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The Capitol Connection
The College of Public Affairs and Education and the Center for State Policy and Leadership, University of Illinois Springfield

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  • Environmental Studies students collection trash from Lake Springfield.

    Reducing the Use of Plastic Bags: Five Lessons from Illinois Communities with Plastic Bag Laws

    This summer, we have been busy interviewing active citizens, elected officials, and public employees in five Illinois communities that have passed laws designed to curb the use of plastic bags to understand why they took an action on the plastic bag issue, how they designed their local ordinances, and what challenges they have faced during implementation.  Our research project is still in progress, but we would like to offer a sneak peek at what we have learned from our interviews - here are five things you should keep in mind if your city is thinking about adopting a plastic bag ordinance.

  • Sample Ranked Choice Voting Ballot

    Everything you wanted to know about Ranked-Choice Voting (and maybe somethings you didn’t)

    In recent months, there has been increased news coverage of ranked-choice voting (RCV) in Illinois. At this point, you may be asking “what in the world is ranked-choice voting?”

  • The Depth of Illinois Debt Problem and its Potential Consequences

    Most Illinoisans know that the state is in debt, and many understand that it has a large debt. However, few understand just how large the debt is and the potential consequences for the state. At the Institute for Illinois Public Finance, we have been developing measures of states' debt burden over the last year for a research project on the effects of fiscal imbalances like debt on economic growth.  While our larger research project will focus on all states and local governments, the data that we have collected should be interesting to all Illinoisans.

  • Mapping Inequality

    Confronting Inequities in Springfield

    Our community is faced with significant inequities that have persisted over time.  The redlining map of Springfield shown in the picture above shows the mortgage lending categories used in 1940, which segregated our city and discriminated against people of color (  The red-shaded areas show the portions labelled as “hazardous” for loan making. Unfortunately, over 80 years later, the legacy of the redlining practices remain.

    In recognition of the need to address inequities, the Citizens Club of Springfield, in partnership with the University of Illinois Springfield, will be hosting a series of programs titled Confronting Inequities in Springfield. The steering committee for this event states: “The Series seeks to engage the broader public in an educational dialogue about the lasting effects of inequities and their destructive legacy in our own backyard. The series also seeks to spur discussion and action to create a more just and equitable community and write the next chapter to our story.”

  • Opening the Pipeline to Public Service

    A common question we get asked by prospective students in the Office of Graduate Intern Programs is, “Am I guaranteed a job after graduation?”

  • B&W Photo of US Capitol, left half covered in blue overlay, right half covered in red overlay

    (Affective) Partisanship is a Heck of a Drug: What is it and Why We Might Want to Be Concerned About it.

    The growing animosity between Democrats and Republicans in America is a well-discussed problem.  A term academic research uses to describe the problem is “affective polarization.” What’s fascinating (or perhaps a bit alarming) is that the rise in affective partisanship is less about supporting or disagreeing on matters of legislative policy and instead is about our partisanship becoming key component of our identity.

  • Photo of a union rally.  Photo credit:  Patrick Perkins on

    The Workers’ Rights Amendment Passed in Illinois. How?!

    On November 9, 2022, the Illinois Constitutional Amendment 1, also known as the “Workers’ Rights Amendment,” was approved by the majority of the 4.1 million voters who cast a ballot in the election, however, the passage of the amendment was not a foregone conclusion.

  • Photo of graphiti "For All"

    Accountability for Social Equity

    At the end of 2021, I am again reminded why public administration is so important and because of this, it is critical that public service agencies must be accountable for social equity.

  • Hand holding up sign that says, "Indigenous rights are human rights".

    An Existential Threat to the Indian Child Welfare Act

    Passed by Congress in 1978, The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) faces an existential threat from the current Supreme Court case Haaland v. Brackeen.

  • Photo of the UIUC MSW Field Placement Recruitment event

    Team Effort – Interns Win!!!

    Celebrating a partnership that marries a passion for social work with policy in the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP).

