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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois officials say this year's state fair had the highest attendance levels in more than a decade.

The governor's office says Thursday that more than 961,000 people attended the fair during its 11-day run this month.

That's up almost 5 percent from last year and the highest since 2002, when 1.2 million people went through the fair's gates.

Ticket sales for concerts at the fair's Grandstand topped $2 million, up more than 29 percent from last year to a new record. More than 53,000 fans attended concerts at this year's fair. The most popular performance was by country musician Toby Keith.

The fair ended Aug. 18.

Published in Local News

   CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois has a new law protecting renters if their landlord's property goes into foreclosure.

   Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law Wednesday that says those who buy multifamily properties out of foreclosure to either honor existing tenant leases or give the renters 90 days to move.

   It takes effect in three months.

   The original bill was sponsored by state Sen. Jacqueline Collins and state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, both Chicago Democrats. They say that about 40 percent of families affected by foreclosure are renters who might not know their landlord failed to make mortgage payments.

   Advocates of the bill say it will help avoid pushing many tenants into homelessness by giving them time to find a safe place to live. They also say it will prevent properties from standing vacant.

 
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 14:27

Affordable Care Act jobs headed to Illinois

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois is building an 800-person army of temporary workers to help people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The "in-person counselor" jobs are located in every corner of the state, and range from a $9-an-hour part-time evening job in Clinton County to a $45,000-a-year project coordinator position in Chicago.

The workers will help consumers apply for coverage, answer questions and explain differences between the insurance policies offered on the new online marketplace.

Applications for the jobs are being collected online and anyone hired will get three days of training about health insurance, enrollment rules and other complicated aspects of the health law. Illinois must act quickly to be ready for Oct. 1, the first day of enrollment for the law's new insurance opportunities.

Published in Local News

   Illinois remains the state with the fourth highest number of high school students participating in sports.  

   The latest figures compiled by the National Federation of State High School Associations show more than 7.7 million students nationally, and more than 330,000 in Illinois, participated in sports during the 2012-2013 school year. That's more than ever before.  

   Only Texas, California and New York ranked higher on the survey than the Land of Lincoln.

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn's administration says the statewide average workers' compensation rate has dropped 4.5 percent.

Officials say the figure set by a national rating agency continues a downward trend that has saved Illinois employers $315 million in insurance premium costs since 2011.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance issued the figure Monday. Insurance companies often use the number to figure workers' compensation premiums.

James Stephens is deputy director of the Department of Insurance. He says the drop reflects an overall 13.3 percent decrease in the rate in the last three years.

Quinn's office says the decrease is because of a money-saving workers' compensation reform package the Democratic governor signed into law in 2011.

The rate changes take effect Jan. 1 if the Insurance Department accepts them.

Published in Local News
Monday, 19 August 2013 02:03

Gov. signs in tougher new IL gun laws

   CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois gun owners who fail to report the theft or loss of a weapon will face tougher restrictions under a new law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn.

   The law beefs up background checks and requires firearm thefts or losses to be reported within 72 hours.

   Quinn signed the bill Sunday at a South Side Chicago park where police officer was fatally shot in 2010. The Chicago Democrat says the restrictions are common sense and will help crack down on crime.

   Democrats State Sen. Kwame Raoul and state Rep. Mike Zalewski sponsored the bill.  It's also supported by Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy.

   The requirement to report thefts goes into effect immediately. The background check changes start next year.

 

 
Published in Local News
Thursday, 15 August 2013 16:42

Illinois unemployment rate creeps up again

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The unemployment rate rose slightly in Illinois in July, according to preliminary data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

State officials say Thursday that Illinois' unemployment rate inched to 9.2 percent last month. That's up from an adjusted 9.1 percent in June. The figure was 9 percent in July 2012.

Employers around the state added a net 6,600 non-farm jobs in July. Overall, the private sector added 7,100 positions.

Meanwhile, manufacturers cut a net 900 jobs in July. Illinois' manufacturing had been one of the state's strongest employment sectors until recent months.

Construction firms added 1,600 jobs in July while the education and health services sector cut 3,600.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in July 2013, although the state's figure is often higher than the national one.

 

Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that bans tanning in Illinois for anyone under age 18.

Quinn signed the measure on Thursday, saying he wants to spare families "serious and preventable" health problems.

Its supporters include 51-year-old Donna Moncivaiz of Beach Park. Moncivaiz is a former tanner who suffers from late-stage melanoma. She testified at a Senate committee hearing in support of the ban. Her daughter had an early-stage melanoma removed from her hip.

Tanning industry advocates say a ban is bad for small businesses. They say parents, not the government, should decide if children can use tanning equipment.

The American Academy of Dermatology says about 8 percent of those who tan indoors in the U.S. every year are teens.

Chicago and Springfield already ban teen tanning.

Published in Local News
Thursday, 15 August 2013 14:16

Gov. Quinn signs electronic cigarette bill

CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes in Illinois by anyone under age 18.

Quinn signed the measure on Thursday. The new law applies to electronic cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products. Electronic cigarettes don't contain tobacco, but do contain nicotine which is the addictive substance that makes smoking difficult to quit.

State Sen. John Mulroe of Chicago is the bill sponsor. He says governments ban minors from buying other forms of nicotine and electronic cigarettes should be no exception. Mulroe says the new law helps the government "keep up with the advancements" in the ways nicotine is being sold.

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

 

Published in Local News

   CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has until Saturday to act on legislation that would ban indoor tanning in Illinois for anyone younger than age 18.

   The General Assembly sent Quinn the legislation in June. Its supporters include 51 year old Donna Moncivaiz of Beach Park. Moncivaiz is a former tanner who suffers from late-stage melanoma. She testified at a Senate committee hearing in support of the ban. Her daughter had an early-stage melanoma removed from her hip.

   Tanning industry advocates say a ban is bad for small businesses. They say parents, not the government, should decide if children can use tanning equipment.

   The American Academy of Dermatology says about 8 percent of those who tan indoors in the U.S. every year are teens.

   Chicago and Springfield already ban teen tanning.

 
Published in Health & Fitness

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