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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

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Senate has approved a measure that would create a state-governed "insurance exchange" so individuals and small businesses can shop for health care coverage as required by President Obama's health law.

Lawmakers voted Thursday 37-19 to send the House a bill establishing the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace.

The exchange will guide people through the purchase of health and dental plans. It will also help qualified businesses enroll employees in health insurance plans.

The Affordable Care Act requires that nearly all Americans have health insurance beginning in 2014 or pay a penalty. New marketplaces are scheduled to be operating by October.

Illinois will begin an exchange this year through a federal partnership. Gov. Pat Quinn hopes to establish a state-run marketplace for 2015.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois legislation allowing public possession of concealed guns has passed the House Judiciary Committee. It was a compromise backed by Speaker Michael Madigan.

The measure was endorsed Thursday 13-3 and goes to the full House Friday. It comes two weeks before a June 9 deadline set by a federal appeals court for Illinois to abandon its prohibition on the public possession of weapons.

The legislation would require the Illinois State Police to issue concealed carry permits to qualified gun owners. It's patterned on a bill introduced by gun-rights advocate Rep. Brandon Phelps, a southern Illinois Democrat.

But Madigan's version significantly adds places that would be off limits to guns. Those include mass transit - a must for violence-weary Chicago Democrats.

 
Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Legislation increasing the speed limit on interstate highways in Illinois to 70 mph is headed to Gov. Pat Quinn.

   The House approved the bill 85-30 Wednesday. The current maximum speed limit is 65 mph.

   Sponsoring Rep. Jerry Costello II says the bill is good for business. The Smithton Democrat says it will allow companies to move their wares more quickly.

   Gov. Pat Quinn's Transportation Department opposes the increase. But spokeswoman Brooke Anderson says Quinn will review the bill.

   House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie says studies show increased speeds result in more crashes and deaths.

   But a Jacksonville Republican Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer says motorists heading south avoid Illinois, meaning fewer stops for fuel and food.

 
Published in Local News

BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- AP —Police in Belleville say they’re investigating reports that female students at a Catholic high school secretly were videotaped by one of the school’s sports teams.

Police Chief William Clay Jr. isn’t discussing publicly details of the case involving the several Althoff Catholic High School females who may have been videotaped.

He says the investigation involves a possible violation of state law barring unauthorized video recording in a restroom or locker room.

Clay says the school’s staff did their own investigation of the matter before notifying police May 3.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly says a special prosecutor has been assigned to the case at his request because of a conflict in his office.

 

Published in Local News

 SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The longtime promoter of expanding Illinois gambling has taken his name from a bill over "perceived conflict of interest" with his law firm.

In a statement released Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Lou Lang says there've been no violations, but not only is his name off the gambling bill, he may not vote when it comes to the House floor.

Lang is counsel for Odelson and Sterk, an Evergreen Park firm hired by Rockford. The city is one of five that would get a casino if lawmakers approve pending legislation. Rockford officials have said there's no connection.

Lang says his actions have been respectful of laws and ethical rules. He declined to comment Tuesday beyond the statement.

Democrat Rep. Robert Rita is now the gambling bill's sponsor.

Published in Local News

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