Hannah Meisel

Bio

Illinois government+politics editor for @NPRIllinois. Host of CapitolView on @WSECTV. Usually talking with my hands on the radio. [email protected]
JAN 29, 2019
With early voting — finally — starting in Chicago’s elections, the race for 13th Ward alderman ended up in federal court Monday, with challenger David Krupa alleging that Ald. Marty Quinn and House Speaker Michael Madigan broke the law in working to keep him off the ballot. In the mayoral race, rivals Toni Preckwinkle and Susana Mendoza traded barbs over ethics. Meanwhile, Gery Chico made a play for the votes of snow-weary Chicagoans.

JUL 14, 2020
Republican lawmakers on Monday are calling once again for an audit of the beleaguered Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) because of long lag times and insufficient service for the thousands of people trying to receive unemployment in the state.

Republicans call for audit of unemployment claims agency following four months of turmoil

Republican lawmakers on Monday are calling once again for an audit of the beleaguered Illinois De...
JUL 13, 2020
: Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opened its sports betting operation in early March, shortly before Covid-19 shut down gaming statewide. Now it’s alleging the Illinois Gaming Board is allowing sports betting companies to enter Illinois' sports wagering market before they were supposed to. [Courtesy of BetRivers.com]
Des Plaines-based Rivers Casino is alleging the state gaming board is planning to allow sports betting companies into Illinois’ fledgling sports wagering market, violating the 18-month waiting period those companies are subject to under the state’s expanded gambling law.

Rivers Casino trying to block outside operators from entering state’s sports betting industry

: Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opened its sports betting operation in early March, shortly befo...
JUL 10, 2020

Pritzker proposes emergency rules limiting CARES Act spending by local governments, municipalities claim

Municipalities outside of the Chicago area and business groups are accusing Gov. JB Pritzker of p...
JUL 09, 2020
The Illinois State Board of Elections building in Springfield. [Hannah Meisel/The Daily Line]
With less than four months until Election Day, the fundraising for both Democrats and Republicans in the state is down compared to election years prior.

Democrats flush with cash while GOP sums paltry: Where key campaign committees stand

The Illinois State Board of Elections building in Springfield. [Hannah Meisel/The Daily Line]Wi...
JUL 08, 2020
Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch launches the Vote No on the Progressive Tax Coalition at a multi-city virtual news conference on Tuesday.


An organization affiliated with Gov. JB Pritzker unveiled seven paid digital ads Tuesday to advocate for the governor’s graduated income tax proposal he is sending to voters in a referendum in November.

While Pritzker pours $57M into 'Fair Tax’ campaign, groups fighting tax change say they’ll rely on messaging, not millions

Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch launches the Vote No on the Progress...
JUL 07, 2020
Illinois’ coal industry continued its decline in 2019, even before Covid-19 began accelerating job losses in the sector. [Photo courtesy of Knight Hawk Coal LLC]
Illinois’ coal industry suffered 7 percent loss in jobs last year, according to state report, but that was long before Covid-19 forced temporary closures and brought on a global recession.

Covid-19 accelerating persistent job losses in state coal industry

Illinois’ coal industry continued its decline in 2019, even before Covid-19 began accelerating ...
JUL 06, 2020
Despite paying historic amounts into Illinois’ five pension systems, the state has made virtually no progress on its path to adequately funding the retirement plans. In fact, three of the five funds experienced net losses in 2019, according to a new report  from the state’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA).

State pension systems make no meaningful progress in funding levels — again

Despite paying historic amounts into Illinois’ five pension systems, the state has made virtually...
JUL 03, 2020
: State Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) and his attorney, Tom DeVore, speak to reporters outside of the Clay County Courthouse on Thursday. [Screengrab courtesy of BlueRoomStream.com]
State Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) won his case against Gov. JB Pritzker and his use of consecutive disaster declarations to limit the spread of Covid-19 since March.

Pritzker rejected in Bailey suit while emerging victorious in federal ruling against ILGOP

: State Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) and his attorney, Tom DeVore, speak to reporters outside o...
JUL 01, 2020
JB Pritzker with allies on the day he signed Illinois’ $15 minimum wage bill into law at the Governor's Mansion in Springfield on Feb. 19, 2019. The state's minimum wage will increase to $10 an hour on Wednesday. [Hannah Meisel/The Daily Line]
Minimum wage workers in Illinois will see more money in their pockets starting Wednesday when the state increases their hourly wage.

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois raise minimum wage Wednesday

JB Pritzker with allies on the day he signed Illinois’ $15 minimum wage bill into law at the Go...
JUN 30, 2020
A new report from reform group Restore Justice Illinois blasts the Illinois Department of Corrections for testing less than three percent of Illinois’ prison population for Covid-19 at a time when East Moline Correctional Center is experiencing an outbreak. [Google Streetview]
The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has tested less than three percent of its prison population for coronavirus — a ratio that criminal justice reform group Restore Justice Illinois says is unacceptable, as Covid-19 cases in a northwest Illinois prison facility spike.

