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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Senate has passed a historic immigration bill. The vote on the bipartisan measure -- crafted by a group of lawmakers known as the Gang of Eight, was 68-32. It now goes to the House.

The legislation offers the hope of American citizenship to millions, while promising a military-style surge to secure the border.

The vote was far more than the majority needed to send the measure to the House. Prospects there are not nearly as good and many conservatives are opposed.

Vice President Joe Biden presided, and senators cast their votes from their desks, both steps reserved for momentous votes. The bill, a priority for President Barack Obama, would amount to the most sweeping changes in decades to the nation's immigration laws.

Published in National News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The chairman of the Republican Party in Montgomery County has resigned after writing what's been called a racist and sexist email about U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis' primary challenger.

Illinois Republican Party chairman Jack Dorgan says he accepted Jim Allen's resignation on Thursday afternoon. Allen wrote an email Tuesday suggesting Erika Harold could fill a "minority quota" if she lost the Republican primary. The biracial Harvard law school graduate was crowned Miss America in 2003 and launched her bid to challenge Davis this month.

During a conference call Thursday, Davis said Allen should step down from the county post. That call was echoed by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who said Allen should apologize to Harold and resign.

Allen's name already was removed from a list of Davis supporters.

 

Published in Local News

   WASHINGTON (AP) — Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann says she will not run for another term in the U.S. House.

   The tea party favorite, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination last year, announced her decision on her website this morning.

   Bachmann says her decision not to run again in 2014 was "not influenced by any concerns about ... being re-elected."

   She also says recent inquiries into her 2012 presidential campaign did not affect her decision.

   Bachmann promises to "continue to work overtime for the next 18 months in Congress defending ... Constitutional Conservative values."

Published in National News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Some adoption advocates say Gov. Jay Nixon should veto new Missouri legislation dealing with international law because it could complicate overseas adoptions.

The legislation would make court rulings unenforceable if they use rulings or decisions based upon foreign laws that are inconsistent with the state and U.S. constitutions.

The Jefferson City News Tribune reports adoption advocates are concerned about the measure. Lutheran Family and Children's Services said it could mean Missouri would not recognize an adoption decree that is completed in the child's birth country.

Sen. Brian Nieves says people opposed to the legislation are using "dishonest tactics." Nieves, a Republican from Washington, Mo., says many critics have ignored that the legislation targets foreign laws inconsistent with the constitution.

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Senate has approved a plan that would ban the use of cell phones while driving.

Senators voted 34-20 Thursday, sending the bill to Gov. Pat Quinn. His spokeswoman didn't immediately return a message seeking comment. The House approved it in March.

The proposal says drivers have to use hands-free devices or use speakerphone features for calls.

Police would be able to ticket drivers holding a cell phone except during emergency situations. Roughly 75 Illinois communities, including Chicago, already ban talking on cell phones while driving.

Bill sponsor Sen. John Mulroe says the bill makes roads safer.

Opponents say the bill is unfair to individual rights and for those who can't afford high-tech phones.

Texting while driving is already illegal in Illinois.

 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's legislative session is over, but the work may continue for some lawmakers.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey says he is considering appointing at least three committees to study issues before the 2014 session.

A joint panel of Senate and House members could look into potential changes to the Medicaid health care program for the poor.

Another committee could study potential projects to be included in a bonding proposal that would be put before voters.

Dempsey said an interim committee also could look into changes to the state's regional solid waste management districts.

All of those committees would be continuing work on measures that failed to pass during the legislative session that ended Friday.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's legislative session is over, but the work may continue for some lawmakers.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey says he is considering appointing at least three committees to study issues before the 2014 session.

A joint panel of Senate and House members could look into potential changes to the Medicaid health care program for the poor.

Another committee could study potential projects to be included in a bonding proposal that would be put before voters.

Dempsey said an interim committee also could look into changes to the state's regional solid waste management districts.

All of those committees would be continuing work on measures that failed to pass during the legislative session that ended Friday.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have given final approval to legislation replenishing an insolvent state fund for disabled workers and changing the way people get compensation for job-related illnesses.

The bill sent to the governor Thursday marks a compromise among some business groups and attorneys who represent injured workers.

The bill temporarily doubles the surcharge paid by businesses to finance a depleted state fund for disabled workers who suffer additional job-related injuries. Payments from the Second Injury Fund have been delayed to more than 1,000 people because of a shortfall.

The legislation also places occupational diseases under the umbrella of the workers' compensation system and provides enhanced payments for people suffering from asbestos-induced cancer. Recent court rulings had allowed claims for job-related illnesses to be pursed in the courts.

 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois concealed carry legislation that requires special permission to have a gun in Chicago is scheduled for a Senate committee vote.

The Senate Executive Committee will hear Sen. Kwame Raoul's proposal to comply with a federal appeals court ruling. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that Illinois' ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional and gave lawmakers until June 9 to rectify the problem.

Raoul's measure would allow gun owners to apply to the Illinois State Police for a permit. They would need training and to clear a background check.

But those wanting to carry a gun in Chicago would also need permission from city police. The National Rifle Association opposes such an "endorsement."

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers have one week to sort out differences on top legislative priorities, including changes to tax incentives and limits on liability lawsuits for businesses.

House and Senate Republican leaders are attempting to negotiate legislation that would scale back existing tax breaks for historic buildings and low-income housing and create new incentives for certain businesses.

Lawmakers also are working to bridge a gap in on legislation that would replenish an insolvent fund for injured workers and prevent lawsuits over occupational diseases by covering them through the workers' compensation system.

Some priorities already have been sent to the governor, including an income tax cut for individuals and businesses and a $25 billion operating budget.

Published in Local News

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