Statehouse

Statehouse
1:34 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Quinn: Pensions Before Tax Breaks For ADM, OfficeMax

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

When lawmakers return to Springfield for their fall session later this month, they'll be weighing requests from several international companies that want tax breaks for keeping their headquarters in Illinois. But Gov. Pat Quinn is throwing cold water on that idea.

Most of the tax-credit attention has gone to agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Company, which wants up to $24 million keep its global head office in Illinois. But lawmakers have also heard requests from Zurich Insurance, based in Schaumburg, and OfficeMax, based in Naperville, and there are others.

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Statehouse
1:01 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Governor Weighs In On Pension Talks

Gov. Pat Quinn says there are ``a lot of good ideas'' in a pension reform proposal, but he's stopping short of a full endorsement of the deal.
 
The Chicago Democrat says the 10-member legislative panel working on a $138.9 billion savings plan needs to get details finished on the legislation so
lawmakers can schedule a vote.
 
Quinn's says he's seen a number of the plan details and has been ``working back and forth'' with committee members.
 
Quinn's Friday remarks follow Senate President John Cullerton's public
endorsement of the plan.
 

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Statehouse
8:32 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Quinn: Wrong Time For Tax Breaks

Gov. Pat Quinn says he will veto any legislation with special tax breaks to get Archer Daniels Midland Company to keep its global headquarters in Illinois until lawmakers address the state's pension crisis.  
In an interview with The Associated Press, Quinn says it's ``the wrong time'' to talk about tax incentives for any company.  
The Chicago Democrat says the best thing the Legislature can do to help ADM or other businesses is address Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension shortfall. He wants lawmakers to act when they meet later this month.  

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Drilling Rules In Draft Stage
5:38 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

DNR Opens Fracking Registration

A coalition lobbying for a fracking moratorium protested Illinois' pending legislation during the 2013 General Assembly session.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois is a ways off from allowing oil and gas drillers to begin "fracking" but companies that are interested can begin the paperwork.

Environmentalists lost their fight to ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Lawmakers instead decided to open Illinois to a practice that's been an economic boon in other states.

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Statehouse
5:12 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Decatur Job Loss Part Of Negotiations On ADM Incentives

Senate President John Cullerton says any tax-incentive package to get Archer Daniels Midland Company to keep its headquarters in Illinois should include something to make up for the loss of jobs in Decatur.
 
ADM announced last week it was moving its global headquarters _ and 100 jobs _
out of Decatur. The company is asking the state for $20 million in tax breaks to
keep its headquarters in Illinois. Chicago officials have said the city is in
the running.
 
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/156Z8gp )

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Pensions
9:37 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Cullerton Backs Possible Pension Compromise

Sen. John Cullerton
Credit ilga.gov

The president of the Illinois Senate says he's backing a compromise pension reform plan that could save $138 billion by 2043.  
Chicago Democrat John Cullerton tells The (Springfield) State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/1btBYG2 ) that he's working to build support for the still-unfinished proposal being developed by a pension reform committee. Cullerton hopes lawmakers can begin to act on the plan during the upcoming Oct. 22 veto session.  

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Statehouse
6:07 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

State Failed To Keep Tabs On Decatur Murder Suspect

Credit flickr/katerha

Lawmakers say an early prison release law doesn't need changing despite a mistake in which a parolee now charged with murder was not properly monitored.
 
Joshua A. Jones was set free in May five months early. He was charged with a Decatur murder three months later.
Documents and Associated Press interviews show Jones was supposed to be electronically monitored but was not. State prison officials say an employee
faces discipline.

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Statehouse
5:26 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Health Alliance Not Selected For State Retiree Coverage

The state of Illinois has removed Health Alliance from its list of retiree health contracts, as of January 2014. 

Other carriers include Medicare Advantage plans with Aetna Life, Humana Health, Humana Benefit or United Healthcare.  The change could, in some cases, force patients to change doctors.  

Health Alliance Spokeswoman Jane Hayes says the insurer submitted a competitive bid, and can’t explain why it wasn’t included.

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Statehouse
5:16 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Quinn Asking Supreme Court To Back Him In Lawmaker Pay Dispute

Gov. Pat Quinn has asked the Illinois Supreme Court to hear his appeal of a ruling that his veto of money for lawmaker salaries was unconstitutional.  
Attorneys for Quinn filed a motion with the court Wednesday. They say the case deserves an ``expeditious and conclusive'' ruling by the state's highest court.  
Quinn vetoed money for paychecks in July because he was angry legislators hadn't addressed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.  
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, saying his action was unconstitutional.  

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Pensions And Pay
4:08 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Comptroller: All Legislative Paychecks Processed

  After going without pay for three months, Illinois legislators' paychecks are in the bank.

Serving as a state senator or representative is technically a part-time job -- and for some, it is. For others, it is a full-time gig and sole source of income.

Which made it tough when Gov. Pat Quinn canceled General Assembly members' pay over the summer because they failed to pass legislation to cut pension costs.

