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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Legislation that would dramatically change the way schools are funded in Illinois for the first time since 1997 is advancing in the Illinois Legislature.
 
The legislation is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill. It would streamline the state's school funding formula by requiring districts to demonstrate need before receiving money.
 
The current method factors in a district's poverty for some types of state aid but not others.
 
Manar says the bill creates equity between districts that have rich property tax bases and poorer districts.
 
But Republican critics say they want more details before signing on to the proposal.
 
A subcommittee in the state Senate passed the measure on Tuesday. The legislation faces another vote by a Senate committee before it heads to the full chamber.
Published in Local News
Monday, 17 February 2014 07:13

Illinois Senators consider car smoking ban

   Illinois lawmakers are considering a measure that would make it illegal for adults to smoke in a motor vehicle if there are children present.  Officials with the American Lung Association say they support the measure as a way to educate parents about the dangers of second-hand smoke to their child.  

   Senate bill 2659 would make it illegal to smoke with a minor in the vehicle.  Violators would face a one-hundred-dollar fine, but police wouldn't be able to pull drivers over just for violate the smoking ban.  

   Fourteen other states are considering similar measures.  Five states, including Arkansas and Louisiana have already made smoke-free cars the law.

Published in Local News
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 09:17

Illinois State Senator supports Sunday car sales

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -  An Illinois state senator says he wants to end a long-standing ban on Sunday automobile sales.

Sugar Grove Republican Jim Oberweis tells the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers that he wants to introduce legislation next year allowing Sunday vehicle sales.

The law requiring dealerships to close on Sundays went into effect in 1983. It was supported by car sellers, who said it would cut overhead, level the playing field and give employees a day off.

Violators can face a $1,500 fine.  Oberweis says the policy is "anti-consumer," and adds "it doesn't make a lot of sense."  But the president of Illinois Automobile Dealers Association says "the majority" of the industry wants the law to remain on the books.

 

 

Published in Local News

   CHICAGO (AP) - Gay marriage supporters are launching a $2 million statewide campaign to approve same-sex marriage in Illinois.

   Illinois Unites for Marriage is a coalition representing gay rights, civil rights and political groups.

   In a statement Tuesday, the group says it will place 15 field organizers throughout the state to engage supporters. They plan to target legislators who oppose a measure to lift Illinois' ban on same-sex marriage.

   The Illinois Senate passed the bill in February. It wasn't called for a vote in the House because the bill's sponsor said it didn't have the votes to pass.

   Jim Bennett is chairman of the coalition. He says the next few months are critical because lawmakers could take up the bill in the fall.

   Opponents say marriage should be between a man and woman.

 

 
Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers have overridden Gov. Pat Quinn's veto of legislation that addresses so-called Smart Grid technology.

   The Illinois House voted Wednesday to again approve the legislation, a day after the Senate approved it for a second time. Quinn vetoed it May 6, saying the proposal weakened oversight and forced automatic rate hikes.

   ComEd and Ameren pushed the bill to clarify legislation allowing the utilities to raise rates to fund the high-tech system. But the Illinois Commerce Commission and both utilities disagreed over implementation. ComEd filed an appeal over technical matters and faces a lawsuit over installation delays.

   ComEd says with the new law the average residential customer will pay 40 cents more a month starting in 2014 and 80 cents more in 2017.

 

Published in Local News
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 03:16

IL Senate overrides `Smart Grid' veto

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Senate has again approved a plan to address so-called Smart Grid technology over the objection of Gov. Pat Quinn.

   Senators voted 44-11 Tuesday to override Quinn's veto earlier this month. Quinn claimed the bill undermined oversight and would force automatic rate hikes.

   Senate President John Cullerton disputed those claims. A three-fifths majority was needed. It now heads to the House.

   ComEd pushed the bill as a way to clarify 2011 legislation allowing utilities to raise rates to fund a high-tech system. But executing it has been tricky.

   The Illinois Commerce Commission and ComEd disagreed over implementation. ComEd filed a court appeal over technical matters and faces a class-action lawsuit over installation delays.

   The proposal clarifies some of those issues and hastens installation.

 
Published in Local News

   The full Illinois Senate will consider a bill that would legalize medical marijuana. The Senate Executive Committee voted Wednesday to approve the proposal.

   The measure allows physicians to prescribe limited amounts of marijuana to patients who have been diagnosed with certain medical conditions.  Under the bill, patients who use the drug would automatically consent to sobriety fields test should a police officer suspect they were driving under the influence of the drug.  

   Supporters say marijuana can relieve continual pain without causing the harmful side effects of some prescription drugs.

Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois union leaders are encouraging lawmakers to support a pension reform proposal that they recently agreed on with the state's Senate president.

   A coalition of unions announced Monday that it reached an agreement with Senate President John Cullerton on a possible solution to the state's $97 billion pension crisis.

   Michael Carrigan is the president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. He says the group is trying to ensure fairness for public employees and retirees. The union-backed measure gives workers and retirees a choice of benefit packages.

   Carrigan says the group is asking legislators to oppose a solution that House Speaker Michael Madigan backs. Madigan's plan calls for higher pension contributions from employees and limits on how much in pension benefits retirees may collect.

 
Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton says he will keep working to pass a pension reform bill he believes can survive a court challenge.

   Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton and fellow Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan have "the same goal but different approaches" to solving Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

   Madigan filed his pension plan on Tuesday. It caps the salary on which a pension can be based at $110,000 and limits annual cost-of-living increases.

   Madigan's legislation also removes language from a plan backed by Cullerton that got Senate approval last month. Cullerton's plan offers affected state-government employees and teachers a choice of benefits instead of unilaterally cutting them.

   Cullerton believes the state must give retirees a choice in benefits in order for the legislation to be considered constitutional.

Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Senate has approved on a second vote Senate President John Cullerton's proposal overhauling teacher pensions.

Minutes earlier senators rejected the plan; it was shy one vote to pass. Cullerton used a parliamentary procedure to recall the bill. The second vote yesterday was 30-22.

Cullerton's amended plan addresses the Teachers' Retirement System and is estimated to save up to $40 billion over the next 30 years. It also offers employees a choice on whether they want retirement health care or reduced annual cost-of-living increases.

Opponents say the plan doesn't go far enough in addressing Illinois' pension crisis. Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability.

Earlier in the day senators rejected a total overhaul sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss.
Published in Local News
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