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CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois lawmakers are questioning the effectiveness of the state's system for giving tax breaks to corporations.
   Legislators held the first of several hearings on the issue Friday in Chicago.
   Dan Long is executive director of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. He tells legislators Illinois businesses benefited from about $1.5 billion in tax breaks in 2012.
 
   Yet lawmakers note Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
   Republican state Rep. David McSweeney says "What is clear is what we're doing isn't working."
 
   But Connie Beard of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce calls the state's main incentive program a "very valuable tool" for attracting and keeping business.
   The hearings could lead to legislation to change the state's incentive programs during the General Assembly's spring session.
Friday, 17 January 2014 16:33
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The lockdown at Hillsboro High School is over. Sometime before 10 AM school officials say someone found a loose bullet in the building. The school was placed on lockdown, but officials said it was only as a precaution. During the lockdown, authorities performed a search of the school, but never discovered a weapon. The lockdown was lifted after 1 PM.

Friday, 17 January 2014 14:38
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CHICAGO (AP) - The question of raising the minimum wage, both in Illinois and nationally, has emerged as a significant 2014 campaign issue. Gov. Pat Quinn and other Democrats are pushing to raise the state's minimum wage of $8.25 per hour, and most Republicans oppose the idea, arguing it could push employers to actually cut jobs. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
 
Here are edited excerpts of what Illinois' six gubernatorial candidates told The Associated Press about where they stand on the issue:
DEMOCRATS:
GOV. PAT QUINN, CHICAGO: "People are making $8.25 an hour in Illinois. That's not enough in my book ... How are we going to treat folks in our society who do some of the hardest jobs imaginable, get paid very, very modest wages we need to raise?"
 
TIO HARDIMAN, HILLSIDE: "The minimum wage should be raised to at least $12.00 per hour. However, we have to eliminate the (corporate) Head Tax or cut the Head Tax by 50 percent in Illinois before increasing the minimum wage."
 
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REPUBLICANS:
STATE SEN. BILL BRADY, BLOOMINGTON: "I believe the state and federal minimum wage rates need to be paired. I support a moratorium on increases in the Illinois minimum wage until such a time that the federal rate has caught up with our state rate."
 
STATE SEN. KIRK DILLARD, HINSDALE: "In an environment where jobs could possibly be negatively impacted, increasing the minimum wage is unwise ... Illinois cannot take the chance that more people will be out of work because of a minimum wage increase. Small businesses will be impacted the most and these are the very businesses that employ the bulk of Illinois residents."
 
BUSINESSMAN BRUCE RAUNER, WINNETKA: "Without action from Washington (to raise the federal minimum wage), I would favor increasing Illinois' minimum wage if we also adopt creative solutions to avoid further damage to our state's already shattered business climate. That can be done by providing incentives to small businesses to help offset the added costs. It can be done through workers' compensation reform, tort reform and elimination of other impediments to job growth."
 
