Caroline Kubzansky

Caroline is a fourth-year at the University of Chicago and most recently worked the managing editor of the student paper there, The Chicago Maroon. She’s reported on politics and policy at the national and state levels in Wisconsin and Iowa, where she also made a point of trying as much local ice cream as she could find.

JUN 03, 2021
A view of the dome from inside the state Capitol in Springfield [Joel Ebert/The Daily Line]

Lawmakers approved a flurry of bills during the final days of the now open-ended spring legislative session. The General Assembly is expected to reconvene at some point in the days or weeks ahead to finish considering several significant measures that have been left unresolved. 

While many of the biggest bills, including the budget and measures on redistrictingelections and ethics have garnered the most attention, a host of other significant proposals were able to cross the finish line in recent days.

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Cannabis licensing, child restraint, lead service lines and criminal justice trailer among final bills approved before lawmakers left Springfield

A view of the dome from inside the state Capitol in Springfield [Joel Ebert/The Daily Line] Lawma...
JUN 02, 2021
House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) and House Democrats held a news conference early Tuesday morning, touting their accomplishments this session despite several high profile issues remaining unresolved.

Shortly before 3 a.m. Tuesday, House lawmakers held a news conference to declare the legislative session over.

House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside), who took over for former Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) in January, reflected on his first full session as the chamber’s leader and lawmakers’ work over the past five months.

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Energy, FOID fix and elected school board remain unresolved as session remains open-ended

House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) and House Democrats held a news conference early Tuesday m...
MAY 07, 2021

Republicans blasted Democrats for holding closed-door redistricting discussions. And Gov. JB Pritzker weighed in on the Chicago elected school board bill and announced an evidence-based education funding boost.

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MAY 03, 2021

City health officials will update aldermen on city’s pandemic response as COVID-19 case numbers decline. Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined other Great Lakes mayors in calling for federal dollars to help replace lead water pipes. And Senate President Don Harmon weighed in on elected school board negotiations.

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APR 30, 2021

Chicago health officials released more details of a city reopening plan. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability wraps its investigation of the Anjanette Young police raid. And Cook County Health officials detail plans to get food service workers vaccinated.

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News in brief: Chicago loosens COVID restrictions; COPA wraps probe of Anjanette Young raid; Cook County plans vaccination ‘Restaurant Day’

Chicago health officials released more details of a city reopening plan. The Civilian Office of P...
APR 27, 2021
Mayor Lori Lightfoot made donations to some aldermanic campaign funds in the first three months of 2021.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s political action committee brought in more than $245,000 in campaign donations during the first three months of 2021 and contributed donations of at least $250 each to five aldermen.

State board of election filings show Light PAC made $250 donations to Ald. Pat Dowell (3) on March 4, Ald. Michele Smith (43) on Feb. 10, Ald. Samantha Nugent (39) on Feb. 18, Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10) on Feb. 18. The committee also made two donations of $250 each to Ald. David Moore (17) on Jan. 19 and Feb. 8. The donations all marked tickets that Lightfoot's organization had purchased to aldermen's fundraising events, Dave Mellet, political spokesperson for Lightfoot told The Daily Line Monday.

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Lightfoot donates to aldermen, rakes in contributions from pro sports organizations as city reopens

Mayor Lori Lightfoot made donations to some aldermanic campaign funds in the first three months o...
APR 21, 2021
Chicago Department of Buildings Comm. Matthew Beaudet and Infortmation Technology Director Eric Tenfelde during a zoning committee on Tuesday

Aldermen unanimously advanced a proposal on Tuesday to crack down on “problem” building owners but grilled city officials over the long-promised technology upgrades needed to bring the measure to life.

The council’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards voted to endorse an ordinance (O2021-1193) sponsored by Mayor Lori Lightfoot that would widen the criteria used by the city’s Department of Buildings to add properties to the city’s “Building Code Scofflaw List.” Properties on the list are rendered ineligible for zoning changes, tax-increment financing assistance or land deals with the city.

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Crackdown on scofflaw building owners advances as aldermen press officials over tech upgrades

Chicago Department of Buildings Comm. Matthew Beaudet and Infortmation Technology Director Eric T...
APR 08, 2021

A Metropolitan Water Reclamation District staffer, a college sports administrator, a radio commentator, a political communications professional and a former state government worker are set to vie on Thursday for the chance to fill the Illinois House seat vacated by Rep. Andre Thapedi (D-Chicago) last month.

