Government and Legislature

Hastert, Blagojevich Prosecutor Becoming Illinois Judge

Jul 15, 2015

A federal prosecutor who played a central role in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's trial is leaving to become an Illinois judge.

A U.S. judge overseeing Hastert's case congratulated Carrie Hamilton during a Tuesday status hearing. Her appointment as a Cook County circuit judge takes effect Friday.

Hamilton is also prosecuting former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Hamilton also helped convict Blagojevich insider Tony Rezko. She opened his 2008 trial by telling jurors he was “the man behind the curtain, pulling the strings.”

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Although the Illinois state budget for Fiscal Year 2016 still has not been decided, Gov. Bruce Rauner did take action on 24 pieces of legislation last Friday.

The news release from his office, however, provided absolutely no real information about what he had approved. Here is one example of how the “information” provided by the Gov. Rauner’s press office was sent out:

Bill No.: SB 38
An Act Concerning Employment
Action: Signed     
Effective: January 1, 2016


The U.S. House has overwhelmingly approved legislation to change the way the Environmental Protection Agency reviews and evaluates potentially toxic and dangerous chemicals used in commerce.

The existing Toxic Substances Control Act, written in 1976, is seen as a failure by many business and environmental organizations. Members of Congress say it has built-in weaknesses and unnecessary complexities that prevent the EPA from doing its job.

Beloit officials are seeking a new consultant to conduct its internal review of the Beloit Police Department in the wake of its two top officers being placed on administrative leave.

Chicago-based security management firm Hillard  Heintze, whose report to Beloit City Manager Lori Luther resulted in Chief Norm Jacobs and Deputy Chief Tom Durkin stepping aside, said it was withdrawing to ensure impartiality and maintain the integrity of the Beloit Police Department.

Happy hour drink specials have been banned in Illinois since the late 1980s, but they could make a comeback under a measure that's awaiting the governor's signature.

The proposal would restrict specials to four hours a day and no happy hour deals after 10 p.m. 

Sponsor Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, says it modernizes the law. 

Police Recruitment Is Harder Than It Looks

Jun 3, 2015,,

Police departments across the country face new criticism in staff diversity now more than ever. But it's difficult to get -- and keep -- qualified and diverse candidates.

"Truthfully, recruitment is probably one of the toughest things that a small agency in particular, or a medium-sized agency, goes through," Cora Beem, the manager of mandated training for the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, said.


The Illinois General Assembly will meet in overtime session this summer. That’s because of partisan disagreement over the state's spending plan.

But Republican Sen. Sam McCann from Carlinville says government at the state level is not entirely divided.

McCann says lawmakers compromise on proposals throughout the session, and it's natural to be divided over a big issue like the budget.

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

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.