Government

Government
7:08 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Quinn lays out drought-relief plan for farmers

July 14 Drought severity index
NOAA

More than two dozen Illinois counties have received disaster designations because of the ongoing drought.
And the state’s stepping in to help deal with the loss of crops. Governor Pat Quinn toured a farm in Jefferson County in Southern Illinois on Monday.  It’ been hit hard by a lack of rain.

"They’ve never seen anything like this. We were trying to find an ear of corn. We finally found one. It was about four inches long and it looked like something you’d put in a salad." - Governor Pat Quinn

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Government
5:28 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Agents battle spread of heroin among teens

justice.gov

State and federal prosecutors are working together to fight a rise in heroin trafficking. Jack Riley is a special agent in charge of the field division of the Drug Enforcement Agency in Chicago. He tells WNIJ, communities like DeKalb and Rockford aren't immune to the spread of the drug, especially its use among teens. He adds it’s not just a problem in the city of Chicago:

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Government
3:47 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Forecasting group expects cigarette sales to dip

public domain

As of June 24th, cigarette packs cost an extra dollar. Lawmakers decided the money should be used to help fund Medicaid, the state's program of healthcare for the poor, disabled, and elderly. The Department of Revenue limited distributors from stocking up on cigarettes before the tax went into effect. A judge eventually told thestate it couldn't do that, but one retailer says the damage was done. Taffy Robbins is with Discount Tobacco, which has 19 stores across Illinois. She says the state's limit was bad for business and customers: 

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Government
12:16 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

Rockford west-side driver facility closing

New office will be 15 miles south near I-39

State officials have confirmed that the Rockford west-side driver services facility will close once the lease expires July 29, and a new facility will open in September more than 15 miles away at 4752 Baxter Road along I-39 near the southern Winnebago County line.

Beth Kaufman, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, said negotiations with the landlord over maintenance and repairs fell through.

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Government
11:56 am
Wed July 11, 2012

Five non-union retirees sue state over new benefit law

Five retired state employees are suing over a new law that allows Illinois to begin charging some state retirees for health insurance.

The plaintiffs are members of the State Employees Retirement System who all put in at least 20 years of state service. Such retirees had been entitled to premium-free state health insurance, but Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law last month that does away with that benefit.

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Government
8:01 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

$1.6 billion for Illinois transportation projects

Jacquilyn Stephens WNIJ

$1.6 billion worth of transportation projects got the go-ahead today when Governor Pat Quinn signed a major capital improvements bill.

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Government
10:42 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Weather puts southern Wisconsin counties in state of emergency

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
State of Wisconsin

Rock, Green, Dane and Walworth counties in southern Wisconsin are among 42 counties where Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency due to drought or abnormally dry conditions from a brutal heat wave and lack of rain.

It's the first time such a declaration has been made since 2009.

"The lack of rainfall since May in the southern half of the state has hit hard in a crucial part of the growing season," Walker said in a statement.

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Government
8:50 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Special meeting focuses on landfill expansion

WNIJ

Winnebago County Board members will take a vote Thursday on whether or not to give local approval for a landfill expansion. Last night, board members heard from Derke Price, a hearing officer recommending approval of the expansion. He did not speak with reporters after the special meeting. But he told board members the Winnebago Landfill, near Baxter Road in Rockford, is expected to reach capacity in less than a decade. It was built in 1972. The expansion would provide enough room until 2047.

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Government
3:34 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Obama Pitches One-Year Extension Of Tax Cuts For 'Middle Class'

Setting the stage for more election-year debate over taxes and economic policy, President Obama has challenged Republicans to support a plan to extend for one year — but only for families earning less than $250,000 annually — the so-called Bush tax cuts.

Republicans want the tax cuts, which expire at the end of 2012, to continue for everyone. Obama says it's time for wealthier taxpayers to pay more because that will help narrow future budget deficits.

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Government
3:31 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

A tale of two prisons: Can Illinois sell both?

Thomson Correctional Center
State of Illinois

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is rejecting calls to reduce the asking price for a state prison the federal government wants to buy. He’s also rejecting the idea that Illinois should not try to sell the federal government two prisons at once.

Thomson Correctional Center, in northwest Illinois, has barely been used in the decade since it was built. Illinois and the federal government agreed to a price of $165 million -- significantly less than the $220 million dollars at which that facility has been appraised.

And Quinn plans to close the super-maximum security prison at Tamms, in southern Illinois, as a cost-saving move. It's one of the newest state prisons and, once it's empty, Quinn hopes the federal government will be interested in buying it as well as Thomson.

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