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 ...
JAN 06, 2023
House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) presents a bill to ban “assault weapons” in Illinois with Gov. JB Pritzker seated next to him on the House floor. [Blue Room Stream] 

The Illinois House took a historic step Friday morning passing a bill that would make Illinois the ninth state to ban “assault weapons.” The bill’s passage came nearly six months to the day since a gunman killed seven people at Highland Park’s Independence Day parade and injured dozens of others with a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle and 30-round clips.  

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House passes ‘assault weapon’ ban, sending bill to Senate after making some revisions; Durkin votes ‘yes’

House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) presents a bill to ban “assault weapons” in Illinois with...
JAN 06, 2023
Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) speaks at a news conference Thursday night. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line] 

The House passed a bill late Thursday night making several changes to Illinois’ abortion law as a response to last year’s end of Roe v. Wade, but it’s not clear where the Senate stands on the proposed legislation.  

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House advances abortion bill in response to end of Roe, but differences with Senate still to be ironed out  

Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) speaks at a news conference Thursday night. [Ben Szalinski/The Da...
DEC 09, 2022
Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) speaks on the Senate floor on Dec. 1. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line] 

Sen. Scott Bennett, a Democrat from Champaign and an eight-year veteran of the Illinois Senate, died Friday at age 45, according to WCIA-TV. 

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Champaign Sen. Scott Bennett dies at 45

Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) speaks on the Senate floor on Dec. 1. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily L...
DEC 05, 2022
Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) speaks on the Senate floor Thursday. [Blue Room Stream]  

Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) announced Monday he would retire from the Illinois Senate at the conclusion of the 102nd General Assembly after a decade representing central Illinois.   

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Sen. Jason Barickman announces retirement, further shaking up Senate GOP

Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) speaks on the Senate floor Thursday. [Blue Room Stream]    ...
DEC 05, 2022

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have classified 63 Illinois counties with an elevated risk for COVID-19, an increase from 46 last week. Twelve of the counties are considered high risk. The department is urging residents to get a COVID-19 booster shot, take a COVID-19 test before gathering for the holidays, and for everyone feeling symptoms of COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses like the flu or RSV to stay home. 

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Springfield Announcement December 05, 2022

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and...
DEC 05, 2022

Illinois lawmakers advanced a portion of Tuesday’s deal on paying down the unemployment insurance trust fund deficit. And lawmakers sent Gov. JB Pritzker a revenue bill that includes tax incentives for electronic vehicles.  

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News in brief: Unemployment debt payment deal partially advanced by lawmakers; More electric vehicle incentives in revenue bill 

Illinois lawmakers advanced a portion of Tuesday’s deal on paying down the unemployment insurance...
DEC 05, 2022

Sen. Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) tweeted, "HB4218 passed the Senate yesterday! Now it's on the way to the Governor's desk This bill guarantees access by requiring all Illinois corrections facilities and institutions to provide free menstrual products and underwear to all incarcerated individuals who menstruate!"

House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) tweeted, "Before leaving Springfield this week, I promised my friend Ella Jarmer, that I would visit her school. So it was an honor to stop by Grant Middle School and meet with 8th grade students and staff. The Generals were excited to learn about my journey and profession."

Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) tweeted, "I was driving past Pontiac, Illinois when I started to realize how much I wish I could tell my dad, a civil rights lawyer, about this week. Miss you, old man."

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District Dispatches December 05, 2022

Sen. Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) tweeted, "HB4218 passed the Senate yesterday! Now it's on the ...
DEC 05, 2022
Rep. Bob Morgan (D-Highland Park) is pictured on July 5 after visiting the scene of the July 4 mass shooting with Vice President Kamala Harris. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line]  

Illinois lawmakers will consider a plan when they return to Springfield in January that could make Illinois the ninth state to ban assault weapons half a year after seven people were killed and dozens were injured from a mass shooting at the Highland Park Independence Day parade.  

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5 months after Highland Park shooting, Morgan introduces plan to ban ‘assault weapons’  

Rep. Bob Morgan (D-Highland Park) is pictured on July 5 after visiting the scene of the July 4 m...
NOV 18, 2022
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) speaks at the Illinois State Fair in August. [Blue Room Stream]

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) is not holding back on criticism of his own party as he gives up his leadership role. A week after his House Republican Caucus lost at least four seats, Durkin is offering a blunt assessment of where his party went wrong.