  • Photo of Kevin Kulavic, ILSIP Alum (2011-12) pictured with fellow ILSIP alums Josh Horeled and Margaret Nunne

    ILSIP Interviews - Round #2

    The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP) has announced a second round of interviews, focused on filling ten remaining positions.

  • A Path Forward for Graduate Internships at UIS

    The Graduate Public Service Intern (GPSI) Program is one of nine units within the University of Illinois Springfield’s (UIS) Center for State Policy and Leadership (CSPL).  This program affords eligible graduate students an introduction to public service, the opportunity to get work experience in their field of study, and provides students a tuition waiver and monthly stipend that makes graduate school more affordable.  The Program allows participating agencies an opportunity to educate and train potential future public service professionals and obtain necessary help on various projects throughout their agencies.

  • Dr. Jason Pierceson

    LGBTQ Elected Officials & Candidates – Is Representation Fair and Equal?

    Political scientists have established that identity can influence representation by bringing issues to the policy process that were not previously addressed. Unfortunately, LGBTQ policy suffers from significant underrepresentation.

  • ILSIP Interns in the Capitol Rotunda

    Legislative Internships and What’s Next

    Change is in the air. It’s that time of year and the UIS Campus is beginning to look like a college campus again with students coming and going in larger numbers than in over a year. Throughout this time, the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program has continued placing students with the Illinois General Assembly.

  • Book cover: Before Bostock: The Accidental LGBTQ Precedent of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, Jason Pierceson.  Photo of Dr. Jason Pierceson, Professor of Political Science

    Conservative Judges and Transgender Rights After Bostock v. Clayton County

    In a book recently published by the University Press of Kansas, Before Bostock: The Accidental Precedent of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, I explore the background of the recent landmark LGBTQ rights case of Bostock v. Clayton County (2020).

  • Photo:  sculpture of a hand gun with the barrel tied in a knot.  Photo by Maria Lysenko on

    Elevated Gun Violence in U.S. Cities of All Sizes

    Observes political science professor, Magic M. Wade, “Gun violence is not merely a red state or blue city problem, it is a worsening, widespread phenomenon affecting American communities everywhere.”

  • Image of hand with index finger pointing towards text: "Poll" with a black background

    Want to know who is going to win an election? Ask the voters!

    Out of growing concern about the ability of polling to accurately capture voter intention and “predict” the results of an upcoming election, some researchers have begun to explore a switch from asking voters who they intend to vote for to so-called “citizen forecasts.”

  • Photo of Former Governors Jim Edgar and Pat Quinn meeting with FY2022 ILSIP Cohort during their seminar.


    The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP) is the best kept secret at the University of Illinois at Springfield. It is hard to fathom why this is so.

  • GPSI Springing Forward

    As each academic semester comes to a close, students, faculty, and staff take time to reflect on the accomplishments of the previous year and look forward to the coming year. In GPSI, the month of April is a time for celebration, recognition, and new beginnings. As we say “See you later” to one group of graduating interns, we are simultaneously interviewing for their successors. For the past many years, GPSI has hosted a Recognition Breakfast that highlights graduating interns, special projects, and shares new updates with our community members. At the breakfast, GPSI awards one outstanding intern the Brian T. Milbrandt Memorial Intern Award for Academic and Professional Excellence and one exceptional supervisor the Sagarika Madala Memorial Award for Exemplary Leadership. Both awards are named in memory of two former GPSIs.

  • Dr. Meghan Kessler in the classroom

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Meghan Kessler, School of Education

    CPAE Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Meghan Kessler, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education in the UIS School of Education, whose recent research focuses on the implementation of new state standards for educator preparation.

  • Do You Have Information Problems? Meet the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies (ILLAPS) at the University of Illinois Springfield

    When government entities or non-profit organizations want to make decisions on policies and practices, they often run into the problem of not having necessary, easy to understand information to move their work forward. This often leads to uncertainty, inaction, or incomplete decisions. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

    The Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies (ILLAPS) in the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS’ mission is to help solve these information problems for non-profits and government entities of all sizes. In coordination with our partners, we solve information problems in three ways:

  • Tree

    Helping Preserve and Enhance our Urban Trees

     Urban trees are the pillars of our community. They help decrease air pollution, reduce flooding, produce valuable resources, provide a habitat for wildlife, promote physical and mental health, and encourage a sense of community (Turner-Skoff & Cavender, 2019). We marvel at these benefits, but we also have a responsibility to take care of these trees. 

