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Gov. J.B. Pritzker

ANALYSIS: Report suggests state spending will soon begin outpacing revenues once again 

By JERRY NOWICKICapitol News Illinoisjnowicki@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – While Illinois has recently experienced a prolonged stretch of good financial news, a new state fiscal forecast notes that if spending continues to […]

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Republican leaders like governor’s talk about possible tax cuts if state revenues remain strong

By JERRY NOWICKICapitol News Illinoisjnowicki@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – With two months to go before the Legislature adjourns and current-year revenues continuing to smash expectations, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he and legislative […]

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Moody’s gives Illinois another credit upgrade – eighth in less than 2 years

By PETER HANCOCKCapitol News Illinoisphancock@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – Moody’s Investors Service announced Tuesday that it had upgraded Illinois’ bond rating to A3, up from Baa1, marking the eighth credit upgrade the state has […]

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Governor touts $70 million plan to address teacher shortages: 170 school districts targeted that account for 80 percent of state vacancies

By NIKA SCHOONOVERCapitol News Illinoisnschoonover@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday highlighted a proposed grant program that would direct $70 million a year over the next three years to […]

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Governor signs law to allow Illinoisans to change sex on birth certificate without doctor’s affirmation

By NIKA SCHOONOVERCapitol News Illinoisnschoonover@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – Illinoisans seeking to legally change the gender on their birth certificate will have an easier time under a new law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week. “Here in Illinois, we recognize that gender transition is a personal journey that doesn’t always follow a prescriptive medical path, but still deserves to be honored legally,” Pritzker said in a statement. “In a time of increasing violence and hateful rhetoric against the trans, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming community, it is more important than ever to reaffirm our state’s commitment to recognizing the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ Illinoisans.” Under House Bill 9, which will take effect July 1, a person will no longer need a medical professional to affirm gender reassignment surgery or other clinical treatment in order to change the gender on a birth certificate. Once the change takes effect, a statement expressing the intention to change gender classification is all that’s needed. Mike Ziri, director of public policy at Equality Illinois, said in an interview that the policy change was important because individuals often do not have access to a provider and because providers sometimes refuse to consent to providing such a statement. “The old requirement, it was a barrier to equality,” said Ziri, whose organization worked on the bill with other advocacy groups. “Someone may not be able to afford a visit to a doctor, or there may not be an affirming provider.” By removing the need of a health care professional to reaffirm an individual’s gender change status, the law makes it easier for a person’s documents to be consistent, according to a statement from state Sen. Laura Fine, D-Glenview, a lead sponsor on the bill. “This legislation will now make it easier for trans and nonbinary people to live as their authentic selves and ensure consistency on legal documents,” Fine said in the statement. An updated birth certificate can make it easier to obtain a new driver’s license that reflects the person’s gender identity, said Brigid Leahy, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood Illinois Action. “If your birth certificate doesn’t match other documents that you have, it can be complicated and confusing for everyday life and doing things like applying for certain things where you need documentation,” Leahy said. “And if there are inconsistencies in that documentation, it can make it harder for you to complete the process.” The measure passed with only Democratic support in both chambers of the General Assembly. The law also waives the costs associated with acquiring a new birth certificate for previously incarcerated individuals, homeless people, youths under care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, individuals under 27 who were previously in care, and individuals living in domestic violence shelters. “Access to your birth certificate will become a less onerous process for many Illinoisans, removing barriers for people who already face so many,” said a statement from Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, another lead sponsor on the bill. A new birth certificate request usually costs $15, plus $2 for each additional copy. The law is the latest passed in Illinois that expands protections for transgender individuals, following protections for gender-affirming care and a measure allowing people previously convicted of felonies to change their name “due to marriage, religious beliefs, status as a victim of trafficking or gender-related identity.” With the new law, Illinois joins 11 other states in allowing self-attestation of gender on birth certificates, according to Equality Illinois. “We’re really excited that Illinois is moving on this issue on the topic of birth certificates into those ranks of those affirming states,” Ziri said. Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide, as well as hundreds of radio and TV stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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Pritzker hits the road to sell his budget plan: Preschool, child care investments top list of proposed spending increases

By PETER HANCOCKCapitol News Illinoisphancock@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – One day after delivering his budget address, Gov. J.B. Pritzker took to the road Thursday to rally support for his proposed “Smart Start” […]

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Governor’s second-term agenda buoyed by ongoing strong revenue outlook: Pritzker touts debt repayment, savings measure for new spending

By JERRY NOWICKICapitol News Illinoisjnowicki@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposed a state budget Wednesday that anticipates continued strong revenue receipt, allowing for increased spending across all levels of education […]

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Illinois House, Senate agree on ban of assault weapons

By PETER HANCOCKCapitol News Illinoisphancock@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – Negotiators in the Illinois House and Senate have reached agreement on a bill to ban the purchase, sale, and manufacture of semi-automatic assault […]

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Larry Lough

Larry Lough

Larry Lough is editor of The Independent and reports local news.

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Janet Dovidio

Janet Dovidio has been a freelance correspondent for The Independent for eight years.

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Susan W. Murray

Susan W. Murray wrote for The Independent, covering various beats, from 2005 to 2008.

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