According to IDOC, 71 incarcerated men at the East Moline Correctional Center tested positive for Covid-19, along with five staff members. That number has steadily climbed since Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration first acknowledged the outbreak two weeks ago, when 26 inmates and three staff members had tested positive.

That rapid spread is a symptom of IDOC’s failure to formulate an adequate Covid-19 testing plan, according to a new report from Restore Justice published Tuesday. The group blasted IDOC for not reporting more data to the public, including how many prisoners are currently hospitalized with the virus and timely reports of Covid-19 deaths among incarcerated populations and prison staff.

“More than any other state, [Illinois has] embraced the most vigorous Covid-19 safety measures and protocols,” Restore Justice President Jobi Cates said Monday. “It baffles me how we could be in late June and still have only tested under three percent of prison population.”

Cates pointed to states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which report much more robust data to the public about Covid-19 in their state prisons.

“Families members and loved ones go to IDOC’s website…and it looks like a small, controlled situation,” Cates said of Covid-19’s spread in East Moline Correctional Center. “But they’re not reporting testing…It’s incredibly misleading.”

Cates said the paltry amount of testing also “robs” IDOC of the information needed to make strategic decisions.

Asked last week about Covid-19 testing in prisons, Pritzker said staff is being tested “on a regular basis.”

Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said IDOC has been following federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for Covid-19 testing in congregate settings.

“DOC has also implemented a variety of health and safety measures to keep residents and workers healthy and safe, like limiting outside visitation, daily health screenings and temperature checks and ensuring appropriate PPE is available,” Abudayyeh said.

As of Monday, 320 incarcerated individuals tested positive for Covid-19 since the virus’ onset in March, according to IDOC’s website, and 192 prison staff members also tested positive.

Thirteen IDOC prisoners have died after contracting the virus — 12 at Stateville Correctional Center after a Covid-19 outbreak at the south suburban facility in April. The last updated figures for deaths within IDOC’s population are from June 9.

According to IDOC’s numbers, 190 Stateville prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19, along with 79 staff members. A handful are still recovering, while the rest have been labeled recovered.

There is not one IDOC facility where at least one inmate or staff member has not tested positive for Covid-19, but Stateville, East Moline, Sheridan Correctional Center in LaSalle County and Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg have seen outbreaks in the double digits.

Calls for monitoring virus spread

Restore Justice called for IDOC to monitor Covid-19 in prisons like the Illinois Department of Public Health monitors the virus’ spread in Illinois’ approximately 1,200 long-term care facilities, and demanded rapid expansion of testing in the state’s prison population, “tracking and reporting robust data” and “establishing clear and consistent protocols for testing, tracing, quarantine, and other safety measures.”

In long-term care facilities, for example, Restore Justice noted all residents are required to be screened every eight hours, and Covid-19 stats are due to state officials twice weekly.

The report also noted quarantine conditions within state prisons “seem to vary widely,” and said Restore Justice “has received reports that some facilities are still segregating the ill in solitary confinement facilities, rather than in healthcare facilities or under appropriate medical supervision.”

Prison staff has also called for more testing. According to AFSCME Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall, AFSCME Local 46, which represents East Moline Correctional Center staff, requested more prolific Covid-19 testing after the first case was discovered in early June.

“The local union pushed for and got a plan to test all the inmates on that dorm — not just the symptomatic ones — since they had been exposed and we know that asymptomatic transmission is possible,” Lindall said.

Of the 93 additional inmates that were tested in that batch, 44 came back positive, he said.

Restore Justice has also criticized Pritzker’s administration’s early release program this month. The nearly 6,000 incarcerated people released from IDOC since March 1 were released were disproportionately white as compared with the state’s prison population at large. Additionally, the group said prisons were still too crowded even after thousands of prisoners were released.
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Less than 3% of state’s prison population tested for Covid-19; virus accelerating behind bars

A new report from reform group Restore Justice Illinois blasts the Illinois Department of Corre...
JUN 30, 2020
Illinois’ former Chief Technology Officer Michael Wons was fined more than $193,000 for violating Illinois’ revolving door law when he accepted a job in the private sector after exiting former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration where he helped create the state’s Department of Innovation and Technology.


Illinois’ first chief technology officer has been fined more than $193,000 for violating the state’s revolving door law after he left Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration for the private sector.
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Illinois’ former CTO fined $193K for violating revolving door law

Illinois’ former Chief Technology Officer Michael Wons was fined more than $193,000 for violati...
JUN 29, 2020
After the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) signed off on scrap metal processor General Iron’s move from Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood to Chicago’s Southeast Side last week, state lawmakers and environmental groups are vowing to keep fighting against the move at the city level.
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Lawmakers, environmental groups vow fight against moving General Iron isn’t over after IEPA permit

After the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) signed off on scrap metal processor Gen...
JUN 26, 2020
A new report published Thursday by @CleanJobsMW found Illinois has lost more than 17,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector during the Covid-19 pandemic. The industry is asking for more state and federal investments in clean energy to “kickstart” the nation’s economy.


