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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - With just three days to go, lawmakers are inching along on a solution to Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis

Both chambers are at odds with how to move forward with two complete overhauls. Meanwhile, three smaller pension bills - dealing with retirement age, salary caps and cost-of-living increases - have moved out of a committee to the Senate floor. Senators could vote on those before Friday's adjournment.

A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton says lawmakers are trying multiple approaches to send Gov. Pat Quinn a complete plan.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a key player in pension talks, says a bill that'd require state universities and community colleges to start picking up their own pension costs was expected to be filed Wednesday.

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is meeting with key lawmakers to attempt a compromise on legislation allowing people to carry concealed guns.

Spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton met earlier Wednesday with Senate and House members who have rival, but similar, measures.

Phelon says there are "core compromises" that can be made to create an acceptable plan.

A top Senate committee voted Tuesday to reject a House-approved version that not only allows the public possession of weapons but invalidates all local ordinances on firearms, such as Chicago's assault-weapons ban.

The same committee advanced a plan by Senate Democrats that excludes the pre-emption of local laws and includes tighter restrictions on carrying guns while drinking alcohol.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A key Illinois House committee has advanced legislation to add five new casinos and scores of slot machines. But the sponsor is working on rewriting language on tax rates and oversight of a Chicago casino before the full House takes a vote.

Governor Pat Quinn has vetoed two earlier measures to expand gambling.

 

Published in Local News

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois judge whose colleague died of a cocaine overdose while the two were on a hunting trip is stepping down from the bench as he defends himself against federal heroin and gun charges.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook resigned Wednesday through his attorney by letter to the chief judge, John Baricevic. Baricevic says the letter is brief and doesn't offer a reason for Cook's departure.

Cook was charged last Friday with possessing heroin and having a gun while illegally using controlled substances. He's pleaded not guilty.

The Illinois Supreme Court now must pick Cook's replacement.

A fellow judge, Joe Christ, died of a cocaine overdose in March while with Cook at the Cook family's hunting cabin in western Illinois' Pike County. That probe continues.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  • The Illinois Senate Executive Committee defeated legislation allowing the public possession of firearms, a bill that just last week passed the House 85-30.

The Democratic-controlled committee voted 6-8 on Tuesday. Opponents objected to the plan sponsored by Democratic Sen. Gary Forby of Benton, saying it'd curb all local firearms ordinances.

Committee Chairman Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, says such pre-emption is "a bridge too far."

The committee's taking up a Democratic measure that leaves local firearms regulations in place — city ordinances such as Chicago's assault-weapons ban.

 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Senate Democrats are crafting concealed carry legislation that doesn't also curb local firearms laws and toughens alcohol-related prohibitions.

Senate President John Cullerton's office says the measure will leave local firearms regulations in place. A plan the House adopted last week allowing the carrying of concealed guns would invalidate city ordinances like Chicago's assault-weapons ban.

The Senate Executive Committee will hear the plan Tuesday morning.

The proposal sponsored by Chicago Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul would also prohibit firearms in businesses that serve alcohol. The House plan would nix toting guns only if liquor sales are more than half of the establishment's gross revenue.

The Raoul plan would make penalties for carrying under the influence of alcohol tougher too.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn is lashing out at lawmakers after the Illinois House approved a concealed carry bill that he says "puts public safety at risk."

Quinn says he opposes the plan because it would wipe out local gun ordinances - including Chicago's ban on assault weapons. Quinn issued a statement minutes after the House passed the bill on Friday.

He says that Chicago and other local communities should be able to keep their gun-control ordinances on the books.

Quinn is vowing to do all he can to prevent the bill from passing in the Illinois Senate.

Illinois is the last state in the nation that bans concealed weapons, and the bill comes after a federal appeals court ordered lawmakers to pass a concealed carry law by June 9.

 
Published in Local News

An Illinois judge whose colleague died of a cocaine overdose while the two were on a hunting trip together has been charged with possession of heroin and guns.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook pleaded not guilty during a court appearance Friday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis. KSDK reports he wore a t-shirt that read "Bad is my middle name" to today's hearing. Authorities say Cook and fellow judge Joe Christ were staying at the Cook family's hunting lodge in western Illinois' Pike County in March when Christ was found dead.

A coroner said Friday that Christ died of a cocaine overdose. Cook has not been charged in Christ's death.

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House has approved a plan to allow qualified gun owners to carry their weapons in public.

Illinois is the only state in the country without a concealed-carry law. A federal appeals court says that's unconstitutional and has ordered the state to enact such a law by June 9.

The proposal adopted today was brokered by state House Speaker Michael Madigan, but it's opposed by several of his fellow Democrats, including the governor.

Gov. Pat Quinn's office has called the plan a "massive overreach" because it would wipe out all local gun regulations, including Chicago's ban on assault-style weapons. That's a deal-breaker for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who backs tough restrictions to curb the city's gun violence. Quinn says he'll work with the state Senate to "stop it in its tracks."

Senate President John Cullerton, another Chicago Democrat, also opposes the measure.

Published in Local News

   The Illinois State Board of Education has released the state's first set of math courses under the new common core standards.  

   Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon and the board announced the curriculum for 6th through 12th grade classes on Thursday.  The package of coursework is aimed at reducing remedial math needs for college-bound students and better preparing students for the workforce.  

   State officials say the new courses will be available this fall and teachers can adapt the units as needed. 

   Missouri education officials have also signed on to the common core standards, Republican state lawmakers want to rescind that decision.

Published in Local News

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