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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn is touting a recent contract agreement with Illinois' largest union as one way his administration has saved money, including $900 million in health care costs.

In his Wednesday budget address the Chicago Democrat called it "unprecedented" among his gubernatorial predecessors and a "landmark" agreement.

His administration and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 reached a tentative agreement last week. They reached a three-year contract after negotiating for 15 months.

The proposal requires state workers to pay more toward health care and requires retirees to pay health insurance premiums for the first time. All that will add up to the $900 million savings over three years.
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 13:29
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois House committee has approved a measure that would allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The House Human Services Committee voted 11-4 Wednesday to move the proposal to the full House for consideration.

The measure would allow patients over the age of 18 who have been diagnosed with specific terminal illnesses or debilitating medical conditions to obtain marijuana.

Cancer, multiple sclerosis and HIV are among the illnesses.

Supporters say marijuana can relieve continual pain without triggering the harmful effects that other prescription drugs may commonly cause.

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

But opponents say the program would encourage the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 12:28
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Police tactics are being questioned by the family of an 8-year-old Alton girl, who was handcuffed by police and thrown in the back of a squad car. Jmyha Rickman was held for two hours after she threw a temper-tantrum at Love Joy Elementary School late yesterday morning. School officials called police to help handle the situation. Alton schools assistant superintendent Kristie Baumgartner says that when a situation with a student becomes unmanageable, first the parents are called, then the school contacts law enforcement. When police arrived, they say the girl was tearing apart two classrooms and they believe they took appropriate action.
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 11:32
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ST. LOUIS (AP) - A federal judge has ordered a small library in southern Missouri to stop blocking access to websites related to Wicca and other minority religions, calling it a violation of patrons' First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber issued the ruling Tuesday in St. Louis in a case involving the Salem Public Library.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued last year on behalf of Salem resident Anaka Hunter. Salem is a largely Christian community of 5,000 residents in the Missouri Ozarks.

The suit said Hunter was trying to do research at the library but filtering software blocked access to sites about things such as Wicca, a pagan religion that worships nature and involves witchcraft.

The library director declined comment Wednesday.
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 10:38
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