The 2013 farm bill is at least a 900 billion dollar piece of legislation. It’s been stalled in Congress since the 2008 bill expired a year ago. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about what the hold-up is and why it matters.
Farmers have been operating for more than a year now without a farm bill. Since the 2008 bill expired, there’s been an ideological debate surrounding the funding of certain programs in the farm bill, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. There are currently two versions of the farm bill stalled in Congress, one passed by the Senate and one passed by the House, and if legislators can’t come to a compromise by January 1, farm policy written in the 1940’s will take effect. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about why there’s been such a fight over this year’s farm bill and how that differs from farm bills past.
Jonathan Coppess, a Clinical Professor of Law and Policy in the Department of Agriculture Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and former chief of staff to Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, (D) who worked on the Senate version of the bill and Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Director of Congressional Affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation join us.
A bill to fix the state’s massively underfunded pension system is headed to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and former state senator Rick Winkel about what’s in the bill and what happens now.
Tuesday, the Illinois Legislature approved a history plan to eliminate the state’s $100 billion pension shortfall, considered the worst in the nation. The House voted 62-53 in favor of the plan, and the Senate approved the measure minutes earlier. The bill, however, passed with little support from East Central Illinois lawmakers.
How will it help the state’s budgetary woes and what will it mean for state employees? Does it violate the state’s pension protections spelled out in the Illinois constitution? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Illinois Public Radio’s Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and former Illinois State Senator Rick Winkel about what’s in the bill and what it means.
Friday, Governor Pat Quinn granted 65 clemency requests while working through a backlog of cases left by Fmr. Gov. Rod Blagojevich. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about why and when clemency requests are granted.
So far in his time as Governor, Pat Quinn has granted nearly 1,000 clemency requests, reducing penalties for people convicted of certain crimes. In the batch he approved Friday, Southern Illinois University Former Board of Trustee Member Enoch Benson, former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Branden Jones, an armed robber and several former drug dealers were among those pardoned.
This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Urbana Attorney and University of Illinois Law Lecturer Steve Beckett about what’s taken into consideration when deciding to either approve or deny a clemency request and who applies for it. Host Jim Meadows also talks with Beckett about the reasons someone would request clemency, why the Governor has the power to grant it and why it’s an issue that Fmr. Gov. Rod Blagojevich left so many cases sitting.
Lawmakers were tasked with addressing lots of big issues during this spring's legislative session. This hour on Focus we'll talk about the takeaways - what passed, what didn't and what the means for you.
With 100 billion dollars of unfunded pension liability and millions in unpaid bills, we'll talk this hour about what the legislature accomplished during this session to try and solve the state's budget woes. We'll also talk about other big issues from this session - gambling, hydraulic fracturing, same sex marriage and concealed carry. Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and Tom Kacich of the News-Gazette join us.
Many consider Joseph Gurney Cannon one of the most dominant speakers of the House of Representatives in U.S. history. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the life and legacy of Uncle Joe Cannon.
Uncle Joe Cannon served in the U.S. House of Representatives as speaker from 1903 to 1911 and is considered the second longest serving Republican speaker in history. He was featured on the first cover of Time Magazine and is remembered as one of the more colorful members of Congress.
This hour on Focus, we’ll remember Joe, his Illinois roots, and some of his more notorious moments as speaker in Washington D.C. Host Jim Meadows talks with Matt Wasniewski, a historian for the House of Representatives and Timothy Smith, an amateur historian and long-time Danville resident who is working on a biography about Joe.
Are you tired of hearing how broke the state is? Do you have a suggestion for solving the problem? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the state’s deficit and tax policy.
According to the Fiscal Futures Project at the Institute for Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, Illinois is currently ranked in last place out of all 50 states for its bond ratings. Legislators at the statehouse have made some progress towards passing reform to try and solve Illinois’ massively underfunded state pension system but even if reform is passed, the state has a long way to go to get back in the black. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Ralph Martire, Executive Director at the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability about Illinois fiscal health and what could help improve it.
Think you can balance the budget? Check out this calculator from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, Crain’s Business Chicago and the Institute for Work and the Economy.
Martire is speaking at the Champaign Public Library in the Robeson Pavilion room on Thursday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m.
Even though the economy is slowly starting to improve, Illinois still has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. Today on Focus, we talked about the problem and about new policies that are supposed to help solve it. We also talk with one community member working to help East Central Illinois families keep their homes.
Foreclosure rates in Illinois are beginning to fall, but many are still struggling to recover from the recession, especially those who were affected when the housing bubble burst. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about new foreclosure policies in Illinois meant to fast track the sale of vacant properties to help our local economies and families recover from the foreclosure crisis. As the state’s foreclosure rate remains stubbornly high, we’ll also examine how big of a problem foreclosures continue to be in East Central Illinois and talk with Reverend Eugene Barnes, the founder of Metanoia, a community group based in Champaign, who has taken it into his own hands to help struggling families keep their homes. Geoff Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Housing Services at DePaul University also joins us.
What's it like to be an ambassador to the United States? During this episode of Focus, Craig Cohen talked with H.E. Ambassador Michael Collins, Irish Ambassador to the United States.
Ireland holds the European Union’s rotating presidency until June of this year and officials are making it a priority to address the Eurozone Debt Crisis and grow trade and opportunities for enterprise. This hour on Focus, host Craig Cohen talks with His Excellency Ambassador Michael Collins, Ireland’s ambassador to the United States. We’ll talk with him about the country’s debt problems, Ireland’s presidency, the role the EU is taking in turmoil in Syria, and how he manages Ireland’s relations with the United States. The ambassador will be speaking on campus at the University of Urbana-Champaign on Friday, February 15. Find more information here.
Does offering incentives like money or candy motivate kids to perform better in school? Is the new Illinois cigarette tax really helping to deter people from smoking? Today on Focus, we'll talk about what influences behavior....and what doesn't. Join our conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Is the new Illinois cigarette tax really helping to deter people from smoking? Would a ban on sugary drinks and soda really help curb the obesity epidemic? Does offering incentives like money or candy motivate children to perform better in school? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about what influences our behavior. We'll delve into the idea of a “sin” tax, why we use them and if they have an impact on our decisions with Professor of Economics at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the UIUC Fred Giertz. Edward Deci, a Professor of Psychology and Social Sciences at the University of Rochester, also joins the program to answer questions about peer pressure, money as a motivator, stereotypes and how the world around us affects how we act and the decisions we make.
Should parents offer kids incentives to do well in school? Do you? Does it work? Join our conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
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