    You are invited to join us on Wednesday, March 31 from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. for a virtual program on Urban Trees: Planning, Policy, and Planting. This program, which is sponsored by the Citizens Club of Springfield in partnership with the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) Center for State Policy and Leadership, is part of the National Endowment of the Arts Big Read: Sangamon County. Programs and activities are taking place throughout our community in March and April based on the featured book Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.

  • NPR Illinois is happy to say our newest program, Community Voices, is passing the six-month mark.

    When you’re young, it’s important to announce you’re not just six or seven, but “And a half!” NPR Illinois is happy to say our newest program, Community Voices, is passing the six-month mark. Co-host Bea Bonner and I have enjoyed the start of this new concept in elevating the perspectives and the breadth of our listeners and neighbors. You hear this phrase every episode, “Community Voices is events you might have missed and conversations with neighbors, artists, and area business people.”

  • Photo of a roll of "I Voted" stickers

    Continuing America’s Laboratory of Democracy Through State and Local Electoral Innovations

    A recurring finding among researchers is that American voters have grown dissatisfied with the electoral system in America.  This post discusses alternative voting systems and related research conducted by the staff and faculty of the Center for State Policy and Leadership which was recently published in American Politics Research, a peer-reviewed academic journal.

  • IIP Banner

    Preparing the Next Generation of Attorneys to Prevent and Remedy Wrongful Convictions

    The legal maneuvers required to free an innocent person after a wrongful conviction are notoriously complex. Yet few criminal law courses address post-conviction law. To help bridge the gap, the Illinois Innocence Project (IIP) serves as an extern site for law schools.

  • M Jones GPSI

    March GPSI Student Spotlight

    The Graduate Public Service Intern (GPSI) Program has over 200 interns at any given time throughout the year. While we cannot showcase all of the incredible work our students do on a daily basis, we have decided to highlight one intern or supervisor each month. March’s feature is Marissa Jones, a second year intern working at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

  • Honoring GPSIs 2021 Milbrandt and Madalla Award winners

    On April 22, 2021, the Office of Graduate Intern Programs hosted a virtual event to honor our graduating interns and their supervisors. Springing Forward was meant to symbolize the commitment GPSI has to the growth and expansion of this vital program as well as celebrate all the student and supervisor accomplishments over this tumultuous year. Molly Lamb, Executive Director of the Center for State Policy and Leadership, gave an exciting overview of the Center and introduced many resources to our state agency partners. Additionally, our viewers received an update on the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP) from Barbara Van Dyke-Brown, Director.

  • What Are the Research Areas of the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies?

    One of the roles of ILLAPS, as outlined in a previous post of ours here, is to leverage the knowledge, resources, and expertise of our staff and faculty to solve information problems for government entities and non-profits. Another important role of ILLAPS since its foundation has been conducting our own original research on topics that are of use and interest to academics, policymakers, and engaged citizens to solve public problems. In the spirit of building on previous successes and our goal, this post is going to discuss some of the current ILLAPS research.

  • Image of UIS mascot, Orion, assisting with Illinois Voter Registration at the UIS Student Union

    Illinois Could Adopt Ranked-Choice Voting. What Do Illinois Voters Think of It and Other Alternative Electoral Systems?

    Illinois was once known for its innovative electoral system, where it was the only state in America to utilize cumulative voting to elect some members of the Illinois General Assembly.  We asked voters what they think about more recent electoral innovations proposals.

  • The Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program – A Tapestry of Opportunity

    The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program otherwise known as ILSIP is different from the other internships offered at UIS and from most other universities as well. ILSIP was designed to provide those interested in exploring the legislative process with an opportunity to do so.

