Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Statehouse Bureau Chief

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Rail Transportation
11:50 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Full Steam Ahead For Amtrak

An Amtrak train stops to drop off and pick up passengers at the Springfield station.

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 8:46 pm

  Amtrak ridership in Illinois has risen in recent years; it's up almost 85 percent from 2006 through last year. That trend developed after the rail service added routes. The train service could grow more in the future.

In 2006, lines branching out from Chicago that went to Carbondale, Quincy and St. Louis added trips.

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Illinois Budget
9:58 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Illinois' Credit Prognosis: Negative

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 6:29 pm

Wall Street's view of Illinois' financial health has taken a hit, thanks largely to the state budget that took effect at the start of this month. Pensions also continue to be a drag. 

When Illinois Democrats passed the state's latest budget, many seemed to hold their nose. Credit ratings agencies are more direct: Standard & Poors has revised Illinois' credit outlook to "negative." 

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Letting It Play Out in Court
10:26 am
Sun July 27, 2014

AFSCME Now Less Likely to Negotiate on Pensions

The Illinois Capitol building

Illinois lawmakers hope to have a second shot at reaching a compromise with public employees over pensions, but the unions are pinning their hopes on the court system.

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School Closings for Election Day
11:58 am
Mon July 21, 2014

No School For Kids On Election Day

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 5:26 pm

Illinois students could get a day off of school come election day. Schools are often at the heart of a community, metaphorically, if not literally. That's part of the reason they've long been voting sites.

But with shootings at schools across the country, some lawmakers are concerned the practice is dangerous.

Most of the time visitors need to sign in before entering a school; they say allowing anyone in on election day is asking for trouble.

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Concealed Carry Appeals
11:56 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Attorney General Wants To Send Concealed Carry Cases Out Of Court

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 12:07 am

Illinois gun owners who've been denied a concealed carry permit can appeal. But instead of going through the courts, Illinois' Attorney General wants a state panel to decide those cases.

There are about 200 concealed carry denials before Illinois courts, brought by people who say they shouldn't have been deemed dangerous or a threat to public safety by Illinois' Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board.

Until recently, applicants didn't actually know why they were rejected.

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NPR Story
8:17 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Supreme Court Won't Take Up Term Limits

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 5:22 pm

  An effort to institute term limits in Illinois has hit a major road block. The state Supreme Court says it will not rush to hear the case.

 The Supreme Court's decision could be the end of Republican Bruce Rauner's term limits initiative.

Limiting how long legislators can be in Illinois' General Assembly has been a staple of his campaign for governor.

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Quinn's anti-violence program
11:49 am
Wed July 16, 2014

How The NRI Hearing Could Play Out For Quinn's Campaign

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 9:36 am

Governor Pat Quinn's troubled anti-violence program will be in the spotlight today (7/16) when a bipartisan legislative commission meets in Chicago.  

It's not yet clear how lawmakers will proceed, given that the federal government wants them to put a hold on their investigation until mid-October, just before the November election, when Quinn will face Republican Bruce Rauner.

Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown says that's what Quinn's campaign wants.

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Concealed Carry
10:40 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Applicants Denied Concealed Carry Licenses Will Learn Why Under New Emergency Rules

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 6:47 am

  A year after Illinois legalized concealed carry, new rules are out to determine the process for deciding who can't carry a gun in public. The Illinois State Police issued the emergency rules Monday 7/14 afternoon.

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Governor's Race
11:47 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Republican Bruce Rauner Defends His Personal Tax Bill

Bruce Rauner

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 9:52 am

Bruce Rauner -- the Republican nominee for Illinois governor -- says he followed the letter of the law when filing his taxes.  But he won't say whether it was fair.

Rauner, a businessman, has said his wealth puts him in the top .01%.

Even so, a Chicago Tribune analysis showed that in several recent years, he paid no Social Security or Medicare taxes.

Rauner has released limited parts of his tax returns.

It's believed he took advantage of I-R-S rules to legally cut his tax burden.

Rauner defended that ...

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NPR Story
12:49 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Tensions Rise With Waters Over Flood Expense

There's an irony to the arch on the entranceway of Clarksville's park, which reads "Touch the Mississippi." Normally, that requires stooping down; now the river laps up a main downtown drag, and comes to you.

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 11:07 am

Heavy rains have led to flooding all across the Midwest in recent days: in Iowa, Illinois, and in the small town of Clarksville, Missouri, which sits on the Mississippi River. That river is expected to reach its crest there Wednesday, and residents hope the walls they’ve built to keep out the water will hold. Especially because this time, they had to build those walls themselves.

Ask a Clarksville resident how long they’ve lived there, and the answer is usually given in the context of a flood.

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