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ADM Leaving Decatur
5:32 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Senator: Decatur Unemployment Must Be Considered In ADM Tax Breaks

Credit ADM

As Archer Daniels Midland plans to move its headquarters out of Decatur, state lawmakers are considering whether to award tax breaks to keep the agribusiness giant in Illinois.

At a legislative hearing in Chicago, representatives of ADM told lawmakers they wanted incentives worth $1.2 million a year for up to 20 years. In return, the company would keep its headquarters in Illinois, likely in Chicago.

One lawmakers says it's "essentially blackmailing the state."

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Statehouse
1:43 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Durkin Doubtful Pension Changes Will Happen This Fall

Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs)
Credit ilga.gov

The newest leader in state government says he doubts pension reform will become reality during the upcoming fall veto session. Republican House Minority Leader Jim Durkin says it's not right to vote for something that's close to ideal just because there is fatigue surrounding the issue.

"The issue needs to be done, but we need to do it right," Durkin said. "But I am not going to just wave the white flag out of expediency because people have been worn down or they're tired of the issue and want to get it off their plates."

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Federal Budget
9:12 am
Tue October 1, 2013

U.S. Attorney: Shutdown 'Quite Disruptive'

U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis, of the Central District of Illinois, is seen in this August 2013 file photo.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

The federal government shutdown means public servants across Illinois will be sent home today.

At times like these, National Parks are considered a luxury, so Springfield's Lincoln Home National Historic Site would be closed. But air traffic control and weather forecasting are considered critical, so they'd keep going.

Public safety jobs are supposed to be exempt, too. But U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis, the top federal prosecutor for Central Illinois, says he'll have to send a quarter of his attorneys home and a majority of the support staff.

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Statehouse
5:44 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Federal Shutdown Could Impact Some State Employees

Credit flickr

A budget director for Gov. Pat Quinn says if the federal government shutdown proceeds, Illinois employees paid by federal funds could face temporary layoffs as early as Wednesday.  
The budget office had no estimates Monday for how many employees would be affected.  
Abdon Pallasch is Quinn's assistant budget director. In a statement, he says that the timing of the layoffs would depend on existing resources and individual agencies. Agencies that could be affected include Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Veterans Affairs and Military Affairs.  

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Statehouse
5:25 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Corrections Worker Headed To Prison For Stealing From Memorial Fund

A former Illinois Department of Corrections accounting employee will serve 21 months in federal prison after admitting to embezzling more than $50,000 from a fund meant to benefit prison workers killed in the line of duty.  
U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough sentenced 47-year-old Mary Ann Bohlen on Monday.  
Myerscough also ordered the Edinburg resident to pay nearly $24,000 to the Illinois Correctional Employees Memorial Association and $27,000 to the state corrections agency.  

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Budget Fight
4:14 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Lincoln Home Would Be Closed By Federal Shutdown

The Lincoln Home in Springfield would be closed if the federal government shuts down Monday night. The majority of National Park Service employees have been deemed non-essential, meaning they’d be sent home without pay.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The historic home of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield would be among the victims of a federal shutdown Monday night.

During a shutdown, the federal government makes all kinds of decisions about what's considered an essential government function.

Air traffic control and National Weather Service forecasts are essential. National parks are not. Which is why the Lincoln Home National Historic Site is on the block.

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Concealed Carry Law
7:19 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Gun Permit Numbers Update

Credit Source: http://www.adamsguns.com

The Illinois State Police continues to struggle with a backlog of applications for gun ownership. So it remains to be seen how they can handle an influx of requests for permits to carry concealed weapons.

The department has 49,000 applications for Firearm Owners Identification cards awaiting approval.

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Statehouse
3:36 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Reaction To Illinois Same Sex Marriage Ruling

Attorneys for both sides are reacting to an Illinois judge's decision that a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage can continue.  

Camilla Taylor is an attorney with Lambda Legal, representing 25 couples who filed for marriage licenses in Cook County and were denied. Taylor said after Friday's ruling in Chicago that it will be ``a very bad day for the defendants'' when the case is decided.  

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Salary Veto
3:32 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Court Rejects Latest Quinn Effort To Withhold Lawmakers' Pay

Gov. Pat Quinn

A state appellate court has denied Gov. Pat Quinn's request to withhold lawmakers' pay while he appeals a ruling that his veto of legislative salaries was unconstitutional.
 
Quinn vetoed $13.1 million for lawmaker pay in July as a consequence of the Legislature not addressing Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension shortfall.
 
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, saying the veto was unconstitutional.
 

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State Week
1:25 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Listen To State Week - September 27, 2013

This week's topics include a court decision preventing Governor Quinn from blocking Illinois lawmakers' pay, the Illinois Democratic Party's official endorsement of Pat Quinn in the next gubernatorial race, and new reports indicating that conditions in the state's juvenile detention facilities are not improving.

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Statehouse
6:18 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Judge To Rule On Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit

Circuit Judge Sophia Hall
Credit Powell Photography, Inc.

