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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A key Illinois House committee has advanced legislation to add five new casinos and scores of slot machines. But the sponsor is working on rewriting language on tax rates and oversight of a Chicago casino before the full House takes a vote.

Governor Pat Quinn has vetoed two earlier measures to expand gambling.

 

Published in Local News

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois judge whose colleague died of a cocaine overdose while the two were on a hunting trip is stepping down from the bench as he defends himself against federal heroin and gun charges.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook resigned Wednesday through his attorney by letter to the chief judge, John Baricevic. Baricevic says the letter is brief and doesn't offer a reason for Cook's departure.

Cook was charged last Friday with possessing heroin and having a gun while illegally using controlled substances. He's pleaded not guilty.

The Illinois Supreme Court now must pick Cook's replacement.

A fellow judge, Joe Christ, died of a cocaine overdose in March while with Cook at the Cook family's hunting cabin in western Illinois' Pike County. That probe continues.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  • The Illinois Senate Executive Committee defeated legislation allowing the public possession of firearms, a bill that just last week passed the House 85-30.

The Democratic-controlled committee voted 6-8 on Tuesday. Opponents objected to the plan sponsored by Democratic Sen. Gary Forby of Benton, saying it'd curb all local firearms ordinances.

Committee Chairman Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, says such pre-emption is "a bridge too far."

The committee's taking up a Democratic measure that leaves local firearms regulations in place — city ordinances such as Chicago's assault-weapons ban.

 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Senate Democrats are crafting concealed carry legislation that doesn't also curb local firearms laws and toughens alcohol-related prohibitions.

Senate President John Cullerton's office says the measure will leave local firearms regulations in place. A plan the House adopted last week allowing the carrying of concealed guns would invalidate city ordinances like Chicago's assault-weapons ban.

The Senate Executive Committee will hear the plan Tuesday morning.

The proposal sponsored by Chicago Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul would also prohibit firearms in businesses that serve alcohol. The House plan would nix toting guns only if liquor sales are more than half of the establishment's gross revenue.

The Raoul plan would make penalties for carrying under the influence of alcohol tougher too.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn is lashing out at lawmakers after the Illinois House approved a concealed carry bill that he says "puts public safety at risk."

Quinn says he opposes the plan because it would wipe out local gun ordinances - including Chicago's ban on assault weapons. Quinn issued a statement minutes after the House passed the bill on Friday.

He says that Chicago and other local communities should be able to keep their gun-control ordinances on the books.

Quinn is vowing to do all he can to prevent the bill from passing in the Illinois Senate.

Illinois is the last state in the nation that bans concealed weapons, and the bill comes after a federal appeals court ordered lawmakers to pass a concealed carry law by June 9.

 
Published in Local News

An Illinois judge whose colleague died of a cocaine overdose while the two were on a hunting trip together has been charged with possession of heroin and guns.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook pleaded not guilty during a court appearance Friday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis. KSDK reports he wore a t-shirt that read "Bad is my middle name" to today's hearing. Authorities say Cook and fellow judge Joe Christ were staying at the Cook family's hunting lodge in western Illinois' Pike County in March when Christ was found dead.

A coroner said Friday that Christ died of a cocaine overdose. Cook has not been charged in Christ's death.

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House has approved a plan to allow qualified gun owners to carry their weapons in public.

Illinois is the only state in the country without a concealed-carry law. A federal appeals court says that's unconstitutional and has ordered the state to enact such a law by June 9.

The proposal adopted today was brokered by state House Speaker Michael Madigan, but it's opposed by several of his fellow Democrats, including the governor.

Gov. Pat Quinn's office has called the plan a "massive overreach" because it would wipe out all local gun regulations, including Chicago's ban on assault-style weapons. That's a deal-breaker for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who backs tough restrictions to curb the city's gun violence. Quinn says he'll work with the state Senate to "stop it in its tracks."

Senate President John Cullerton, another Chicago Democrat, also opposes the measure.

Published in Local News

   The Illinois State Board of Education has released the state's first set of math courses under the new common core standards.  

   Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon and the board announced the curriculum for 6th through 12th grade classes on Thursday.  The package of coursework is aimed at reducing remedial math needs for college-bound students and better preparing students for the workforce.  

   State officials say the new courses will be available this fall and teachers can adapt the units as needed. 

   Missouri education officials have also signed on to the common core standards, Republican state lawmakers want to rescind that decision.

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Senate has approved a measure that would create a state-governed "insurance exchange" so individuals and small businesses can shop for health care coverage as required by President Obama's health law.

Lawmakers voted Thursday 37-19 to send the House a bill establishing the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace.

The exchange will guide people through the purchase of health and dental plans. It will also help qualified businesses enroll employees in health insurance plans.

The Affordable Care Act requires that nearly all Americans have health insurance beginning in 2014 or pay a penalty. New marketplaces are scheduled to be operating by October.

Illinois will begin an exchange this year through a federal partnership. Gov. Pat Quinn hopes to establish a state-run marketplace for 2015.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois legislation allowing public possession of concealed guns has passed the House Judiciary Committee. It was a compromise backed by Speaker Michael Madigan.

The measure was endorsed Thursday 13-3 and goes to the full House Friday. It comes two weeks before a June 9 deadline set by a federal appeals court for Illinois to abandon its prohibition on the public possession of weapons.

The legislation would require the Illinois State Police to issue concealed carry permits to qualified gun owners. It's patterned on a bill introduced by gun-rights advocate Rep. Brandon Phelps, a southern Illinois Democrat.

But Madigan's version significantly adds places that would be off limits to guns. Those include mass transit - a must for violence-weary Chicago Democrats.

 
Published in Local News

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