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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Medical marijuana use in Illinois is now in Gov. Pat Quinn's hands after the state Senate approved legislation.

Lawmakers voted 35-21 Friday to send the measure to Quinn for final approval. Quinn hasn't signaled whether he will sign it into law.

The proposal allows physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients with specific terminal illnesses or debilitating medical conditions. Cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV are among the 33 illnesses listed in the bill.

The measure gives a framework for a four-year pilot program that includes requiring patients and caregivers to undergo background checks.

Supporters say marijuana can relieve continual pain without triggering the detrimental side effects of other prescription drugs. Opponents say the program could encourage the recreational use of marijuana especially among teenagers.

Published in Local News

Several schools just north of Alton, Illinois were placed on lockdown today.

Officials with the Southwestern Community School District #9 sent a letter to parents last night telling them that they discovered a possible threat to students. There was an increased police presence at several schools and backpacks, large bags, and coats were not allowed on the campuses today.

Schools that saw heightened security included Southwestern Middle School, Southwestern High School, Brighton North Elementary, Brighton West Elementary, Medora Elementary and Shipman Elementary.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois concealed carry legislation that requires special permission to have a gun in Chicago is scheduled for a Senate committee vote.

The Senate Executive Committee will hear Sen. Kwame Raoul's proposal to comply with a federal appeals court ruling. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that Illinois' ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional and gave lawmakers until June 9 to rectify the problem.

Raoul's measure would allow gun owners to apply to the Illinois State Police for a permit. They would need training and to clear a background check.

But those wanting to carry a gun in Chicago would also need permission from city police. The National Rifle Association opposes such an "endorsement."

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois Senate proposal to allow the carrying of concealed weapons would let large cities add to the list of places considered off limits to guns.

Sen. Kwame Raoul told The Associated Press Tuesday he doesn't expect many cities to declare separate gun-free locales because there already are many statewide restrictions in the bill.

Lobbyist Todd Vandermyde says the National Rifle Association will oppose "any local control" on concealed carry. The local option would be limited to "home-rule units" - generally cities over 25,000 in population. Raoul's legislation includes a statewide gun prohibition in schools, liquor stores, stadiums, amusement parks and more.

Illinois has until June 9 to comply with a federal court order to enact a law allowing concealed guns in public.

Published in Local News

WASHINGTON (AP) - Eleven Illinois counties will get some federal money to recover from the flooding in the state that occurred in late April and early May.

In a news release, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced the White House has made federal funds available to supplement state and local recovery efforts. The assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs that help businesses and home owners.

The federal aid will be shared by Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Fulton, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, McHenry and Will counties. And other areas might also receive assistance if the state requests it and further damage assessments reveal it is warranted.

For further information, contact http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Public school administrators say some local districts would have to raise property taxes if they're forced to cover the cost of teacher pensions.

   The school officials testified Thursday at a special hearing called by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

   The Chicago Democrat says suburban and downstate districts get a "free lunch" because the state pays their teacher pension costs. He says Illinois is in grave financial trouble and the districts must be part of the solution.

 

   The administrators say potential tax increases would depend on how much money districts have and how much of the burden the state shifts to districts.

 

   Public university representatives also testified Thursday. They say the change could result in a 2 percent tuition increase.

 

   Madigan has vowed to address the issue before the General Assembly adjourns.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A union-backed alternative for fixing the Illinois pension crisis gets a test vote Wednesday afternoon in Springfield.

A Senate committee is holding a hearing on the measure giving workers and retirees a choice of benefit packages. Senate President John Cullerton says it saves money and would survive a legal challenge.

Critics say it won't save enough money.

 

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) - Illinois union leaders are encouraging lawmakers to support a pension reform proposal that they recently agreed on with the state's Senate president.

   A coalition of unions announced Monday that it reached an agreement with Senate President John Cullerton on a possible solution to the state's $97 billion pension crisis.

   Michael Carrigan is the president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. He says the group is trying to ensure fairness for public employees and retirees. The union-backed measure gives workers and retirees a choice of benefit packages.

   Carrigan says the group is asking legislators to oppose a solution that House Speaker Michael Madigan backs. Madigan's plan calls for higher pension contributions from employees and limits on how much in pension benefits retirees may collect.

 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - State senators are expected to consider two possible paths toward addressing the nation's worst pension crisis.

One option is legislation approved in the Illinois House last week. That bill is sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan. It would require public employees to pay 2 percent more toward their retirement benefits. It would also reduce annual cost-of-living increases for retirees and raise the retirement age for workers under 45.

Labor unions also are expected to pitch a plan. The details of that proposal have not been disclosed. But a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton says it would offer employees a choice between health insurance or cost-of-living increases.

Lawmakers are expected to discuss the two options in a closed-door meeting on Monday before convening on the Senate floor.

 

Published in Local News

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