterans Day for the past 93 years along Martin Luther King Drive to the Victory Monument. 

Meet Hatty, the Therapy Dog Helping Crime Victims in Cook County

The latest member of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office isn’t a human. She’s a dog. We meet the new Labrador retriever, Hatty.

Ethylene Oxide Ban Narrowly Passes Illinois House

The shocking indictment of state Rep. Luis Arroyo has overshadowed the Illinois legislature’s fall veto session. Still, consequential legislation advanced, including a bill that will lead to a prohibition of a chemical used to sterilize medical equipment.

Illinois House Moves to Investigate Indicted Representative

(Éovart Caçeir at English Wikipedia)

The wheels are in motion to remove state Rep. Luis Arroyo from office, a day after the Chicago Democrat was indicated on a federal bribery charge. 

Latest Corruption Charge Has Legislators Squirming

(Meagan Davis / Wikimedia Commons)

Illinois lawmakers returned to Springfield on Monday for the start of the fall veto session, but any new legislation could be overshadowed by a bribery charge filed against Democratic state Rep. Luis Arroyo. 

Spotlight Politics: Federal Probe Circling Closer to Speaker Madigan

The powerful Illinois House speaker is named in a federal subpoena. Our politics team tackles that story and Mayor Lightfoot’s budget proposal in our weekly roundtable.