Thapedi signaled in January that he would step back after 12 years representing the serpentine 32nd District, which winds from Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood out to suburban Hickory Hills. But the representative submitted his formal resignation on March 17, opening a 30-day window for local Democratic Party officials to pick his replacement.

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Candidates line up for Thapedi replacement appointment as party bosses profess open minds

A Metropolitan Water Reclamation District staffer, a college sports administrator, a radio commen...
APR 06, 2021

News in brief: Pritzker signs Chicago firefighter pension bill.

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TDL Springfield Morning Briefs: Tuesday, March 06

News in brief: Pritzker signs Chicago firefighter pension bill.
APR 06, 2021

News in brief: Pritzker signs Chicago firefighter pension bill; Pritzker promotes program to combat learning loss 

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News in brief: Pritzker signs Chicago firefighter pension bill; Pritzker promotes program to combat learning loss

News in brief: Pritzker signs Chicago firefighter pension bill; Pritzker promotes program to comb...
JUN 04, 2021
Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) [left] worked with Senior Cannabis Adviser Toi Hutchinson on the cannabis trailer bill.

A year after the bungled rollout of Illinois' licensing process for cannabis, a measure meant to bring equity to the state’s burgeoning legal pot industry is headed to Gov. JB Pritzker's desk. But not everyone is hailing HB 1443, sponsored by Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) and Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), as the fix the state's entrepreneurs of color need.

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'I just don't have a great feeling about social equity:' Skepticism persists on cannabis fixes

Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) [left] worked with Senior Cannabis Adviser Toi Hutchinson on the ca...
MAY 27, 2021
Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) defended her bill adjusting the state’s cannabis law before the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday.

Adjustments to Illinois cannabis law and an elected school board in Chicago each leapt one step closer to the governor's desk as the Senate Executive Committee advanced HB 1443 and HB 2908 to the Senate Floor Wednesday afternoon.

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Promise of ‘11th hour’ compromise on elected school board nudges measure to Senate floor

Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) defended her bill adjusting the state’s cannabis law before t...
MAY 26, 2021
Rep. LaShawn Ford fielded questions on the House floor Tuesday about his effort to increase equity in cannabis licenses.

House lawmakers nudged the state's cannabis industry toward overhaul with the approval of HB 1443 Tuesday. The hefty trailer bill, sponsored by Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) seeks to address many of the difficulties that arose after the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2019.

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House approves diversity amendments in attempt to get landmark cannabis law back on track

Rep. LaShawn Ford fielded questions on the House floor Tuesday about his effort to increase equit...
MAY 25, 2021
Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38) asked county commissioners not to rename Oct. 12 to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, arguing “this is about addition, not subtraction.”

Elected officials and public commenters raised different arguments for and against renaming Cook County’s Columbus Day holiday during a well-attended subject matter hearing Monday.

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County Board confronts dueling arguments in hearing on whether to rename Columbus Day

Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38) asked county commissioners not to rename Oct. 12 to Indigenous People...
MAY 21, 2021
A proposed 120-unit affordable housing development faced blowback in the Chicago Plan Commission due to concerns about environmental racism. [Department of Planning and Development]

A divided Chicago Plan Commission voted on Thursday to allow a new affordable housing development about 650 feet from the McKinley Park MAT Asphalt plant, as multiple commissioners said they feared the move would perpetuate environmental racism against the developments future residents who are extremely likely to be Latino.

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Plan Commission narrowly approves McKinley Park affordable development amid cries of environmental racism

A proposed 120-unit affordable housing development faced blowback in the Chicago Plan Commission ...
MAY 20, 2021
An aerial view of the 12-acre "North Union" development planned on the Moody Bible Institute campus [Department of Planning and Development]

A decade-long plan to build more than 4,000 new homes along multiple blocks of the Near North Side (O2021-1024) will headline Thursday’s 10 a.m. meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission.

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Mammoth Moody Bible Institute redevelopment set for Plan Commission approval

An aerial view of the 12-acre "North Union" development planned on the Moody Bible Institute camp...
MAY 19, 2021
Sen. Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) defended an amended version of a bill sunsetting the use of “prone restraint” in Illinois schools.