    Today, ILSIP interns are sprinkled throughout the legislative arena, state government and beyond as key staff, lawyers, lobbyists, and elected officials. In the fall, ILSIP celebrates its 60th anniversary. As this tapestry of opportunity continues to grow, become a part as an intern or pass this information along to someone who may be interested in becoming a member of the next ILSIP cohort.  

  • 50-Forward 2


    In 2021, our national network and member stations that fund it are celebrating 50 years since NPR started with the broadcast of All Things Considered in 1971. NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS will celebrate our 50th anniversary of broadcasting to central Illinois in 2025. So over the next few years, “50” will have special significance for NPR Illinois. I’m honored to announce the 50-Forward Campaign. As we lead up to 2025, we will be looking for major and planned gifts and/or grants to increase the service of NPR Illinois into the future.

  • Photo of the U.S. Supreme Court building durina a protest (photo by by Sarah Penney on

    Courting Extremism: How State Supreme Court Selection Methods Fuel Ideological Divides

    Every summer when the US Supreme Court releases their most high-profile decisions the public is reminded of the influence judges have on everyday life.  How do we decide who gets to make these tough decisions? 

  • CSPL Logo

    The Centerpiece February 17, 2021

    This month we share with you our vision for the Center of State Policy and Leadership (CSPL), describe how we meet our mission and explain what we have done to adapt during COVID-19.  As we evolve and grow, we look forward to delivering to you our strategic thinking and our journey and hope to engage you in our efforts.     

  • Continuum of Support from Cradle to Career

    Consider the following questions for a moment,

    Why do some children achieve on grade level and others do not?

    Why are some high schoolers prepared for college and careers and others are not?

    Why is it necessary for some businesses to recruit highly-qualified applicants from areas outside of Sangamon County?

    In 2005, local educational and business leaders asked themselves these and more questions about how education and the local economy are tied together. The more they dug into these questions, the more they realized that the answers were interconnected. Educational attainment is linked to grade-level achievement and social-emotional support. Grade-level achievement and social-emotional learning are connected to healthcare, nutrition, executive thinking skills, motor skill development, literacy skills, parental support, and on and on. It wasn’t long before these experts realized that in order to support Springfield’s economy, they had to focus on supporting youth through the entire continuum from cradle to career.

  • Logo for the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership

    Introduction to the CSPL Centerpiece

    With the start of 2021, CSPL enthusiastically joins in partnership with the College of Public Affairs and Administration (CPAA) to administer and connect with you via The Capitol Connection Blog (thank you CPAA!).  One goal for CSPL is to communicate, connect and collaborate more to build awareness and increase public value of CSPL.  Many years ago, CSPL released a monthly newsletter called The Centerpiece.  Built on great history, The Centerpiece will serve as the identifying monthly blog entry for CSPL. 

  • Photo of a hand holding up a cardboard sign saying "Respect, Civility, Equality"

    Call for a National Conference on Restoring Civility in American Politics

    Dean Smith explains his call for a national conference focusing on solutions for the seeming rise in political violence and discontent across the nation over the past several years. 

  • The Centerpiece April 2021

    The first week in April hails annually as the National Public Health Week where the public health system, practitioners and agencies across the country celebrate and promote public health.  Over the course of the last 15 years serving as a public health practitioner, often times, I remember wanting friends, family and others to better understand public health and my actual professional world.  The majority of those years I spent planning, preparing, and training for public health emergencies and not if but when they would occur.  However, even with experienced public health situations, like H1N1, and knowing the “when” would happen, never did I wish a true pandemic of this magnitude to occur.  What we have now though is a population with better understanding of public health – what it is, why it is important and how the practice of public health impacts EVERYONE.  We need to remember though that public health is more than COVID-19.  

  • Background photo of a gray tool box with red handled tools on a wood table, with text, "Fixing Polarization" in the foreground

    Institutional Fixes for Growing Political Polarization

    Previously I wrote a detailed blog about the rise of affective partisan polarization in America. A question I’ve gotten since that post is “well what do we do about it?!”

