Joel Ebert

Joel Ebert is The Daily Line's reporter covering the Illinois state government. He covered politics in Illinois, South Dakota and West Virginia before joining The Tennessean in 2016 to report on the Tennessee General Assembly and state government. In West Virginia, he worked as a daily statehouse reporter before transitioning to provide daily coverage of the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who became the first chief executive of a major corporation convicted of a workplace safety crime. A native of Illinois and graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ebert is a student of Chicago politics whose work has been cited by national media. He’s received awards from the press associations in South Dakota, West Virginia and Tennessee, including the Malcolm Law Award for investigative reporting. In 2019, he was a National Press Foundation fellow.

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.

article-image
MAY 05, 2021

Lightfoot, Pritzker expressed optimism about full reopening by July 4. A House committee anticipates holding a hearing on a recent audit about the LaSalle Veterans’ Home. And Catholic bishops expressed concern about one of Pritzker’s proposed tax changes.

article-image

News in brief: Lightfoot wants Chicago fully reopened by July 4, Pritzker ‘optimistic’ state is on a similar timeline

Lightfoot, Pritzker expressed optimism about full reopening by July 4. A House committee anticipa...
APR 09, 2021

News in brief: Hospitality industry calls for more help from state; Cook County outlines next phase of vaccination effort 

article-image

News in brief: Hospitality industry calls for more help from state; Cook County outlines next phase of vaccination effort

News in brief: Hospitality industry calls for more help from state; Cook County outlines next pha...
APR 08, 2021

News in brief: Dowell launches Secretary of State election campaign; Pritzker, Blackhawks make joint announcement 

article-image

News in brief: Dowell launches Secretary of State election campaign; Pritzker, Blackhawks make joint announcement

News in brief: Dowell launches Secretary of State election campaign; Pritzker, Blackhawks make jo...
APR 05, 2021

News in brief: CTA tests electric buses; Pritzker signs CTU bargaining bill

article-image

TDL Chicago Morning Briefs: Monday, March 05

News in brief: CTA tests electric buses; Pritzker signs CTU bargaining bill
APR 05, 2021

News in brief: CTA tests electric buses; Pritzker signs CTU bargaining bill 

article-image

News in brief: CTA tests electric buses; Pritzker signs CTU bargaining bill

News in brief: CTA tests electric buses; Pritzker signs CTU bargaining bill 
APR 01, 2021

News in brief: Former Sen. Annazette Collins indicted; Department of Corrections provides COVID-19 vaccine update 

article-image

News in brief: Former Sen. Annazette Collins indicted; Department of Corrections provides COVID-19 vaccine update

News in brief: Former Sen. Annazette Collins indicted; Department of Corrections provides COVID-1...
MAR 23, 2021

News in brief: New mass vaccination site launched in Forest Park; land bank director resigns to “pursue other opportunities 

article-image

News in brief: New mass vaccination site launched in Forest Park; land bank director resigns to “pursue other opportunities”

News in brief: New mass vaccination site launched in Forest Park; land bank director resigns to “...
MAR 16, 2021

News in brief: Cook County launches ‘My Shot’ vaccine campaign; Chicago Department of Housing releases Racial Equity Impact Assessment; Mendoza announces tax relief

article-image

TDL Chicago Morning Briefs: March 16

News in brief: Cook County launches ‘My Shot’ vaccine campaign; Chicago Department of Housing rel...
MAR 16, 2021

News in brief: Cook County launches ‘My Shot’ vaccine campaign; Chicago Department of Housing releases Racial Equity Impact Assessment; Mendoza announces tax relief 

article-image
JUN 18, 2021
The Illinois State Board of Elections headquarters

Members of the Illinois State Board of Elections signaled this week they will make preparations in case either of two recent lawsuits succeeds in striking down the new legislative boundaries signed into law earlier this month.

article-image

State Board of Elections braces for potential redistricting overhaul if court challenges succeed

The Illinois State Board of Elections headquarters Members of the Illinois State Board of Electio...
JUN 18, 2021

Gov. JB Pritzker signed the omnibus election bill that will delay next year’s primary to June and the state budget. Pritzker also announced a new $10 million COVID-19 vaccine lottery as he boasted 70 percent of adults have been at least partially vaccinated. And Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) announced he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, saying he wants to raise awareness of the issue. 

article-image

News in brief: Pritzker signs omnibus election bill and budget, announces COVID-19 vaccine lottery; Ford announces cancer diagnosis

Gov. JB Pritzker signed the omnibus election bill that will delay next year’s primary to June and...
JUN 17, 2021
House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) reflected on Wednesday’s brief one-day return to Springfield during a news conference. 

Making an abbreviated return to Springfield, the House changed its rules Wednesday to allow members to vote remotely before signing off on Gov. JB Pritzker’s changes to the state budget and a bill to update the state’s firearm owners identification system. 

article-image

House allows remote voting, approves fixes to budget and FOID during one-day return

House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) reflected on Wednesday’s brief one-day return to Springfie...
JUN 17, 2021
Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) addressed the House Wednesday minutes before the chamber approved a bill that would create an elected school board for Chicago.

