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CHICAGO (AP) - Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan are trying to speed up the resolution of a lawsuit they filed against Gov. Pat Quinn over his decision to cut lawmakers' pay.

A spokeswoman for Cullerton says the two leaders are asking a Cook County Circuit judge to rule on the merits of the case following Sept. 18 oral arguments, rather than just on a motion for a preliminary injunction.

Quinn cut $13.8 million for legislative salaries from the state budget as a consequence for lawmakers' failure to address Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

Madigan and Cullerton say the line-item veto is unconstitutional and violates the separation of powers.

Lawmakers, who already missed their August paycheck, would miss another one before the motion would be decided.

 

Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) - An Illinois appeals court has thrown out 31 convictions involving a woman who drunkenly caused a 2009 wreck that killed four people, although the panel let stand a 20-year prison sentence the woman said was excessive.

On Wednesday, the Mount Vernon, Ill.-based 5th District Appellate Court threw out all but one of Melissa Weiser's 32 convictions for felony aggravated driving under the influence, ruling them redundant even though the former East Carondolet woman pleaded guilty to the charges.

The 31-year-old unsuccessfully pressed to have her 20-year prison sentence reduced in connection with the Clinton County wreck that killed her fiance and three occupants of the another vehicle on Memorial Day weekend in 2009.

Weiser admitted she had been drinking and had smoked marijuana before the accident.

 

Published in Local News

   An 82 year old Alton woman who's been missing since Monday morning has been found alive.  

   Madison County authorities say horseback riders found Shirley Plunk Wednesday evening.  She and her minivan were stuck in the mud at the end of a dirt road in Mitchell, Illinois.  

   Plunk told police the van got stuck Monday afternoon.  She got out, slipped in the mud and became stuck herself.  

   Plunk was taken to a local hospital for evaluation and reunited with her family.  

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois' auditor has found that the state's prison systems have lost 240 computers.

Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland released the audits on Tuesday. Lee Enterprises newspapers reports the audits found 156 computers were unaccounted for at the Illinois Department of Corrections and 84 computers were lost at the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.

Holland called the losses problematic because it increases the risk of exposing confidential information. Corrections and Juvenile Justice officials told auditors they would investigate the missing computers.

In June the auditor found more than 250 computers unaccounted for at Southern Illinois University.

State officials estimate the value of the missing SIU and prison computers at $639,000.

 
Published in Local News

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

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