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Thursday, 05 December 2013 15:19

Illinois lawmakers do not pass tax incentives

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois has taken a giant step toward fixing its biggest financial problem by approving a major pension overhaul this week. But lawmakers' inaction on tax incentives aimed at keeping companies in Illinois has triggered new concerns about the state's business climate.

The Senate and a House committee considered legislation giving tax breaks to Archer Daniels Midland Company, chemical distributor Univar and newly-merged OfficeMax and Office Depot. But the House adjourned after the pension vote, essentially pushing the issue into 2014.

The slow action, at least in the business world, could mean other states with interest in taking Illinois jobs have more of a chance to swoop in.

Still, lawmakers say they had no other choice. Their first priority was approving a plan aimed at fixing Illinois' $100 billion pension crisis.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois lawmaker is engaged to his partner just hours after the state Legislature approved same-sex marriage legislation.

State Rep. Sam Yingling of Round Lake Beach proposed to his partner during a celebration Tuesday at the Governor's Mansion. The couple has been together three years and has three children.

Yingling tells The Associated Press they'll get a marriage license as soon as the law goes into effect in June.

The Democrat says he's been carrying a ring back and forth to Springfield for about a year, waiting for the chance to propose.

He says the two grew up in Illinois and wanted to get married in their home state.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll the bill this month. Illinois will become the 15th state to allow gay marriage.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House has approved legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state.

The vote 61-54 vote sends the measure back to the Senate for minor changes to a version it approved on Valentine's Day. Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll sign it.

Fourteen states plus Washington D.C., allow same-sex marriage. Most recently, New Jersey, Minnesota and Rhode Island have allowed it.

The historic vote in Illinois came after months of arduous lobbying by gay-rights advocates, but the bill was never called for a House vote earlier this year because the sponsor said there weren't enough votes. Proponents say momentum had been building, especially as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Opponents say marriage should remain between a man and woman.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's Republican House leader wants a legislative hearing on allegations of a hostile workplace in parts of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's administration.

House Speaker Tim Jones said Friday that he has asked the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee to convene a hearing on the issue. That comes after former employees in the departments of agriculture and labor recently went public with assertions of intimidation and discrimination by former department directors.

Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said Friday that the administration tries to foster a workforce that is "professional in demeanor and inclusive in its composition."

Republican House member Jay Barnes, of Jefferson City, is chairman of the oversight committee. He says the hearing will focus on whether Nixon's office is diligently vetting applicants before making appointments to key positions.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Senate leader has put forth a new, pared-back proposal dealing with the enforcement of federal gun control laws.

Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard released a draft Thursday of proposed legislation for the 2014 session seeking to nullify federal gun control laws that infringe on Second Amendment rights.

The new proposal comes about seven weeks after Richard and Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey voted against an attempted veto override of a bill addressing the same subject because of concerns about its constitutionality.

Unlike the original bill, the new proposal would not subject federal authorities to state misdemeanor charges for trying to enforce certain federal gun control laws. It also eliminates a provision that could have resulted in charges against journalists for publishing the names of gun owners.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Lawmakers are working to change a small mistake in Illinois' new pet "lemon" law.

Democratic state Sen. Dan Kotowski, the legislation's sponsor, told a Senate committee that there was an error in the legislation that was passed by both houses last spring.

The amendment to the law allows owners to return a pet or be reimbursed for veterinary costs if it is discovered an illness was not disclosed by the seller. The original legislation said pet stores would have to pay owners up to twice the cost of the pet to offset treatment costs. Kotowski told a Senate committee that number should be changed to require reimbursement to match the cost of the pet.

The measure passed the Senate and now heads to the House.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Sick military veterans who want medical marijuana would get it more easily under legislation that's getting committee approval.

The House Judiciary Committee sent Rep. Lou Lang's bill to the floor for consideration.

The Skokie Democrat is the sponsor of Illinois' first law legalizing the use of medical marijuana. Gov. Pat Quinn signed it in August.

But it requires a sick person to get a letter from a doctor. Veterans home doctors are federal employees - barred from approving cannabis use.

Lang's legislation would allow veterans to get a letter from the Illinois Department of Public Health certifying he or she has a condition that qualifies for marijuana treatment under the law.

The committee voted 10-6 to move the bill to the House floor.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have blocked a proposed rule that could have expanded the use of ethanol in gasoline.

A legislative panel voted Wednesday to halt a rule change that would have allowed regular gasoline to be sold with a 15 percent blend of ethanol, which generally is made from corn.

Committee members said the proposal by the Department of Agriculture went beyond what is allowed in state law. They cited a 2006 Missouri law that requires a 10 percent blend of ethanol in gasoline. The proposed rule would not have mandated E15 but would have allowed it.

The committee's vote is like a temporary moratorium. The full Legislature can decide whether to permanently block the rule when it convenes in January. Or the department could withdraw the proposed rule change.

Published in Local News
Thursday, 26 September 2013 14:49

Judge: IL lawmakers' pay must be restored

CHICAGO (AP) - A Cook County judge has ruled that Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to halt lawmaker pay over the pension crisis is unconstitutional and has ordered Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to pay them immediately.

Judge Neil Cohen made the ruling Thursday.

He says the state Constitution makes it clear that lawmakers' pay can't be changed while serving they're serving their terms.

Quinn used his line-item veto to cut money for legislators' salaries from the state budget because they hadn't fixed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, saying Quinn's actions were unconstitutional and violated the state's separation of powers. They asked a judge to order paychecks be issued.

 

Published in Local News

COTTLEVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A panel of Missouri lawmakers came to suburban St. Louis on Monday for some firsthand testimony about the challenges of the state's school transfer rules.

Several area superintendents asked the interim House Committee on Education to seek a long-term fix to what they called a short-term solution to the problem of relocating students from failing school districts to better-performing ones.

The public hearing at St. Charles Community College came just weeks after hundreds of students from the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens began the fall semester riding buses to schools up to 20 to 30 miles away, with their former districts absorbing the added costs.

A second meeting is planned Monday night in St. Louis. Additional sessions are planned Tuesday and Wednesday in Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, Branson and Joplin.

 

Published in Local News
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