Ben Szalinski

Bio

Ben is The Daily Line's legislative reporter covering Illinois state government. He came to The Daily Line in January 2022 from Shaw Media where he covered local government in McHenry County for the Northwest Herald. Ben is a graduate of the Public Affair
MAR 03, 2022
Then-House Speaker Mike Madigan during a floor session in 2020. [Justin Fowler/pool/SJ-R]

Former House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) was indicted Wednesday on 22 counts of bribery, racketeering and wire fraud in the culmination of a multi-year federal corruption probe that has already ensnared multiple people in his inner circle.

The 106-page indictment handed down by U.S. Attorney John Lausch described details of an intricate "enterprise" through which Madigan used his powers as speaker and 13th Ward Democratic committeeperson to dole out personal favors to allies.

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Indictment details 'Madigan enterprise' devoted to paying off former speaker and his allies

Then-House Speaker Mike Madigan during a floor session in 2020. [Justin Fowler/pool/SJ-R] Former ...
SEP 30, 2022
SAFER Foundation senior director of external affairs and community partnerships Kevin Brown, left, and Live Free Illinois Executive Director Ciera Bates-Chamberlin, right, speak to the House Public Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force Thursday. [Blue Room Steam]

The next step to improve public safety should be improving help for people recently released from prison so they can return to society as productive members, advocates told members of the House Public Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force Thursday.

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Advocates propose legislation to streamline resources, other aids to help people let out of prison reintroduce themselves into society

SAFER Foundation senior director of external affairs and community partnerships Kevin Brown, left...
SEP 29, 2022
House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) speaks at the City Club of Chicago Wednesday. [City Club of Chicago]

With about six weeks before Election Day, House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) is calling for politicians to tone down their rhetoric and focus more on having civil and productive political discussions rather than spreading misinformation about policies they disagree with.

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Welch slams ‘common place’ political ‘behavior that we would reprimand our children for,’ calls for more political unity

House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) speaks at the City Club of Chicago Wednesday. [City Club o...
SEP 29, 2022

A poll commissioned by WGN News and conducted by Emerson College found Gov. JB Pritzker holds a 15-point lead on Republican challenger Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) and shed light on which issues are most important to voters this November. And a protestor interrupted a news conference by Republican attorney general nominee Tom DeVore in an altercation that turned physical.

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News in brief: Poll shows Pritzker with 15-point lead on Bailey; DeVore’s SAFE-T Act news conference ended by physical altercation

A poll commissioned by WGN News and conducted by Emerson College found Gov. JB Pritzker holds a 1...
SEP 28, 2022
Gov. JB Pritzker speaks to reporters in Chicago Tuesday. [Blue Room Steam]

Illinois’ unemployment insurance trust fund deficit is now a little lighter as stakeholders continue to work out an agreement to pay down the remaining balance before a Jan. 1 deadline.

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No deal yet, but Pritzker announces payment to reduce unemployment insurance trust fund balance

Gov. JB Pritzker speaks to reporters in Chicago Tuesday. [Blue Room Steam] Illinois’ unemployment...
SEP 27, 2022
Alison Shih from Every Town for Gun Safety, left, and Ed Sullivan from the State Rifle Association, right, speak during the House Public Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force Thursday. [Blue Room Stream] 

As advocates call on Illinois lawmakers to tighten up the state’s gun laws following a mass shooting in Highland Park and an ongoing problem with gun violence in Chicago and other cities, opponents of gun regulations argue putting more restrictions on firearms and gun owners will not improve public safety.

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Advocates against gun violence want stronger laws, but gun rights advocates say gun laws aren’t solving the problem

Alison Shih from Every Town for Gun Safety, left, and Ed Sullivan from the State Rifle Associatio...
SEP 26, 2022
From left to right, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Gov. JB Pritzker, and Director General Johnson Chiang of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago sign letters of intent Friday. [Gov. JB Pritzker/Facebook]

Illinois and Taiwan are partnering for a second multi-billion-dollar trade agreement for the state to export corn and soybeans to the Pacific island nation in a move officials praised as an agreement that will greatly benefit both Taiwan and Illinois.

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Illinois, Taiwan partner for second agricultural trade agreement

From left to right, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Gov. JB Pritzker, and Director General Johnson Chi...
SEP 23, 2022
Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Frankfurt), left, and Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago), right, are both facing calls to resign.

Pressure is mounting for two Illinois Senators accused of misconduct to give up their positions as lawmakers after Gov. JB Pritzker issued a statement Thursday morning calling on Sens. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) and Michael Hastings (D-Frankfurt) to resign.

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Pritzker calls on Jones, Hastings to give up Senate seats, but Hastings says he’s staying put

Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Frankfurt), left, and Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago), right, are both f...
SEP 23, 2022
The Illinois Supreme Court deliberates in Noland v. Mendoza in May. [Illinois Supreme Court]

A pair of former state lawmakers who hoped to claw back lost wages from a pay freeze will not be getting back pay, the Illinois Supreme Court announced in a decision released Thursday.

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No back pay for former lawmakers, Supreme Court rules

The Illinois Supreme Court deliberates in Noland v. Mendoza in May. [Illinois Supreme Court] A pa...
SEP 23, 2022

Paddock Publications, the parent company of the Daily Herald, will no longer allow political publications published by radio host Dan Proft to use Paddock’s mailing permit after Gov. JB Pritzker’s campaign announced they would not participate in a Daily Herald. And House Republicans introduced a bill to crack down on fentanyl trafficking to oppose a separate bill Democrats passed last year.

