Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Statehouse Bureau Chief

A judge has blocked the Illinois pension overhaul from taking effect next month.

  Even as a lawsuit could nullify them, the state board of elections has begun a tedious — but necessary — task of preparing a pair of proposed constitutional amendments for the November ballot. The two citizen initiatives aim to strip lawmakers of the power to draw their own maps and to limit their terms in office.

A dozen-or-so workers sit at tables at the board of elections building in Springfield.

A court is being asked to prevent any aspect of Illinois' pension overhaul from taking effect, until it's decided whether the law is constitutional. A motion was filed Friday in Sangamon County Court.

  A legislative committee Wednesday voted to authorize spending $100 million to lure Barack Obama's presidential library to Chicago ... for the second time.

Before he became President, Barack Obama served as an Illinois state senator and a U.S. senator. He worked as a community organizer in Chicago, and taught at the University of Chicago law school.

All reasons he might locate his presidential library and museum in Illinois.

But New York and Hawaii are also in the running.

The Illinois House will take the lead on whether Illinois keeps its 5 percent income tax. It's scheduled to roll back at the end of this year unless legislators take action.

It's happened in the past. The Illinois Senate will pass a controversial measure -- like a tax hike -- only for it to languish in the House.

Not this time.

Senate President John Cullerton says the Senate will vote on the tax question if and only if it first passes the House.

 Two major Democratic initiatives are still short the votes needed to pass, at least in the House, as the General Assembly heads into the final stretch of its spring session.

    

How to deal with Illinois' income tax rate is arguably the biggest issue looming over Illinois politics.

Illinois legislators will vote a second time on a plan to spend $100 million to help lure Barack Obama's Presidential Library and Museum to Chicago, following a controversy.

A lesson in politics: Whichever party is in charge can often use the rules to its advantage. Like last week, when the Obama library proposal passed out of a Democratic-controlled House committee with nine votes ... even though only five representatives were there. Republicans had skipped the hearing, and many say they're opposed to spending the money given Illinois' financial situation.

 Gov. Pat Quinn has released his 2013 tax returns. They show basic information: like that his taxable income is $161,962.98.

That left him paying about $7,700 in state taxes, and about $29,000 to the federal government. Plus another $3,000 or so in property taxes.

But they also reveal some other insights.

Rich Egger

Critics of the way Illinois funds schools say it's wrong that the quality of a child's education is based largely on his/her zip code.

  House Speaker Michael Madigan says there is "strong support" in the chamber for a hike in Illinois' minimum wage. That's one of the big issues in the governor's race.

Businesses don't like it, but a plan to raise Illinois' minimum wage from $8.25, to $10.65 an hour, is before the General Assembly.

Advocates continue to try to drum up the necessary votes.

Voting rights groups are applauding a measure in the Illinois legislature that would add special protections for voters.

Rich Egger

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is selling his budget plan as a way to better fund schools. But that money doesn't come right away.

  Plenty can, and will, happen before voters go to the polls in November to chose their next governor. But a central theme of the campaign emerged Wednesday, when Gov. Pat Quinn proposed making permanent what was supposed to have been a temporary hike in the state's income tax. His Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, favors letting the increase lapse.

The four men seeking the Republican nomination for Illinois governor held their final scheduled downstate debate Tuesday night, February 18, in Springfield.

Rich Egger

A man who says he was a victim of sexual harassment by Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford has submitted a letter of resignation.

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