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‘King RINO’ Durkin rips party’s embrace of Trump, hopes to see his caucus take more moderate positions as he yields leadership role

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) speaks at the Illinois State Fair in August....
NOV 17, 2022
Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove). [Senate Republican Caucus]

The Senate Republican Caucus will have a new leader in January when Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove) takes the helm from Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) after the caucus unanimously voted for Curran to be their leader at a closed-door meeting Tuesday night.

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Curran preparing to take over Senate Republicans, downplaying division within Republican Party

Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove). [Senate Republican Caucus] The Senate Republican Caucus will ...
NOV 17, 2022
Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) speaks at a rally at the Illinois Capitol Wednesday. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line]

The first of two weeks of fall veto session wrapped up Wednesday without any changes to the SAFE-T Act and Democrats said little about what changes they are considering making to the law that received heavy criticism during the election season.

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SAFE-T Act supporters declare election shows support for law, but still offer few details about any changes

Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) speaks at a rally at the Illinois Capitol Wednesday. [Ben Szalinsk...
NOV 17, 2022
Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) speaks at a news conference in Springfield Wednesday. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line]  

Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) often puts her thoughts bluntly when debating a bill and says she will continue to be herself as House Minority Leader but hopes she can continue forming relationships with House Democrats.

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McCombie pledges to be open to bipartisan conversation, but honest about her thoughts as she prepares to become House Minority Leader

Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) speaks at a news conference in Springfield Wednesday. [Ben Szalins...
NOV 16, 2022
Members of the Prisoner Review Board testify in front of the Legislative Audit Commission Tuesday. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line]

The spring session concluded in April with ongoing controversy over appointments by Gov. JB Pritzker to the Prisoner Review Board. On Tuesday, lawmakers told board members they would like recommendations about how to improve the appointment process.

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Lawmakers interested in recommendations on improving appointment process for Prisoner Review Board amid ongoing controversy

Members of the Prisoner Review Board testify in front of the Legislative Audit Commission Tuesday...
NOV 16, 2022
Left, Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna), and right, Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove) will be the new Republican caucus leaders.

Both the House and Senate Republican caucuses will change their leaders when the new General Assembly is sworn in in January after members took a pair of private votes Tuesday night.

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Curran ousts McConchie, McCombie follows Durkin as Republicans shake up General Assembly leadership 

Left, Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna), and right, Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove) will be the n...
NOV 16, 2022

The Workers Rights Amendment was declared passed Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. And the Senate Executive Committee passed a bill banning state investments in Russian assets.

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News in brief: Workers Rights Amendment passes; Senate committee approves ban on Russian investments

The Workers Rights Amendment was declared passed Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. And ...
NOV 15, 2022
The Illinois State Capitol

Lawmakers will return to Springfield Tuesday for the first of likely five session days scheduled for the remainder of 2022 just a week after elections dealt blows to the Republican Party. Several issues could be brought up during the session, though Democrats will continue to have a super majority next year.

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General Assembly returns to Springfield with several issues on tap a week after election shakes up membership

The Illinois State Capitol Lawmakers will return to Springfield Tuesday for the first of likely f...
NOV 14, 2022
Illinois State Capitol

Democrats will maintain their super majorities in the General Assembly for at least another two years after stamping out any hint of a “red wave” in Illinois.

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House Dems add to their ranks while Senate Dems preserve super majority

Illinois State Capitol Democrats will maintain their super majorities in the General Assembly for...
NOV 11, 2022
Supporters of Amendment 1 speak at a news conference in Chicago in late October.   

An amendment to the Illinois Constitution to make collective bargaining a constitutional right was on track to pass, though its success will not be officially determined until the State Board of Elections certifies the results.

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Constitutional right for collective bargaining positioned for narrow passage

Supporters of Amendment 1 speak at a news conference in Chicago in late October.    An amendment ...
NOV 10, 2022
Gov. JB Pritzker enters the Marriott Marquis Hotel ballroom in Chicago on Election Day. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line] 

After a passionate victory speech Tuesday night that included direct references to former President Donald Trump and criticisms of the Republican Party, Pritzker insisted he is focused on his next four years as governor after completing a solid victory over Republican challenger Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia).

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Pritzker ready ‘to get back to work’ in second term he says he plans to complete

Gov. JB Pritzker enters the Marriott Marquis Hotel ballroom in Chicago on Election Day. [Ben Szal...
NOV 10, 2022
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) speaks at a news conference in October.  

Republican House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) will not run for another term as his caucus’ leader, Durkin announced Wednesday morning after a disastrous election for House Republicans.

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House GOP Leader Durkin will not run for caucus leader again after rough election for House GOP

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) speaks at a news conference in October.   Re...

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