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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Companies that want to perform high-volume oil and gas drilling in Illinois may begin registering with the state.

But it will be several months before companies may apply for a permit to use the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law regulating fracking in July. It created a two-step permit application process that requires companies to first register with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

IDNR won't accept applications for drilling permits until a legislative committee approves rules. Spokesman Chris McCloud says that process - which will include public hearings - will take months.

Fracking uses high-pressure mixtures of water, chemicals and sand to crack rock formations deep underground to release oil and gas.

Opponents fear it will pollute and deplete water resources.

 

Published in Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Public health officials expect older students at the University of Illinois to sign up for insurance coverage through the new Affordable Care Act.

Julie Pryde is the administrator of the Champaign Urbana Public Health District. She said Tuesday that many graduate students don't have insurance.

Gyung Min Choi and his wife, 32-year-old Minyoun Ham were at the office Tuesday to find coverage for her.

Choi is student at the university. He said his wife is about five weeks pregnant and didn't have health insurance. So she hasn't yet seen a doctor.

He said their only option otherwise would be private insurance that might not be affordable with his $24,000 annual income.

The Champaign-Urbana area has about 40,000 students studying at the University of Illinois.

 

Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - A budget director for Gov. Pat Quinn says if the federal government shutdown proceeds, Illinois employees paid by federal funds could face temporary layoffs as early as Wednesday.

The budget office had no estimates Monday for how many employees would be affected.

Abdon Pallasch is Quinn's assistant budget director. In a statement, he says that the timing of the layoffs would depend on existing resources and individual agencies. Agencies that could be affected include Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Veterans Affairs and Military Affairs.

During the last shutdown in 1995, about 1,200 Illinois employees were temporarily laid off. They were hired back after two weeks.

Pallasch says most state agencies have sufficient funds to provide services in the short term, but a longer term shutdown would have a greater impact.

 

Published in Local News
Saturday, 28 September 2013 10:25

Snags a concern as Ill. health marketplace opens

CHICAGO (AP) — Days before the launch of President Barack Obama's health care law, Illinois officials say there will be snags as the new health insurance marketplace opens Tuesday.

Officials insist none of the problems will prevent anyone from getting insurance by the start of the new year. But some acknowledge there's a risk people may be discouraged by delays and glitches and give up on the program.

The hurdles include a lag in completing the certification of hundreds of workers who've been trained to help consumers sign up for coverage. So most won't be able to assist people with the process initially.

There are also software problems that are delaying the transfer of applications to the Medicaid program.

People have until Dec. 15 to sign up for coverage that starts Jan. 1.

Published in Local News

   CHICAGO (AP) - An Illinois judge promises to rule on the future of a lawsuit seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

   The lawsuit was filed last year by 25 gay couples who want the right to marry.

   Cook County Judge Sophia Hall is expected to rule Friday on a motion to dismiss the case.

   Lawyers for five downstate county clerks who are defending the ban want the case tossed. Plaintiffs' attorneys want the judge to let the lawsuit stand - then rule immediately that they won the lawsuit and that the ban is illegal.

   The clerks won permission to defend the ban after Cook County's top prosecutor and the Illinois attorney general refused to do so, saying the 17 year old ban violates the state constitution.

   Illinois legalized civil unions two years ago.

 

Published in Local News
Friday, 27 September 2013 02:15

Quinn: Juvenile justice has made great strides

   CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he hasn't seen a report released Thursday that details inadequate conditions at juvenile detention centers, but Illinois has made "important strides" with fewer juveniles incarcerated.

   Quinn told reporters Thursday that Illinois has to have a system where young people who make mistakes pay their debt and face consequences. He says if the report raises issues, they'll be looked at.

   Watchdog group the John Howard Association released a review Thursday on conditions at a Kewanee facility specializing in treatment for juveniles with mental health issues.

   Another report was submitted in federal court as part of the settlement. It describes incarcerated teens mowing lawns during the school day and being routinely subjected to more solitary confinement than necessary.

   Juvenile detention centers house more than 800 juvenile inmates.

 
Published in Local News

The Illinois trooper who hit and killed a pair of Illinois sisters while driving a police cruiser, is not getting his driver's license back.

Matt Mitchell was driving 126 miles an hour, using his cell phone, and using his computer to send emails, when he hit the car carrying 13-year-old Kelli and 18-year-old Jessica Uhl. In 2010, Mitchell pled guilty to all charges. He served probation and lost his license.

This summer, Mitchell appeared in court to ask for his license to be reinstated, saying he needed it to find a job. Thursday, his appeal was denied.

Mitchell now lives in Texas.

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

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A year after Illinois was sued and reached a settlement over inadequate conditions in its juvenile detention centers, two separate reports are detailing a number of conditions that the authors say must change.

   The first report, submitted in federal court as part of the settlement, describes incarcerated teens mowing lawns during the school day, being improperly medicated and being routinely subjected to more solitary confinement than necessary.

   Watchdog group the John Howard Association is releasing a separate review Thursday on conditions at a Kewanee facility specializing in treatment for juveniles with mental health issues.

   Juvenile detention centers house more than 800 inmates between the ages of 13 and 20.

   The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice says it is addressing the problems.

   

 
Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois officials have decided on a brand name for the new health insurance marketplace set to open Tuesday.

Gov. Pat Quinn's administration unveiled the name Wednesday: It's "Get Covered Illinois." The brand tagline is "The Official Health Marketplace."

Deputy Gov. Cristal Thomas says the administration wanted a name that was "very clear about what this product has to offer."

The brand and logo are part of a multimillion-dollar ad campaign beginning Tuesday and building through the fall and winter. Uninsured Illinoisans have until the end of March to buy health insurance through Get Covered Illinois.

State officials expect at least 300,000 people to sign up for coverage using new options available through President Barack Obama's health care law. The Affordable Care Act requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance.

 
Published in Local News

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