Government

Government and Legislature

A case with a $10 billion verdict at stake returns to the Illinois Supreme Court this morning a decade after justices threw it out. 

The heart of the question is whether tobacco giant Philip Morris defrauded smokers by pitching "light" cigarettes.

Back in 2003, a court ruled "yes" and granted smokers a monster $10 billion judgment. It was reversed by the Illinois Supreme Court, citing federal regulations. It volleyed the case down to a lower court.

Justice Lloyd Karmeier, who eked out another decade term in November's election, will once again be on the bench.

Pension Ruling Puts Illinois On 'CreditWatch'

May 11, 2015
WUIS

Credit ratings agencies had swift reactions to the Illinois Supreme Court decision Friday that found the state's 2013 pension law unconstitutional.

Illinois was expecting to save billions by reducing  retirement benefits for state workers, teachers and university employees. But not any more, thanks to a unanimous decision by the state's high court invalidating the law.

A credit rating may not seem like a big deal. But when your budget is staring down a 20-percent deficit and your rating is already worst in the nation, it could be significant.

The Illinois Supreme Court has struck down legislation that tried to cut retirement benefits for thousands of state workers.

In a unanimous decision, the high court says lawmakers overstepped their power when they sought to cut pension benefits for state employees, university workers and public school teachers.

Illinois pensions are protected by the state Constitution, but the state argued a financial emergency meant those protections could be disregarded.

Flickr user Matt Buck / "IMGP3496" (CC BY 2.0)

Some Hoosiers will pay close attention today as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on same-sex marriage.

Last year, a federal court found Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional. This year, lawmakers passed a Religious Freedom law that some said allowed discrimination against same-sex couples.

The law was amended, but not before a local and national outcry. That’s why Katie Blair, who’s with the LGBTQ advocacy group Freedom Indiana, doesn’t think Indiana will revert to its old ways no matter how the U-S Supreme Court rules.

Lincoln Library, Commerce Department Linked Under New Plan

Apr 24, 2015

A measure that would partially privatize the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity while combining it with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is ready for consideration by the Illinois House.

The apparent agreement between Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan also would make a new state entity to control the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Steven Beckett, who chairs the library's advisory board, supports the move. He says the various groups in charge of it now have become hostile. 

State Legislature Is Back In Session

Apr 14, 2015
state of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield today after a two-week spring break to begin work on a budget compromise for next year. A Senate hearing yesterday could indicate a tough road ahead.

Cities and counties in Illinois would see their share of state money cut in half under Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget. Rauner also proposed eliminating state assistance for foster children over age 18.

Ogle, DeKalb Counties Get 'Disaster' Declaration

Apr 10, 2015
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Gov. Bruce Rauner today declared DeKalb and Ogle counties state disaster areas after severe storms and tornadoes ripped across northern Illinois.

At least two people in DeKalb County are reported dead and roughly a dozen more injured. Dozens of homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he choose to award business tax credits to uphold Illinois' trustworthiness with companies, but the Republican's critics are calling it "beyond the pale."

Social service organizations are still reeling from the unexpected news they received a week ago that Gov. Rauner was immediately cutting off their state grants.

No longer would there be money to bury the indigent. Funding for The Autism Program would be eliminated. Funding would be stripped from addiction prevention. Cuts would total $200 million.

ilga.gov

Employees at the University of Illinois Urbana campus are pushing back against a proposal to eliminate a 50 percent tuition discount for their children.

They are getting some help from State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, who says the nearly $10 million dollars that would be saved annually by ending the tuition waivers wouldn’t be worth the damage it would do to state universities and their employees.

At a news conference on the Urbana campus, office worker Molly McLaughlin said the tuition waiver is one reason she decided to work at the U of I. 

va.gov

Long waits for medical care persist at Illinois veteran’s hospitals.

That’s despite efforts to hire more doctors, open more clinics and allow some patients to see private practice physicians as an alternative. 

An Associated Press review of government data finds nearly 20,000 medical appointments completed at the state's five major VA centers from September through February failed to meet the health system's timeliness goal. They call for patients to be seen within a month.

The AP examined waiting times at 940 VA hospitals and outpatient clinics nationwide.

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