The full Illinois Senate will consider a bill that would legalize medical marijuana. The Senate Executive Committee voted Wednesday to approve the proposal.
The measure allows physicians to prescribe limited amounts of marijuana to patients who have been diagnosed with certain medical conditions. Under the bill, patients who use the drug would automatically consent to sobriety fields test should a police officer suspect they were driving under the influence of the drug.
Supporters say marijuana can relieve continual pain without causing the harmful side effects of some prescription drugs.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois union leaders are encouraging lawmakers to support a pension reform proposal that they recently agreed on with the state's Senate president.
A coalition of unions announced Monday that it reached an agreement with Senate President John Cullerton on a possible solution to the state's $97 billion pension crisis.
Michael Carrigan is the president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. He says the group is trying to ensure fairness for public employees and retirees. The union-backed measure gives workers and retirees a choice of benefit packages.
Carrigan says the group is asking legislators to oppose a solution that House Speaker Michael Madigan backs. Madigan's plan calls for higher pension contributions from employees and limits on how much in pension benefits retirees may collect.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton says he will keep working to pass a pension reform bill he believes can survive a court challenge.
Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton and fellow Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan have "the same goal but different approaches" to solving Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.
Madigan filed his pension plan on Tuesday. It caps the salary on which a pension can be based at $110,000 and limits annual cost-of-living increases.
Madigan's legislation also removes language from a plan backed by Cullerton that got Senate approval last month. Cullerton's plan offers affected state-government employees and teachers a choice of benefits instead of unilaterally cutting them.
Cullerton believes the state must give retirees a choice in benefits in order for the legislation to be considered constitutional.
Minutes earlier senators rejected the plan; it was shy one vote to pass. Cullerton used a parliamentary procedure to recall the bill. The second vote yesterday was 30-22.
Cullerton's amended plan addresses the Teachers' Retirement System and is estimated to save up to $40 billion over the next 30 years. It also offers employees a choice on whether they want retirement health care or reduced annual cost-of-living increases.
Opponents say the plan doesn't go far enough in addressing Illinois' pension crisis. Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability.
Earlier in the day senators rejected a total overhaul sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss.
The Thursday morning meeting was canceled for lack of quorum because of the three vacancies and the absence of a fourth trustee.
That came a day after the Illinois Senate overwhelmingly rejected Quinn's appointments of three replacements for three board members whose terms expired last month.
Wednesday's failed ratification vote continues a year-old power struggle at SIU.
The rift dates to early last year when the SIU board refused to give Quinn-appointed Roger Herrin another term as chairman. The board contended he was too involved in day-to-day operations. Those who voted to oust Herrin included the three members Quinn replaced this week.
In an open letter to lawmakers Sunday, 23 Latino leaders say all families deserve to be treated with respect.
Among those signing the letter are former Chicago City Clerk Miguel Del Valle and Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum.
The Illinois Senate approved a bill earlier this month that would end the state's ban on same-sex marriage. A House committee is expected to consider it Tuesday.
If it passes the House Gov. Pat Quinn has said he will sign the legislation, making Illinois the 10th state where same-sex couples may marry.
Opponents say the proposal endangers religious freedom and diminishes the sanctity of marriage.
But Thursday's vote poses a challenge for Republicans.
After suffering big losses at the polls last fall, GOP leaders in Illinois and nationwide said the party needs to be more inclusive and diverse.
But after Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady publicly backed same sex marriage during January's lame-duck legislative session, members of the more conservative wing of his party called for his ouster. Opponents also pledged to fund primary challenges to any Republican who voted in favor of the bill.
The conflict comes as voters' feelings are shifting rapidly in favor of gay rights.
If the Senate approves the measure, it will move to the House.