A bill phasing out the use of face-down physical restraints in Illinois schools cleared the Senate Education Committee Tuesday despite emotional testimony from witnesses saying the measure wouldn't act fast enough.

 

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Delayed student restraint ban clears Senate committee hurdle

Sen. Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) defended an amended version of a bill sunsetting the use...
MAY 17, 2021
First-term Sen. Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) is pushing a major budget reform as the legislature considers the next fiscal year: a tax credit for families with children, worth $600 per child.

As the fiscal year winds to a close and next year’s budget discussions reach a fever pitch in Springfield, some legislators are proposing sweeping new tax credits they say would help one of the most pandemic-battered groups in Illinois: children and their families.

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Lawmakers pitch tax credit plans to help families emerge from a brutal year

First-term Sen. Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) is pushing a major budget reform as the legislature cons...
MAY 13, 2021
Director of Illinois families for Public Schools Cassie Creswell faced intense questioning from House lawmakers over a proposed law mandating 30 minutes of recess for Illinois elementary school students Wednesday.

Lawmakers picked apart a bill meant to mandate 30 minutes of recess for elementary school students during a Wednesday hearing of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.

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Mandatory recess bill advances despite concerns over time constraints, teacher independence

Director of Illinois families for Public Schools Cassie Creswell faced intense questioning from H...
MAY 12, 2021
Sen. Mattie Hunter presented HB 3099 to the Senate Education Committee, which passed out of the hearing with almost no discussion Tuesday. Tito Quiñones testified in support of the measure on behalf of Chicago Public Schools.

Chicago Public Schools is one step closer to eliminating its department of truancy after HB 3099 passed out of the Senate Education Committee Tuesday.

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Truancy overhaul, dress code updates, Asian American history measures forge ahead in Senate

Sen. Mattie Hunter presented HB 3099 to the Senate Education Committee, which passed out of the h...
MAY 12, 2021
Deputy Governor Christian Mitchell presented The Consumers and Climate First Act to a committee of House legislators Tuesday, highlighting its overall environmental impact and goals related to equity and job retention.

House lawmakers agonized on Tuesday over equity concerns and the cost of decarbonization during a marathon subject matter hearing called to discuss The Consumers and Climate First Act (SB 2896/HB 4074), Gov. JB Pritzker’s proposed overhaul of the state’s energy laws.

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Pritzker’s energy bill undergoes House grilling over equity enforcement, decarbonization benchmarks

Deputy Governor Christian Mitchell presented The Consumers and Climate First Act to a committee o...
MAY 07, 2021
Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) presented a bill that would subject Illinois private schools to more public regulation if they accepted scholarship money from the Invest in Kids program. Some of her colleagues, like Rep. Curtis Tarver (D-Chicago), vigorously defended the program, which could be cut under Gov. JB Pritzker’s proposed budget

House lawmakers scrambled partisan fault lines during a discussion of public funding for private education on Thursday, as legislators on both sides of the aisle expressed varying levels of support for the Invest in Kids program and a proposal to rein it in.

During a meeting of the House Revenue and Finance Committee, Democrats like Rep. Curtis Tarver (D-Chicago) and Rep. Maurice West (D-Rockford) joined their republican counterparts to express support for the Invest in Kids program, which provides scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools through income tax credits for donors.

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Lawmakers tussle over proposal to add guardrails to public funding for private schools

Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) presented a bill that would subject Illinois private schools to mo...
MAY 06, 2021
Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) defended his measure on sexual education reform before the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate Executive Committee advanced a bill on Wednesday protecting teachers who walk off the job due to safety concerns (SB 1204) and another measure seeking to update sex education standards in Illinois (SB 818) following a contentious hearing.

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Teacher protections, sex ed updates advance after contentious committee hearing

Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) defended his measure on sexual education reform before the Senate...
MAY 05, 2021
Sen. Michael Simmons (D-Chicago) defended his bill to update dress codes at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Education Tuesday afternoon.

The Senate Education Committee wrestled Tuesday with the best way to ensure schools will not discipline students for their hairstyles, as multiple members objected a proposal to temporarily freeze funding from schools that fail to comply with the measure.