The House on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that will dramatically change the makeup of the leadership of Chicago Public Schools by making it an elected board.  

article-image

House approves Chicago elected school board bill, sending it to Pritzker’s desk

Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) addressed the House Wednesday minutes before the chamber approved ...
JUN 16, 2021
Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) addressed reporters Tuesday after the Senate failed to take up an energy bill that remains under discussion.

The Senate’s plans for a one-day return to Springfield hit a wrinkle Tuesday after last-minute negotiations over Gov. JB Pritzker’s proposed omnibus energy bill failed to reach a consensus.

The ongoing stalemate came hours after Pritzker’s office once again changed a key component of its bill that would allow certain power plants that were seeking an exemption to stay open longer if they reached certain emissions goals. 

article-image

Energy bill hits wall in Senate as last-minute changes fail to overcome ongoing disagreements

Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) addressed reporters Tuesday after the Senate failed to t...
JUN 16, 2021

Gov. JB Pritzker issued an amendatory veto to the state budget bill. The House is expected to change rules to allow remote voting. And the state’s health department announced it is scaling back COVID-19 updates.  

article-image
JUN 15, 2021

A coalition of business groups sent a letter to Gov. JB Pritzker in an effort to ramp up pressure on his energy proposal. 

One day before the Senate’s return to Springfield, a coalition of business groups sent a critical letter to Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday indicating his proposed energy omnibus legislation would result in the “largest rate hike on consumers and businesses” in state history.  

article-image

Business groups, GOP lawmakers ramp up pressure on energy bill ahead of session

A coalition of business groups sent a letter to Gov. JB Pritzker in an effort to ramp up pressure...
JUN 15, 2021
House Speaker Chris Welch listens to Gov. JB Pritzker during a May news conference in Springfield (Joel Ebert/The Daily Line)

As lawmakers prepare to return to Springfield Tuesday, House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) reflected in an interview with The Daily Line on lawmakers work throughout the spring legislative session while saying has no “personal agenda” for this week’s brief return.  

article-image

Welch stands by ethics overhaul, redistricting as lawmakers look to wrap up session this week

House Speaker Chris Welch listens to Gov. JB Pritzker during a May news conference in Springfield...
JUN 14, 2021
Prairie State Energy Campus and other power plants in Illinois would be shuttered by 2035 under Gov. JB Pritzker’s latest energy proposal. [Bechtel]

Gov. JB Pritzker released a draft and summary of his latest version of his omnibus energy bill proposal late Thursday, mere days before lawmakers are set to return to Springfield.  

In a memo to lawmakers, Pritzker’s office highlighted portions of the 866-page draft of the bill, which includes significant portions of his original energy bill but with notable changes. As of Sunday, the bill had not been published on the legislature’s website.  

article-image

Pritzker holds firm on coal phaseout in latest energy bill proposal

Prairie State Energy Campus and other power plants in Illinois would be shuttered by 2035 under G...
JUN 14, 2021
A March 30 redistricting hearing. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund became the latest group to sue over the legislative redistricting process.

A second lawsuit was filed late Thursday challenging the state’s newly signed legislative maps on the grounds that they are unconstitutional because they relied on alternate data.  

The lawsuit was filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) on behalf of five registered voters in Illinois.  

article-image

MALDEF becomes latest group to challenge new legislative maps

A March 30 redistricting hearing. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund became ...
JUN 11, 2021
Gov. JB Pritzker addressing reporters during a May 2021 news conference in Springfield [Joel Ebert/The Daily Line]

Marking what officials hope is the effective end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois will eliminate all capacity limits on businesses Friday and fully reopen.  

The state’s reopening comes nearly 17 months after Illinois recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus and 15 months after its first COVID-19 death. Since then, Illinois health officials have logged 1.3 million total cases of COVID-19 and more than 23,000 deaths. 

article-image

’You did it, Illinois:’ state fully reopens after more than 1.3 million COVID-19 cases, 23,000 deaths

Gov. JB Pritzker addressing reporters during a May 2021 news conference in Springfield [Joel Eber...
JUN 11, 2021
Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois executive director Rhonda Sauget (left) and small business owner Brenda Whitaker told lawmakers Thursday that a worker shortage is the largest issue facing Southern Illinois businesses that are looking to recover from the pandemic. 

Lawmakers turned their attention to Southern Illinois Thursday to seek input from business owners and others on how best to help the region recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

During a two-hour subject matter hearing, members of the Senate Tourism and Hospitality Committee listened to ideas from witnesses ranging from a state official to a vineyard owner about how lawmakers can help their struggling industries. They offered a range of ideas including cutting off expanded unemployment benefits, boosting government hiring and loosening business regulations. 

article-image

Local officials, business owners blame unemployment benefits for Southern Illinois worker shortage

Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois executive director Rhonda Sauget (left) and small bus...
JUN 11, 2021
Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill Thursday that requires casino applicants to enter into a labor agreement when seeking a new casino license or renewal. 

Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday signed SB 1360, a bipartisan-supported bill that requires casino applicants to enter into a labor agreement when seeking any new casino license or renewal. 

Under the new law, which immediately takes effect, casino owners must provide evidence that they have entered project labor agreements that conform to state law. Such agreements must include goals for apprenticeship hours dedicated to minorities and women, procedures for addressing labor disputes and guarantees against strikes and lockouts. The agreements almost must allow the lowest qualified bidder to be selected.  

article-image

Pritzker signs bipartisan casino worker protection bill

Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill Thursday that requires casino applicants to enter into a labor ag...
JUN 10, 2021
Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Lake Zurich) (left) and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the new legislative redistricting maps.  

Illinois’ top Republican legislators on Wednesday filed the first federal lawsuit challenging Democrats’ recently approved and enacted legislative redistricting maps. 

In a 39-page complaint filed in the Northern District of Illinois, Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Lake Zurich) and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) are “challenging the constitutionality of the apportionment of state legislative districts.” 

article-image

Republicans sue over legislative redistricting maps, citing data concerns

Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Lake Zurich) (left) and House Republican Leader Jim Dur...
JUN 10, 2021

Secretary of State Jesse White renewed his call to replace a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. On the Capitol grounds, which he said resembles a sharecropper. And the Illinois Gaming Board signed off on various casino plans.  

article-image

News in brief: White renews call for replacing Martin Luther King statue; Illinois Gaming Board signs off on casino plans

Secretary of State Jesse White renewed his call to replace a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. On ...
JUN 09, 2021

Illinois lawmakers will head back to Springfield next week to vote on energy legislation. And an advocacy group is urging Gov. JB Pritzker to veto the new ethics bill approved by lawmakers last month.

article-image

News in brief: Lawmakers set to return to Springfield next week; government watchdog urges Pritzker to veto ethics bill

Illinois lawmakers will head back to Springfield next week to vote on energy legislation. And an ...
JUN 09, 2021
The debut of the Chicago Veterans’ Home will take a little longer after the Capital Development Board on Tuesday approved additional construction changes. [Terra Engineering Ltd.]

The Capital Development Board on Tuesday approved a request to tweak plans for the Chicago Veterans’ Home in response to final construction hurdles that must be cleared before the facility can open.  

The board approved an order to spend $160,000 to address “life safety requirements” as identified by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The unaddressed issues, which were left out the original architect and engineer’s designs, included a need to connect stairways to fire alarms.

article-image

Debut of Chicago Veterans’ Home delayed due to outstanding construction issues

The debut of the Chicago Veterans’ Home will take a little longer after the Capital Development B...
JUN 08, 2021
A coalition of organized labor groups and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) held a news conference Friday to call for a coal plant to be exempted from decarbonization rules under a pending energy bill.

Monday marked one week since lawmakers’ targeted end of their spring session, but one of the biggest legislative fights of the year remains unresolved: a long-planned overhaul to the state’s energy sector.  

In recent days, Gov. JB Pritzker, lawmakers, advocacy groups and other interested parties have offered insights on how to move passage of an omnibus energy proposal that factors in the desires of a multitude of interests. While outstanding questions remain on how the bill should treat coal plants and the embattled utility Commonwealth Edison, legislators and lobbyists have indicated they expect a revised bill to come up for a vote in the coming weeks. 

article-image

Questions over coal plants, ComEd among outstanding issues hobbling energy bill

A coalition of organized labor groups and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Rep. Tim But...
JUN 07, 2021
 Reform for Illinois executive director Alisa Kaplan discussed the latest ethics reform bill on The Daily Line’s CloutCast. 

Last week, as House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside), Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Gov. JB Pritzker reflected on their top accomplishments from the spring legislative session, they each pointed to an omnibus ethics reform measure (SB 539that they said will move the state forward. 

In the days since it passed, leaders of good government groups have said the bill is a step in the right direction but much more is needed to regain the trust of Illinoisans.

article-image

Deeper ethics reforms needed after ‘chump change’ bill, watchdogs say

 Reform for Illinois executive director Alisa Kaplan discussed the latest ethics reform bill on T...
JUN 07, 2021
Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday signed redistricting maps for the legislature, state Supreme Court and Cook County Board of Review. 

Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday signed redistricting maps that will change the political boundaries of the General Assembly, Illinois Supreme Court and Cook County Board of Review, setting the stage for an anticipated legal battle.  

The governor’s widely expected signature of the trio of bills (HB 2777(SB 642 and SB 2661) came just days after he said he was still reviewing the maps while criticizing Republicans for not proposing their own maps.  

article-image

Pritzker signs redistricting maps, setting stage for legal battle

Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday signed redistricting maps for the legislature, state Supreme Court an...