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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A gun owner whose lawsuit spurred the Illinois concealed carry law that took effect this week is asking a federal court to allow the public possession of firearms immediately.

   Mary Shepard and the National Rifle Association filed a motion for an injunction Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for southern Illinois. Shepard's motion says gun owners should not have to wait to carry because of Illinois lawmakers' "procrastination."

 

   A federal appeals court ruled in December that it's unconstitutional for Illinois to continue prohibiting concealed carry. But lawmakers finally adopted a plan Tuesday - the court's deadline. Now the Illinois State Police have six months to set up a system and three months to approve or deny applications after that.

   The motion notes the ban remains in effect until then.

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois public health officials say they've found the season's first West Nile-positive bird in southwestern Illinois.

The Monroe County starling's test results come two months after the state found the year's first mosquitoes with the virus.

The agency's director says that means it's "only a matter of time" until the illness is found in humans this season.

The first mosquitoes carrying West Nile were found in May in Cook County. Since then, West Nile's been found in animals in a total of 17 counties.

Last year, the virus was found in 55 of the state's counties and nearly 300 people contracted the illness. Twelve died.

This year's spring flooding caused an increase in mosquitoes - both the kind that carry the virus and those that don't.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois has become the final state in the nation to allow the public possession of concealed guns, just ahead of a federal appeals court's deadline.

The state Senate voted 41-17 Tuesday to override Gov. Pat Quinn's veto of the concealed carry legislation lawmakers sent him. The House took the same action earlier in the day.

The Chicago Democrat's amendatory veto suggested changes to the delicately negotiated initiative - changes that anti-violence activists embraced.

Quinn wanted guns banned from any establishment that serves alcohol and wanted to limit gun-toting citizens to one firearm at a time.

Senate President John Cullerton says Quinn's recommendations might be addressed in later legislation.

The Illinois State Police must be ready to accept applications in six months. Officials expect 300,000 to apply in the first year.

Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he's ready for a "showdown" in Springfield over concealed carry legislation.

The Chicago Democrat has spent days making appearances talking up his sweeping changes to a bill that'd make Illinois the last state to allow concealed weapons.

But lawmakers are expected to override Quinn's changes when they meet Tuesday in Springfield. The bill's sponsor, among others, says the original measure came out of months of negotiations.

Quinn wouldn't say if he has the votes, but says he's working on it. He says the bill was influenced heavily by the National Rifle Association.

He spoke to reporters Monday in Chicago after signing legislation dealing with gang crimes.

Illinois has until Tuesday to legalize concealed carry after a federal appeals court ruled the state's ban unconstitutional.

 

Published in Local News
Thursday, 04 July 2013 03:13

Ryan "wonderful" as home confinement ends

   A cheerful, joking George Ryan says he feels "wonderful" after being released Wednesday from home confinement.

   The former Illinois governor spoke outside his home in Kankakee, saying he felt good, physically and mentally.  

   The day marked the end of more than five years in federal custody for corruption.  In January, the 79 year old was released from an Indiana prison and moved to confinement at his home.

   Asked what he's doing now, Ryan says he's writing a book, but didn't elaborate.

Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A bipartisan group of Illinois lawmakers tasked with pension reform will meet in Springfield on the day before a special legislative session is convened.

   Senate Democrats say the 10-member committee will meet Monday. The House and Senate are scheduled to convene Tuesday to consider Gov. Pat Quinn's amendatory veto on concealed carry legislation.

   While Quinn originally called the Legislature back July 9 to deal with pensions, it is unlikely the issue will be voted on by that deadline.

   Committee members met last week in a grueling five-hour public session where little was resolved. They are scheduled to meet again Wednesday.  Members say they are hopeful progress is being made, but legislation has yet to be drafted.

   Illinois' worst-in-the-nation unfunded pension liability hovers around $100 billion.

 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois finished the fiscal year on Sunday $6.1 billion in the red.

But Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said Monday that the backlog of unpaid bills to schools, agencies, hospitals and businesses is expected to grow another $1.4 billion by next month.

The state collected $1.3 billion in unexpected tax revenue this spring from residents selling assets before new tax laws took effect.

Topinka says putting that money towards unpaid bills allowed the state to end the fiscal year in a better position than it otherwise would have.

However, she is warning that the windfall is a one-time occurrence and it does nothing to address the state's budget problems.

The comptroller's office estimates unpaid bills will rise to $7.5 billion in August and to nearly $9 billion by December.

 

Published in Local News

UPDATE:

Friends and family of the teen found dead in a Columbia, Illinois house yesterday, held a prayer service last hour.

17-year-old Erin Schneider was found dead during the investigation into a missing person report. The Major Case Squad has taken over the investigation and say an autopsy is planned for today. Investigators hope exam will shed light on what killed Schneider.

No arrests have been made in the case.

 

An autopsy will be performed later today on a teenage girl whose body was found in a Columbia home Thursday.  

   Major Case Squad Deputy Commander Thomas Coppotelli says police have identified the victim as 17 year old Erin Schneider of Columbia.   Schneider's body was discovered by Columbia Police in a home in the 200 block of Riebeling.  Schneider had been reported missing earlier in the day.  

   Columbia Police Chief won't speculate as to how Schneider died, saying an autopsy will be performed later today.  

   The major case squad is investigating another crime scene in connection with the teen's death, but has not identified that location.  

   Police say there have been no arrests, but police say they are questioning two people.

   Grief counselors will be on hand Friday morning at Columbia High School.  Students, teachers and friends of the victim can speak with counselors starting at 9 a.m.

   There will also be a non-denominational prayer service Friday at noon at Immaculate Conception Church on Quarry Rd. in Columbia for Erin Schnieder.

 
Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Members of a bipartisan panel tasked with coming up with a plan to address Illinois' pension crisis don't all agree with Gov. Pat Quinn's July 9 deadline to report back with a solution.

Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul says it could take longer than that. He spoke to reporters Thursday before the panel's first public hearing. He says another hearing will take place next week.

The 10-member panel was formed after a special session this month. Both chambers remain divided and the group has been charged with finding compromise.

Republican Sen. Mat Murphy says July 9 is a reasonable target.

Six Democrats and four Republicans are on the committee.

Illinois has the worst state pension shortfall nationwide, largely due to lawmakers skipping or shorting payments to public-employee retirement funds.

 
Published in Local News

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll decide on a concealed carry bill in a "very reasonable period of time" as the state faces a court-mandated deadline next month.

Lawmakers have sent the Chicago Democrat a bill that outlines rules for who can carry.

Illinois had the nation's last ban on concealed weapons in public. But a federal appeals court ruled it unconstitutional. Lawmakers have until July 9 to comply.

Twenty-three Senate Democrats sent Quinn a letter last week urging him to make his intentions known soon. They're worried they won't have enough time to figure out next steps if he vetoes the bill.

Quinn told reporters Tuesday that it's a very complex and long bill and he wants a thorough review.

Several counties are refusing to uphold the state's ban.

Published in Local News

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