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Hannah Meisel

Hannah covers state government and politics for WUIS and Illinois Public Radio while working toward a master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was managing editor for online at The Daily Illini. Hannah has also worked for NPR in Washington, D.C. 

Republicans in Illinois' Congressional delegation are on board with Governor Bruce Rauner's move to temporarily close the state's borders to Syrian refugees in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris. 

The state's eight Republican House members are also condemning President Obama's plan to let in 10,000 refugees from that country this year.

Illinois is one of 24 states closing its borders to Syrian refugees in wake of the terrorist attacks in France last Friday. It's unclear whether this move is legal under federal law.

In a statement, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced the state will "temporarily suspend" accepting Syrian refugees, citing safety and security concerns after the Islamic State group killed and injured hundreds of people in the Paris attacks.

Illinois lawmakers missed a Jan. 1 deadline to approve a state-run health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act. Without its own exchange, the state forfeits millions of federal dollars while leaving consumers vulnerable to paying more for insurance.

Illinois was facing dual deadlines last month when lawmakers made a final effort to create its own marketplace. The first was the looming New Year---which they blew past last week, losing out on as much as $270 million.

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There are still thousands of votes yet to be counted in the race for Illinois State Treasurer.

  On Nov. 4, Illinois voters will choose from the Republican and Democratic statewide candidates they've been hearing about for months. But there will also be a third choice in those races: candidates representing the Libertarian party. But getting on the ballot wasn't easy for the Libertarians.

  Candidates from the Illinois Green Party will not appear on the November ballot.

A federal judge Thursday denied the party reprieve from the state's election requirements for third parties.

The Green Party had sued, claiming the barriers for third parties are too onerous ... threatening the right to free speech and equal protection.

Scott Summers, the party's candidate for governor, says he's disappointed with the judge's ruling.

  Environmental activists hoping to curb hydraulic fracturing in Illinois crashed a breakfast held for Democratic party organizers in Springfield Wednesday. They want to stop natural gas extraction in the state before it starts.


"Drought! Pollution! Earthquake! Fracking is a big mistake!"

  The debate over state retiree pensions has been a consistent backdrop for the Illinois gubernatorial election, bringing older voters to the forefront of many debates. It's this senior voting bloc that could make all the difference this election.

  With the Illinois State Fair set to begin later this week, officials say they have safety in the forefront of their minds. The event, which attracts nearly 1 million visitors yearly, is set to open Friday morning ... though anyone can get an early preview Thursday evening after the annual opening parade.

Flickr/aka_kath

Two people are being fined for violating ethics rules in their capacities of running Illinois' two State Fairs. Both incidents involved free beer tickets.

  Business and labor leaders are urging Illinois' Department of Natural Resources to finish the rules for hydraulic fracturing. The coalition says it's left wondering if the governor's administration might be dragging the process for political reasons.

It's been over 400 days since the General Assembly passed a law to allow hydraulic fracturing in Illinois. Proponents say the technique of drilling for natural gas deep in the ground will lead to job and revenue growth.

  The Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General is criticizing incumbent Lisa Madigan for defending the state's pension overhaul law, which he thinks is unconstitutional.

As Hannah Meisel reports, Republican candidate for Illinois attorney general Paul Schimpf argues the state's pension overhaul is unconstitutional.

A clause in the state's constitution says that once earned, pension benefits shall not be diminished.

  Since the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state's eavesdropping law in March, it's been legal to record audio of someone without asking permission. But legislators are working on a replacement.

The Supreme Court found the old law overly broad. It was a crime even to record in public, where people shouldn't really have an expectation of privacy. Because of that, Illinois' law was considered one of the strictest in the nation.

  Illinois' two state fairs did not comply with the law last year, according to a recent state audit -- and budget realities mean that'll happen again this summer.

The audit found that both the fairs in Springfield and DuQuoin overcharged entrance fees for horses.

But the Department of Agriculture says it's a consequence of the state contributing 200-thousand dollars $200,000 less toward the purse.

  It could be December before a judge decides on the legality of Illinois' pension overhaul law for at least another five months. Attorneys met Thursday in Sangamon County Court and agreed on a timeline for the case.

Current and retired state employees, teachers and university workers are suing Gov. Pat Quinn over the pension overhaul passed by the General Assembly late last year.

  The Illinois Teachers' Retirement System says it expects a lower return on its pension investments in the next year. That means the state will have to cover more of the cost of teacher pensions.

TRS says it's still a good assumed rate of investment return at 7.5 percent. That falls in line with similar pension systems nationwide. But it's not as profitable as 8-percent, which TRS had been using for the previous few years.

  The budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly does not rely on extending the 2011 income tax hike, as originally planned by Democratic leadership. Instead, it's based on state government borrowing from itself.

Instead of making the five percent income tax rate permanent or chopping away at government programs, lawmakers opted to fill a massive hole in state revenues by doing something called "interfund borrowing."

  Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says he's come to an agreement on state spending with the speaker of the Illinois House. But Cullerton is leaving the door open for an income tax hike after the November election.

  The Illinois Senate has passed a plan to overhaul the way schools are funded. But the proposal has a long way to go before becoming law.

After months of negotiations and with just four days left on the General Assembly's spring calendar, the measure was deemed "ready for primetime." The plan would direct state funding to more impoverished schools and divert funding from schools in wealthier areas.

  With less than a week remaining in the Illinois General Assembly's spring session, advocates are still working to double the state's tax credit for the working poor.

Advocates say the Earned Income Tax Credit is more effective at lifting people out of poverty than welfare or raising the minimum wage.

More than 900,000 Illinois workers receive the state's version of the EITC, which is currently worth 10 percent of the federal version of the credit.

Gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is in Springfield today, filing his term limit initiative after months of collecting signatures. But the plan still has to survive an expected court challenge.

Weighing 1,000 lbs, the nearly-70,000 pages of term limit petitions had to be wheeled onto a semi trailer to be driven to the State Board of Elections.