  • Photo of black gun on black background with text "Firearms Policy"

    American Attitudes towards Potential Firearm Policies: Surprising Areas of Agreement, Unsurprising Partisan Influence Largely Remains

    This blog post is meant to address what Americans think about such firearm safety proposals using public opinion data. To be clear, this blog post is not advocating for or against such proposals. There are plenty of passionate write ups advocating for certain positions and you can find those elsewhere.

  • Aim for the Future: Goal Setting and Goal Sharing Innovate Springfield

    According to research, writing down a goal, assessing our commitment and motivation towards that goal, and then sharing progress with peers greatly increases our chances for success! Five years ago, this is exactly what Innovate Springfield and the Continuum of Learning did. They put their minds together, along with voices from all over the community, toward the goal of improving outcomes for Sangamon County children facing multiple barriers. Now, it’s time to share the progress that Innovate Springfield has made with the community! We are compiling the statistics and stories that show how much Sangamon Success has accomplished in five years and building a progress report that will fuel our growth in years to come. In order to tell the whole story, however, we need help. 

  • Photo of Dr. Betsy Goulet. Text:  Congratulations to Dr. Betsy Goulet!  Dr. Betsy Goulet  has been  appointed the  Academic  Program Lead  for the Human Services Program in the UIS  School of Public  Management  and Policy

    Dr. Betsy Goulet Appointed APL for the Human Services Program

    The School of Public Policy and Management at the University of Illinois Springfield congratulates Dr. Betsy Goulet on her appointment as Academic Program Lead for the Human Services Program.

  • Two-Generation Solutions Can Empower Healthy Families

    Here at Innovate Springfield, we are always looking for evidence-based solutions to community problems. Two of the largest topics we tackle center around early childhood education and development and local workforce development. These two topics are intrinsically linked, not only because children who are supported in early life often have more positive career outcomes, but also because parents’ successes so often become their children’s successes as well. If we want to enable the success of both parents and children, we need to invest in Two-Generation solutions.

  • Together We Thrive, Fifty Years of NPR

    Last week marked the 50th anniversary of NPR. The first broadcast of All Things Considered with the founding mothers (Cokie Roberts, Susan Stamberg, Nina Totenberg, and Linda Wertheimer -- at the time precedent breaking as the assumption was the news audience preferred a deep, authoritative make voice) has led to one of the largest networks of journalists in modern media.

  • Partnerships to Prevent Child Fatalities and Train the Workforce

    Next week, the Child Protection Training Academy will mark five years of operation on the University of Illinois Springfield campus.  In February 2016, the first group of newly hired DCFS child protection investigators came to campus to experience the recently launched simulation training model developed in partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  The tiny house on the UIS campus was transformed to become a cutting-edge training facility where DCFS investigators could interact with “family members” (Standardized Patient Actors from the SIU-School of Medicine) investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect in a realistic environment.  As a result of the pandemic, the Academy has become proficient in a virtual training format and continues to use technology in areas to improve the training.  The Academy is excited to think about the potential for improvement in critical thinking of all students, especially those who enter into the workforce to advocate for children.  Learning is often limited by thinking ideas are impossible; the Academy dares to achieve the impossible.

  • I Believe in Being 18

    Another ten area high school seniors have been selected by our community committee for the 2021 edition of This I Believe on NPR Illinois. That’s 150 students since the program started with the 2007 selected authors. The program continues to pull at your emotions and remind you of when you were about to enter the adult world.

  • ppsj primary jpeg

    Improving Public Safety in our Communities – Introducing the Project for Public Safety and Justice at UIS

    The mission of the Project for Public Safety and Justice (PPSJ) is to promote public safety as a philosophy and practice for all members of a community. It is through partnerships and community engagement; organizational change and transformation; innovative approaches and strong community based leadership combined with quality technical assistance and training that the essence of community policing is redefined and applied to enhance the quality of life across the United States.  PPSJ continues to play its roll in this endeavor by looking to the future in an effort to take good research and transform it into practical applications through national and local initiatives.