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   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

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton says he will keep working to pass a pension reform bill he believes can survive a court challenge.

   Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton and fellow Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan have "the same goal but different approaches" to solving Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

   Madigan filed his pension plan on Tuesday. It caps the salary on which a pension can be based at $110,000 and limits annual cost-of-living increases.

   Madigan's legislation also removes language from a plan backed by Cullerton that got Senate approval last month. Cullerton's plan offers affected state-government employees and teachers a choice of benefits instead of unilaterally cutting them.

   Cullerton believes the state must give retirees a choice in benefits in order for the legislation to be considered constitutional.

Published in Local News
Friday, 19 April 2013 02:37

Concealed carry fails in Illinois House

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House has defeated a proposal allowing the carrying of concealed guns in public.

   The vote of 64-45 in favor of the bill failed because it needed 71 votes. A super-majority was necessary because the law would preempt the home-rule powers of several cities.

   The legislation sponsored by Democratic Rep. Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg would have required authorities to issue concealed-carry permits to anyone who passed background checks.

   Phelps used a legislative procedure that will allow him to recall the bill later for another vote.

   Illinois is the only state in the nation that prohibits possessing guns in public. A federal appeals court in December ruled the law unconstitutional and gave Illinois until June to adopt a new law.

 

Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says any overhaul of Illinois' worst-in-the-nation pension problem should have a funding guarantee.

He spoke yesterday just days after House lawmakers approved their third pension-related bill. The latest would reduce and delay cost-of-living increases in state employees' retirement pay.

Pensions have been Quinn's top issue for more than a year. He says lawmakers' work last week was a step in the right direction but there's further to go. Quinn says any reform package should address retirement age and pensionable salary.

Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension debt because lawmakers skipped or shorted pension payments for years.

House lawmakers recently OK'd bills that would cap the salary on which benefits are based to the limit set for Social Security and delay the retirement age incrementally.
Published in Local News
Friday, 22 March 2013 02:43

IL House passes pared down pension plan

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois House has approved a stripped-down pension plan that could delay and reduce cost-of-living increases for retirees and future retirees.

The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan and comes out of a laborious process where lawmakers are addressing the pension problem piece by piece instead of a total overhaul at once. House members voted in favor 66-50 yesterday. It's the third scaled-back pension bill the House has recently approved.

Thursday's proposal says that no cost-of-living increases can be taken until retirees reach 67 years of age, or five years after retirement and applies COLAs only to the first $25,000 of an annual pension.

Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability because for years lawmakers either skipped or shorted payments.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois House has rejected a measure that would require $1 million in liability insurance for people carrying concealed weapons.

Lawmakers voted 34-74 yesterday against Rep. Kenneth Dunkin's plan. It was among seven amendments on gun issues that legislators debated yesterday as they consider a court-ordered law allowing conceal-and-carry.

Chicago Democrat Dunkin says an insurance policy would cost $500 to $2,000.

Republicans complained that's too expensive for citizens exercising a constitutional right. And they argued insurance companies don't write the policies anyway.

In December, a federal court struck down Illinois' concealed-carry ban and gave lawmakers until June 8 to adopt a law.

The House has begun weekly floor sessions allowing lawmakers to propose gun measures.
Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House has approved a series of measures that would ban semi-automatic assault weapons in Illinois.

One amendment approved yesterday would make it a felony for anyone to possess a military-style assault weapon or to have large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Chicago Democratic Rep. Edward Acevedo says civilians shouldn't have these guns because they're made for "mass destruction."

The debate was part of a procedure House Speaker Michael Madigan set up to allow open discussion of contentious issues. The first was last week and he followed that one with another on pensions.

The amendments were approved with Democratic votes only.

Republicans refused to cast votes. GOP Rep. Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst says Madigan's procedure puts politics before public safety.
Published in Local News
Monday, 25 February 2013 00:43

IL Latino leaders advocate for gay marriage

CHICAGO (AP) - A group of prominent Latino leaders say legalizing gay marriage in Illinois would strengthen families and is "the right thing to do."

In an open letter to lawmakers Sunday, 23 Latino leaders say all families deserve to be treated with respect.

Among those signing the letter are former Chicago City Clerk Miguel Del Valle and Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum.

The Illinois Senate approved a bill earlier this month that would end the state's ban on same-sex marriage. A House committee is expected to consider it Tuesday.

If it passes the House Gov. Pat Quinn has said he will sign the legislation, making Illinois the 10th state where same-sex couples may marry.

Opponents say the proposal endangers religious freedom and diminishes the sanctity of marriage.
Published in Local News
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