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CHICAGO (AP) - A Cook County judge is hearing arguments on whether to dismiss a case challenging Illinois' ban on same-sex marriage.

The lawsuit being heard Tuesday before Circuit Judge Sophia Hall involves 25 couples who filed for marriage licenses in Cook County and were denied.

However, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has refused to defend the state's ban, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. She says it violates the state constitution's equal protection clause. Attorney General Lisa Madigan has argued against the ban because the case brings the constitutionality of state laws into question.

Clerks from downstate were allowed to intervene and defend the ban.

Illinois approved civil unions in 2011, but attempts to legalize gay marriage have stalled.

 

Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - A Chicago federal appeals court isn't letting Illinoisans immediately tote firearms in public under the state's fledging concealed-carry law, but says it will give the matter a speedy review.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week turned down the emergency injunction request by gun-rights advocates who wanted Illinois gun owners to be able carry concealed weapons now instead of waiting months for the permitting process to be set up.

Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association say the wait is unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The 7th Circuit will hear the case, but hasn't scheduled arguments.

The Illinois Legislature passed the last-in-the-nation concealed carry law July 9 against the governor's objections. Illinois State Police have 180 days to set up the process and another 90 days to process applications.

Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois is reporting one new case of a rare stomach illness, bringing the total number of cases in the state to five.

Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold says health officials are still investigating the source of the bug and have been unable to link the illness to any food source.

An outbreak of the same infection in Iowa and Nebraska has been tied to salad mix supplied by a Mexican farm.

In Illinois, none of the people infected has required hospitalization. The cases of cyclosporiasis were reported in Montgomery, Jo Daviess, Lake, Sangamon and McHenry counties.

The most recently reported case is in McHenry County. That person got sick the third week of July.

Health officials believe the Sangamon County patient acquired the infection in Iowa.

 
Published in Local News

CAHOKIA, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois lawmaker wants to change the state's new concealed-carry law to ban guns in places of worship.

The law bars concealed weapons from schools, courthouses, government buildings, libraries and public transit. But churches, mosques and synagogues must to post signs if they don't want people carrying guns onto the property.

Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge has introduced an amendment to change that, saying houses of worship "should be off-limits."

Pastor Charles Burton of Unity Fellowship Church in Godfrey supports the amendment, saying he refuses "to be governed by fear." But Pastor Cory Respondek of Living Water Church in Cahokia says churches should be able to decide for themselves.

The law was passed July 9 to comply with a federal appeals court ruling striking down Illinois' last-in-the-nation ban.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois' 177 lawmakers won't be getting paid as scheduled Thursday unless a court intervenes.

The pay stoppage is Gov. Pat Quinn's punishment for inaction on pension reform. Legislative leaders are suing Quinn over the move. They're asking a Cook County judge to issue an emergency injunction.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says her office can't issue the checks because the salaries were in a budget bill. The governor did not eliminate his own salary, but asked for the comptroller to withhold his check. Topinka's office says he can restart his pay any time.

Members of the bipartisan pension committee say they are several weeks away from presenting a plan. Committee members say they are waiting on savings estimates as they prepare a proposal touted by several of the state's university presidents.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Renovations are underway at the Illinois governor's mansion, even though the 158-year-old home hasn't been used much during the past two administrations.

Lee Enterprises newspapers' Springfield bureau reports the state's awarded almost $339,000 for three contracts on work to the 16-room Georgian-styled home.

Contractors are spending the summer replacing climate-control systems and an emergency generator at the Springfield manor.

The home hasn't undergone a major renovation since 1971.

The property's been mostly unoccupied for the past two administrators. Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his family continued to live in Chicago and Gov. Pat Quinn said he'd live in the property, but the newspaper says he spends most nights in Chicago.

The work is paid for by liquor taxes, license plate fees and video gaming proceeds.

 

Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley is making his Illinois gubernatorial bid official.

He's set to remove his "exploratory committee" label Tuesday by filing paperwork with the Illinois Board of Elections. So far, he's Gov. Pat Quinn's only 2014 Democratic primary challenger.

In a video on his campaign website, Daley says the fact that the state Legislature adjourned in May without finding a solution to the pension crisis or voting on same-sex marriage represents a "dysfunction."

He says he's running because of the positive response he's received and he'll work seven days a week.

The brother and son of two longtime Chicago mayors formed his exploratory committee last month, but has already been acting like a candidate. He's stepped out to criticize Quinn's leadership and made statewide tours.

Published in Local News

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois judge who resigned after being accused of federal gun and drug charges has agreed to have his law license suspended.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the Illinois Supreme Court this month approved of the action against former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook. He was involved in a scandal involving another judge's cocaine death.

The suspension order states Cook was charged with a crime involving moral turpitude. It says he signed an affidavit voluntarily giving up his law license on an interim basis.

Cook has pleaded not guilty to charges he possessed heroin and had a gun while illegally using controlled substances.

Investigators say Cook was at a western Illinois hunting lodge in March with prosecutor-turned-judge Joe Christ when Christ died from a cocaine overdose.

 

Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A federal judge is rejecting a legal bid by gun-rights advocates who wanted people to be able to immediately carry firearms in Illinois under the state's new concealed carry law.

East St. Louis U.S. District Judge William Stiehl threw out the lawsuit filed by Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association, siding with the state and saying the legal action is moot.

Shepard and the rifle group had argued it was unconstitutional to make people wait for the permit process to be outlined under the new concealed carry law that lawmakers passed July 9.

Illinois was the last state in the nation to ban the practice.

Illinois State Police have 180 days to set up a program before accepting applications, plus another 90 days to process the forms.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn is making a series of stops in central Illinois.

Monday's visits mark the second round of trips the governor's made to the region following criticism that his frequent Chicago focus might draw a downstate challenger in the 2014 Democratic primary.

Quinn started the day welcoming the Stanley Cup to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum before heading to Bradley University in Peoria, where he announced a construction grant. Quinn is also scheduled to spend time talking about the construction grant Augustana College in Rock Island before going to Rockford, where he's expected to talk about a clean water initiative.

Quinn is facing a primary challenge from fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley.

Quinn's spokeswoman has said the governor was previously tied up in Springfield because of pension reform.

 
Published in Local News

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