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   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn, a manufacturers' association and representatives from the oil and gas industry are praising a measure to regulate high-volume oil and gas drilling in Illinois.

   The House overwhelmingly approved the plan Thursday.

   The bill outlines rules that energy companies would have to follow during hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

   The executive vice president of the Illinois Oil and Gas Association says efforts on the compromise bill were "monumental. The head of the Illinois Manufacturing Association says it'll create jobs.

   Ann Alexander is a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council who helped craft the regulations. She says it's good to see Illinois moving forward with public protections.

   Opponents worry it would cause air and water pollution and deplete water resources.

 
Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers have overridden Gov. Pat Quinn's veto of legislation that addresses so-called Smart Grid technology.

   The Illinois House voted Wednesday to again approve the legislation, a day after the Senate approved it for a second time. Quinn vetoed it May 6, saying the proposal weakened oversight and forced automatic rate hikes.

   ComEd and Ameren pushed the bill to clarify legislation allowing the utilities to raise rates to fund the high-tech system. But the Illinois Commerce Commission and both utilities disagreed over implementation. ComEd filed an appeal over technical matters and faces a lawsuit over installation delays.

   ComEd says with the new law the average residential customer will pay 40 cents more a month starting in 2014 and 80 cents more in 2017.

 

Published in Local News
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 03:16

IL Senate overrides `Smart Grid' veto

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Senate has again approved a plan to address so-called Smart Grid technology over the objection of Gov. Pat Quinn.

   Senators voted 44-11 Tuesday to override Quinn's veto earlier this month. Quinn claimed the bill undermined oversight and would force automatic rate hikes.

   Senate President John Cullerton disputed those claims. A three-fifths majority was needed. It now heads to the House.

   ComEd pushed the bill as a way to clarify 2011 legislation allowing utilities to raise rates to fund a high-tech system. But executing it has been tricky.

   The Illinois Commerce Commission and ComEd disagreed over implementation. ComEd filed a court appeal over technical matters and faces a class-action lawsuit over installation delays.

   The proposal clarifies some of those issues and hastens installation.

 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he hopes a bill that would kick-start high-volume oil and gas drilling passes "swiftly" through the Illinois House and Senate after a House committee voted to send it to the full House.

The House Executive Committee voted 11-0 Tuesday to approve a measure regulating hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" - the use of high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack rock formations deep underground and release oil and natural gas.

Proponents say it's safe and would create jobs in cash-strapped southern Illinois. Quinn has promised to sign the bill.

Opponents worry that fracking could cause air and water pollution and deplete water resources.

They favor a two-year moratorium on the practice, but House and Senate bills calling for a pause have been stalled.

 
Published in Local News

Springfield, IL - AP - Gov. Pat Quinn says Illinois has a chance to make history before the end of the legislative session this month on the issues of pension reform and same-sex marriage.

The Chicago Democrat says he wants lawmakers to approve an overhaul of the state's nearly $100 billion pension crisis by the end of the month and send it to his desk. Lawmakers also have a proposal on the table that would make Illinois the 13th state to legalize gay marriage.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says House Speaker Michael Madigan's pension-reform plan deserves a Senate vote.

The Democratic governor said the proposal is comprehensive.

Illinois has nearly $100 billion in pension debt because of years of state underfunding.

Senate President John Cullerton has a different idea he plans to call for a vote Thursday afternoon. Public employee unions back that proposal.

The House approved the Madigan bill last week. It would require employees to pay 2 percent more toward retirement benefits. It would reduce annual cost-of-living increases for retirees and raise the retirement age for workers under 45.

Cullerton's proposal would offer employees a choice between health insurance or cost-of-living increases. He says it would survive a court challenge.

Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says income tax revenue for 2013 will top forecasts by $1.3 billion. He says he'll put the money toward the billions the state owes in unpaid bills.

The governor's office said Tuesday the money was a one-time windfall resulting from businesses and individuals selling assets or taking early dividends in anticipation of higher federal tax rates.

Quinn says the money is welcome but a one-time bump in revenue will not help fix the problem in the long run.

Illinois owes billions to businesses, charities and local governments performing some of the state's most essential services. The problem adds to the state's huge financial mess, which includes a soaring public pension crisis.

Quinn said Tuesday the focus must be on "restoring Illinois to full fiscal responsibility."

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says the Illinois House should act quickly to approve a pension-reform package because the state's economy depends on it.

House Speaker Michael Madigan's plan to increase employee contributions and trim benefits is scheduled for a House vote Thursday.

Years of state underfunding of pension accounts has left Illinois $97 billion short of covering future obligations.

The Democratic governor says the liability grows by $17 million a day. He says Illinois' economy won't fully recover until reform is approved.

But union representatives told a House committee Wednesday the opposite is true. Illinois Education Association President Cinda Klickna says cutting pension benefits takes away money retirees spend in local communities and especially hits teachers who don't have Social Security benefits.

 

Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is holding fast to his position that legislation calling for the carrying of concealed weapons should allow city governments to decide their own standards.

   But the Democratic governor's preference goes against lawmakers, who have given such ideas a chilly reception.

   The General Assembly has until June 9 to end Illinois' last-in-the-nation ban on concealed carry because of a federal appeals court ruling.

   Quinn wants larger cities such as Chicago to be able to set up their own standards for gun-toting citizens.

   Gun-rights advocates say that would create a confusing "patchwork" of laws and put gun owners in jeopardy.

   A plan in the Senate would give Chicago-area police the ability to deny gun permits. Gun owners and Republicans are cool to the idea.

 

Published in Local News

   ILLINOIS (AP) - Another governor is trying to lure away Illinois companies.

   Florida Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to Illinois' top 100 companies this week asking them to buy a "one way" ticket to Florida. The Republican says Florida is undergoing "an incredible economic turnaround" and touts the state's credit ratings.

   Scott also scrutinizes Illinois' high taxes, including a 2011 income tax increase.

   His letter comes the same week Texas Gov. Rick Perry was in Chicago trying to poach companies. Perry says he wants to spark a competition between the states and has criticized Illinois' nearly $100 billion in pension debt.

   Governors from Indiana, Wisconsin and New Jersey have made similar attempts.

   Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has dismissed them as publicity attempts and says Illinois is a great place to do business.

 
Published in Local News
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