Illinois lost 17,457 jobs in the renewable energy sector from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report published Thursday.
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Illinois lost more than 17K ‘clean jobs’ during Covid-19 pandemic: report

A new report published Thursday by @CleanJobsMW found Illinois has lost more than 17,000 jobs i...
JUN 26, 2020
The Illinois Tollway’s Board of Directors on Thursday voted to significantly decrease unpaid toll violation fees and give temporary amnesty to those with missed toll payments during the first three months of Covid-19.


The Illinois Tollway on Thursday approved significant decreases in late fees for unpaid  violations and a temporary amnesty program for unpaid tolls during the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Tollway attempting to be “friendlier and kinder” through lowered late fees, amnesty program

The Illinois Tollway’s Board of Directors on Thursday voted to significantly decrease unpaid to...
JUN 25, 2020
The Illinois Supreme Court’s Rules Committee on Wednesday was urged to adopt a change to the way eviction proceedings are done in Illinois, forcing landlords to file documents the legal aid community contends are often left out of court proceedings to the detriment of tenants.
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Illinois Supreme Court urged to change rules for eviction proceedings

The Illinois Supreme Court’s Rules Committee on Wednesday was urged to adopt a change to the way ...
JUN 25, 2020
Gov. JB Pritzker confers with Matt Schmit, Director of DCEO's Office of Broadband at a Geneseo farm on Wednesday where the governor announced the first $50 million in broadband grants. [Courtesy of Pritzker’s office]
Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday awarded $50 million in grant funds for 28 broadband internet projects throughout Illinois — the completion of the first round of grants in an ambitious $420 million broadband expansion plan the governor plans to execute during his first term in office.
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State awards $50M in broadband grant funds as Covid-19 strains rural internet infrastructure

Gov. JB Pritzker confers with Matt Schmit, Director of DCEO's Office of Broadband at a Geneseo ...
JUN 24, 2020
Despite emergency rules put in place by Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration nearly four weeks ago mandating that long-term care facilities put coronavirus testing plans in place, the head of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on Tuesday acknowledged the state does not know whether those plans were actually made.

Despite mandate from Pritzker, state has not requested Covid-19 plans from nursing homes

Despite emergency rules put in place by Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration nearly four weeks ago m...
JUN 23, 2020
AMAZON TO OPEN TWO FULFILLMENT CENTERS IN SOUTH SUBURBS — Tech giant Amazon will open two fulfillment centers in south suburban Markham and Matteson, Gov. JB Pritzker announced along with local officials on Monday. The pair of centers — set to be fully open by the 2021 holiday season — will be the 12th and 13th Amazon fulfillment centers in Illinois and leaders claimed they would provide 2,000 permanent jobs for south suburban residents, in addition to short-term construction jobs to build the massive warehouses, which Amazon officials said would house state-of-the-art robotics technology to work alongside human employees. Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle said she was “hopeful” that the company’s investment “will provide a much-needed boost to the local economy.” But local leaders from U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) to State Sens. Mike Hastings (D-Tinley Park) and Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) used Monday’s announcement to put pressure on leaders to push forward with an airport in Peotone — a project first proposed decades ago. “Gov. Pritzker, I’m calling on you to come and help support us in our efforts in securing the third airport here in the great state of Illinois,” Harris said. Pritzker noted the state’s $45 billion infrastructure plan passed last year allocated millions to surrounding infrastructure that would be needed to run a third major airport in the region, but said the state would need input from industry leaders like Amazon on whether the airport is actually needed. “There are people at Amazon that certainly will be an important part of the decision-making about whether companies like Amazon will want to move their cargo operations to an airport like Peotone,” Pritzker said. (Hannah Meisel)

ARLINGTON RACE DATES FINALLY SET — Thoroughbred horse racing will finally begin at Arlington International Racecourse next month after weeks of tense negotiations ended over the weekend, resulting in a truncated horse racing schedule at Arlington weeks behind Illinois’ two other racetracks. The Illinois Racing Board approved Arlington’s shortened schedule on Monday morning after negotiations broke down late last week as representatives from Arlington and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association shot accusations back and forth in front of the board at its regularly scheduled Thursday meeting, which was then stretched into Friday and finally Monday as board officials attempted to help shepherd negotiations to a close. Illinois’ thoroughbred horse racing season typically begins on May 1 but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, long-simmering tensions between Arlington and Illinois’ thoroughbred horse racing industry further delayed a contract deal, even as spectator-free racing began at Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero and Fairmount Park in Collinsville in early June. Arlington’s race season will begin on July 23 and end Sept. 26. (Meisel)

Related:

Racing board extends approval deadline for Arlington Racecourse deal — again

Racing board to broker deal between Arlington Racecourse and horsemen group

Horse racing associations worry truncated seasons may “decimate” fragile industry

TDL Springfield Morning Briefs: Tuesday, June 24th

AMAZON TO OPEN TWO FULFILLMENT CENTERS IN SOUTH SUBURBS — Tech giant Amazon will open two fulfill...

Bio

Illinois government+politics editor for @NPRIllinois. Host of CapitolView on @WSECTV. Usually talking with my hands on the radio. [email protected]