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Colin Jeffery

Colin Jeffery

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Phil Allen and other Illinois gun enthusiasts eager for the right to publicly carry concealed handguns are celebrating as their long-awaited permits showing arrive in their mailboxes.
 
As a licensed concealed-carry instructor in Mascoutah east of St. Louis, Allen says receiving his permit Monday made him "ready to do a happy dance."
 
Allen's permit is among the first batch of roughly 5,000 that Illinois State Police are mailing under the state law passed last year. Illinois is the last state in the nation to allow the practice.
 
The agency says about 46,000 applications have been received so far.
 
While cheering the milestone of the mailings, Democratic State Rep. Brandon Phelps from Harrisburg says there's room for relaxing where concealed handguns may be carried.
WASHINGTON, Mo. (AP) - An eastern Missouri sheriff's department is targeting drivers who ignore school bus laws.
 
The Washington Missourian reports that starting this week, Franklin County deputies are riding along on school buses and watching for aggressive drivers who drive around stopped buses in violation of the law.
 
Authorities say the sheriff's office receives many reports of violators who are either unaware of the law or intentionally violate it. They say it puts children getting on and off the bus at risk.
 
Motorists are being reminded that those going both directions must stop if the red flashing lights of a school bus are activated.
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.

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