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   Several elected officials around the St. Louis area have issued responses to President Obama's State of the Union address.  Leaders from both Missouri and Illinois shared their thoughts. They vary widely in their impressions, and as one might expect, seem to fall along party lines.
 
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL): 
   "Tonight the President gave an optimistic speech about opportunity for American families, an economy on the rise and leveled a call to action to ensure this is a year of progress for the middle class.
   "From programs to grow the economy and create jobs like the launching of new manufacturing institutes and infrastructure investments to efforts to strengthen the middle class like raising the minimum wage, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit along the lines of a bill introduced with Senator Brown, and making college more affordable, tonight's speech focused on creating more opportunities for American families.
   "Improving opportunities for American families requires innovation and action and I plan to work with my colleagues to build on the work we've done in my Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to reverse the devastating cuts to federally funded research and development and grow these programs for years to come.
   "Finally, tonight's speech challenged us in Congress to set aside the partisanship and gridlock that is preventing us from improving the lives millions of Americans. We must now rise to the occasion."
 
U.S. Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) MO:  
   "Tonight, President Obama laid out a bold, optimistic agenda that challenged us to reward hard work, renew economic security for middle-class families and keep faith with our senior citizens.
   "I strongly support the President's call to raise the minimum wage; pass comprehensive immigration reform; renew the Voting Rights Act; continue expanding access to affordable healthcare for all, and eliminate barriers to higher education that are keeping millions from achieving their dreams.
   "He also laid out a clear path that would continue our nation's remarkable progress towards achieving energy independence and creating millions of new jobs in the emerging 21st Century green economy. 
   "I am hopeful that Congress can build on recent bipartisan agreements to move this progressive agenda forward to benefit all Americans."
 
 
 
U.S. Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO):
   "The people of the 2nd District are tired of the same old failed speeches and policies from President Obama.  The Show-Me state wants to know, ‘where are the jobs!’   It's time the President started working with Congress and not around us. 
   "The President called for a ‘year of action.’  I don't know where the President and Senate Democrats have been for the last year, but House Republicans have taken action on solutions that will make your lives just a little better, a little easier to manage. 
   "In fact, the House has passed over 170 pieces of legislation in the last year that have been ignored by the United States Senate and the President.  The House has passed solutions that will increase the size of your paychecks, increase upward mobility, restore your individual liberties and lower costs on everyday items that you depend on every day like groceries, gasoline and the cost of your health care.   These common-sense solutions offer the American people a better future versus a failed present.
   "It's time we turn the page and begin a new era focused on empowering the American people and not the government." 
 
 
 
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D) MO:
   "We've made a lot of progress these past few years, creating millions of jobs and pulling our economy out of the ditch—but there are an awful lot of commonsense ideas still sitting on the table that could build on that success, if elected leaders stop kowtowing to the political extremes and start working toward compromise to get things done. Raising the minimum wage for working families, building innovative private-public partnerships to invest in our roads and bridges, making the tax code fairer, and fixing our broken immigration system aren't partisan initiatives. They're commonsense goals that we should all be ready to rally behind to strengthen America's middle class families."
 
 
 
U.S. Congressman John Shimkus (R) IL:
   "These speeches are always more political than whoever the President is wants to make it seem.  President Obama – in an election year – took a more liberal, activist tone.  I happen to disagree with many of his ideas.
   "Promises made in speeches are also not automatically the law of the land.  However, President Obama wants to start using executive authority to take more actions without Congress’ involvement.  This is an unprecedented challenge to Congress by a President.
   "While the President talks about energy security, his EPA has taken several steps that will hinder what was becoming a growing coal industry.  I'm afraid of what his pen or his EPA might do to other energy issues that benefit Illinois.
   "The President talks about jobs, yet his Administration has taken more steps to stymie job growth than to create jobs.  The House has sent hundreds of bills over to the Senate that would directly or indirectly help job creation.
   "Finally, I want to say that the failures of Obamacare go beyond a website that doesn't work.  Here in Illinois, we are prime examples of the fiasco of Obamacare – we have had thousands more people receive cancellation notices from insurance companies than we have signed up on the website."
Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - State Sen. Jim Oberweis says he's gathering petition signatures to make a bid for the U.S. Senate.

   The Republican from Sugar Grove made the comments Wednesday at a Springfield rally for opponents of same-sex marriage. He says he wants to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. Oberweis is a dairy magnate who has made numerous bids for office before.

   He made previous unsuccessful attempts for U.S. Senate in 2002 and 2004. He also ran and lost in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary, and a congressional bid in 2008. He won a seat to the state Senate last November.

   Downers Grove businessman Doug Truax and Kane County Regional School board member Chad Koppie are also making primary bids.

 
Published in Local News

   Illinois Senator Dick Durbin wants consumers to pay sales tax on their purchases, whether they shop in a local store, or online.  

   Consumers are already supposed to pay sales tax for online purchases.  But very few do since there's no uniform collection method, and the onus to pay is placed on the consumer, not the retailer.  In Illinois, for instance, those who file state tax returns are asked to list their online purchases and pay sales tax for them.

   Durbin says the current rules are not fair to brick and mortar stores, who must collect sales tax from their customers.  Durbin has sponsored a bill that would require Internet stores to do the same.  

   The Senate will soon begin debate on the Market Fairness Act.  It could be voted on as early as this week.  

   Missouri Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt have both said they favor the move.

Published in Local News
Friday, 08 March 2013 16:38

Durbin talks about gun-control proposals

CHICAGO (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he's still unsure whether various gun-control proposals making their way through Congress should be introduced separately for votes or all bundled into one big bill.

The Illinois Democrat spoke at a news conference in Chicago Friday to promote one bill that would crack down on so-called straw purchasing -- where someone buys guns and sells them to others not authorized to buy weapons. It was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Durbin appeared with the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago teenager who was fatally shot days after performing at President Barack Obama's inauguration.

The bill approved Thursday by the judiciary committee has been named for Hadiya (hy-DEE'-uh) Pendleton. Durbin says it may have more bipartisan support than other separate proposals.
Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois is on a week-long trip to the Middle East and Africa.

The assistant majority leader's office announced Monday that he was on the trip. Durbin's office said he will meet with U.S. military leaders about intelligence, training, counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and humanitarian efforts. Durbin is planning to travel to Bahrain, Djibouti and Uganda. He is scheduled to return to Illinois next weekend.

Durbin is chairman of the Senate's Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His office says one of the topics he will focus on during the trip is the increased use of drones for intelligence gathering and anti-terrorism operations.
Published in Local News

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