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CHICAGO (AP) - A new report says electricity deregulation has saved Illinois customers up to $37 billion over the past 16 years.
 
The report being released Monday by four business groups says the average household has paid $3,600 less overall than if the average annual electricity rates had stayed the same.
 
Deregulation kicked in in 1998, allowing Illinois utilities to compete for business on the open market rather than being regulated monopolies whose rates were set. The utilities before deregulation both supplied and delivered electricity to customers, who had no other choices.
 
The legislature also restructured the natural gas market.
 
The report was issued by the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Business Roundtable.
 
Electric rates have risen recently as utilities make "smart grid" improvements.
Monday, 03 March 2014 07:16
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Corps of Engineers officials are holding several workshops in Missouri and Illinois in the next two weeks to discuss flood preparation with local officials.
 
March is the start of the flood season along the Mississippi River Valley. The workshops are designed to give levee district officials a chance to hear about the spring flood outlook and discuss levee safety, response capabilities and other issues.
 
All four workshops start at 6:30 p.m. They are scheduled for Monday at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Troy, Mo., Thursday at Fire Engine House No. 1 in Fairview Heights, Ill., March 10 at the Jacksonville, Ill., Convention and Visitors Bureau, and March 12 at the Osage Centre in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Monday, 03 March 2014 07:15
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St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - The winter storm may have moved out of the St. Louis area, but as it pushes toward the East Coast, it is causing problems for air travel.

 

Lambert canceled over 130 flights Sunday, and today there are already nearly 30 cancellations as of 6 AM. That number could rise throughout the day as the storm arrives east.

 

Lambert encourages travelers to check with air carriers before heading out the door.

Monday, 03 March 2014 07:12
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois officials say the state's backlog of unpaid bills is decreasing.
 
The Springfield State Journal-Register reports the backlog is expected to fall to $5.6 billion by June 30, which is the end of the current fiscal year. That's down from a high of $9.9 billion in 2010.
 
The figures came from a letter acting budget director Jerome Stermer wrote to legislative leaders, adding that the unpaid tab was $6.4 billion in December.
 
The newspaper's story is part of GateHouse newspapers' series on Illinois' backlog of unpaid bills.
 
Lawmakers from both parties say the state has made progress, but say there's still more work to be done.
Monday, 03 March 2014 06:16
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   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Early voting begins for the March 18 primary begins across Illinois on Monday.
   At the top of the ballot on the Republican side is the race for U.S. Senate, where state Sen. Jim Oberweis and businessman Doug Truax are facing off.
   State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, meanwhile, are vying to be the GOP nominee for governor.
   On the Democratic side, Gov. Pat Quinn is seeking re-election against little-known challenger Tio Hardiman.
   There also are scores of contested races for U.S. Congress and for the Legislature.
   Voters are required by state law to show a government-issued ID before they can receive a ballot. The last day to vote early is March 18.
 
Monday, 03 March 2014 03:27
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   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - State agricultural officials and some lawmakers say private money could help make major repairs at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
   State Sen. Andy Manar has filed legislation that would allow the Department of Agriculture to form a state fairground foundation to solicit private money to upgrade and repair fairgrounds in Springfield and DuQuoin.
   State agriculture Director Bob Flider tells the State Journal-Register in Springfield that he has a list of projects estimated to cost $30 million, but not enough money for them all.
   Big projects like roof replacements and road repaving are managed through the state's Capital Development Board, but Flider says fairground repairs compete with other statewide infrastructure needs.
   The idea comes six years after a power failure shut down the Springfield fairgrounds for nearly three months.
 
Monday, 03 March 2014 02:54
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   The snow is expected to slow traffic Monday morning, and its affecting some government functions.  

   St Louis County offices will not open until 10 a.m Monday. And jurors for the 21st circuit are asked to wait until 10 a.m. to report. 

   Please check the county government website at stlouisco.com for updates.

Sunday, 02 March 2014 22:15
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   JEFFERSON CITY, MO – With weekend snow and freezing rain covering the most of the state, Missouri travelers are advised to use caution if they must travel Sunday evening and Monday morning.
   Snow, sleet and freezing rain is expected to continue statewide, affecting road conditions overnight. Extreme cold temperatures and high wind continues to be a concern, causing blowing and drifting snow.
   "MoDOT crews will work throughout the night to keep roads plowed and treated," said Beth Wright, MoDOT state maintenance engineer. "We encourage people to stay tuned to local weather forecasts, check road conditions on MoDOT's traveler map, and avoid travel if possible."
   Heavier snow is in the forecast for northern and central Missouri with accumulations expected to reach from 3 to 6 inches, and a possibility of 1 to 3 inches in the southern counties of the state. Precipitation is expected to continue through Monday morning.
   If you must travel, take your mobile phone and winter survival supplies. If you become stranded, stay with your vehicle and call 911. Be aware that emergency responders may have difficulty reaching you. 
   Remember the following winter driving tips:
 
   ·       Wear your seat belt.
   ·       Slow down, and adjust your speed to the conditions.
   ·       Give snow plows plenty of room.
   ·       Keep your windshield and windows clear to help you see.
   ·       Be alert and remember that road conditions can change very quickly.
   ·       Allow extra travel time to get to your destination.
 
   Stay informed about Missouri road conditions by using MoDOT's Traveler Information Map, available online at www.modot.org or through the smartphone app. The map offers current views of road conditions for Missouri interstates and highways. You can zoom in to a particular location, check live weather radar and view images from MoDOT's traffic cameras and message boards.
   MoDOT also provides road conditions information through the Customer Service Center. Dial 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636) to speak to a customer service representative. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
 
Sunday, 02 March 2014 16:28
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal jury in St. Louis has found in favor of the St. Louis Rams in a lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed she was forced out because of her age.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Lory Fabian was 56 when she sued the Rams in 2012, claiming she was one of a number of older employees who lost their jobs to younger workers.

Rams attorney Bradley Winters argued Friday that Fabian simply was not rehired when her contract ended in 2011. He said performance issues and the way she dealt with co-workers led to that decision.

Fabian's lawyer said older employees were replaced with interns, and that Fabian had performed her job well.

A judge tossed out a sexual harassment claim before the trial, which ended Friday.

Sunday, 02 March 2014 08:10
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The budget cuts legislators imposed last year on the Missouri Department of Revenue likely will remain in place, even though the drivers' license controversy that sparked them has been resolved through a new law.

Lawmakers reduced the department's licensing division by $700,000 for the current budget year in an attempt to block the agency from scanning driving applicants' personal documents into a state computer.

But Governor Jay Nixon isn't asking lawmakers to restore the funding for the remainder of this budget year, nor is he asking for the funding to be placed in the state budget that begins in July.

At the time, lawmakers said funding would be restored if the agency stopped scanning the documents, which it did after Nixon signed legislation last year prohibiting the procedure.

Sunday, 02 March 2014 08:08
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