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11/29/2012 12:55:00 PM
Senate panel OKs licenses for illegal immigrants

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Supporters of licensing illegal immigrants to drive say it would make Illinois roads safer with trained motorists required to carry insurance.

The Senate Executive Committee voted 12-2 today to advance the plan for some of the 250,000 people living in Illinois illegally.

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran told the committee unlicensed and uninsured illegal immigrants cause $64 million in damage claims each year — a cost covered by insured motorists’ premiums.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont says the plan is a good example of state law filling in where the federal government has failed to act.

The legislation’s sponsor is Senate President John Cullerton. The Chicago Democrat says the licenses would be good for three years.

The bill is SB9567.

Senator introducesfinancial disclosure bill

 The sponsor of a bill that would require elected officials to disclose more information about their financial interests is optimistic it’ll pass because he thinks Illinois residents want ethics reform.

But Sen. Dan Kotowski said at a news conference today there could be resistance from some colleagues. And there are only a few days remaining in the current legislative session.

The Park Ridge Democrat said that if the legislation doesn’t pass in the next few weeks he will try again next session.

Kotowski partnered with Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon on the proposal. It would create a new financial disclosure form for elected officials, candidates and high-ranking government employees.

They say the current forms haven’t changed in 40 years and are meaningless.

Lawmakers: No funds for state employee pay raises

 The Illinois House of Representatives is sending a message to state employees who are in the midst of negotiating a new contract: don’t expect a pay raise.

The House voted 84-29 Wednesday in favor of a resolution that says lawmakers will not approve funding in fiscal year 2013 for a salary increase.

The resolution is not binding. But Speaker Michael Madigan, who sponsored it, says it’s intended to send a message to both Gov. Pat Quinn and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that there isn’t money for increases.

The unions have opposed the measure, saying it restricts their right to freely negotiate a contract. They also say it hurts low-wage workers, including those who care for the disabled and elderly.

The resolution is HJR45.

Ill. Senate approves Cullerton tax transparency

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton’s plan to require corporations’ income tax bills to be made public has barely won approval.

The Senate voted 30-27 Wednesday to OK a proposal Cullerton says would help lawmakers plan tax policy.

The Chicago Democrat says legislators don’t know whether their tax incentives and credits are working. He says two-thirds of businesses doing work in Illinois pay no corporate income tax.

Republicans criticized the measure as “anti-business (and) anti-employment.” Others questioned whether it would be legal to post the information. Cullerton amended the bill to prevent posting of federally prohibited tax information.

Cullerton says the legislation is “not a ‘gotcha’ to the business community.”

Business leaders say it unfairly targets some businesses.

The bill moves to the House.

The bill is SB282.

Gov. Quinn vows to pursue assault weapons ban

An aide says Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will “vigorously pursue” a ban on assault weapons even though the Senate rebuffed his attempt on Wednesday.

The Senate voted 49-4 Wednesday to override Quinn’s rewritten legislation to prohibit the sale or possession of semi-automatic rifles, high-capacity magazines and .50-caliber guns.

Spokeswoman Brooke Anderson says the Democratic governor will continue seeking a statewide assault-weapons ban to enhance public safety. She would not elaborate on his strategy.

Senators say Quinn overstepped his authority in August by changing legislation on mail-order ammunition. He acted after a mass shooting at a suburban Denver movie theater.

If the House also votes to override, the original legislation allowing Illinois gun owners to purchase ammunition by mail from in-state dealers becomes law.

The bill is SB681

Lang will wait on medical marijuana vote in Illinois

Illinois State Rep. Lou Lang has decided not to call his medical marijuana legislation until next week.

The Skokie Democrat told The Associated Press Wednesday he’s still not certain he has the 60 votes he needs for passage.

He says he has most of the necessary votes but there are “a whole bunch of people who are wavering.”  He will continue talking to them over the weekend and try again in the Legislature’s second week of its fall session.

Lang believes marijuana should be available in limited amounts for people with specific illnesses who get pain relief from the drug.

It’s the tightest such measure in the nation.

Eighteen states allow medical marijuana use and two of those recently OK’d recreational use.

The bill is HB30
Online: http:/

Ill. license fee for state parks goes to governor

Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation passed yesterday by the Illinois Senate to create a $2 license-plate fee and other charges to help generate money for Illinois’ neglected state parks.

The Senate passed the bill on a 39-11 vote after it failed in the chamber in June. It had already passed the House of Representatives, and Quinn has indicated he backs the idea.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources expects the fee, added to the current $99 cost of a basic annual license plate, to raise $18 million to $20 million a year to help cut into a $750 million backlog in park maintenance created by years of budget cuts. New fees for off-road recreation on state land and commercial fishing-related fees are expected to push the money raised by the new law to between $30 million and $35 million a year.

“Passage of this bill will help us hire critical staff to maintain state parks, fix aging infrastructure, speed up regulatory functions and make a bigger difference in the lives of everyone we serve,” DNR Director Marc Miller said in a statement.

The department has seen its budget and staff steadily cut for a decade as Illinois’ state government financial situation has grown worse. DNR has dwindled from 1,800 employees and a roughly $100 million annual budget in 2002 to about 1,200 people and a $45 million budget today.

House holds purse in battle over prison money

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn vowed Wednesday to continue fighting to steer state money from prisons to child protection, after being rebuffed by the Senate on his plan to shutter state facilities.

On the second day of the General Assembly’s fall veto session, the Senate voted 35-16 to override Quinn’s veto of $57 million approved by the Legislature to keep two prisons and two juvenile detention centers open.  

The governor will take his case to the House, where a second override vote would not force the Democratic governor to keep the prisons open, but would prohibit him from spending the money elsewhere despite the state’s dire financial situation.

Quinn aides said his message, as he crosses the Capitol rotunda in the coming days, is this: It’s a choice between spending on underutilized prisons or better protection against the abuse and neglect of children.

“He’s talking to lawmakers and will impress upon them that the money is better spent on kids than on prisons” he considers unnecessary, Quinn budget spokesman Abdon Pallasch said.

The House canceled today’s portion of the fall session. A spokesman said the legislation’s House sponsor, Speaker Michael Madigan, has not decided whether to seek an override. The session’s final three days begin Tuesday.

Anderson Jewelers

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