STATE TREASURER DAN RUTHERFORD, CHENOA: "I believe every American should be able to make as much money as possible, legally and ethically. State government should not put an artificial cost of doing business, increase on a business, church or local unit of government."
Friday, 17 January 2014 13:12
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Crime statistics for St. Louis County have been released and police chief Tim Fitch is pleased with the results. Serious crime in the areas under protection of the St. Louis County Police Department has decreased in 2013 from that of 2012.
Index crime statistics comparing 2012 to 2013 in unincorporated St. Louis County and the municipalities served by County officers show an overall reduction of 7.4 percent.
The 2013 report represents an overall crime reduction for the fifth straight year, and the lowest crime total since 1969.
There were eight homicides reported in both 2012 and 2013, but the number of rapes increased
by 126-percent.  Officials say this is due to the Justice Department collecting data using a new definition of rape, which was a revision to the Uniform Crime Reporting’s 80-year-old definition.
The new definition broadens the scope of the previously narrow definition of rape.
Meanwhile, robbery decreased by 6-percent and aggravated assault decreased by just over one percent.
Other statistics show a reduction in arson by over 26-percent, larceny decreased by 8.4 percent and motor vehicle theft decreased by 25 percent. Burglaries were also down over 3 percent.
Chief of Police Timothy Fitch stated, "I am very proud of our patrol officers, detectives and support personnel because this decrease emphasizes their continued dedication and commitment to the community. It is a great accomplishment to have a reduction in crime reported from the previous year, and to have a lower number for our fifth year in a row is an even greater accomplishment. Our emphasis has been and will continue to be to ensure the safety of everyone within St. Louis County."
Friday, 17 January 2014 11:41
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   ST. LOUIS (AP) - Two Turkish citizens face federal smuggling charges for allegedly shipping tainted cancer treatment prescription drugs from Turkey and other foreign countries into Missouri.
   Federal prosecutors say OzKan Semizoglu and Sabahaddin Akman smuggled three shipments from Turkey to Chesterfield.
   A grand jury indictment filed Thursday in federal court says the pair falsely identified the shipments as gifts and documents with little or no monetary value. They are also charged with sending drugs requiring constant cold temperatures in packages without insulation, which could taint the medicine. They were arrested Thursday in Puerto Rico.
   Each faces one felony count of conspiracy to smuggle merchandise into the United States and three counts of smuggling.  Online court records did not list an attorney for either defendant.
 
Friday, 17 January 2014 04:44
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   A new requirement for students who want to transfer out of an unaccredited school district could catch families off guard.  The Riverview Gardens School District is now requiring families to attend an in-person interview by February 3rd if their student wants transfer away.  They must also fill out an "Intent to Return" form.
   Those who miss the interview deadline or fail to get the forms in won't be allowed to transfer -- even if they participated in the transfer program this year.  
   That's why the Children's Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM) is holding two meetings this month to help inform parents of the new requirements.
   "Unfortunately, this new requirement will serve as a barrier for students and parents who wish to transfer," said Kate Casas, state director, CEAM.  "A lot of parents aren't aware of this new step and will be in danger of missing this critical deadline, which will mean that their child won't be able to exercise their right to transfer, as guaranteed under the Outstanding Schools Act." 
   Town Hall meetings will be held January 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lewis and Clark Library and January 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Indian Trails Library. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at 314-561-8646.
 
Friday, 17 January 2014 04:36
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   A metro-east mall will reopen Friday morning after a bomb scare closed it early Thursday afternoon.  

   Fairview Heights Police say a little before 4:00 p.m. they received a call from someone who said they had planted several explosive devices inside St. Clair Square.  Police notified mall officials and the building was quickly evacuated.  

   Fairview Heights police, U.S. Marshals, St. Clair County Sheriff's Deputies, Illinois State Police and bomb units from Scott Air Force Base spent about five hours searching the mall and all 144 shops using bomb sniffing dogs, but found nothing.  The all clear was sounded about 8:30 Thursday night.

   Police have now shifted their focus to find the person who made the bomb threat.  Anyone with information is urged to call Fairview Heights Police.

Friday, 17 January 2014 01:37
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The Des Peres Schnucks is issuing a recall on fresh ground beef.

 

The beef was sold at the store on Manchester road. Employees found a metal clip in the meat grinder. The ground beef was sold on Wednesday, January, 15, with a sell-by date of January 16, 2014.

 

Any customers who bought the meat before 7 p.m. Wednesday should return it to the store for a full refund or exchange. For more information, contact Schnucks Consumer Affairs at 314-994-4400.

Thursday, 16 January 2014 15:49
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - A St. Louis man is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two brothers.
 
The Circuit Attorney's office on Thursday announced the charges against 20-year-old Ryan Handson. He is accused of killing 22-year-old Justin Gordon and 21-year-old Devin Gordon on Dec. 5. Officers responding to a call about a shooting found both victims at a home.
 
Handson is also charged with two counts of armed criminal action and first-degree burglary.
Thursday, 16 January 2014 15:43
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