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News in brief: Daily Herald dumps Proft papers after pressure from Pritzker campaign; House GOP introduces bill cracking down on fentanyl

Paddock Publications, the parent company of the Daily Herald, will no longer allow political publ...
SEP 22, 2022
Gov. JB Pritzker, left speaks at an endorsement event in Chicago Wednesday, and Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) speaks at a restaurant in Crystal Lake Wednesday. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line]

Another indictment of an Illinois lawmaker hangs over the election season after federal investigators Tuesday slapped Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) with charges of bribery and lying to the FBI.

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Sen. Emil Jones III indictment shows lawmakers can do more on ethics, Pritzker says

Gov. JB Pritzker, left speaks at an endorsement event in Chicago Wednesday, and Sen. Darren Baile...
SEP 22, 2022
Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia), middle, greats McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio, left, outside Around the Clock restaurant in Crystal Lake Wednesday. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line] 

Wherever Republican nominee for governor Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) goes, he’s talking about crime. That was no different Wednesday on day three of Bailey’s bus tour around the state as he made stops in the suburbs.

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Bailey takes warnings about crime to the suburbs in message Dems call ‘fearmongering’

Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia), middle, greats McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio, left, outside Around...
SEP 21, 2022
Attorney General Kwame Raoul speaks at a news conference at Bright Star Church in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood Tuesday. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line] 

As crime remains a top issue this campaign season, Attorney General Kwame Raoul is touting his record on crime despite facing attacks from his Republican opponent Tom DeVore.

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Raoul touts his commitment to reducing violent crime while decrying ‘fake news’ on SAFE-T Act

Attorney General Kwame Raoul speaks at a news conference at Bright Star Church in Chicago’s Bronz...
SEP 20, 2022
Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago). [Illinois Senate Democrats]

Veteran Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) is the latest state lawmaker to be charged in a red-light camera scheme federal  prosecutors announced Tuesday.

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Sen. Emil Jones III latest Illinois lawmaker charged in a red-light camera scheme

Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago). [Illinois Senate Democrats] Veteran Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chi...
SEP 20, 2022
Tara Blair, left, and Matt Alsdor, right, speak to the Supreme Court Pretrial Fairness Task Force Friday. [Illinois Supreme Court] 

When cash bail is abolished on Jan. 1, 2023, Illinois’ court system will begin using risk assessment tools to evaluate whether a person charged with a crime should be held in jail while they await their trial.

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How do risk assessment tools work in the judicial system? 

Tara Blair, left, and Matt Alsdor, right, speak to the Supreme Court Pretrial Fairness Task Force...
SEP 19, 2022
From left to right, Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Gov. JB Pritzker meet with abortion providers and University of Illinois Chicago students at a round table at the University of Illinois Chicago Friday. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line] 

A day after Indiana officially banned abortion, adding to the strain Illinois abortion providers were already feeling from an influx of out-of-state patients, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Chicago Friday to shine a spotlight on Illinois’ position as one of the only abortion providers in the Midwest.

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‘Elections matter:’ VP Harris joins Pritzker, other officials in Chicago to discuss abortion rights

From left to right, Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Vice President Ka...
SEP 19, 2022
Vice President Kamala Harris, center, celebrates at a rally at the University of Illinois Chicago with Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, left, and Gov. JB Pritzker, right. [FOX News] 

Mid-term elections often yield losses for the party that controls the White House. But with an electorate angry over the overturning of Roe v. Wade and Republican candidates taking hard-right approaches, Vice President Kamala Harris and Illinois Democrats are pushing voters to the polls to defeat candidates they believe are too extreme.

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Illinois Democrats enlist help from VP Harris to boost Democratic turnout in ‘Roe-vember’

Vice President Kamala Harris, center, celebrates at a rally at the University of Illinois Chicago...
SEP 15, 2022
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference with Gov. JB Pritzker and other state and local government officials Wednesday. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line]  

State and Chicago officials are working to better coordinate resources to assist a continuing influx of migrants arriving by bus from Texas as Gov. JB Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation Wednesday to help the state and local governments, including the city of Chicago, coordinate resources to assist the migrants.

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Pritzker announces disaster proclamation as number of migrant buses from Texas hits 11

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference with Gov. JB Pritzker and other stat...
SEP 15, 2022
Comptroller Susana Mendoza speaks to the City Club of Chicago on Wednesday. [Blue Room Stream]  

Illinois’ finances have come a long way since Comptroller Susana Mendoza took office in 2016. The state’s bill backlog has decreased by billions to a more typical amount now termed “accounts payable,” there have been six credit upgrades and funds to provide the state with a cushion in the event of an economic downturn have received recent boosts.

But there’s still more work to do to make the progress gained since the two-year budget impasse that ended in 2017 permanent, Mendoza told members of the City Club of Chicago Wednesday.

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Mendoza proud of state’s fiscal process under her watch, but says there’s more to be done  

Comptroller Susana Mendoza speaks to the City Club of Chicago on Wednesday. [Blue Room Stream]   ...
SEP 14, 2022
Solar panels will be a major source of energy in Illinois in the future.

It’s been one year since state lawmakers passed a massive nation-leading energy bill and those who helped craft the legislation after years of negotiations say they are happy with the bill’s early implementation.

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A year after its passage, those behind CEJA happy with its early progress  

Solar panels will be a major source of energy in Illinois in the future. It’s been one year since...
SEP 13, 2022
Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke, left, and Justice Mary Jane Theis, right.

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke will retire from the high court at the end of November, she announced Monday.

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Burke to retire from Supreme Court, Theis to become new chief justice

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke, left, and Justice Mary Jane Theis, right. Illino...

Bio

Ben is The Daily Line's legislative reporter covering Illinois state government. He came to The Daily Line in January 2022 from Shaw Media where he covered local government in McHenry County for the Northwest Herald. Ben is a graduate of the Public Affair