An Illinois judge promises to rule on the future of a lawsuit seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

The lawsuit was filed last year by 25 gay and lesbian couples who want the right to marry.

Cook County Judge Sophia Hall is expected to rule Friday on a motion to dismiss the case.

Lawyers for five downstate county clerks who are defending the ban want the case tossed.  Plaintiffs' attorneys want the judge to let the lawsuit stand - then rule immediately that they won the lawsuit and that the ban is illegal.

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Salary Veto
1:34 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Quinn Continues Fight To Block Pay

Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A judge says Governor Pat Quinn went too far this summer when he blocked paychecks for Illinois lawmakers.

Members of the General Assembly have missed two paydays so far, and it's not clear when they'll get their money. The governor stands by his actions, saying it's his best option for cajoling the General Assembly into overhauling the state's pension systems. Quinn says he plans to appeal.

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Breaking
3:02 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Judge: Gov. Quinn Must Pay Lawmakers

Gov. Pat Quinn's veto of lawmakers salaries has been ruled unconstitutional.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A Cook County judge has ruled that Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to halt lawmaker pay over the pension crisis is unconstitutional and has ordered Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to pay them immediately.

Judge Neil Cohen made the ruling Thursday.

He says the state Constitution makes it clear that lawmakers' pay can't be changed while serving they're serving their terms.

Quinn used his line-item veto to cut money for legislators' salaries from the state budget because they hadn't fixed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

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Pension Overhaul
6:46 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Pension Conference Committee Progress Report

Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville (left) and Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, discuss estimated savings of a previous plan designed to cut the state's pension costs.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

It is approaching four months since the Illinois General Assembly adjourned its spring session. Lawmakers have missed two paychecks since the governor decided to punish them for not passing a pension overhaul. And a special committee has been negotiating over how to solve the pension problem for more than 12 weeks. Amanda Vinicky checks in with members of that committee for a progress report.
 

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Statehouse
7:30 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Same Sex Marriage Activists Target House Republicans

Greg Harris, IL State Rep. sponsoring same-sex marriage legislation
Credit AP

 A bill to legalize gay marriage in Illinois will be waiting for lawmakers when they head back to Springfield next month. The bill already passed the State Senate - but is stuck in the House. Now, proponents are in the midst of a lobbying campaign targeted at an unlikely group of lawmakers: House Republicans. But as WBEZ’s Alex Keefe reports, there are big hurdles to getting GOP representatives to vote yes:  

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Statehouse
6:33 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Metra Panel To Meet In Chicago

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

A state panel charged with coming up with reforms for Metra and other Illinois public transit agencies is set to have a second public hearing.
 
The Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force meets Wednesday in downtown Chicago.
 
Gov. Pat Quinn formed the group in August after allegations about political hiring at Metra. He's called for an overhaul of the commuter rail agency, PACE and other transit agencies.
 

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Statehouse
2:49 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Durkin Begins Work As Illinois House GOP Leader

Rep. Jim Durkin
Credit ilga.gov

State Rep. Jim Durkin is officially beginning his tenure as Republican leader in the Illinois House.  
The Western Springs lawmaker was elected to the post last month but officially takes the reins Monday.  
His predecessor, state Rep. Tom Cross of Oswego, stepped down to run for state treasurer. Cross held the position for a decade.  

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Election 2014
9:31 pm
Sun September 22, 2013

With No Competition, Dems Endorse Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn addresses Democratic Party leaders Sunday in Springfield. Although he’s running unopposed in next year’s primary, he sought and won the official Democratic endorsement for re-election.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Many of Illinois' top Democrats met in Springfield Sunday to pick a slate of statewide candidates. Although several politicians had considered challenging Gov. Pat Quinn in next year's primary, they all backed off by the time of Sunday's meeting.

From the tone at Sunday's meeting, you'd never know a week before, Quinn was facing a tough primary fight. But then Bill Daley dropped out.

You'd also never know Quinn has spent months berating state lawmakers over guns and pensions.

You'd never know it because Quinn was unanimously endorsed for re-election.

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Statehouse
5:34 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Judge Delays Decision On Lawmaker Paycheck Dispute

A Cook County Circuit Court judge says he will rule next month on a lawsuit challenging Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to halt lawmaker pay until they address Illinois' pension crisis.  
Judge Neil Cohen said Wednesday he would issue his decision by Sept. 26. But on Friday, Cohen said he'll rule no later than Oct. 3.  
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued Quinn after the governor used his line-item veto to cut money for legislator salaries from the state budget. The legislative leaders say Quinn's action is unconstitutional.  

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Congressman Convicted
3:34 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Jackson Jr. Auction On Hold Over Authenticity Issues

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
Credit Congressional website

The U.S. Marshals service is suspending a high-profile auction of clothing and memorabilia belonging to convicted former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. because of questions about the authenticity of some items.  
The agency said Friday that it was scrapping the online auction because of questions about a guitar purportedly signed by Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen.  
The service says it will ``conduct a secondary review'' of the items out of ``an abundance of caution.''  

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