The bill, an amendment to SB817, introduced by Sen. Michael Simmons (D-Chicago), would prohibit hairstyle-based dress requirements in schools. The measure would freeze state funding for schools that failed to update their policies and would list them on an Illinois State Board of Education registry dedicated to tracking compliance.

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Education committee spars over enforcement of bill targeting racist dress codes

Sen. Michael Simmons (D-Chicago) defended his bill to update dress codes at a meeting of the Sena...
MAY 03, 2021
Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) and Senior Advisor to the Governor Toi Hutchinson appeared before the committee to discuss HB1443.

Legislators on the House Executive Committee Friday morning probed Rep. LaShawn Ford's (D-Chicago) proposal to boost equity in the state's cannabis industry. The subject matter hearing touched on the efficacy of the lottery process, cutoffs for social equity scoring and ensuring racial justice through licensing, among other considerations.

Ford’s bill is one of dozens of proposals legislators have rolled out this year to restart cannabis licensing after the state’s botched rollout last year.

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'It may not be perfect for everyone:' House lawmakers plunge into mire of cannabis fix bills

Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) and Senior Advisor to the Governor Toi Hutchinson appeared before t...
APR 30, 2021
A bill that seeks to restart the regulatory process for cannabis retail and growing licensing is set for consideration by a House committee on Friday.

The House Executive Committee is poised on Friday to consider a bill (HB1443) meant to fix disparities in "social equity" cannabis retail licensing regulated under the state’s 2019 pot legalization law. The measure,  sponsored by Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago), seeks to address shortcomings in the original licensing process state leaders mapped out for marijuana growers. That measure hasn’t functioned as legislators imagined it would, leading to licensing delays and a bottleneck of applicants for social equity growers.

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Skeptics remain as long-awaited cannabis fix comes due for committee vote

A bill that seeks to restart the regulatory process for cannabis retail and growing licensing is ...
APR 22, 2021
Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha explains the rollout of open access vaccine clinics in Cook County.

Two Cook County mass vaccination sites will be open for walk-in appointments through Saturday, County officials announced Wednesday.

“Open access means open access — come on down,” Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha said during a news conference.

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Cook County Health to pilot walk-in suburban vaccination sites: ‘Come on down’

Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha explains the rollout of open access vaccine clinics in Cook C...
APR 16, 2021
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle praised Jennifer “Sis” Killen’s appointment as the new superintendent of the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highway at the board’s Thursday meeting.

The county has only put about 2 percent of the federal money it has received related to the COVID-19 pandemic toward administrative costs, county Chief Financial Officer Ammar Rizki told commissioners during a Thursday board meeting.

Commissioners peppered county with questions regarding administrative costs that could soak up money from the March 2020 CARES Act before Rizki assured the board that only 2 percent of its CARES money had gone toward administrative line items, well under its 5 percent threshold for that kind of spending.

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County Commissioners look ahead to federal cash influx, condemn racial violence

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle praised Jennifer “Sis” Killen’s appointment as the n...
APR 14, 2021
Sens. Michael Hastings (top) and Celina Villanueva (bottom) discuss SB 577.

Illinois charter school advocates and a Chicago Public Schools lobbyist told a largely skeptical Illinois Senate Education Committee on Tuesday that a pending bill supporting charter school employees’ ability to unionize would infringe on the First Amendment rights of charter school administrators and leadership.

Nonetheless, the bill advanced out of the committee in an 11-3 vote.

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Charter unionization bill inches closer to Senate floor after contentious committee hearing

Sens. Michael Hastings (top) and Celina Villanueva (bottom) discuss SB 577. Illinois charter scho...
APR 15, 2021
Sen. Robert Martwick and City Hall lobbyist Derek Blaida appear before the Senate Executive Committee to discuss SB2497.

Illinois legislators advanced a bill Wednesday that would create an elected school board for Chicago, approving the measure in an 11-5 vote.

Sen. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) sponsored SB2497, which requires elections for a 21-member Chicago Board of Education, with 20 members representing education districts in Chicago plus one citywide president of the body. Currently, the Chicago Board of Education is composed of seven members appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

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Elected School Board bill advances as Lightfoot’s counterproposal lies in wait

Sen. Robert Martwick and City Hall lobbyist Derek Blaida appear before the Senate Executive Commi...