Austin Berg

Austin Berg

Austin Berg | Is this the most toxic tax in Illinois politics?

There is one product that, for a century, has towered above all others as a symbol of choice, control and personal freedom in America: the automobile.

There are more than 10 million registered vehicles in Illinois, according to the secretary of state's office.

One candidate for governor has ticked off a lot of their owners. And now he's trying to walk it all back.

Austin Berg | Who gets Madigan money ... and what it means for November

With election season upon us, one man's face will fill the mailboxes of Illinoisans more than any other. His visage will flash across screens constantly. Low voices will utter his name over radio waves.

Of course, I'm talking about the longest-serving state House speaker in American history, Mike Madigan.

Austin Berg | How Illinois could become country's craft-brewing capital

Illinois brewing is as old as the state itself. We're good at it. Three key ingredients — a major population center, access to gobs of fresh water and world-class agricultural aptitude — position the Land of Lincoln as a potential powerhouse in the industry.

Austin Berg | High property taxes: How did we get here?

Vicki McCarthy purchased her home in northern Illinois' Round Lake Beach in 2002, paying $195,000. She now pegs that home's value at around $180,000 and is staring at a property tax bill of nearly $8,000 a year.

Austin Berg | Settlement ends nightmare for Illinois families

  When do you leave your children alone?

It's a deeply personal decision that reflects family values, circumstance and a child's unique personality. But if state government gets involved in the wrong place at the wrong time, that decision can ruin parents' lives. And potentially their child's, too.

Austin Berg | Illinois' fireworks ban is still law of the land

"[T]hey can't have a first-rate Fourth without a little noise and nonsense."

That's what long-gone Chicago newspaper The Inter Ocean editorialized on July 4, 1877, writing about its paperboys and the city's ban on fireworks.

"They envy the country boys who have no ... city ordinance to prohibit them from having a jolly time."

Austin Berg | How an Illinois mom set stage for Janus ruling

Despite how monumental they often are, the Supreme Court releases its decisions with little fanfare.

They are announced in the mornings, with more frequency in June and mostly on Mondays. Typically, a few boxes of copies are released for reporters to grab, including bloggers from SCOTUSblog, who then scramble to post updates.

That's how the rest of the world finds out.

Austin Berg | Vague eavesdropping law leaves too much room for abuse

Paul Boron is 13 years old. He's facing a felony eavesdropping charge that could change the course of the rest of his life.

Boron's story stands as another chapter of controversy surrounding an eavesdropping law ripe for abuse, and state lawmakers should take action to fix it.

Austin Berg | State-government watchdogs are still far too tame

The #MeToo movement is bringing about needed scrutiny of state government's self-policing in Illinois. A couple changes have even been signed into law. But there is much more to be done.

In fact, recent reforms highlight remaining absurdities under the dome.